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The 10 prettiest villages in Northumberland  holiday cottages

The 10 prettiest villages in Northumberland

Julie Smith 23 August 2019

Northumberland is blessed with a glorious coastline speckled with fishing ports, market towns and white sand beaches as well as a national park with the clearest skies for miles around.

This county of England is a popular spot for tourists to visit as it suits a diverse range of interests and offers a wide variety of activities and attractions. Along with that, it welcomes visitors whole-heartedly to explore the area as much as they please and as it is home to some of the oldest towns and villages in the world, it’s no wonder these idyllic traditional villages pose interest for those who are keen to delve into the culture of Northumberland.

Bamburgh - pretty Northumberland village

Named ‘Britain’s Best Coastal Destination’ in a 2019 Which survey, Bamburgh is one of the most well-loved villages in Northumberland thanks to its famous castle and beautiful beach. But is Bamburgh the prettiest village in Northumberland? Well that is up to you!

Here is a list of what we consider to be the 10 prettiest and best villages in Northumberland.

1. Seahouses

Seahouses is best known as the gateway to the Farne Islands but there is more to this Northumberland village than simply seabirds and puffins. The bustling harbour at Seahouses is full of colour and there’s a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants to browse. You’ll find an assortment of boat trips if you fancy taking to the sea (where you may well spot otters and dolphins) and a couple of good fish and chip shops where you can sample the fisherman’s freshly caught wares.   

Pretty Seahouses  

Our top pick: Grab a seat in the beer garden at the Bamburgh Castle Inn and make the most of the views out to the Farne Islands. Location: NE68 7SQ | 01665 720283

Nearest wilderness attraction: Seahouses Beach - The extensive area of gently sloping, sandy beach stretching north of the harbour is backed by low, grassy dunes and features a number of rocky outcrops. Perfect for dog walks and days on the beach.

Where to stay:

2. Craster

Craster is nestled under the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and the shoreline walk to this National Trust site is absolutely gorgeous. The harbour at Craster is very picturesque and there are some great foodie choices in the village including The Jolly Fisherman pub which looks out over the sea. The village attracts a variety of seabirds that you can spot in and around the harbour and you can’t pay a visit to Craster without sampling a traditional Craster Kipper. This local delicacy has been smoked in the same way for more than 130 years.

Craster - pretty Northumberland village

Our top pick: Call into the Mick Oxley Gallery and browse arts and crafts that have been inspired by the stunning Craster coastline. Location: NE66 3TR | 01665 571082

Nearest wilderness attraction: Craster Beach - A very small, sandy beach lies within the harbour of Craster and there are rock and shingle beaches to either side. Walking along the shoreline, it is sometimes possible to spot seals, eider ducks and a variety of waders and other birds. Embleton Beach is about 2 miles away if you want something a little bigger.

Where to stay: 

3. Warkworth

With a pretty main street that’s filled with independent shops and the River Coquet looping around the village, Warkworth is a honeypot Northumberland spot that’s always a popular choice with visitors. Warkworth Castle, the ancestral home of the Percy family, is known for its cross-shaped keep and looks out over the village from a lovely hilltop position. Explore the well-preserved towers then take an idyllic trip across the river to the nearby Hermitage - this medieval building was carved out of rock and is only accessible by boat.

Warkworth in Northumberland

Nearest wilderness attraction: Warkworth Beach – a superb long sandy beach with lots of lovely sand dunes offering spots for picnics and safe play. There is a nice walk from the car park to the beach which is great for games of hide and seek. This is a great day out.

Our top pick: Take a gentle stroll along the River Coquet then hire a paddle boat to take to the water. To round off the perfect day, head to village pub The Masons Arms for a pint (or two).

Where to stay:

4. Corbridge

Corbridge is another Northumberland village with a rich history. The site on Hadrian’s Wall was once a Roman garrison town and visitors can still explore the fascinating stone remains and walk along ancient streets to learn more about life in the 5th century.

The village of Corbridge today is a haven for shoppers as the pretty main street is filled with independent designer boutiques, vintage emporiums, gift shops, artisan makers and craft galleries. The handsome market square also has a great selection of food and drink options and there are myriad hidden alleys, secret streets and pretty courtyards to uncover.

Pretty Northumberland village - Corbridge

Each June, the village hosts the family-friendly Corbridge Festival with an array of live music over three different stages.

Nearest wilderness attraction: Kielder Forest Park is close to Corbridge offering a range of outdoor pursuits from walking and cycling to activity centres and pony trekking. Here are 6 reasons why you should visit Kielder

Our top pick: Pay a visit to the Pele Tower in Corbridge. This Grade I-listed medieval tower is now home to a pub and microbrewery. Location: NE45 5AW | 07565 801463

Where to stay:

5. Alnmouth

Alnmouth is a picture-postcard pretty Northumberland village featuring colourful cottages, the historic St Cuthbert’s Cross and a golden sandy beach that’s perfect for building sandcastles - especially on a sunny day. Alnmouth is home to England’s oldest golf course if you fancy teeing off for a round of 18 and there’s a great selection of places to eat and drink including Beaches restaurant which is a top choice for local fish and seafood.

Alnmouth

Nearest wilderness attraction: Alnmouth Beach - The Alnmouth salt marsh and dunes are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are the natural habitat for a variety of plants so it’s well worth going exploring - you may well spot some wading birds along the way.

Our top pick: Pay a visit to England’s smallest museum, The Ferryman’s Hut to learn more about the history of Alnmouth. Location: NE66 2SD

Where to stay:

6. Elsdon

Elsdon is located within the boundaries of the Northumberland National Park and has all the trappings of a picture-postcard-worthy English village. You’ll find a parish church, traditional village green, historic castle remains and a tea room that’s been converted from the old school house. Along with nearby Otterburn (another pretty village that’s nestled on the banks of the River Rede), Elsdon makes a great base for exploring the Otterburn Ranges which cover a quarter of the Northumberland National Park and are a haven for spotting wildlife including the rare black grouse.

Elsdon - pretty Northumberland village

Nearest wilderness attraction: This village is just on the edge of Northumberland’s National Park which means you have all the beautiful scenery and wilderness on your doorstep. From attractions to activities, we have written all about it so check out our guide to the National Park today

Our top pick: Nearby Otterburn Mills is a shopper’s paradise with brands including Joules, Barbour and Weird Fish all housed in an original textile mill.

Where to stay:

7. Belsay

Belsay is a small Northumberland village that is home to one of the area’s top visitor attractions - Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. The 30 acres of Grade I-listed gardens include a collection of exotic plants that grow in their own microclimate and a beautiful display of rhododendrons that’s one of the largest in the country. 

There’s also a village shop in Belsay which stocks a range of gorgeous gifts including candles, handmade chocolates, beautiful flower displays and locally produced Hotspur Gin (it’s distilled in nearby Alnwick).

Belsay Castle in Northumberland

Nearest wilderness attraction: Here you are between the National Park and the coastline, so you have plenty of opportunities to get into the wilderness after pottering around Belsay and other neighbouring villages.

Our top pick: Climb up the spiral staircase at the 14th-century Belsay Castle for one of the finest views around.

Where to stay:

8. Beadnell 

Beautiful Beadnell is best known for a wide swathe of sandy beach that’s sheltered by large sand dunes - the pretty bay is a top pick for a range of water sports including windsurfing and paddleboarding. You’ll find charming cottages, historic lime kilns, a 13th-century village chapel and a good choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants to call in for refreshments. The Craster Arms is particularly good and has a beer garden that’s a real sun trap.

In the summer months, Beadnell Bay is home to pairs of nesting arctic terns and there are special viewing points where you can watch these rare protected birds. 

Beadnell Bay

Nearest wilderness attraction: Beadnell Bay is a wide, sandy beach in a horseshoe-shaped bay just south of the village of Beadnell. The glorious golden sand curves around the bay, forming a natural harbour. To the rear of the beach are grassy sand dunes and fields beyond.

Our top pick: Our top pick: Get a surfing lesson from Northside Surf School and take advantage of the great waves here.

Where to stay:

9. Ford & Etal

Ford & Etal are a couple of pretty Northumberland villages that come as a pair. The estate villages are located in the heart of the Northumberland Cheviots and home to myriad attractions including pretty thatched houses, a corn mill, medieval castles, a steam railway and an ancient Flodden battlefield. You’ll find plenty of walking trails around these lovely estate villages and some delicious cakes at the 19th-century Heatherslaw Cornmill. 

Make sure to call in at Lady Waterford Hall during your visit. The building was commissioned in 1860 by Lady Waterford (the owner of Ford Estate) and is filled with her stunning murals. 

Ford & Etal

Nearest wilderness attraction: Bamburgh Castle and Beach is a short drive away from this idyllic village making it easy to extend your historic tour to this awesome castle. Read more about Bamburgh

Our top pick: Pay a visit to the mysterious Duddo Standing Stones near Etal which are Northumberland’s equivalent of Stonehenge and date back more than 4,000 years. 

Where to stay:

10. Bamburgh

Bamburgh is best known for its famous castle that looks out over the village from atop a beachside crag. The largest inhabited castle in the country, Bamburgh is filled with historic treasures and tales of daring-do from a dramatic and turbulent past. 

The other main draw of Bamburgh is a wide expanse of unspoilt sandy beach which is sheltered by sand dunes and stretches out for miles. The waves here make Bamburgh a top pick for surfing but it’s also great for walking, playing or simply relaxing on a deck chair. 

Bamburgh

Nearest wilderness attraction: Bamburgh has its own beach (as mentioned above) which is a beautiful big stretch of sand and ocean. The neighbouring town of Seahouses is in easy reach too for a taste of harbour life. Read more about it here.

Our top pick: Take a walk along the beach to Bamburgh lighthouse. The rocks around here feature a white painted stag and are a prime spot for rock pooling.

Where to stay:

Bamburgh beach and castle

Plan your visit to Northumberland

Have you been inspired to visit Northumberland and seek out some of the region’s prettiest villages? Whether you prefer coast, country or a bit of both during a short break or holiday, we have a selection of cottages in some of the loveliest locations around.

Dogs are always very welcome in Northumberland’s towns and villages so four-legged friends can come along too. Browse our range of dog-friendly holiday cottages and read our guide to dog-friendly Northumberland to find out more.

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.

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