Uk holidays. Who else thinks that holidays in the UK can actually sometimes be way better than going abroad? Don’t get me wrong: I do love a good beach holiday, chilling by the pool with a cocktail in hand frying in the heat from the sun that so often seems to stay hidden in the UK. But sometimes it’s nice to just skip the whole airport stress and just take a short drive somewhere not too far from home and explore areas you never even knew were there. My mum decided to come down near to where I live in Morpeth, and spend a Monday to Friday in a little coastal town called Amble about a twenty minute countryside drive from my house. Although I will admit our first day was a bit of a disaster! We had booked a little place through Sykes Cottages and stayed in a seaside self-catering flat at 23A Gordon Street. To cut a long story short, the place hadn’t been cleaned in between us and the previous guests, and according to the cleaner (and Tripadvisor review we later discovered) this clearly wasn’t the first time it had happened. Eventually we got it sorted, but I would definitely make sure and check reviews on multiple sites before booking any accommodation! If it had been kept in better condition, it could have been a gorgeous little place. But, hey-ho. We didn’t spend too much time there anyway!
We had our first meal at a little place called ‘The Fish Shack’, which was just by the sea and just a short walk from our accommodation (and less than a 5 minute walk from the town centre). It’s quite small, but we got a table fine. For a small eatery, it had a really decent menu! As you can imagine, the menu revolved mainly around seafood, but also had a veggie option and a burger if you wanted something else! We decided to both go for the beer-battered fish with twice cooked chips, mushy peas and tartar sauce. My god! It was amazing. For only £10.50 each, you got a really decent sized fish, cooked to perfection with lovely crispy batter, a massive plate of chips which were perfect, and a portion of mushy peas with a side of what I believe was homemade tartar sauce, which was unbelievably thick, creamy and mild! We couldn’t finish the whole thing…although I would have liked to if I wasn’t full to bursting! We shared a lovely bottle of their Chardonnay, which was quite sharp, but went with the fish beautifully. The staff were lovely, and it was beautiful being able to sit and watch the cormorants out on the pier and see the sea as the sun went down.
On our first full day, we had a little wander around the town centre, which is a little poor I must say. The shops aren’t the best, but we did find a lovely little cafe called ‘Coquet Tea Rooms’ on the main street. It was beautifully laid out with nice pastel colours, and some pretty gifts to buy. We didn’t bother with the lunches, but we just had a tea, a latte, and a slice of caramel shortbread each. It did come to just over £10, which I don’t really think is justified, but it was nice to sit in and the staff were friendly enough. We then took a little wander around the Amble Harbour Village, which is definitely my favourite area of Amble! It’s a selection of beautiful little pods by the sea, all independently owned by small companies, that sell a lovely selection of things. There’s a Cheese Shop, one selling bags of (what looks like) good quality coffee, some little gift shops, a cake shop, a jewellery shop, and more! It’s lovely to have a little look around, and all the staff in the pods are super friendly and chatty, and it’s great being able to support little local businesses.
Our next activity was a little different. We went bodyboarding! Neither of us had done this before, so we were a bit nervous, but we knew the area is great for watersports! If you are going to do something like this though, do make sure you check out the area first, and do lots of research and make sure you don’t go alone…stay safe! We picked Amble Links Beach, which was about a 15-20 minute walk from our accommodation which wasn’t too bad. We scoped out the area first (the first two little bays have nothing but rocks which are hidden when the tide is in, so we checked out all the areas when the tide was out to see where was best), and picked the area of the beach that had the no rocks, and somewhere to leave our towels. We didn’t fancy getting into a car in soaked wetsuits and as there aren’t any little beach huts or anything, we would have had nowhere to keep the car keys safe, so we just walked along in our wetsuits! We were the only ones in the water (apart from a few excited doggies), which was quite nice considering I looked like a right amateur continuously getting flipped over on my board! Once we got the hang of it though, it was great fun! If a tad on the chilly side. We didn’t stay in too long since it was bloody freezing, but it was great fun for doing something a little different! There are companies that take lessons for things like bodyboarding, paddle boarding and surfing if you don’t fancy doing it all yourself!
My fiance, Rhys, had been working, so we picked him up that night and got a takeaway from a little Indian called Taj Mahal in the town. It was ready within about 40 minutes and we just walked along to collect it since it only was a 5 minute walk. It cost around £33 (I think) and we got three mains, three rice and two peshwari naan breads, and it all tasted amazing! The lamb pasanda was super creamy and mild but had a lovely taste; the tikka masala had a lovely spicy kick to it but wasn’t overly powerful; and the pathia had a real kick to it but had a real sweetness. I would definitely go there again! The restaurant looked beautiful as well, so I would happily eat in too.
The next day, we decided to do a bit more exploring. We went along to Druridge Bay in the morning. We parked up, and had a walk around the lake, Ladyburn Lake, which was beautiful. We saw lots of ducks, coots and swans…and there were gigantic dragonflies everywhere!! It was a lovely walk, and then we walked along the little path down to the actual bay on the seaside.
It was a really sunny day, so we walked a fair way along the beach which was so nice. There are warnings for sinkholes and quicksand though, so definitely just watch your step!
We walked back up, and then went along the road a little to the Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre. It’s basically a big lake that you can walk around and stop off at the little viewing hides to do a bit of bird spotting! The lake is filled with geese and ducks which was lovely and relaxing to watch! You only have to pay for parking for these bits, which is great, and you can just give a donation towards the centre.
When we got back, we stopped off at a little ice cream boutique called Spurreli. The ice cream was a tad on the pricey side, but it was worth it for a treat! It was super smooth and the flavours were amazing! I would definitely recommend the Blueberry Crumble (which actually has bits of crumble in it!), the Mint Choc Chip, and the plain Chocolate…it was so creamy and rich! Who cares if it was freezing outside?!
The next day, we decided to go along to Alnwick Castle for something a bit different, as we had been to the Gardens before, but never the castle. Except for Rhys, he had been before but not since he was little! It’s pricey to get into the castle as you can imagine, but you do get a fair bit for your money! Rhys always gets teased for looking a bit like Harry Potter, so I did try to get him doing the broomstick training but he wasn’t having any of it!! Next time…
We had a wander around the inside State rooms first, which were beautiful. You could also go down to the dungeon area (although it’s very small compared to some castles that have more extensive dungeons). There’s lots of information bits and it’s always great finding out how things were done and how people lived hundreds of years ago. We wandered along some of the castle walls and looked out at the gorgeous Northumberland countryside, and through the little museum areas.
There was lots more as well, but we decided to pop into the town centre and have a little wander. A bit like Amble, I think the Alnwick town centre doesn’t really have the best shops, but we wandered along to Barter Books. It’s basically a giant second hand book shop, located in the old train station building! If you like books, you could spend hours in here! It’s got every kind of book and comic that you can imagine, as well as a selection of CD’s and DVD’s. We had a nice coffee stop in their coffee shop, and had tea and scones and cake. The scones were soft and the carrot cake was massive and really moist with a gorgeous orange icing.
That night once we were back, we decided to have a Chinese from the Golden Harbor takeaway just around the corner. They didn’t have any menu online so we just took some photos of the menu in the window and called it in later. We got three mains, two rice and chips for only just over £19, which was amazing! And free prawn crackers…bonus! It was ready super fast and we just walked around to collect it. The crispy chicken in honey chilli sauce was amazing, as was the crispy beef in the same sauce. It did have a slightly odd taste, but it was actually really nice! The chicken balls in sweet and sour sauce were absolutely massive and you got so many my mum couldn’t even finish them…even with me helping!! They were beautifully cooked with a lovely soft batter. For the price paid we really couldn’t complain!
We left the next day after having one last wander around the pods at the Village Harbour. I would definitely recommend Amble as a great little place to stay if you want a coastal base in Northumberland. You definitely would need a car, but it’s the perfect location to be by the sea with great views and a nice little beach and amazing places to eat, and also be in a good location to visit other places in Northumberland. Amble, we’ll be back!