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5 of the best beaches in Northumberland

Beaches? In Northumberland? Are you sure? Yes, we are. The county famed for its big open stretches of countryside has a long, rippling and frankly brilliant coastline. Here’s our selection of the five best beaches in Northumberland, with something to suit any type of traveller from the casual rockpooler to the hardy swimmer ready to plunge into the North Sea.

Rumbling Kern – best for wild swimmers

The beach’s evocative name is a bit of a mystery, possibly picked up from a nearby small inlet in which crashing waves made a dramatic sound. The beach retains a bit of drama though, as it’s almost invisible at high tide before the receding waters leave the little curve of rocks and water exposed. You still need to watch out for tides if you head straight off the beach itself, but a swimming hole at the north end provides a safe spot to climb in and feel the invigorating chill. The big house on the headland was built by the second Earl Grey, of nearby Howick, and if you’ve brought a flask along you can toast him with his own tea.

Beadnell Bay - best for active travellers

The perfect strip of white sand backed by dunes makes this one of the most beautiful beaches in Northumberland, but it’s also a place to let loose. Start gentle, with some walking and birdwatching, especially in the middle of the beach at the Long Nanny Nature Reserve, where a lonely hut provides Arctic terns with a breeding spot so popular that the colony here is the largest in mainland Britain. Then step it up and test your balance with paddleboarding and kite surfing, all available for hire and instruction from the car park.

Ross Back Sands – best views

You won’t often get the chance to stand on the sand between two castles. You also wouldn’t expect a place so unique to be pretty deserted, but Ross Back sands offers you all this... at a small price. That price is a bit of a walk, as the beach is accessed via a mile-long footpath from Ross Farm. Once you’ve arrived at the beach, you’ll see Bamburgh and Lindisfarne castles on either side of you and maybe some seals lolloping about in the surf if you head for Guile Point. There are two big triangular towers that you might be tempted to walk over to. They’re warning towers for boats navigating the dangerous waters, but you should be warned too if you’re thinking of heading for one, as they’re a lot further off than they look.

Sugar Sands – best for families

Near Craster, just south of Dunstanburgh in the Northumberland Coast AONB, flat ridges of jutting rock form three quiet, sandy coves in a buckled stretch of coastline. They’re all among the best beaches in Northumberland for families, with calm waters for paddling and decent shelter for setting up camp, but the middle one, Sugar Sands, is a local favourite with the more southerly Howdieton often slightly quieter. You can tour them all in a jaunt along the coastal path or install on any one of them for the day. Facilities are a bit of a walk though, so pack everything you’re likely to need.

Coves Haven, Holy Island - best for quiet

The temptation for most people visiting Holy Island is to stop at Harbour Beach and then rush straight for the castle that looms at the top of the hill. If you’ve got a bit of time though, work your way round to Coves Haven, where dunes and cliffs frame one of the best beaches in Northumberland for peace and a bit of rockpooling. When the tide goes out, a network of pools and channels is exposed and you can end up picking through them with the place to yourself. Dogs are welcome, although they’ll need to be on a lead as there are birds breeding in the dunes. Children are free to run wild though, on the lookout for crabs and minnows waiting for the tide’s return.