Craster is a small and beautifully formed fishing village on the Northumberland coastline. Renowned for its kippers (cured herring), and offering visitors an attractive harbour, breathtaking coastal walks and a fine selection of places to eat, there is plenty to see and do in this beautiful part of the county.
From Craster’s rocky shore, you can admire magnificent views of the sea and the iconic Dunstanburgh Castle, which towers above. Craster’s castle is one of the largest and most impressive in northern England and can be reached by a picturesque coastal footpath leading from the village and across a patchwork of fields.
If you’re thinking of visiting this cheery village during your holiday in Northumberland, we have created a guide to Craster village to help you make the most of your time.
Things to do in Craster
With an array of quaint and cosy cottages in Craster village, visitors to the region can explore to their heart’s content in the knowledge that there’s a comfortable spot to return to at the end of a busy day.
At a glance:
- Dunstanburgh Castle, NE66 3TT – Dogs allowed except up the tower. Seasonal opening, check website for details.
- Alnwick Castle, NE66 1NQ – Only guide dogs are permitted in the castle and grounds. Open from end of March to the end of October, check website for times.
- The Alnwick Garden, NE66 1HB – Only assistance dogs are permitted in the garden. Open daily except for January and Christmas Day, check website for times.
- Bamburgh Castle, NE69 7DF – Dogs welcome inside the castle grounds, Armstrong & Aviation Museum, Tack Room Café and Victorian Stables Bar. Open all year round, weekends only in the winter, check website for details.
- Warkworth Castle, NE65 OUJ – Dogs on leads are welcome. Seasonal opening, check website for details.
- Howick Hall Gardens, NE66 3LB - No dogs except for assistance dogs. Open daily, times vary depending on the season, check website for details.
- Arnold Memorial Nature Reserve, NE66 3TW – Dogs on leads are welcome. Open daily.
- Craster beach, NE66 3TS – Dogs allowed.
Many visitors are attracted to Craster by Dunstanburgh Castle. The foreboding ruins of a fortress whose construction dates all the way back to 1313. Set atop a remote headland, it has played various roles throughout history, twice besieged by Yorkist forces during the War of the Roses.
Nowadays, where soldiers once fought to defend the borders, visitors can explore the twin-towered keep, serenaded by the roar of the waves and captivated by the views of the rugged coastline. Walk to the castle along the coast from Craster (1.3 miles) to better appreciate its remoteness and exposure to the elements.
Besides Dunstanburgh Castle, there are a wealth of other historical attractions including Alnwick Castle, The Alnwick Garden, Bamburgh Castle and Warkworth Castle, all within easy reach, meaning you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of things to keep you busy during your stay.
The nearby Howick Hall Gardens, located in Alnwick, was once home to Earl Grey - offering an ideal opportunity for visitors to Northumberland to enjoy a taste of local history, along with some truly stunning views. For visitors in search of adventure, local activities include sea fishing trips from the harbour, horse riding and golf.
There’s no need to venture out of Craster village for a stroll. Craster beach is a small sandy section within the harbour walls, a lovely spot for a bracing winter walk or to watch the fishing boats when they’re coming in and out. If you enjoy fishing, cast out from the harbour walls and you’ll be in with a chance of catching coalfish, flounder, cod and sometimes conger eel. There are fishing platforms and the fish are generally abundant. Take a walk along the shoreline either side of the harbour for a chance to spot seals, eider ducks and other seabirds.
And for those interested in nature, the Arnold Memorial Nature Reserve, owned by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust offers a great place for bird spotting. Rarities such as wryneck, icterine and red-breasted flycatchers have been recorded here.
View our castle guide to find out more about other castles in the area.
Places to eat in Craster
At a glance:
- The Craster Seafood Restaurant, Haven Hill, NE66 3TR – Dog friendly.
- The Jolly Fisherman, Haven Hill, NE66 3TR – Dogs welcome in bar area.
- Shoreline Café, 1 Church Street, NE66 3TH – Dog friendly.
- Pipers Pitch, Craster Quarry Car Park, NE66 3TW – Food van with hot and cold food to enjoy al fresco.
- The Stable Yard, Craster Tower, NE66 3SS – Dog friendly.
- The Cottage Inn, The Village, Dunstan, NE66 3SZ – Dogs welcome in the bar and conservatory.
Craster is perhaps most well-known for its world-famous smoked kippers, a fish that is still prepared by the original company 'L Robson and Sons Ltd' in the traditional way in oak smoked barrels. It is loved by people throughout the country and is even exported overseas. Why not sample some for yourself in The Craster Seafood Restaurant?
The restaurant is situated within the smokehouse premises, overlooking the harbour, so you can see the source of your food as you dine! You can also gaze along the coastline and admire Dunstanburgh Castle. On the menu, you’ll find a mixture of French and Brazilian inspired dishes, as well as traditional English food, making use of fresh, local ingredients.
If you’re looking for more Craster restaurants with fantastic sea views, head for The Jolly Fisherman, where you can dine on local produce. There’s also the dog-friendly Shoreline Café, a bustling hub serving great food and coffees. Here, you can pick up daily essentials like milk, breakfast cereal, tomato sauce and so on, plus some wonderful seaside mementoes and postcards.
If you’re looking for something quick and tasty on a wander around the village, try Pipers Pitch, the food van in Craster Quarry Car Park which serves tasty hot and cold food.
A little further out is The Stable Yard, a delightful coffee shop selling homemade cakes and savouries, with a small range of cards, gifts and plants.
For a hearty pub meal or local seafood take a 10-minute walk inland to The Cottage Inn where you’ll find a warm welcome and an array of local ales.
Walks in Craster
Craster is the perfect base for walks, from long rambles along the scenic coastline to inland strolls exploring the countryside. Here are our favourite Craster walks which start right from the village.
- 4 miles
- Approx 50 minutes (without stops)
- Moderate terrain
From the doorstep of our Craster cottages, Dunstanburgh castle is easily reached along the coast, combining a wonderful walk in the fresh sea air with an interesting historical day out. The walk takes you through farmland with the sea to your right – keep an eye out for eider ducks in the rock pools!
- 6 miles
- Approx 2 hours
- Moderate terrain
This is an extension of the Dunstanburgh Casltle walk, which continues on to Embleton Sands and Low Newton by-the-Sea where you can get your beach fix in this dog-friendly bay. It’s a circular walk, along the beach and coast on the way out, heading inland slightly on the route back to take in Dunstan Steads and the bracken and heather covered slopes of The Heughs.
- 4.5 miles
- Approx 2 hours 30 minutes
- Easy to moderate terrain
Walk inland from Craster, through Howick Scar Farm and past the rocky outcrop of Hips Heugh to reach Howick Hall where you can stop off to wander around the well-tended gardens before heading off to follow Howick Burn to the coast path. From here, walk North and you will see some mesmerising scenery before arriving at Cullernose Point, a fine example of the basaltic cliffs which are a significant feature of the local landscape. You may recognise certain locations due to the area’s popularity with television and filmmakers including the ITV comedy drama ‘Distant Shores’. Continue northwards back to Craster, admiring the views as you go, with the promise of a cup of tea and slice of cake at one of the village’s cafes on your return.
Other villages close by
Take a drive up or down the coast or inland and you’ll find a number of charming towns and villages, all different in character yet sharing the same warm Northumberland welcome.
Alnwick is a fascinating medieval town with quaint cobbled streets, independent shops and the famous Alnwick Castle, the filing location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
Alnmouth is a picturesque village with colourful houses lining the north bank of the River Aln estuary. There’s a bucket and spade beach to the north, and a secluded beach to the south, accessed via a bumpy track. Don’t miss the tiny Ferryman’s Hut museum.
A small village with a bit beach, Embleton is a picturesque stop on your tour of the Northumberland coast. The wide, sandy beach is dog-friendly and there are a couple of pubs in the village where you can enjoy traditional bar food.
Beadnell village has earnt itself a reputation as one of the best places in Northumberland for water sports, with many choices including surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing and even scuba diving. It has a little harbour and a huge stretch of golden sand, backed by dunes.
A vibrant and well-loved fishing village, Seahouses has a treasure trove of shops and a surprising amount of things to do, including a boat trip to the Farne Islands to spot seabirds and grey seals, crazy golf, horse riding along the beach and sampling the local seafood and produce in one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Bamburgh is famed for its impressive castle which dominates the coastline, yet there’s plenty more to see and do. There’s the RNLI Grace Darling Museum, the golf course, a beautiful sandy beach and a good choice of eateries.
Discover other interesting places to visit in our guide to pretty Northumberland villages.
Where to stay in Craster
If you’re holidaying in Craster, accommodation throughout the region offers much more than just a place to rest and recharge. With awe-inspiring panoramic views of the harbour and beyond, you’ll need more than just a few days to explore all that this beautiful village has to offer. Have a browse of our holiday cottages in Craster, Northumberland and start planning your getaway to this incredible part of the UK.
We’ve picked out a handful of cottages in Craster to help you feel inspired:
For more great Northumberland inspiration, why not have a read of our useful guides? We’ve created a ‘complete guide to Northumberland castles’, but you may also be interested in the ‘best beaches in Northumberland’ or our guide to ‘Northumberland golf courses’.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.