Before we even made it to Northumberland I was grumbling about the weather forecast and regretting opting for a domestic holiday rather than heading to the sun soaked shores of France. But weather is as we know an unpredictable beast and it decided to prove the forecasters wrong – temperatures soared as the sun put his hat firmly on his shiny yellow head for the entire week.
It was an idyllic British holiday – miles of unspoilt sandy beaches, rock pools, coastal walks, glorious castles, market towns and of course lots of food.
Before any holiday I leave no stone unturned when researching where and what to eat in the area and by the time we set off I was armed with a list of restaurants, pubs, farm shops and th that I wanted to visit.
CHAINBRIDGE HONEY FARM
Our first foodie experience came half an hour North of our final destination. Chainbridge Honey Farm is a flourishing family business which was established by bee keeping advisor William Selby Robson in 1948. Specialising in natural honey products you can buy everything from honeycombs to beeswax candles. They have a number of vintage vehicles on site and one of them is an old London bus, housing their cafe. This was such an unusual and charming place to stop for coffee and cake and set the holiday on a good foodie footing right from the get go. From the lovely selection of cakes, many with a honey theme of course, I decided on an iced honey sponge cake served with a honeyed latte. It was delicious and just a little on the moreish side and I do plan to start adding a dash of honey to my lattes in future – an interesting and flavoursome idea.
THE SHIP INN – LOW NEWTON
I first read about this pub in a Guardian article which described it thus:
“Crustaceans are hauled from the bay to the pub kitchen while fish comes from neighbouring harbours and meat from nearby Alnwick. The attached microbrewery produces Ship Hot Ale, Sandcastles at Dawn and Dolly Day Dream”
This pub was at the very top of my list and we headed there half-way through the holiday on a gloriously sunny if slightly breezy day. After spending a fantastic time messing around on the sand dunes we walked a few yards to the pub – what a setting!
The Ship Inn is a simple airy pub with sand dusting the wooden floors, sturdy wooden tables and chairs, great beers on tap and a few dogs. All their food is cooked fresh to order, using local suppliers wherever possible. Despite the seaside setting and the crustaceans being hauled from the bay, we both opted for Lamb Kofta with pitta bread. The lamb came from nearby Peelham Farm (sustainable & organic) in the Borders and was to die for – It really was a beautiful thing. Moist seasoned lamb, a zingy light yogurt and mint sauce and a salad as fresh as fresh could be. Little Grumbling Tummy ate a solitary piece of apple from her amazing kids platter which included pitta bread, apple and cheeses – we hoovered up the rest – yum!
If you are in Northumberland you must go to this pub – it has absolutely everything right
THE JOLLY FISHERMAN – CRASTER
Famous Crab Sandwiches – that was all it took to pop this pub based in the tiny village of Craster on my list. To work up an appetite we first walked the coastal trail from Craster to Dunstanburough Castle and back – a half hour walk for normal folks but about an hour and a half when walking with an easily distracted three year old. It is a stunningly beautiful walk and perfect for kids.
The Jolly Fisherman is a tastefully refurbished pub with tradition and character at its heart. All the original charm is retained in this historic pub with stone flagged floors, low beamed ceilings and comfortable seating. The highlight of this pub on a sunny day is the upper level which boasts a wall of windows looking out onto the sea. Outside you will find one of the best beer gardens in Northumberland.
I chose the ‘famous’ crab sandwiches and Mr GT chose crab on toast with sweetcorn chowder on the side. We ordered fresh cod Goujon from the kiddies menu for mini GT. I have a confession – I have never tasted crab before – EVER! I found the sandwiches delicious and Senior GT’s crab on toast was fantastic. Not a fan of sweetcorn I was surprised at how much I enjoyed tasting the creamy chowder. One of the highlights for me was actually the wee one’s cod Goujons. They were so fresh and so perfectly cooked and dipped in a lovely fresh mayonnaise – yum! I mostly hate that she doesn’t eat much (at all) but sometimes it doesn’t feel so bad!
THE BUNKER – SEAHOUSES
The Bunker is where you go when it rains or in our case where we went to meet up with friends who had two little ones. A crazy Golf and Soft area are indeed an unlikely venue for what I consider to be the best fish and chips in Seahouses. Yes we tried Pinnacles, applauded by the Hairy Bikers as the best fish and chip shop in the North East, but we found it lacking. This has it all with the added benefit of happy (otherwise engaged) children. In the soft play cafe you can order from the extensive menu from the chippy next door. This is the second time that we have been here and indulged in enormous portions of fish and chips and it won’t be the last. I am not a big white fish eater but I adore scampi and so that is what I chose ( I had scampi three times in one week). Crisp on the outside, toasty hot and soft but not sloppy on the inside, plenty of tartare sauce and lemon for squeezing and perfectly cooked chips – heaven on a plate.
Call us mad but we are off to Seahouses again at the end of August. I plan to revisit all of these venues plus some new discoveries. Can’t wait to taste more of this fantastic part of the world