Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A taste of Northumberland

Seahouses Harbour
We have been to Northumberland many times now over the years for a holiday. Miles of wide sandy beaches, magnificent countryside dotted with villages and hamlets and more castles than any invader can raid in one go. Of course inbetween making sandcastles and storming ancient ruins I've also been seeking out the best in local food and producers. Here's a selection of my favourite.


Hidden in the backstreets of Seahouses amongst the terraced holiday cottages and pot-hole ridden roads is Swallow Fish. A smokehouse has been processing herrings into kippers on this site since 1843. It is still in operation today and the shop is open for locals and hoildaymakers to pop in and pick up the catch of the day. We had kippers for our Sunday breakfast. Later in the week we bought some of their fresh fish and had pan-fried haddock with smoked prawns for dinner.

If fish isn't for you then you will bound to be tempted by some of the treats found in The Northumbrian Hamper. It's crammed packed full of local jams, chutneys, cheese, ales, tea and cakes plus a freezer full of my favourite Doddington Diary ice cream. We bought some of their very reasonably priced Northumbrian free-range eggs. In fact we bought several dozen over the week as they were so nice and made the creamiest scrambled eggs I have ever had.

Three miles up the coast to Seahouses is Bamburgh. Famous for its imposing castle and being the final resting place of Victorian heroine Grace Darling it is also home to two fine food shops. The first is the butcher's R. Carter and Son maker of the famous 'Bamburgh Banger' – a pork and sage sausage. On sunny days be prepared to queue out of the door as walkers and beach lovers stock up on their lunch for the day. We headed back to the beach with hand-raised pork pies and fresh out of the oven sausage rolls.

Across from the butcher's you'll see a wall running the length of the road. At the bottom is a small entrance surrounded by boxes of local and homegrown fruit, vegetables and plants.

Behind the wall is where G. S. Clark and Son grow their carrots, broccoli, cauliflowers, leeks and other produce. The actual shop harks back to a bygone era and the feeling that things haven't change much in the last 50 years.

From Bamburgh it's up along the A1 for our final stop. Situated on the banks of the River Tweed and the border with Scotland is the Chain Bridge Honey Farm. The Chain Bridge it refers to is the Union Chain Bridge at the end of the road and forms the link over the Tweed to Scotland. There's a free museum inside detailing the history of honey and the Chain Bridge. The shop stocks of course jars of honey but also honey based products such as candles, shoe polish, lip balms and soap.

We bought their largest jar of Honey Mustard which is their own recipe of pickled mustard seeds and honey. It won't last until our next visit as we like to spread it over pork chops and steaks for instant flavour.

The tea room is actually a old Routemaster double decker bus. Sit upstairs for a cuppa and a slice of honey flapjack whilst overlooking the surrounding fields. After a spot of light refreshment you can have a look round the collection of vintage vehicles, machinery and ephemera. A recent addition to the site is a new honey processing plant. A public view area allows visitors to have a peek at how the honey goes from hive to jar.

This is just a mere morsel of what Northumberland has to offer and I've been inspired by going round the county. What's your favourite food county?


42 comments:

  1. We LOVE Northumberland it really is a hidden gem. We always go to get kippers and have a walk to Dunstanburgh castle. There is a lovely restaurant in Woller called Milan that you must try. Reading this post had made me want to book another holiday :-) x

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    1. The weather was closing in on us the day we went to Craster so we didn't make it to Dunstanburgh this time. I must check out Woller the next time we go as it's not somewhere I've been before.

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  2. It all looks so lovely! We must add Northumberland to our list of places to visit :)

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    1. It really this lovely. It keep enticing us back year after year.

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  3. Fresh kippers and scrambled eggs is my idea of breakfast heaven.Lots of shops with fantastic local produce is a wonderful thing, I wish more places were like that.

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    1. It's one of the reasons we keep going back.

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  4. Fresh Kippers and scrambled eggs for breakfast sounds perfect to me!

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    1. One day we had scrambled eggs with the Bamburgh Bangers and another day they had smoked salmon in!

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  5. I love the look of the northumbrian hamper and a shop like that would draw me right in!

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    1. Not only does it have lots of foodie treats it also sells lots of lovely knick knacks too.

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  6. We love Northumberland and visit it regularly. It is such a wonderful place to visit

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    1. We've been many times but still haven't discovered half of it yet.

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  7. I've never been to this area, looks interesting though! I may venture there one day on the way up to Scotland

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    1. It makes a perfect stopping point on the way to Scotland but it's so big you could stop twice!

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  8. I have never been. That cafe in the bus looks great x

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    1. The cafe is really fun and the waitresses are very skilled in getting the hot drinks up the stairs!

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  9. I'm not a big breakfast eater - but the cafe sounds lovely! A friend of mine holidays regularly in Northumberland, it's her favourite place!

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    1. Believe me it's well worth the trip up there.

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  10. I've never actually been to Northumberland but my Mum's side of the family actually originates from there :)

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    1. Sounds like a good excuse to plan a trip there then!

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  11. Ooooh..... never been but it looks FAB!!! Great pictures! xx

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    1. It really is fab and not just for the foodie experiences.

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  12. I'm a single mum who knows how important it is to take my child on a family holiday at least once a year. I don't like the idea of going abroad just the two of us and so always holiday at home here in the UK.

    I come from a large family and we spent many childhood school holidays exploring different parts of the UK, I myself have been to Northumberland once, but have no real memories! We've already got this year's holiday booked (a trip to my Mum's four hours away in Cornwall), I wouldn't mind visiting Northumberland next year!

    We don't see many independent and smaller run businesses these days, and so I think it's important that we help these kind of businesses as much as we can. It's true that you get what you paid for, if you're buying supermarket eggs from Tesco, you're buying egg's off a pretty big farmer who's supplying a major supermarket, if you shop locally, you're more then likely buying off a small farm, or even someone with a chicken barn in their back garden!

    x

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    1. Northumberland is a great place for kids. The beaches are really wide and clean. We bought our lunch from Carter and Son in Bamburgh and then spent all day on the beach. I would really recommend it for you next year.

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  13. We have never been - and that honey mustard looks yummy

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    1. I thought it would be quite hot with the mustard seeds in but it's not and got a really nice tang.

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    2. I shall have to try it sometime then.

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  14. My father in law is from a little village not far from Seahouses and we went to visit his mum when my eldest was 3, that was 10 years ago and it still looks as lovely as the time we visited. We also went in October and although the weather was great we still had lots of fun on the beach!

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    1. The beaches in Northumberland are fabulous. The stretch from Seahouses to past Bamburgh is really long and wide.

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  15. I really don't know Northumberland at all but can see I should make a visit soon. LOVE honey mustard!

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    1. Get yourselves up there. I'm sure your little mice would love it.

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  16. I've never been to Northumberland but it does look a beautiful place - love the idea of the tea room on the bus

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    1. It's a clever idea and really fits in well with their vintage vehicles collection.

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  17. Replies
    1. My daughter remembered it from last we went and insisted we went again!

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  18. We love Northumberland too and have been going regularly for 7 years. Bamburgh Beach is my favourite, and have you tried the ice cream at Morwick Dairy, near Warkworth? Really amazing. And in spring, you can see the calves too.

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    1. I've never heard of Morwick Dairy! I must add it to my list. We've only been to Warkworth once to see the castle so we must venture back.

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  19. I just love Northumberland - that's why I live here! Another place to try is Northumberlandia near the Blagdon Estate (South Northumberland) for a great walk and visit the nearby Cheese Farm for some traditional Northumbrian Cheese. Druridge Bay is a fantastic beach - miles of golden sands and it NEVER gets overcrowded :)

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    1. My friend has stayed at Druridge Bay and said it was wonderful. In fact I mentioned it on the way back down!

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  20. Can't argue with any of these! Seahouses Fruit and Veg shop also great, and for meals out, we have been really impressed with the Tree House in Alnwick, The Mizen and Lord Crewe in Bamburgh, Elan's Pizzeria in Seahouses, The Waren House Hotel in Waren Meal, and The Barn at Beal - all serving locally reared, freshly prepared delicious fare!

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    1. We did buy fruit and veg from the Seahouses Fruit and Veg shop on Main Street. It's a nice addition to the selection of shops. The Tree House in Alnwick Garden looks amazing. It really could be something out of Harry Potter! We went for lunch some years ago at the Lord Crewe. I know where the others are but we haven't been to them.

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  21. You need to visit Beadnell beach, rolling down to Newton by the sea, its a gorgeous walk on a sunny day. The Joiners or the Ship Inn are perfect for resting after the beach!

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