Tuesday, 2 October 2012


We walked a fair bit along the Northumberland coast.  It is bleak, unspoilt and ruggedly beautiful.  This is the village of Caster, which still makes its income from smoking kippers.

Here is the coast we had just walked.  It was a real wild day.

And here is one of the smoking houses.

If you don't have a map, you can find Caster by smell.  If you don't like kippers on the other hand, give it a wide berth; even the fish cakes I had for lunch in Newton, a nearby village, were made with kippers.

Newton is no more than a collection of old fishermen's cottages and a pub. Indeed there is nothing else around for miles.  We had heard good things about The Ship, although they did rather let us down.  Here is the coastline.  You can just see the cottages in the distance.

And here they are, with The Ship in the corner.

The inside is pretty functional, but it was soon packed.  We had got there early to make sure we secured a seat inside. Despite the weather, the outside was soon packed too.

But when we realised others were being served before us, we queried our order and found that they had lost it.  These things can happen, especially when a kitchen is busy.  But they had insisted on prepayment (cash - no plastic acceptable around these parts!) and now told us they had sold out of what we had ordered.  I thought this was pretty poor (it might even be illegal) and it took the edge off our enjoyable day.  Moreover, I can't tell you whether the food is any good.

Near Newton is a famous iron church I also wanted to see.  It was built in prefabricated form in late Victorian times to serve the tiny community.  It is probably the smallest church in the county, but it is rather sweet.  It sits inland a little way, under the coast guard station, but otherwise in the middle of open countryside.

One of the things I intended to do whilst travelling here was to take a boat round the Farne Islands.  These are uninhabited islands a little way offshore, which are teeming with wild life.  You can get the boat captain to set you ashore for a an hour to wander amongst the flocks of seabirds and seals and take pics to your heart's content.  But only when the weather permits.  The boats go from the town of Seahouses, which consists almost entirely of enormous fish and chip restaurants.  I guess coach loads of visitors arrive during the season.  I was amused by the name of this boat.

Despite the claim, there were no boats going out in the distinctly unserene sea.  The tide was low most of the time we were around there, which mitigated against us too.  I was still prepared to go, but then found that there were no puffins on the islands at the moment.  I didn't realise that they migrated somewhere.  So that reduced my interest in pics of seabirds.  I'll have to do that trip another time.
We didn't visit Dunstanburgh Castle either.  I'd become a bit castled out by now and anyway Dunstanburgh is now a ruin and looks better from a distance.


Here's a slightly closer view from the headland.

 And you can just make it out here from the north across the bay.


  1. What a wonderful trip - Being an East Londoner, we never really ventured further North than Blackpool, and that only once, although Great Yarmouth was quite in when I was a kid. So what do I miss in East London, naturally kippers (and bloaters). Mum used to do kippers for tea now and again. I loved them. We always brought a wooden box back from Great Yarmouth after the holiday. Shame the restaurant turned out a bit dodgy, but that even happens in Switzerland.

    1. I quite like kippers too (in moderation!). I had kippers, kipper pate, kipper sandwich and kipper fish cakes on this trip . . . The trouble with a pub like this is that they are a long way from suppliers and have to cope with their daily deliveries. Maybe they were surprised at how busy they were. Anyway they were a bit short of delicacies by the time they came to find things for us. They do brew their own beer though, which was OK.

  2. This is a part of the British coastline I've yet to explore, although I've wanted to for some time. Other things keep getting in the way (such as trips to the US). I really like the look of it, I like the desolate ruggedness. Not too dissimilar to parts of the coast here in Pembrokeshire. I do like a good kipper occasionally.

    1. Yes, worth seeing for the desolate ruggedness. But you might find America more fun . . .