Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England. Many stand guard along our dramatic coastline and are very easily accessible from Budle Bay Croft. Don’t forget to ask us if we can get you discounts when visiting them!
Lindisfarne Castle – a short drive from Budle Bay Croft across the causeway and you will see Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island. This started as a small fort built during the reign of Henry VIII but has seen no bloodshed. The present castle was restored in 1902 as a house by Sir Edwards Lutyens and is now owned by the National Trust. Be sure to check the Holy Island Safe Crossing Times!
Bamburgh Castle – wander from Budle Bay Croft across the crags to Bamburgh and you can’t fail to notice the majestic castle dominating the local sky-scape. Bamburgh Castle has sat proudly on top of a basalt outcrop for more than 2000 years and is one of the largest inhabited castles in the United Kingdom. A visit to the castle is a must for historians young and old. From the medieval history through the Lord Armstrong’s incredible inventions, the castle is awash with exhibits and facts, easily understood by listening to the audio tour guide. Also, by visiting the castle, you will be in good company. Since 1927, the castle has welcomed many a film crew and star, including Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O’Toole, Kate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren, Charlton Heston and most recently in February 2014, 12 Years a Slave actor Michael Fassbender, who filmed for a new big screen Macbeth production (along with its of locals as extras!). Over and above starring on the silver screen, Bamburgh Castle’s archaeological and historical discoveries have featured in recent TV series, including How the Celts Saved Britain, Coast, Meet the Ancestors, World’s End and the Time Team.
Dunstanburgh Castle is now a ruin, but was initially constructed in 1313 on a magnificent scale. It was built when hostilities between Earl Thomas of Lancaster and King Edward II were at their greatest. The Earl’s rebellion was defeated and before he could reach Dunstanburgh, he was executed in 1322. It then belonged to John of Gaunt, who strengthened the castle against the Scots by converting the twin towered gatehouse into a keep. It was later twice besieged and captured by yorkist forces throughout the fierce fighting during the War of the Roses. Subsequently it fell into decay. It is on a lovely, if sometimes bracing walk across the cliff tops between Embelton and Craster.
Alnwick Castle is the home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and has been the ancestral home of the Percy’s since 1309. It was originally a medieval motte and bailey but replaced in the 12th century by stone and has seen many reinforcements and modifications still ongoing now, with the construction of the famous Alnwick Garden. One of the Percy ancestors was Harry “Hotspur” who was known as one of the most valiant knights of his day. He led successive rebellions against Henry IV, and was slain in the Battle of Shrewsbury ion 1403. He was long associated with the Tottenham area of London and the Premier League football team Tottenham Hotspur was named after him. Alnwick Castle is also associated with another famous Harry, Harry Potter, as it was used in some of the films as part of the Hogwarts school. Today, there is something for everyone at Alnwick Castle – from a tour of the inhabited home that recently saw a wedding of the Duke and Duchess’ daughter attended by heirs to the throne Princes William and Harry – to the knights games, dragon slaying, dressing up, broomstick flying, archery and Potter spells and potions making! It was even used for filming Downton Abbey. Combined with a trip to the Alnwick Garden, a big family adventure is certain! Marvel at the scale of the Grand Cascade, and take in the spectacular half-hourly displays – you can even catch the water in the buckets of the ride on tractors. Get lost in the maze. Wind your way through the Serpent Garden’s sinuous topiary to find the water features hidden in its coils – and get wet – get very wet. Discover the riotous colours and delicate scents of the Rose Garden, with over 3000 David Austin Roses. Explore what lies beyond the locked gates of the Poison Garden…Get your hands dirty in the Roots and Shoots Garden and learn about the growing techniques in use while taking a peek at the beehives. Gaze in awe at the Cherry Orchard – over 300 Tai Haku cherry trees underplanted with 50,000 Purple Sensation Alliums. Wander the beautiful Woodland Walk – and see if you can spot any of the resident red squirrels. Explore the Oriental Garden – home to one of the country’s largest collections of European plants in striking geometric beds. Take a break at The Pavilion – it gives a beautiful panorama of The Garden and is home to the Pavilion Café. Explore the wobbly ropebridges and treetop walkways of one of the world’s largest wooden tree houses. If you want to eat at the wonderful Treehouse, you need to book – 01665 511350. Remember to take a change of clothes though – the children will get wet in the garden!
Warkworth Castle was thought to have been built c 1070 by the de Merlays or by Henry, son of David I of Scotland who was created Earl of Northumberland in 1139. Now a ruin, it is owned by English Heritage and well worth a visit. See how the powerful Percy family lived in the Duke’s Rooms, and take a trip down river to the Hermitage. The magnificent cross-shaped keep was home to ‘Harry Hotspur’, immortalised as a rebel lord by Shakespeare, and bane of Scottish raiders. Harry’s name was taken by a the world famous Tottenham Hotspur and since the 1921 FA Cup final the Tottenham Hotspur crest has featured a cockerel. Harry Hotspur (from whom the club is said to have taken its name) wore riding spurs and his fighting cocks were fitted with spurs which can be seen today in the crests.
For the more energetic of you, you can tour these castles, and more, by bike – further information can be found on the following link: http://www.coast-and-castles.co.uk