Follow Us:

Tour of England's Northeast Coast

Whitby AbbeyWhitby Abbey View slideshow

The northeast coast of England extends from north of the Humber estuary near Hull to the Scottish border. With one or two exceptions, the seaside resorts here are less well-known and less favored in terms of climate than resorts in the south of England, but they have the advantage of being less crowded, except perhaps at weekends, and some of them have preserved their original charm and character.

Withernsea, England

Withernsea is a resort favored by the people of Hull, with a sandy beach which extends along the coast, with interruptions, for miles. There is a wide promenade with two Pier Towers at the entrance that look like castle towers. There are two fine churches within easy reach, at Hedon (4mi/6km east of Hull) and Patrington (4mi/6km southwest of Withernsea). The church at Hedon, with a Decorated nave, an Early English choir and transepts and a Perpendicular tower, is known as the "King of Holderness" (the rich corn-growing area on the plain east of Hull). The church at Patrington, with an imposing tower, is mainly Decorated; it is known as the "Queen of Holderness".

Bridlington, England

Beach at Bridlington.
Bridlington (31mi/50km north of Withernsea; pop. 28,600) is a seaside resort with a long beach which extends south for almost the whole length of Bridlington Bay.
The population of Bridlington grows considerably during the summer months with tourists visiting the beach as well as the ancient market town that lies about one mile from the coast.
It is worth visiting the Bayle Gate, the gatehouse of the former monastery (1388). The museum of antiquities, which has been set up here, includes a lovingly assembled dolls collection and numerous objects associated with the history of Bridlington.

Priory Church of St Mary

In Bridlington's old town the Priory Church of St Mary, which was begun under Henry VIII, is worth visiting. During the English Reformation period the nave was pulled down and it was not until the middle of the last century that Sir Gilbert Scott completed the restoration of the church. Of note are the Jesse window with its 30 sections and the Early Gothic windows in the nave.

Sewerby Hall and Gardens

In Bridlington's town museum in Sewerby Hall, to the northeast of the center, there are archaeological finds and a small gallery displaying local art.
The gardens include recreational areas for children and adults as well as walled rose gardens. There are also many events hosted on the grounds.
Address: Church Lane, Bridlington YO15 1EA, England

Burton Agnes Hall

An outing to Burton Agnes Hall (6mi/9km west of Bridlington) is to be recommended. The mansion, which is a magnificent example of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture, was built in 1598, extended in 1628 by Inigo Jones, and contains valuable furniture and a beautiful collection of French impressionists.
Address: Estate Office, Burton Agnes YO25 0ND, England

Scarborough, England

Fishing boat in Scarborough.
The famous resort of Scarborough (pop. 45,500) owes its name of "Queen of the Yorkshire Coast" to its beautiful sandy beaches. It has been the leading seaside resort in the north of England since 1734, and still preserves its Victorian character. It is well supplied with parks and gardens, cafes and entertainment of all kinds.
Scarborough has a North and South Bay, the South Bay is more popular for entertainment and shopping. The North Bay is connected to the South by a Victorian promenade.

Church of St Mary

The Church of St Mary (12th-13th century, Transitional and Early English) is of interest. Anne Bronte (1820-1849), sister of Charlotte and Emily, is buried in the adjoining churchyard.

Scarborough Castle

On the headland between the two beaches in Scarborough is the Castle with a 12th C keep. The best view of the town is from Oliver's Mount (500ft/153m).
Address: Castle Road, England

Whitby, England

Entrance to Whitby Harbour in Yorkshire.
Whitby (pop. 15,800), an old seaport full of tradition, has magnificent beaches of sand, extending to Robin Hood's Bay and beyond. The River Esk flows between the older and newer parts of the town. Whitby was formerly an important whaling station. Captain Cook served as an apprentice in Grape Lane and began his first Pacific expedition from Whitby. There is a memorial above the harbor to the great seafarer and discoverer.
The golf-course is breathtakingly situated on high cliffs above the beach, while the best view of the town and coast is to be had from the inappropriately named Khyber Pass.
Whitby hosts a regatta each year in August - three days of displays, events and fireworks as well as a rowing competition. The town also hosts Whitby Folk Week and Whitby Now featuring live music.

Whitby Abbey

Ruins of Whitby Abbey.
On top of the cliffs are the towering ruins of Whitby Abbey, founded in 657 and the venue of the famous Synod of Whitby (664). After being destroyed by the Danes, the Abbey was rebuilt in 1078. The most striking remnant is the 13th/14th century church, built predominantly in the Early English style. The 199 steps of "Jacob's Ladder" lead to the Norman-Romanesque Church of St Mary's, with a beautiful south door.
This site is of particular importance because it is the setting of Bram Stoker's famous novel "Dracula".
The Synod of Whitby was the meeting at which the English church decided to follow the Roman church rather than the Celtic Irish church.
Address: Green Lane, Whitby YO15 1PD, England

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

The Captain Cook Memorial Musuem was once the navigator's home ashore. It houses a collection of authentic charts, manuscripts and other items of note that relate to the famous explorer.
Address: Grape Lane, Whitby YO22 4BE, England

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, England

Cliff Lift from the beach at Saltburn.
Beyond Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a seaside resort favored by rheumatic sufferers, there is a marvelous stretch of coastline, which includes the rugged Boulby Cliffs, leading to Redcar, a seaside resort with miles of beach, a 3mi/5km long promenade, a racecourse and a wide range of entertainments. The town also has a museum devoted to fishing and sea rescue.
Saltburn-by-the-Sea hosts numerous annual events including the Saltburn Victorian Celebrations, the Saltburn Swashbuckle - geared to children, and the Saltburn Folk Festival.

Tynemouth Castle, Tynemouth, England

The seaside clock tower and priory ruins in Tynemouth.
Beyond Saltburn-by-the-Sea, the next resort of any size, although not a particularly attractive one, is Tynemouth (pop. 70,000) at the mouth of the River Tyne. It forms a conurbation with North Shields, South Shields, where the Roman fort of Arbeia marks the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Indeed Tynemouth serves this larger urban area as a residential town and favored place for weekend outings to the beaches, particularly favored for surfing. The coastline along here is interspersed with many rocks, and on an outlying crag surrounded by water are the remains of the Castle and the ruins of the Priory Church (about 1090), with a fine Early English choir and the completely preserved Percy Chapel (15th century).

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England

Whitley Bay, England

St Mary's Lighthouse on St Mary's Island, north of Whitley Bay.
Whitley Bay (pop. 40,000) has a very attractive beach. It is a modern resort with excellent facilities for sport, recreation and entertainment.
Whitley Bay has numerous restaurants with a variety of tastes such as Indian, Chinese and Thai. The Park View Shopping Centre opened in 2004 and features niche retailers.

Whitely Bay - St Mary's Lighthouse

St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitely Bay.
To reach St Mary's Lighthouse you must cross the causeway between tides. From the top of the lighthouse visitors are rewarded with spectacular views. At the Visitor Centre you will find displays on the island's history and wildlife. Outside, the nature reserve has fascinating rockpools and important populations of seabirds and waders.
Address: St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay NE26 4RS, England

Seaton Delaval House

Just 3mi/5km north of Whitley Bay is Seaton Sluice. Inland from here is Seaton Delaval Hall, seat of Lord Hastings, a gigantic Palladian house built by John Vanbrugh in 1718-29, which contains an excellent collection of furniture and paintings by English masters, including works by Reynolds.

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, England

From Seaton Sluice the road continues via Blyth and the pretty village of Bedlington - familiar to dog-lovers because of Bedlington terriers - to the seaside resort of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, with rock formations, a sandy beach and an impressive church (St Bartholomew's from the 13th century).
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is a popular holiday destination to enjoy cod caught by the local fishing fleet or some sports activities at the Newbiggin Sports Centre.

Amble, England

Sunrise over Amble harbor.
The next stretch of coast, 40mi/64km long, between Amble and Berwick is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The little town of Amble is noted for its boatbuilding and fishing opportunities.

Warkworth Castle & Hermitage

Warkworth Castle sits atop a hill.
Warkworth is prettily situated in a loop of the River Coquet. The castle, which is mentioned in Shakespeare's "Henry IV", was founded in 1139 and has been in the possession of the Percy family since 1332. Of particular interest are the keep, a later addition, which, despite being without its roof, is well preserved, and the Lion's Tower (1480). St Laurence's Church, largely Norman in style, is also notable.


Alnmouth seen from the water.
From Warkworth the road continues via Lesbury to Alnmouth, a trim seaside resort and yachting center.

Alnwick - Dunstanburgh Castle

In the distance are the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.
At Dunstanburgh Castle visitors will find the ruins of a castle built in 1316. The original castle was later enlarged and then severely damaged during the War of the Roses.
The ruins are under the guardianship of the National Trust.
Address: Craster, England

Alnwick, England

A garden treehouse in Alnwick.
Situated 4mi/6km inland from Alnmouth is Alnwick (pop. 8,000), a tiny medieval town situated high above the banks of the River Aln.
Alnwick is dominated by the Alnwick Castle rising to the west of the town. The castle was started in 1096 and added to until the 19th century. It has been used by numerous educational institutions but is open to tourists from April to September.

Alnwick Castle (Regimental Museum)

Lush grounds of Alnwick Castle.
Alnwick Castle, seat of the Duke of Northumberland, is a well-preserved example of a medieval fortress. The oldest parts of the castle are the fortified walls, dating from the 12th century, which were strengthened in the 14th century by the first Lord Percy and given towers. Around this time the massive main gateway was also built, which gave entry to the outer courtyard. In the 18th and 19th centuries the castle underwent substantial restoration. Its artistic treasures include French period furniture from the 17th-19th century; Roman antiquities; a collection of paintings including works by Titian, Palma Vecchio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Tintoretto, Canaletto, van Dyck, William Dobson and Turner; valuable porcelain (including a Meissner dinner service in the dining-room); the state coach of the third Duke of Northumberland and an extensive library with 8,000 volumes, including handwritten prayer books and rare examples of early printing.
Alnwick Castle's Abbot's Tower houses the Regimental Museum of Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.
Address: Estates Office, Alnwick NE66 1NQ, England

Northumberland Walking Trails

The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland's National Park.
This informal trail traces the Heritage coast to the Roman Wall. The trail begins at Greenhead, going past Hadrian's Wall to Twice Brewed, Bellingham, Otterburn, through the Northumberland National Park and finally to Rothbury.
A second trail begins at the Alnwick Castle, heading towards the coast at Alnmouth, going north to Craster, past the Dunstanburgh Castle to Banburg and up to Berwick-upon-Tweed. It is suggested that these trails be done over the course of about two weeks.

Chillingham Castle

Interior view of the Chillingham Castle.
Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle surrounded by formal gardens. Inside you will find impressive stonework, plasterwork and state rooms filled with tapestries, fine furniture and armor. There are also shocking dungeons and a torture chambe and it is said to be haunted.
Address: Chillingham, Alnwick NE66 5NJ, England

Seahouses, England

The resort town of Seahouses is located on the North Sea coast. Boat tours depart from the harbour for the Farne Islands to view seals and seabirds as well as scuba diving among the many wrecks.

Farne Islands

Lighthouse in the Farne Islands.
From Seahouses and the neighboring village of Bamburgh there are motorboat trips to the uninhabited Farne Islands, a group of some 30 dolerite islets lying between 1.5 and 5mi (2-8km) offshore, now a bird reserve. More than 20 species nest on the islands, which are also the home of seals. During the nesting season only a few of the islands are open to visitors. St Cuthbert spent eight years here as a hermit.
Address: 8 St Aidan's, Seahouses NE68 7SR, England

Bamburgh, England

Bamburgh, once capital of the kingdom of Bernicia, is a pleasant little seaside resort (pop. 600).
It has a sandy beach and sand dunes that are popular with tourists. Bamburgh Castle overlooks the beach, the original portion was completed in 547 and it was completely restored by the Armstrong family.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle.
The enormous Bamburgh Castle, with its Norman keep, is largely the product of a thorough restoration in the 18th century.
This fortress castle towers on a basalt crag overlooking the sea. Visitors can tour 16 rooms in Bamburgh Castle.

St Aidan's Church

St Aidan's Church has a very fine crypt and a beautiful 13th century choir. The popular 19th century heroine, Grace Darling (1815-42), who rowed out with her father, the lighthouse keeper, to save the crew of the shipwrecked "Forfarshire", is buried in the churchyard.


Lindisfarne Castle.
Located 11mi/18km further on from Bamburgh is Beal, which is a starting point for visits to Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island, parts of which are a bird sanctuary. At low tide the island can be reached on foot or by car across a causeway (2¾ mi/4km). The island derives its name from the fact that it was very important as an early center for Christianity.

Lindisfarne Priory

Ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory.
St Aidan was sent to Holy Island from Iona in order to proselytize the people of Northumbria, and built a small monastery on the island. After the Danes' invasion the monks fled with the remains of St Cuthbert, sixth bishop here, and in 1093 a new Benedictine priory was founded at Lindisfarne. Only a few remains are left of the original fine church, the present building showing for the most part late Norman features (1140-50)
The sacking of Lindisfarne heralded the beginning of the Viking Age.

Lindisfarne Castle

The castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
Standing opposite the church ruins on Lindisfarne is Lindisfarne Castle, a fortress built against Scottish attacks in the middle of the 16th C. It was destroyed during the Civil War but was rebuilt in 1902.
Address: Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2SH, England

Berwick-upon-Tweed, England

Ramparts at Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Since 1482 the most northerly town in England has been Berwick-upon-Tweed (pop. 14,000), an old border town which over a period of 300 years changed its allegiance 13 times. For a while it was Scotland's principal seaport. The town is characterized by three large bridges which span the River Tweed. The Berwick or Old Bridge, with 15 arches, dates from 1634, while the Royal Border Bridge (a railroad bridge) was built in 1847-50 to plans by Robert Stephenson.
Berwick-upon-Tweed is a notable destination for its own landmark buildings and bridges as well as a base for visiting nearby historical sites. Berwick-upon-Tweed holds a market every Saturday and Wednesday.

Elizabethan Ramparts

The main tourist feature of the Berwick-upon-Tweed is the Elizabethan ramparts, which still enclose the town on the north and east. In their day a model of their kind throughout Europe, they were built by Sir Richard Lee on the orders of Elizabeth I in 1558-60. With their five bastions - King's Mount, Windmill Mount, Brass Bastion, Cumberland Bastion, Meg's Mount - they are unique in Britain.

Barracks, Museum and Art Gallery

The little Town Hall (1761) in Marygate today houses the town museum. The parish church of Holy Trinity, designed in 1652 by the London architect John Young of Blackfriars, has elaborate Venetian windows. The buildings of the "Barracks" were constructed in 1717-21 for 600 men and 36 officers and thereby have the distinction of being the oldest garrison in England. Today they house three museums: a regimental museum, the English Heritage military museum and an art gallery which is attached to the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.
Address: The Parade, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 1DQ, England

Paxton House

Paxton House (3mi/4.8km west of Berwick-upon-Tweed) features in a romantic love story. While studying in Germany the young Patrick Home of Billie fell in love with the illegitimate daughter of Frederick the Great. In Berlin's Charlottenburg Castle in 1749, the young lady presented Patrick with a ring and a pair of silk gloves as a symbol of her love and these are on view in Paxton House to this day. After some initial hesitation, Frederick the Great gave his approval to the liaison but requested that Patrick transfer his assets to Prussia and live in Berlin, whereupon Patrick's mother threatened to disinherit her son. He returned to Scotland and sought the help of the king, who presented Home with Paxton House as a fitting residence for his future wife, but in the end they did not marry.
The mansion was built by John and James, two brothers of the celebrated Adam family. The Palladian-style country house is noted not only for its elegant Chippendale furniture but also its painting gallery in delicate pastel shades and topped with a glass dome. This and the library were designed by Robert Reid in 1811. The Regency-style rosewood furniture came from the workshops of the Edinburgh craftsman William Trotter. Paxton House once possessed the biggest private collection of any Scottish country house but the works of art have had to be sold to pay for the upkeep of the property. The current exhibits have been loaned by the National Gallery of Scotland.
Address: Paxton, Berwick-Upon-Tweed TD15 1SZ, England

Etal Castle, Etal, England

Rapeseed along the River Till at Etal.
The small town of Etal near Berwick is home to a compact 14th century border castle which stands at the end of the village street. It has a well preserved keep, two corner towers and a gatehouse.

You may also be interested in:

More on PlanetWare