If you love exploring sleepy English villages and visiting incredible castles, then you’re going to love visiting Bamburgh in Northumberland! Tucked into a quiet, unassuming corner of England, this idyllic village is one of my favourite places to visit in the UK. Not many people know about Bamburgh so it’s a very quiet village. But don’t be fooled by how quiet it is here! There are some great things to see and do in Bamburgh and it’s well worth taking time to explore this beautiful village.
I’d recommend taking a day in Bamburgh to give you time to see everything plus some time to spend on the beach when the weather is good. I promise that this village doesn’t disappoint.
Things To Do In Bamburgh
I’ve been a frequent visitor to Bamburgh throughout my life. I grew up about 20 miles north of here so I visited Bamburgh many times growing up. Seeing Bamburgh Castle from the train is one of the milestones on my journey home. It also reminds me of school trips and sunny days spent in the shadow of the castle.
As (something resembling) an adult, Bamburgh has lost none of the charm it brought to my childhood.
Getting to Bamburgh
The east coast of Northumberland is fairly isolated but it’s still possible to get to Bamburgh by public transport. Catch one of the regular buses between Newcastle and Berwick-Upon-Tweed making sure that your bus takes the coastal route. There are some other great towns and villages along the way so free to hop on and off the bus along the way.
Unfortunately there are no trains to Bamburgh so you’d need to stop at one of these other stations when travelling by train. There are mainline train stations at Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Alnmouth and Newcastle where you can catch these bus services.
Alternatively you can drive to Bamburgh. There’s a great car park beside the castle.
Bamburgh is best known for its incredible castle. It’s hard to miss and the views of the fortification from the village are superb.
There has been a castle in Bamburgh for over 1600 years. It’s the perfect spot for a fortification as beneath the castle is a huge outcrop of dolerite rock. This gave the fortification excellent views of the surrounding lands (great for spotting enemies) and much needed protection from attack.
Spend a couple of hours wandering around the halls of the castle to find out more about the fascinating history here.
Why does Northumberland have so many castles?
This peaceful corner of England was once witness to centuries of conflict. As a frontier between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the coast was fortified to protect it from attack.
And the coast was attacked many times including an invasion of Vikings from Scandinavia. The legacy of this is a county scattered with the remnants of beautiful fortifications.
One of my favourite things to do in Bamburgh is to visit the beach.
The beaches around the village are stunning so it’s worth spending a few hours here when the weather is good. Like many of the beaches in Northumberland, Bamburgh beach is unspoiled. Expect epic sand dunes and miles clear, white sands.
The beach is an amazing place to spot wildlife. There are some great rock pools where you can see marine life or look out to sea to catch a glimpse of the local seal and dolphin populations.
Meet Grace Darling, Bamburgh’s Most Famous Former Resident
One of the lesser known things to do in Bamburgh is the Grace Darling museum. Many visitors head straight to the castle and miss this completely, so make sure you head here before leaving the village.
Who Was Grace Darling?
Grace Darling is probably Bamburgh’s most famous former residents and embodied girl power over a hundred years before feminism.
Born in Bamburgh in 1815, Grace spent most of her life living in various lighthouses in the Farne Islands as father was the resident lighthouse keeper.
Early on the 7th September 1838, disaster struck during a violent storm. A passenger ship hit rock close the Longstone lighthouse with 62 passengers on board. Quickly working out that the lifeboats wouldn’t reach the wreckage in time, Grace and her father rowed into the storm in a small coble (a traditional Northumbrian rowing boat). Together they were able to rescue 9 passengers from the wreckage.
Being only 22 at the time, the story of Grace’s heroism quickly captured the public’s imagination and Grace became a national hero.
She died 4 years later and was laid to rest in cemetery of St Aidan’s churchyard in Bamburgh.
Grace Darling Museum, Bamburgh
Grace Darling’s heroic tale has been brought to life at the Grace Darling museum in Bamburgh. The small but informative exhibit tells the story of her life as a lighthouse keeper’s daughter and details her heroic rescue efforts, including the coble that was used during the rescue.
The museum is a short walk from the village square to the north of the village (walking away from the castle). It’s a great little museum, and completely free so well worth a visit! (The museum is run by the RNLI so I’d encourage you to make a donation during your visit).
You can also visit Grace Darling’s final resting place which is in the small churchyard opposite the museum.
St Aidan’s Church
Pop into the churchyard across the road and have a wander around St Aidan’s church.
St Aidan’s is a cosy English parish church with a view out towards the North Sea. It sits within a small churchyard where the former residents of Bamburgh have been laid to rest. The church is well attended and it’s only the weathering of the Gravestones to remind you that there’s a lot of history here.
St Aidan’s church has a fascinating history. The original church on this site was build by St Aidan of Lindisfarne who is also said to have died in the church. Today it’s a cosy parish church as befits a small Northumberland village.
There is an effigy of Grave Darling inside as well as her memorial in the churchyard. The effigy is from the original memorial and was brought inside due to weathering.
Her memorial in the church yard is placed so Grace can watch over the sea.
Beautiful Village Shops and Pubs
Before you leave Bamburgh, spend sometime browsing the village shops, tea rooms and pubs. Bamburgh is a small village so there aren’t many, but when a village looks this pretty, it’s easily forgiven.
Bamburgh is also a great place for grabbing food so make sure you’re fed before you leave. Most of the pubs in the village serve food as well as the usual drinks.
When the weather is good, diners and drinkers head outdoors to eat and drink in the shadow of the castle. It’s the perfect way to wrap up a day in one of my favourite locations!
Thank you for reading this post! I hope you are feeling inspired to visit Bamburgh in Northumberland. It’s such a great place.
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