As they say, ‘all happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast’ and this was just that.
After filling up on mountains of fresh fruit, pots of tea and English breakfast (minus black pudding and mushrooms which I still don’t like), we jumped straight out to continue our microgap around some more of Northumberland.
Our first stop had to be Bamburgh Castle, after all, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England.
We had been thinking of visiting Alnwick Castle, too but alas it wasn’t open until the day we were leaving Northumberland. Thankfully, Bamburgh Castle was just as special and certainly not a compromise in any way. In fact, it was incredible to see.
As we drove closer, the imposing castle came into view… it looked huge!
With over 1,500 years of history here, the castle is steeped in history. In fact, it’s thought that the site itself might have been the capital for the historic kingdom of Bernicia itself. Plus, there’s also rumours that the castle is the site of Sir Lancelot’s fictitious castle, Joyous Garde, which I can totally see.
Totally blessed with another gorgeous sunny day, we headed straight inside the castle grounds. Once in, we immediately darted straight for the State Rooms.
Some were massive, others were smaller but they were all totally gorgeous.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but there’s something about the smell of historic buildings. It’s almost like a stoney-woody smell.
That smell, for some reason, takes me straight back to being a young-nipper when my parents would take us visiting castles and old stately homes.
To this day, that smell still gives me warm, nostalgic, feelings inside and something I got instantly when we arrived in the Kings Hall.
The staterooms were just so beautiful.
Even the passages were like something out of a storybook.
After wandering through the Kings and Keep Halls, we headed straight for the bakery and scullery to see a little more of the working rooms which are quite different from the more stately Kings Hall.
Before we knew it, we’d wandered the whole interior of the castle and decided to take in the rugged coastline views from the castle walls themselves.
The whole coastline is pristine and totally unspoilt… come to think of it, that’s the thing that really struck me about this area when I first laid eyes on it, the sheer natural beauty of the coastline.
After trotting around the limits of the castle, we noticed the powdery Bamburgh Beach. It looked so lovely.
With that, we headed for a little stroll down to the beach itself, which was kinda unplanned and left me with shoes filled with mountains of sand. In fact, I’m pretty sure I brought most of the beach back to London with me! 😄
Still, though, it was well worth it for the views, especially towards Bamburgh Castle.
With time disappearing, we thought it best to head for a spot of grub before our next adventure which we couldn’t be late for – The Farne Islands.
Just in the nick of time, we found the Saltwater Cafe in Beadnell which seemed pretty busy and totally cute. It’s one of those small independently-owned cafes you find that just has something so charming about it.
Yaya went for the fried calamari, and keeping with the seafood theme, I went for the ‘posh’ fish finger sandwich. Now, I’m not too sure if fish fingers are just a British thing but the ‘posh’ version is more like strips of filleted fish, slathered with tartare sauce.
It was a yummy treat, especially after a brisk walk along Bamburgh Beach.
To be honest, we were really tempted with some of the homemade cakes they had too. But, as fate would have it, we were starting to run late and we couldn’t miss our boat to the Farne Islands.
After finishing off the last few crumbs of lunch, we made our way to Seahouses, a tiny picturesque seaside town that’s overlooking the Farne Islands.
Once at the harbour, we met up with Steve who was going to be our guide around the islands themselves.
Steve was a fountain of knowledge and even helped us learn the lingo from Northumberland. Now, I can’t say we caught on to most of it but the lingo sounds almost similar to words used in Scotland and in Newcastle (in the North of England).
In fact, to the unadulterated, it almost sounds like a different language entirely. This is where Steve explained some of their origins.
Apparently, over time, Nordic populations (including Vikings) moved over to the northeast of Scotland and brought over lots of slang and words that got mixed within the local dialect. I had no idea!
After some failed attempts at learning the lingo, we bowed out and decided to hop straight on our boat instead. This was going to be our very own boat to ride the waves of the North Sea. I was so excited.
After hopping on, meeting our captain and skipper, we headed straight out into the open sea.
The winds were pretty low, which made the swells quite small – this was a blessing as it meant we could more easily spot some of the puffins (and the islands themselves).
You see, Steve had called us a few days before to say he’d heard reports of a few thousand puffins that have just come back to the islands. This instantly got excited and I swear I didn’t take my eyes off the ocean for the majority of the journey.
Keeping our fingers crossed, we came closer and closer to the Farne Islands.
It was tense, I’d still not spotted any puffins…
…though, we saw loads of other sea birds.
We whisked past the inner Farne Islands and headed further out to sea, towards Staple Island.
In a matter of seconds from passing, I saw Steve excitedly pointing at some swells. As we got closer, I saw exactly what had gotten him so excited.
In a blink of an eye, we saw hundreds of puffins chilling out on the sea.
They’re probably one of my favourite birds to see, especially as they look so cute when they fly. In fact, they almost look clumsy when they fly.
That being said, I’ve got no reason to judge, especially with my running technique (or lack thereof)!
Moving further out, our captain slowed down our boat to a snail’s pace.
As we drifted along the waves, we came closer to the tiny little islands of the outer Farne Islands. Immediately, we noticed a whole heap of sunbathers that were making the most of the rays.
They were sunbathing seals! And loads of them too!
From big old seals to tiny fluffy pups, there was a whole mix of seals just chilling on these uninhabited islands. Initially, I thought it was just us that was interested in seeing the seals, but as we got closer, the seals seemed quite intrigued in us too. It was like a staring match with seals!
After a few minutes of watching them, we decided to let them go back to their sunbathing. After all, no one likes a gawker when you’re trying to relax.
Now, the cluster of islands that form the Outer Farne Islands are in some pretty shallow waters, this meant our captain was totally focused on the route we were taking, and rightly so. In the past, there’d been a flurry of shipwrecks across these islands. This all meant that there were plenty of turns and tricks that were to get us safely to our next stop, Longstone Lighthouse.
Eventually, we made it to the tiny little platform on the Longstone Rock itself. As we hopped our boat, I quickly realised how isolated the Farne Islands felt.
Firstly, there was literally no one on the island… just us. Secondly, even though we could just about make out the shoreline of Great Britain, the island felt like a million miles away and totally remote.
As we wandered across the island, Steve mentioned the local heroine, Grace Darling, that was the lighthouse keeper’s daughter.
Way back in the 1800s, Grace lived in Longstone Lighthouse, when one fateful evening she noticed a ship had run aground in the Farne Islands. With her father, Grace rowed out to save the sailors before any more lost their lives to the sea.
What made it even more poignant was that Steve said we could go into Grace’s bedroom. Of course, we jumped at the chance, and after swirling around the steps on the inner-edge of the lighthouse, we ended up within her bedroom. It was surreal to be looking through the very same window she was on that fateful morning.
After a few minutes, we popped up even higher to see the historic lighthouse. Nowadays, the lighthouse is computerised but there’s still researchers and stewards that stay on the island from time to time.
Before we knew it, we had to make a dash, the tidal drop meant that we’d have to leave the harbour before our boat beached. However much I loved exploring Longstone Rock, I really didn’t want to spend the night here. 😉
As we slowly made our way back to shore (spotting a few castles and birds in the distance), we spoke to Steve about some of our potential foodie spots for some evening grub.
As soon as we mentioned the Potted Lobster (in Bamburgh), his eyes lit up! That alone was a good enough recommendation for me.
After saying our goodbyes and getting used to being back on land, we headed straight for the Potted Lobster, which was perched in Bamburgh itself.
We ordered almost as soon as we arrived – everything just sounded so good.
For starters, I went for the seafood chowder, whilst Yaya went for a crab terrine – both of which were locally sourced and absolutely delicious.
For mains, we both went for the lobster, yet again! To be fair, my excuses is that when you’re at the seaside, you have to dabble in all the seafood you want. Especially when it’s all so fresh and yummy.
By the time we’d finished, we were once again stuffed. Though, being stuffed on lobster is not a bad thing at all! 😉
All filled up, we decided to call it a night and head back for our nightcap at the Joiners Arms. (*I was definitely getting used to these bed-time cocktails!).