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Your Guide to Exploring Bamburgh | Joanne Wishart

Posted by Joanne Wishart on

Your Guide to Exploring Bamburgh


Part of me is hesitant about writing this blog post, which is about one of my favourite spots on the Northumberland coastline. I’m almost inclined to keep it to myself as it's the idyllic peacefulness of Bamburgh that makes it so special. Don’t get me wrong, Bamburgh is a popular tourist destination for many, especially during 2021 as many families opt for staycations rather than travelling abroad. However, despite higher tourist numbers than other Northumberland spots, it’s still a relatively unknown treasure for people outside the region.

Bamburgh Castle with Yellow fields of oil seeed rape in the landscape. This is the view over the golf course from the North side. Colourul yellow gourse flowers pepper the foreground.

When we talk about Bamburgh, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredible castle that overlooks the golden beach. Sitting atop a steep hill, Bamburgh Castle can be seen from anywhere on the beach. With foundations dating back to the Viking period and rich Medieval history, the castle underwent periods of restoration in the 18th and 19th centuries to become the grand sight we know it as today. 


But the castle isn’t the only fantastic thing about Bamburgh and the surrounding areas, within a short drive (or a long walk if you’re up for it!) you’ll find some more of my favourite spots, including Seahouses and Budle Bay. 

A view of Bamburgh Castle from a rocky shoreline with bright green seaweed on the shoreline.


Walks in Bamburgh and along the North East coast


If you’re like me and you enjoy getting your walking boots on and embarking on an adventure on foot, then you’re really spoilt for choice in and around Bamburgh. Other than the aforementioned hike from Budle Bay to Bamburgh, or the other way around, there are plenty of fantastic family-friendly walks in the area.

Artist Joanne Wishart stands infront of a view of Bamburgh Beach looking North towards Budle Bay.

 

Bamburgh is a dog-friendly beach all year round, so I highly recommend parking at the castle and walking along the sands to the ruins overlooking the beach about 3 miles round trip. If you fancy something a little longer, you could head all the way to Seahouses and refuel with a portion of the famous fish and chips from Lewis’s. Be aware, Bamburgh to Seahouses is a 7-mile round trip, so pack water (or a flask if it’s chilly) and take it easy.


If you fancy a little retail therapy while you’re in Seahouses, then you can find some of my prints and gifts for sale in Drift on Main Street. 


Wildlife in and around Bamburgh

 

Budle bay in Northumberland shows vast expanses of sand and wetlands of a tidal inlet. Clouds impose on the bold blue skyline.

Surrounding Bamburgh, you’ll find some lesser trodden paths, perfect for bird watching and wildlife spotting. Just over two miles north of Bamburgh, you’ll find Budle Bay. Part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, this area is home to a wide variety of waders and waterfowl, including Grey Plover, Purple Sandpiper and a few different species of geese. 


In search of the perfect gift for a bird watcher in your life? Check out my flock of birds card collections


If you’re looking for a full-day trip, then why not visit the Farne Islands? With boat trips from Seahouses several times a day, a visit to the Farnes is easy and a great way to entertain all of your family or educate yourself on the beautiful natural wildlife in the region. Particularly exciting are the puffins and seals you’ll see plenty of on the trip. 

Longstone Lighthouse with it's distinctive red and white stripes is perched on the rocky Farne islands with a deep blue sea in the foreground.


Bamburgh art prints


Unless you’re one of the lucky few who live on the Northumberland coastline, then a souvenir is a great way to remember your special holiday. Don’t worry if you didn’t make it to Seahouses to purchase one of my Northumberland art prints, you can always shop online or even visit me in my Cullercoats gallery.  I stock a wide range of prints and original paintings, many of which depict Bamburgh, Budle Bay, puffins and other iconic features of the award-winning coastline. 


 

Bamburgh is one of my absolute places to paint. I recently finished a large 100cm square box canvas acrylic painting inspired by the view from the top of the golf course, so you can bring a slice of Northumberland’s award-winning coastline back home. 

A painting of Bamburgh Castle on and Easel in Joanne Wishart's art studio.

 

What’s your favourite thing about Bamburgh? Let me know over on Facebook or Instagram

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Art Gifts for Dad & Trips Out for Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is fast approaching, so I thought this month would be the perfect time to discuss some of the wonderful things you can do with your dad in our beautiful region. From seaside days out (my personal favourite), to city explorations and day trips further afield, I’ve put together a list of lovely ways to spend Father’s Day.


So, whether you’re planning a day out with your dad or just want to get him a gift he’ll treasure, here are my top suggestions for things to do and buy for father’s day here in the North East…


Best for Nature-Loving Dads: Farne Island Trip

 

Thee black and white characterful puffins perched on a grassy clifftop over looking the sea.

About an hour’s drive from town sees you arrive at Seahouses - a beautiful coastal town that is worth a visit on its own. However, by purchasing tickets from the tour providers located by the marina, you can take your dad on a sightseeing trip to the Farne Islands. 


The wildlife has always enthralled me in the region, and you’ll see some of the best examples on the Farne islands - from cheeky Puffins to lounging seals. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, trips have been prevented from landing on Inner Farne - so you might not get the chance to wander along as the Puffin’s nest this year, but you can enjoy a wildlife spotting trip that tours the islands. 

Afterwards, why not head into one of Seahouses’ many famous eateries for some lunch or an evening meal. Lewis’ Fish Restaurant, in particular, is beloved for its traditional fish and chips. 

Best for Outdoorsy Dads: Coastal Path Walks

Northumberland’s coastal path isn’t as well known as more famous routes in other parts of the country - but it’s a spectacular way for families who love walking to experience the stunning Northumberland coastline. 

A print of Howick bathing house a traditional stone built cottage with tall chimney stacks at the end of a curved path. The house looks out to a teal green sea.

The coastal path stretches for 62 miles from Cresswell to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Whether you decide to do it in chunks or and walk the whole thing, you’ll take in headlands, beaches, castles and villages. The official website even has a ‘passport’ you can stamp to commemorate the trip. This is a great bonding experience for you and your father, but you’ll have to be up for some rigorous walking if you’re taking on the entire 100km route! 


Best for Hospitality: Tynemouth

Want a more relaxed day out with dad? Head to Tynemouth and book yourself a table at one of the many eateries in the town. There’s something for everyone in Tynemouth, from traditional pub meals to Asian Fusion, Italian and Indian options. You can even eat on the beach with Riley’s Fish Shack down on King Edward’s Bay and The View on Longsands!  

A painted view of Tynemouth Longsands featuring St Georges church in the distance and surfers surfing on the beach.

Afterwards, take your dad for a tour of some of Tynemouth’s great bars, including The Head of Steam, Lola Jeans, Allards Lounge and more. So, it doesn’t matter if he’s into craft beers, cocktails or win; you’ll find options to suit him in Tynemouth’s bustling hospitality scene. 


Best for Shoppers: Quayside Market

 


If he’s from the region, your dad has already likely been to the Quayside market. Visiting the market, which has been around in some form since 1736, is a treasured memory for most Tynesiders - but many of you will find the market transformed compared to your dad’s memory of it. Now the market boasts a huge collection of vendors selling all sorts of great stuff: artisan craft products, local clothing, condiments and of course, a mouth-watering array of street food. 


And because the market takes place every Sunday, you can even make it a Father’s day trip since it’ll fall on Sunday the 20th in 2021. 


Best for Quiet Escapes: Northumberland Beaches

We’ve already mentioned Seahouses and the Coastal Path, but if the sun is shining and your dad isn’t into long walks, why not visit one of the quieter bays in Northumberland for some idyllic bonding time together. 


The picture below depicts a father and son wandering along the bay in Boulmer, a fishing village more commonly associated with the RAF base nearby. Boulmer is a good example of a place often overlooked by tourists that can be amazing in the summertime, thanks to its serenity and traditional fishing harbour. 

A father and son walking along Boulmer beach with a coble boat on the shore and a fishermans cottage looking out to sea.

Art Gifts for Dad

However, you choose to spend your day, celebrate your father with a lovely gift he’ll appreciate from my site or Cullercoats gallery. I’ve got limited edition prints for the art appreciators, Northumberland wildlife-based mugs for animal lovers and even tea towels for the dads who love to cook. All feature my own unique art and have been made with love here in the North East.


I wish you all a happy Father’s day and hope this article serves all children well for future inspiration for trips out and gift ideas for dad. 

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Painting Puffins: Northumberland’s Quirkiest Bird

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Painting Puffins: Northumberland’s Quirkiest Seabird

The puffin is synonymous with Northumberland’s beautiful coastline. One of the world’s most unique seabirds, they’re known locally as “Tommy Noddys” and commonly nest on the Farne Islands.


Puffins are one of my favourite things to paint, which is why I have quite a few puffin art pieces on my site, including my new Flying Puffins Tea Towel, showing a host of the colourful birds in flight! 

A lilac blue coastal tea towel featuring Puffins flying in a pattern.

Puffin facts

Between mid-April and late July, puffins head to the Farne Islands to breed. Tourists can visit the islands and see their nests - burrowed into the peaty ground of the islands. Puffin chicks are known as… prepare yourself for the cuteness...  pufflings! 


Puffins are long-lived birds with lifespans in excess of 20 years, with some UK birds living for three decades! They are entirely sea-based over winter but return to land to nest in the summer season. The Northumberland puffins we’re discussing here habitually return to the Farne Islands to nest. Unfortunately, they are a red-listed species that is in decline. 


It’s also during these breeding seasons that their bills are at their shiniest! During winter at sea, puffin bills turn a cold grey. When back on land, their colourful rainbow pattern returns. Though even on land, Puffins head to the water to hunt their prey. They are carnivorous and can dive up to 60m to retrieve fish. 


With such beautiful colouring, it’s easy to see why puffins are so beloved - but if you’ve never seen them on land then you’re missing out on just how endearing they are. On land, the puffin is a clumsy bird - hopping and stumbling around in a way that is reminiscent of penguins. At sea, or in their dashing aerial dives, they become agile and dextrous. This transition between awkward land bird and maverick sea bird makes them all the more amazing to watch. 


Not only are puffins a breath-taking spectacle, but they also have a fascinating story. Did you know that puffins typically mate for life? Making an original puffin greetings card the perfect way to mark a special anniversary for your other half or another couple in your life. 

 

A greetings card featuring a flying puffin over a turquoise sea.

Painting Puffins in Northumberland


Plus, thanks to their friendly nature, puffins are also easy to study. Tourists can visit Seahouses then hire a boat to visit the Farne Islands. Once the boat completes a tour around the islands, tourists are allowed to dismount and then walk around the island to get up close to the birds. You should never get close enough to touch them - but taking photographs is encouraged! On your return to Seahouses, don’t forget to pop by independent art shop Drift to purchase some of my unique art?

A mounted print of a scene of Seahorses harbour with colourful red boats and Bamburgh Castle and beach in the distance.  

I love painting puffins - and you can probably tell why. They’re not only beautiful birds in terms of their colouring but also in terms of their unique personalities. Of course, their association with Northumberland and the Farne islands also makes them dear to me. 

Using inspiration to evolve as an artist


Puffins are exactly the type of inspiration an artist needs to help come up with new ideas. Their cheeky personalities and mixture of beauty, grace and clumsiness are so endearing. Coupled with how easy it is to visit the Farne Islands by taking a boat from Seahouses, it’s no surprise I have lots of Puffin related art on my site. 


During the lockdown, I could no longer visit the Farne islands or other Northumberland areas I love. Resigned to life at home whilst I homeschooled my children, I decided to take an online course to rejuvenate my skills in surface pattern design (which was my degree subject). I’ve been creating new wrapping paper designs as a result of this training and I’m delighted to share this one with you today whilst we’re on the subject of puffins! 


 Puffin Gift wrapping paper and matching labels by Joanne Wishart


Have you ever visited Seahouses and the Farne Islands to see the puffins? Such beautiful but sadly endangered birds deserve all the attention they can get. Shop my art prints online now if you’d like greetings cards, tea towels or wrapping paper featuring the cheeky seabirds. 

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Northumberland Hidden Gems | Northumberland Walks | Joanne Wishart

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Discover Northumberland’s Hidden Gems 


Northumberland is a stunning place. Not only does it boast miles upon miles of some of England’s only remaining untouched wilderness, but the region is also home to quaint towns, captivating coastlines and buildings rich in history.


Some of the region’s best spots, however, are hidden away from the general public. They’re the sort of areas nestled away from the busiest areas like Bamburgh Castle - offering a unique, secluded intimacy that helps accentuate the region’s beauty. 

Rumbling Kern, Howick

Rumbling Kern is a truly spectacular cove nestled away in the Northumberland coastline. Overlooked by a Grade II listed building known as the Bathing House, the cove is named after the sound made by waves crashing through rocks in high tide. The beach is a real hidden gem as Google Maps don’t even recognise the location. Instead, you need to head south of Craster to Howick before walking down to the beach. 


The cove is a secluded, peaceful; place with a beautiful beach in low tide. Our Bathing House painting captures the lonely cottage which overlooks the area. If you choose to visit Rumbling Kern, buy a limited edition print to commemorate your trip. 

 

The Bathing House Howick on the Northumberland Coastal Path Art Print by Joanne Wishart

Duddo Stone Circle

Northumberland has its very own Stonehenge, a collection of standing stones whose history stretch back to the neolithic period. The stones are located next to Duddo, a village situated near Berwick on the Scottish border. These five stones are perched on a hill, so there are incredible vistas across the wilderness all around. For those who love ancient history, you can’t really go wrong.  

Northumberland Coastal Path


Okay - so maybe this one isn’t quite a hidden gem. As Northumberland’s premier walking route, the coastal path is hardly hidden away. However, the route itself does serve as an opportunity to find vast moments of solace and seclusion - especially for those who walk the entire path. The popular stretches are those near towns and villages, but there are many places where the trail ambles through total isolation and empty beaches. 

 

Northumberland Coastal Path Bathing House Howick Art Print Joanne wishart

The coastal path itself inspired this limited edition print: with the Bathing House at Howick in the distance and fields of wildflowers nearby. 

Linhope Spout

Northumberland has a few great waterfalls, but this one is particularly special thanks to the small pool it creates at its foot. Some adventure seekers in the summertime even head to the pool to take a daring leap down into it. 


For most of us, though, Linhope spout is just a great walk amidst wild moorlands. It’s around a mile and a half from Hartside Farm to reach the waterfall itself, with the going fairly moderate. A must-visit for families who enjoy wild swimming with the kids. 

Newton by the Sea

Low Newton Northumberland Art Print Joanne Wishart

The silhouette of Dunstanburgh castle is instantly recognisable from Newton by the sea, a quiet village with an incredible beach. The beach itself sits across a stretch of sea that guards it against the peninsula where Dunstanburgh sits, giving the entire landscape an incredible backdrop. 


Less popular than many of the nearby villages, this is a quieter beach to sit and soak in the sunshine and historic views. 


Buy a limited edition print here.

Bolam Lake

A place is well known by locals but not as visited by tourists, Bolam Lake is a lovely lakeside and woodland area with lots of open grassy areas for picnics. The lakeside itself is great as it boasts an accessible path, so it can be enjoyed by all. Wildlife spotters will be pleased, as Bolam lake hosts many different species such as red squirrels, roe deer and the spotted woodpecker. 

Boulmer

Home to an RAF base, Boulmer may not be your first choice as a tourist visiting Northumberland. But while it may be famous for its military associations, Boulmer is also a quiet village with a beautiful coastline free from all of the bustle of the more popular Alnmouth to its south. Boulmer itself is home to quaint cottages which look out across the sea, and the village itself has buildings over a hundred years old.

With its authentic fishing history and quiet location, this is a true hidden gem for those looking for a quiet escape. This limited edition print captures the area’s heritage, with a family walking along the coastline overlooked by moored fishing boats. 


Northumberland has so much to offer to people from all walks of life. For me, in particular, the region is such an inspiration for the art featured here on the site. Shop our Northumberland art prints for a memento of your trips to England’s last true wilderness.

 

Boulmer Northumberland Art Print Joanne Wishart
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Draw the Oceans with Greenpeace

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Draw the Oceans Challenge

Big Blue Whale  Greetings card by Joanne Wishart Draw the oceans challenge

This month Greenpeace challenged artist and illustrations form all over the globe to join in with their campaign to draw the oceans. The project aims to highlight that the Arctic Sunrise is sailing through the Indian Ocean and documenting the threats our oceans face, and put pressure on governments to protect them.   

Draw the Oceans

The draw the oceans campaign was headlined by artists such as Oliver Jeffers, Quentin Blake, Jane Foster to name a few and you can view all submissions by searching the #drawtheoceans hashtag on social media.   

Joanne Wishart Draws the Oceans

So it seemed rude not to join in and show you some of my ocean artwork and whale imagery. It's given me thoughts of doing a large canvas painting of a whale too. So what this space.

Orca whale greetings card by Joanne Wishart draw the oceans

Draw the oceans and join in

To find out more about this campaign and give greenpeace your support, please visit the Greenpeace website here. Draw the Oceans and join in.

 

 

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