The Northumberland coast is best known for its wide, sweeping beaches, backed by high sand dunes that are punctuated by dark whinstone outcrops. Amidst this striking landscape is the evidence of an area steeped in history, covering 7000 years of human activity. A host of conservation sites, including two National Nature Reserves, testify to the great variety of wildlife and habitats also found on the coast.
The Northumberland coast offers some of the finest coastal walking in Europe. The Northumberland Coast Path follows this stunningly beautiful coastline for 100 kilometres (62 Miles) from Cresswell in the south to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north. Alongside sandy beaches, over rocky headlands, past dramatic castles and through attractive coastal villages, the Northumberland Coast Path offers a constantly changing landscape which is a pleasure to explore.
The route follows the coast in most places with an inland detour between Belford and Holy Island. Most of the paths are public rights of way (footpaths and bridleways) but in some places beaches, minor roads, tracks and permissive paths are used. The route is generally level with very few steep climbs. Most stiles along the route have been replaced with gates and the walking surfaces are generally good, although some sections of the path can become muddy in winter or after heavy rain.
As there is no accommodation at the start of the route at at Cresswell, we have worked out our itineraries as starting from Ellington which is 1.5 miles from Cresswell, our itineraries include this extra distance.
The first three and a half kilometres are on the beach. If the tide is high, this may be on soft sand and you might want to walk along the quiet road behind the dunes.
North of Alnmouth (Foxton Hall) golf course, the public right of way is on the beach. Check the tide times before you set off as the path will be inaccessible at the top of the highest tides.
North of the causeway at Holy Island, the path skirts the mud flats and again, at the top of the highest tides, the path may be under water. An alternative route is to follow the cycleway adjacent to the road for a short distance and then turn right onto the NCN1 cycleway which will take you to Longbridge Ends.
There is a Northumberland Coast Path Passport available from the official website http://www.northumberlandcoastaonb.org/publications/, where you can also buy the guidebook.
Many of the cafes and restaurants, shops and other businesses you will stop at along the way will have their own individual stamp and will stamp your passport for you – they are known as ‘Welcome Ports’.