Northumberland Coast AONB

Northumberland Coast AONB, Northumberland, England
Northumberland Coast AONB ©

Northumberland Coast – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in North Yorkshire in northern England. The area was first designated a AONB back in 1958, the area covers 135 square kilometres, the coastal AONB is one of the most compact in the UK covering an area stretching for 39 miles along the coastline in Northumberland. The area is well known for its sandy beaches, isolated islands, rolling dunes and rocky cliffs.

The local population of approx 12,500 live in towns and villages located across the AONB such Alnmouth and Seahouses. The area covered under the AONB designation covers a narrow coastal strip of land starting from close to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north to Amble in the south. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Nature Reserves, Conservation Areas and Scheduled Monuments.

The key features and special qualities of the Northumberland Coast AONB include the variety of nationally significant landscape areas, range of wildlife habitats, a number of historical archaeological sites and settlements including Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Lindisfarne castles. The area is important for wildlife and habitats with a number of protected wildlife and grassland sites The key features combined with the peace, tranquillity, the remote location and natural beauty of the area makes the area special.

The main industries in the AONB include mixed farming, fishing and tourism. The remoteness of the location ensures the area can be enjoyed away from the crowds. During the peak holiday season the area is popular for visitors, for day trips, weekend breaks and longer stays. There are a number of scenic villages and small towns located in the AONB, including the ports of Seahouses and Alnmouth. Main settlements located close by include Alnwick, Amble, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The area is popular for outdoor activities including surfing, diving, coasteering, kite sport, wildlife watching, horse riding, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy some of the finest and most dramatic coastal scenery in the UK whilst enjoying a range of landscapes and stunning views.

Quick Facts

Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1958

Population: 12,500 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 135

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): 16

National Nature Reserves (NNR): 3

Conservation Areas: 14

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 21

Main Settlements close by: Alnwick, Amble, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Located in: Northumberland.


The Northumberland Coast AONB is located in the northern English county of Northumberland in north east England. The Northumberland Coast is the most northerly coastline in England, close to the border with Scotland. The relatively remote location and area means the coastline remains one of the most natural and un-developed in England. Whilst the area does not have as high a profile as some other AONBs and National Parks in the UK, the relative lack of commercial development ensures visitors to the area can enjoy the scenic beauty and attractions away from the crowds.

The AONB includes a number of relatively small coastal settlements, peace and tranquillity where visitors can enjoy an essentially remote area away from the traffic and congestion of the major towns and cities. The AONB area itself is sparsely populated compared to the population centres in the surrounding areas. There are no major towns or cities that fall within the AONB boundary, local settlements include the ports of Seahouses and Alnmouth, there are a number of historic coastal villages that are full of history and character.

The Northumberland Coast AONB has a rich history and includes a number of historic archaeological and historical sites for visitors to explore including Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Howick Hall Gardens. The area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Local towns located close to the AONB border include Morpeth, Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Northumberland Coast AONB.

The commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to help protect and maintain the special qualities of the area ensuring visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and scenic landscapes in Northumberland Coast.

The location in the north east of England means the AONB is easily assessable from across the north west and north east of England, the Midlands and Scotland. From Newcastle, Durham and much of north east England the area is 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes by car, from Leeds it is 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours by car, from Birmingham and much of the Midlands it is 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes. From Liverpool and Manchester it is approx 4 hours. From Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland it is 2 to 3 hours by car. From London and much of southern England it is 6 hours 30 minutes to 7 hours 30 minutes away.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at various locations in close by to the Northumberland Coast AONB. The TICs based inside the AONB are located at Craster and Seahouses whilst there are centres in Bellingham, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Hexham, Morpeth, Wooler, Alnwick, Amble, Haltwhistle and Corbridge located close to the AONB. The tourist information centres provide visitors with information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas.

Each of the centres has knowledgeable staff offering useful local knowledge with further information on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area, find out about local events, public transport options and accommodation facilities.

Local Accommodation includes a range of hotels including historic and contemporary, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Seahouses, Beadnell, Bamburgh and Holy Island. Towns located in the area including Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Amble and Wooler, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas in north east England.

The Northumberland Coast AONB provides a place for visitors to explore one of the most remote and east densely populated places in England, where it is possible to get away from it all and the stresses and strains of town and city life. Many of the villages in the AONB and the surrounding towns have preserved their history, traditions and heritage showcasing local history and culture. There are a number of local attractions and places of interest for visitors to explore further.

Local Towns include Seahouses located in 17 miles north of Alnmouth. The compact port established itself in the 18th century with the harbour built to serve North Sunderland. The village is now a popular destination for visitors to the region, the harbour is a hub for trips to the Farne Islands, cruises to Holy Island and is used by commercial fisheries. The beaches close by offer some of the finest and most secluded beaches in the UK, visitors can enjoy the sandy beaches, great coastal scenery and a number of walks.

Local attractions include trips to the Farne Islands located a short boat trip away, golfing aficionados can visit the Seahouses Golf Club and play a round of golf on the beautiful Northumberland coastline. The village includes local shops, amenities and eateries making it a popular place for visitors.

The Farne Islands are located a few miles off the Northumberland coast close to Seahouses. Boat rides are available from nearby Seahouses Managed by the National Trust, the islands vary in number between 15 and 28 dependent on the tide, they have been designated a Special Protection Area, National Nature Reserve for seabird colonies and a Special Conservation Area for the grey seals found here. The wildlife here makes the islands one of the finest places visitors can see nature at its finest.

Local attractions include the summer months when in excess of 150,000 breeding birds descend in to the islands, with over 20 varieties of birds including puffins and razorbills. Visitors can see the famous grey seals, the islands are the largest breeding colony in England with 1,000 pups thought to born here in the autumn

Bamburgh is located 18 miles north of Alnwick, the seaside village is most famous for the Grade I listed Bamburgh Castle that overlooks many miles of coastline. The area is a favourite among surfers and beach goers with an interesting and dramatic coastline, the area offers plenty of space ensuring visitors can enjoy the open areas for family activities, horse riding, dog walking and outdoor activities.

Behind the beach is the Bamburgh sandy hills, an area of sand dunes that are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Bamburgh is home to the most northerly land based lighthouse in the England, known as Stag Rocks visitors can enjoy some inspiring views to Holy Island and the Fame Islands, the area is popular for rock pooling.

Craster is located 8 miles to the north of Alnmouth within the AONB. The fishing village includes a harbour and the Kipper factory that produces the famous oak smoked kippers (herrings) that the village is famous for. The fish delicacy is prepared in the traditional way in oak smoked barrels and exported across the country. Local attractions include the Arnold Memorial Nature Reserve, formerly an old quarry the area is an important habitat for breeding and migrant birds including willow warblers, blackcap and bluethroat.

Other attractions include the Mick Oxley Gallery where visitors will find a range of artworks and crafts that have been inspired by the seaside including a range of watercolour and textual works. The hidden cove of Rumbling Kern is located to the south, once known for whisky smugglers bootlegging across the coastline, there is a secluded beach here that visitors can enjoy.

The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle are located approx one mile from the village of Craster via a scenic coastal walk. The historic castle is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage, located in scenic surroundings in Northumberland the castle dates back to the 14th century. Highlights include the Gatehouse and the Lilburn Tower, from where visitors can see some fabulous views towards Bamburgh Castle. The remote, tranquil location and stunning sea views offer the perfect relaxing day out away from the stresses and traffic of towns and cities.

Other highlights include a range of colourful wildflowers, wading birds including dunlin and redshanks and seeing Saddle Rock, the geological formation located on the golf course side of the castle.

Bamburgh Castle is located 20 miles south east from Berwick-upon-Tweed. One of the finest castles in England enjoys a dramatic location perched on a basalt outcrop on the edge of the North Sea in Bamburgh in the AONB. The castle offers visitors some inspiring views of Holy Island, Farne Islands and the Cheviot Hills. The historic castle is a Grade I listed building, its rich history makes it among the most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites in the world, covering an area of 9 acres the castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in the UK.

Other attractions here include the Armstrong Aviation Artefacts Museum that are located in the north ward of the castle. The Armstrong museum showcases the life and times of the first Baron Armstrong and there are a number of relics of aviation from its origins to the present day.

Howick Hall Gardens is located 6 miles north of Alnmouth in Northumberland. A Grade II* listed building, Howick has been owned by the Grey family since the 14th century and is the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey, after whom the famous tea is named. Visitors can tour the gardens, arboretum, tea room and the visitor centre with guided tours available. The impressive gardens include a range of trees, shrubs and flowers using informal styles and are well known for the spring bulbs and woodland garden.

Other attractions on site include the Howick Arboretum, a relatively new attraction opened back in 2006, visitors can see a variety of trees and shrubs in the 65 acres site from all over the world. The Arboretum is spilt in to east and west sections with a number of routes for visitors to explore. The critically acclaimed gardens offer an interesting day out especially for gardening and horticulture enthusiasts.

Walking offers visitors one of the best and environmentally friendly ways to discover the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Northumberland Coast AONB includes a choice of landscapes and terrain, with a number of footpaths, bridleways and quiet lanes offering both shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities.

Walks include the Northumberland Coast Path, a 103 kilometre walk along the Northumberland Coast from Cresswell in the south up to Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north. Other walk include St Cuthbert's Way, a 100 kilometre walk from Melrose in the Scottish Borders down to Holy Island in Northumberland.

Cycling provides both a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Northumberland Coast AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes and more challenging terrain making the area suitable for cycling. There are a number of cycle routes in the area these include route 1 of the National Cycle Network, goes from Newcastle to Edinburgh along the AONB coast.

Visitors to the Northumberland Coast AONB in northern England will find a quiet, remote scenic area full of character and historic charm known for its sandy beaches, rolling dunes, rocky cliffs and historic attractions. Visitors can explore a number of historic seaside towns and villages in and around the AONB. Northumberland Coast includes wide open spaces and remote areas away from the traffic and congestion, where visitors can enjoy the peace and tranquillity, landscapes and wonderful views.

How to Get There

Northumberland Coast AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The village of Alnmouth is located at the southern edge of the AONB area and provides a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation and local amenities. Located approx 325 miles from central London. From London take the A41 then the A1 and the A1(M) heading north all the way to Alnmouth. From the A1 at Alnmouth take the right turn to the A1068 then the B1338 that goes to Alnmouth. The approx journey time is 6 hours 30 minutes to 7 hour 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Alnmouth has regular services from London King's Cross station. The journey time is approx 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on service, connections and time of day.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Alnwick in Northumberland. The approx journey time is 7 hours 5 minutes to 7 hours 30 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. From Alnwick visitors can use the Arriva bus service no. X18 for services in to the AONB area and on to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Coach services to Alnwick are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Northumberland Coast AONB
County Hall
NE61 2EF

Telephone: +44 (0)1665 511207

Website: Northumberland Coast AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Northumberland Coast (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Northumberland Coast AONB in Northumberland ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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