Bank Holiday weekends generally mean wet weather and wet hopes as plans for BBQs in the garden and outdoor fun are dashed – NOT THIS ONE. Wow what a glorious weekend.
A close friend of mine, originally from Newcastle, (who we have often had little camping trips away with) , asked if we wanted to join them in Northumberland and, as this is a place I have been wanting to visit for a while, we said yes.
Having recently sold our “too big for our little family” tent we needed to get a new one so ventured to our beloved Go Outdoors. We have been planning to replace it with a more fitting size for a while and finally opted for a blow up version. The Airgo Solus Horizon 4 being the tent of choice. It appealed on so many levels and really didn’t disappoint.
Now I know that Northumberland has a ton of castles, National Trust properties and other great sites to visit (in particular Alnwick Castle famous for the setting of Harry Potter) and we intended to use our National Trust membership to its full potential. But, and a big but, we are not so structured that plans cant go out of the window and this weekend that is exactly what we did – the weather made us do it!!!
This camping trip we didn’t need to do any research as my friend had already chosen the campsite. We were booked into Dunstan Hill Campsite which is one of the Camping and Caravanning Club sites (you can join the club and get a discount but we were not sure if we would benefit this year so just paid the normal pitch cost).
The site was just delightful, it was super clean and well kept. There was a great little children’s park and area for ball games (and our emplacements were close to this so the little ones could head off to play without having to wait around for us and we could see them from our tents) and finally the showers, toilet, wash area was one of the best I have seen in the UK. First impressions were brilliant and we were not let down at all over the weekend.
So we set up camp and getting the new tent up was just so easy. From start to finish – including all our gear inside we were just over 30 minutes which is a record for us. No more battling to get the poles in and fighting against the wind. You literally pin down the corners and pump it up. Secure with a few additional pins and away you go.
We were set up and ready to get exploring – the chosen site is about a mile from the cute little village of Embleton and close to Craster and a mile from the Northumberland Heritage Coast so we decided to take the lovely walk from the campsite to the beach. With little legs it probably took us about 25-30 minutes but we were not rushing. It started in the woods that ran alongside the campsite, across a field and down by some pretty little houses (most which looked like holiday lets) and then with a quick stop off at an ice-cream van we headed over the golf course to the beach.
It was beautiful, with the stunning Dunstanbugh Castle overlooking the beach it was a pretty special place. So we played for a couple of hours. My gorgeous girl, who turns feral as soon as she goes near a campsite, stripped to her pants and paddled in the freezing cold sea – watching her we were in heaven – we didn’t have the beach to ourselves but it felt pretty close to it.
When the little lady started to get a chill we headed back to camp and our friends had arrived. We had prepped a SpagBol the night before so a quick warm through we were all fed and time for the first cold one of the day to be drank.
The rest of the night was spent listening to the kids play, drinking wine, eating snacks and enjoying each others company. The best kind of nights. By the time we took to our (air) beds we were pretty much done in. Ready for our next day in the North East.
As with any camping trip you get up a little earlier due to sunshine and we had plenty of it. Kids went straight to the park and grown ups sorted brekkie and plans for the day. As we had such great weather – we opted against dragging the kids around a castle/garden and opted for sand, rock-pools, French boules on the beach followed by fish and chips.
So we headed to Seahouses about 25 minutes drive from the campsite. After parking and raiding a gift shop for buckets, nets and beach mats we walked along the path and down to the beach. It was another beautiful one- overlooked by Bamburgh Castle and there are options to take a boat out to the Farne Islands – all reason to definitely return.
Kids couldn’t wait to get their swimmers on and head down to the pools. After some serious exploring, splashing and sandcastle building followed by a grown up competition of boules (10,9,9,9 was the score in case you wondered – not to me but we were all fiercely competitive) we were ready for some food.
We packed up and headed straight to Pinnacles and we tucked in to some delicious food. I don’t think any of us realised how hungry the sea air had made us – everyone of us wolfed down the fried goodness. Then we topped this off by an ice-cream and headed back to the site.
Back to the site the kids had 40 winks so we let them catch up on some much needed zzzzs. Then we headed back in to Embleton where we had seen a great park opposite a pub. The park was brilliant and whilst not owned by the Blue Bell Inn you can grab a drink and watch the kids burn off some more energy.
Back at the site – Ella and I played Top Trumps, Dobble and a number of other card games whilst Mr TWB decided it was his time for 40 winks (think those couple of beers at the park were to blame).
Then the kiddies decided it was time to eat – AGAIN. After a few trips away with our friends and knowing our kids we got stuck into cheese, pate, crackers and meats all washed down by some red wine (adults only of course). We make sure that we get some of the stuff we love – regardless of how we holiday.
A slightly tipsy game of Frisbee with the kids followed by a final game of boules and then the three of us headed inside for our obligatory game of cards before bed. I am sure Ella will be a card-shark in the future.
Early morning, after breakfast and it was time to get packed up. Time to see how quick and easy this new tent could be dismantled. In a word – AMAZING – just release the value and within a minute it is flat. Just unpeg and fold it up and you are done. One of the features of this package is that the tent doesn’t come in the traditional bag – it comes with a flat piece of material that wraps around the tent and then clips together. This means you don’t have to fold like the factory – winner.
So once we were packed up we decided that as we had another amazing day we would head to another beach. This time we picked Alnmouth. We only had just over a couple of hours before we wanted to take the long drive back down to Manchester but we made the most of it. A little picnic on the beach and more games before deciding a nice hot drink and a slice of cake would set us up nicely before getting in the car. We walked along to the pretty village and chose the Village Tea Rooms.
It was such a cute traditional little English café and had we not eaten already we would have been very tempted to stay for lunch. However, it was just a sugary treat and the chocolate cake for Ella and the coffee and walnut for me and a cream tea for hubby and we were all well and truly satisfied.
Back in the car and a quick photo stop at the magnificent Angel of the North and we were on our way home.
For a weekend it is probably a little further than we would normally travel but we have definitely found a place we want to return to and due to the surprisingly amazing weather we have loads to go and discover.