Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the 100-mile long Northumberland Coast provides an unforgettable experience to all who visit, full of the rugged wilderness, rich history and wind-swept romance for which English coastal holidays are famous.

Header image credit: Onenortheast

Northumberland Coast

Why Visit the Northumberland Coast?

The Northumberland coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, offering rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and vast dune systems, along with nature reserves for a wide array of wildlife. There are plenty of coastal paths and trails to follow, too, with spectacular views along the way.

As well as natural beauty, the Northumberland coast also features stunning historic sites and attractions, such as the famous Holy Island of Lindisfarne, industrial legacies, and picturesque towns like Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Image credit: Visit Britain Joe Cornish

Getting to Northumberland by ferry

Getting There

This sparsely populated region is located in the north of England, and its dunes, long sandy beaches and outlying islands can be reached with just a one-hour drive from our Newcastle port. Or, if you’re looking to take in some of southern England and the Midlands on your way north, you could travel from Dieppe to Newhaven, or from Dunkirk or Calais to our Dover port.

What to See on the Northumberland Coast

It’s fair to say the coastal town of Berwick-upon-Tweed has had a turbulent history. Sitting just 3 miles from the Scottish border at the northerly tip of Northumberland, Berwick on Tweed has been captured or sacked at least 13 times, before finally falling to the English in 1482. The impressive defensive walls that now surround the town were built in the 1560s, and visitors today can walk the entire circuit, enjoying fantastic views of Berwick’s three bridges and the River Tweed estuary.

If drinking in the history isn’t your thing, you can spend your time visiting Berwicks’s four sandy beaches, taking a riverside walk or on one of the relaxing bike rides around the town.

As well as its beautiful surrounding countryside and seaside setting, visitors are drawn to the village of Bamburgh for the magnificent Bamburgh Castle. Bamburgh started its history as the capital of the 7th century Kingdom of Northumbria. The castle standing on the site today was built in the 11th century as a Norman stronghold, and its strength and strategic placement saw it used as a fortified defence well into the 15th century, when it eventually fell to the Earl of Warwick during the Wars of the Roses.

The castle is one of the UK’s most important archeological sites, yielding treasures such as stone-age axe heads and flints, as well as evidence from Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation. Today, the renovated castle houses a great collection of military artefacts, as well as a tea room and souvenir shop.

This peaceful ‘picture postcard’ coastal resort of Alnmouth boasts attractive sandy beaches, (reputedly) haunted hotels, fine restaurants and two golf courses, including the fourth oldest in England.

Historically, Alnmouth was a rich and well-visited trade port. So much so that in 1799, during the American War of Independence, John Paul Jones an American privateer, led a successful attack on the harbour.

During a violent storm in 1806, Alnmouth harbor was destroyed and left unusable, effectively ending Alnmouth’s trading value. However, the town gained a new lease of life when it received a rail connection in the 1840s and has been a popular holiday destination ever since.

Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland Coast, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is cut off twice-a-day by the encroaching tide. This makes Lindisfarne both a charming village and an isolated island depending on the time of day. This location and isolation also make it a haven for migratory birds, meaning Lindisfarne is a veritable mecca for birdwatchers.

The village itself is small and somewhat dominated by the impressive ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory, which was ransacked and ruined by the Vikings in the 8th century. Still a place of pilgrimage today,​ the priory is well worth a visit.

On the east of the island stands Lindisfarne Castle. Originally built to defend English ships during its many wars with Scotland, the castle eventually caught the eye of a wealthy businessman who gave the castle a luxurious makeover. Tourists can now visit the castle to explore its quirky rooms.


It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named as Europe's and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator in the 2015 World Travel Awards. We've won these awards for 5 years running.​​