The castle was built at the behest of Henry VIII, but was subjected to a 20th-century makeover at the hands of architect Edward Lutyens. From the front door of the castle you can survey the coast, all the way south to Craster. Journey’s end, Berwick-upon-Tweed, is clearly visible too, 12 miles distant as the oystercatcher flies.
Best known perhaps as the English town whose football team plays away league games in Scotland, Berwick is the only completely walled town in Britain, and should be better regarded as a mini York or Chester. Two attractive road bridges stamp their way across the River Tweed while architectural purists will purr at the Georgian survivals along Quay Walls, dominated by the restored custom house.
The town captivated L S Lowry, whose paintings of Berwick form a relatively unheralded part of his oeuvre. A Lowry trail around town compares today’s little-changed view with the artist’s impressions of buildings and the coastal hinterland.
Clamber up the gentle rise known as Meg’s Mount for a view over Berwick and south right down the coast. Berwick changed hands 13 times between the English and the Scots before finally becoming English in 1482.
Over your shoulder, the hill behind marks the border with Scotland. Northumberland was formed from volcanic lumps and bumps and a good number of these are visible from here, some of them studded with brooding, grumpy-looking castles. Not only is Northumberland a border county but it looks and feels like one too. A journey along its coast provides the curious sensation that you are either looking back on yourself and the past, or north to where you might be next and the future.
20 reasons to holiday in Northumberland
1. Spot seals at sea
Most people take a boat trip to the tiny RSPB wildlife reserve of Coquet Island, crowned by its shimmering-white lighthouse a mile offshore from the fishing village of Amble. Kayaking, however, is more fun; it allows you to play hide-and-seek with the island’s colony of grey seals. Or, rather, they play hide-and-seek with you, bobbing up and nuzzling the boat, then sinking down and popping up by another in your group.
No experience is needed for paddling the two-person kayaks as they are very stable, and perfectly possible to do in shorts and T-shirts – yes, even in the North Sea – in the summer. April to July is the season for watching puffins – the comical orange-beaked-and-webbed birds who are actually allowed here for their summer holidays from South Africa. Keen bird-watchers will also be thrilled to see the rare roseate tern at their only UK breeding spot. Three hours’ kayaking from £45pp; adventurenorthumberland.co.uk