A UK Coastal Trip – Bamburgh Castle

Waren Mill

Further down the coast road from Beal, with Lindisfarne clearly in sight across the water, we come to the hamlet of Waren Mill on the edge of Budle Bay. At low tide the bay consists of weed-covered mud flats in front of soft sand dunes. It the far distance a ridge of sand almost cuts it off from the sea. It can be dangerous to venture out too far because of fast incoming tides. It is part of Lindisfarne Nature Reserve, popular with birdwatchers. As its name suggests a corn mill is first mentioned here in 1187. The present building dates from 1780 and was still working as a maltings in the early 1920s. Unused from 1978, it was eventually converted into holiday flats despite the objections of Lindisfarne Nature Reserve. The place has an industrial past. In the 13th Century it was a busy port although the harbour has now disappeared beneath rising silt.


The village of Bamburgh lies on the main road with its pubs and guest houses and the small RNLI Grace Darling Museum.

Bamburgh Castle itself occupies a strong defensive position on a volcanic crag outside the village directly overlooking the beach.

There has been a fortified settlement here since Anglo-Saxon times when it was capital of Northumbria. Vikings destroyed it in 993. The Normans built the first proper castle on the site and its keep, 3 metres thick in places, still stands proud within its walls. The union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603 ended its role as a border fortress. It changed ownership a few times and, in 1704, Nathaniel Crewe, Bishop of Durham, bought it. Under his Trustees it housed a school and a hospital. It was the centre of its own mini ‘welfare state’. In 1874 it was purchased by a wealthy industrialist, Sir William Armstrong, who completed the renovations, turning it into the Victorian ideal of what a medieval castle should be like. His family still own it today and it is open to the public.


Terraces of grey-stoned houses overlook this little port. The working quay is covered in ropes, nets, crab pots, fish boxes and clusters of marker buoys.

Shuttered shacks advertise sea fishing trips and boats out to the Farne Islands.


The sea has nibbled its way into the land to create a hard, stony beach with fingers of concrete and rock strata crossing it in a diagonal direction. A minor road sweeps around the bay protecting the crescent of homes from the elements.

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