Northumberland Coast Path Day 2 (Part 1): Amble to Alnmouth

Published 14 November 2021

A Northumberland Coast Path sign on the approach to the fishing village of Boulmer.

Heading along the county’s stunning coastline, the 62 mile/100km long Northumberland Coast Path offers some of the best coastal walking in the UK. Running from Creswell to the south of the county, all the way up to Berwick-upon-Tweed near the Scottish border, the path offers beautiful sandy beaches, a vast array of wildlife, rare birds, a glimpse of holy islands, and a good dose of history. Our second day would feature castles, rivers, and a whole lot of walking…

If there’s something I don’t like, then it’s days where I must walk fifteen miles or more. For me twelve or thirteen miles is ideal. A good amount. Not too much. Not too short. You can take your time, relax, enjoy it all.

Unfortunately, our second day of walking on the Northumberland Coast Path required a bit more than that. Seventeen miles. I really, really didn’t want to walk seventeen miles in one day. But there was no way round it. When planning our trip, I had been unable to work a way round the problem. We had only five days to complete the trail and this put a limit on the options for our itinerary. All the tactics we could use to make the second day a sensible distance, proved impossible. There was nothing to be done. No options. We had to stay in Amble at the end of the first day. We had to stay in Embleton at the end of the second. And that meant we had to walk the seventeen miles between them in one go.

Walking alongside the River Coquet into Warkworth

After a hearty, peaceful breakfast in the pub – now calm and orderly after the madness of the previous night – we set off for our first stop, Walkworth. The village was reached by walking down a main road. Not the finest of starts. Still Warkworth did offer a reward. There was an interesting looking medieval castle and an attractive fortified bridge. And then there was the pleasant Riverside path that we took by accident instead of following the trail down the main road. Warkworth looked a great place to explore. We could have spent a few hours there. But no chance of that. We had to get on.

A path through a meadow full to bursting with flowers led us back to the coast. Again, walking over the sands was an option. An option we didn’t take as the path along the dunes next to a golf course looked well worth using. This was an assumption that proved to be correct.

Crossing the River Coquet in Warkworth

Golf courses often don’t make for a walk. Something to do with the nowty signs insisting you ‘follow the white posts’ or ‘remain on the footpath at all times’. And the risk of being hit by a flying golf ball. But this one was most enjoyable. It was a festival of floral colour. Violets, poppies and more lined our route. Purples, yellows, reds, an explosion of colour that made for an enchanting walk. When we came to a point where we had to ring a bell in order to alert golfers of our presence, it only added to the sense of occasion.

Oh yes. The day was bright, and all felt good in the world. At least until Tal deafened me by clanging the golf course bell very loudly.

Heading to the dunes at Alnmouth

At the end of the dunes stands Alnmouth. The village is named after what is there. The estuary – or mouth – of the river Aln. Some say it is possible to wade through the river to reach the village. In contrast, my guidebook said “beware, dragons.”

This meant we needed to go inland in order to cross the river at a narrower point than the estuary. A mile and a half detour, but one that was better than getting very wet. Better to use a solid path and spend a little more time doing the walk than getting washed out to sea. The map showed the route going alongside and A road. This turned out to be a proper segregated path and cycle lane separated from the road by bushes higher than the already quite tall form of Tal. Still, it hid the traffic from view. Cars could be heard, but not seen.

The Duchess’ Bridge, Alnmouth, dedicated to the Duchess of Northumberland who paid for it.

Cyclists zoomed along, dog walkers followed. A sign told us that the land to our left was salt marsh, converted from farmland, and now home to five cows. And then the path finally crossed the river, using the Duchess Bridge; a bridge opened in 1864 and dedicated to Eleanor, Duchess of Northumberland. Such reward is what you get when you’re a duchess and you provide most of the cash to build a new river crossing. The old stone bridge is still used by cars, although pedestrians get a use a 1970s metal contraption instead. Safer yes. Prettier? No.

The river crossed and the Northumberland Coast Path left the road, and found ‘Lovers Walk’. This was a path next to the River Alm that would take us back to the sea shore again. It seemed a highly inappropriate name. The path was so narrow that it was next impossible for two people to walk next to each other, holding hands or not. But then perhaps the people of Alnmouth in the past had a different view of romance to now.

Boats moored up at Alnmouth

It was lunchtime by the time we arrived. Almouth’s main street seemed to mostly be catering for tourists needing refreshment. Which is handy because we were tourists and needed refreshment. And so we went in search.

First option assessed was a hotel claiming to be haunted. None other than the Poltergiest Society has proclaimed The Schooner Hotel to be the most haunted hotel in Britain. Sixty ghosts reside there, witnessed in an impressive 3,000 sightings. That’s a fair amount for a hotel with only 32 rooms. It does have an illustrious history though. It once counted Charles Dickens, and King George III as customers. These days it looks a bit more faded. Still, it does now include an Indian restaurant. So it’s not all bad.

Neither of us fancied a curry, and so we wandered up the street to check out alternatives. These proved to be different for us both. Tal opted for a sausage roll and a sandwich, me a giant crab roll. That’s a crab roll that was rather large, not one filled with giant crabs. We adjourned to a handy bench filled with filled our stomachs, rested, then repaired for the afternoon.

Next time: no time for dilly-dallying for the clock is ticking, and the fog is drawing in.

A bit of Alnmouth

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