Alnmouth to Craster Coastal Walk
The Northumberland coastal landscape is a great inspiration for my paintings. I love to immerse myself in the scenery and the best way to do this is on foot, with a picnic, sketchbook and a camera in my backpack. Follow my journey on foot as I take in the sights of the Northumberland coastal path from Alnmouth to Craster.
Alnmouth on the Coastal Path
There are few places in the country, let alone Northumberland, that can be directly compared to the famous Scottish town of Balamory but Alnmouth is one of them. Its brightly coloured houses lined against the estuary make this village a must see attraction when visiting Northumberland.
Founded in 1150, Alnmouth was built on the export of grain and timber until the village was transformed by a storm in 1806, which reshaped the physical landscape around the port town. Trade as a result declined throughout the 19th century, but the village remodelled itself and became a tourist destination. This was aided by the development of the expanding rail network, which brought the fortunes of developing industrial cities along with it.
Perhaps the most notable tourist transformation is the Alnmouth golf course, founded in 1869, the fourth oldest in the country. While the idea of playing golf may be appealing to some, Ross and I had the coastal path in our sights.
We walked through the picturesque village, calling in at our favourite stockist The Aln Gift Shop (who stock a fabulous selection of my coastal paintings), then headed towards the estuary where we were greeted by fantastic views of an open seascape. The beach stretched gently around the coast line with Coquet Island in the distance. Heading North with a low tide we walked over Marden rocks to Foxton beach. Trekking parallel to the coastal path, we could take in the sea views and feel the sand beneath our feet.
Looking back towards Alnmouth, a lone windswept tree perched on the dunes was the perfect subject to capture in my sketchbook, encapsulating the open wilderness feeling of the Northumberland coast. Once the sketch was finished we trekked over the rocks at Seaton point and headed over the grassland towards Boulmer, which was our next port of call.
Walking to Boulmer
Boulmer is one of Northumberland’s last genuine fishing villages and has changed little in the past 100 years. Boulmer has a more murky history compared to Alnmouth. It was known as a smuggler haven during the 18th and 19th centuries with the local pub, the Fishing Boat Inn, acting as the headquarters for this illicit activity. The pub is still there, but the days of pirating are long gone. It offers a great range of local beers and an excellent seafood restaurant. We didn't have time for fine dining but did take advantage of a cool drink!
*A side note to dog owners. Dogs are not allowed inside the pub, but they do have a few outdoor picnic tables.
Moving North from Boulmer, we headed across farmland towards Longhoughton beach and onwards to the hidden gem of Sugar Sands. Longhoughton Beach was a fantastic place for a spot of birdwatching.
We were blessed to catch a glimpse of oystercatchers, sanderlings and a lone Heron on the shoreline. The Bathing House at Howick was a spot in the distance and our next stop on the coastal path as we hugged the coastline intertwined with coves and rocky bays.
The Bathing House & Rumbling Kern an artists viewpoint
The iconic Bathing House at Howick was built on a rocky headland in the early 19th century by the second Earl Grey. Famous for his association with Earl Grey Tea, the former Prime Minister created a coastal retreat for his 15 children to enjoy outdoor learning and bathing in the North Sea.
If you venture out onto the rocks at low tide you can see two carved rock pools he created for his family to bathe. The house, steps, and rock pools are all grade two listed and a much visited part of the coastline. You can even rent the building out today as a holiday let!
There are some great vantage points to paint on this section of the coastal path with views to take in the Bathing House with Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance. This was our last stop for a spot of sketching before we headed north on the last stretch towards the harbour village of Craster.
The end of the day was in sight as we arrived at our final destination, Craster. Named after the Craster family, who have owned the estate since records began in 1272, this small village has lots to offer visitors and we couldn’t visit Craster without a look around local artist Mick Oxley's Gallery.
In recent years Craster has become a hotspot for foodies, with a great range of café’s and restaurants serving up fresh local produce. This recent development follows a strong culinary tradition as Craster is most famous for its smoked kippers. The smokehouse has come to symbolise the village, with L. Robson and Sons producing the delicious fish for over 100 years, serving both locals and the royal family. While the herring used to make the smoked kippers are not locally sourced anymore, Craster still has a fishing community.
The harbour protecting the boats was built in 1906 to honour Captain John Craster who died while on mission in Tibet for the British army. The boats moored on the shore with the fishermen's houses behind them provide another great opportunity for a quick sketch before we head home for the day.
Thanks for following my creative journey. You can see more of my artwork at our Art Gallery in Cullercoats, North Tyneside, online at www.joannewishart.co.uk or follow me on social media. Facebook Instagram Twitter
*Tips for walkers
There is no mobile phone signal in Craster.
The bus back to Alnmouth takes a long time, you change buses at Alnwick! We left our car at Alnmouth for the day and got the bus back.
Pubs and restaurants get very busy in the summer months, so booking a table in advance is advisable. The cafe in Craster was closing when we arrived later in the day so it would be advisable to book the pub at Craster if you need a hearty meal after a long walk!
Public toilets are available at Alnmouth, Boulmer and Craster on this walking route.