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Report 2043: Northumberland in the Snow in January

By Eleanor from UK, Winter 2013

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Page 4 of 10: Seahouses and the Bamburgh Inn

photo by MAW

Mersey class lifeboat, Grace Darling

Mention Seahouses to most people and they immediately link it with visits to the Farne Islands, seen out to sea beyond the harbor. In summer it is busy with tourists and divers. On a snowy day in January, there were few visitors.

This is the major service centre for the area with petrol station, plenty of small local shops as well as the usual tourist shops and at least five Fish and Chip restaurants. It was busy with locals going about their business.

Seahouses used to be an important seasonal herring fishing and processing station. Now there is little fishing from the harbor. Most vessels are used for day trips to the Farne Islands or taking out divers. Some of the best diving in the country is round the islands.

With its close links to the Farne Islands it was fun to see Cuddy ducks swimming in the harbor. This is the local name for the eider duck that breed on the islands. According to local legend, the birds snuggled round St Cuthbert’s feet during the winter so helping keep them warm. He also introduced the first ever bird protection order in 676 to protect the eider ducks.

Next to the harbor are large lime kilns, a reminder of the days when local limestone and coal were burnt to provide a valuable supply of lime.

There has been a lifeboat station here since 1827. Now part of RNLI, it houses the Mersey Class lifeboat, Grace Darling. As well as its role in sea rescues, paramedics also use it to take to travel to Lindisfarne when the causeway is closed.

We were stopping at the Bamburgh Castle Inn, the long low white building overlooking the harbor. We had a balcony room at the top of the building with what must be the best view in Seahouses. Rooms were comfortable with lashings of hot water. Evening meals here are popular with a good choice of locally sourced food on the menu and window seats with views across the harbor to the Farne Islands are soon snapped up.

We had difficulty deciding what to choose off the menu and finally decided to share a Garlic mushroom starter in a thick creamy sauce. Michael followed this with rib eye steak, cooked to perfection, juicy with lots of flavor, served with chips, mushroom, tomato and salad garnish. I had steak and ale pie. This always sorts out the good from the mediocre kitchens. This was definitely good, with plenty of huge chunks of tender meat in rich gravy. Served with chips and a variety of fresh vegetables I was struggling to finish. We couldn’t manage a dessert. We washed down the meal with Farne Islands ale, the house beer brewed by Hadrian and Border, and in excellent condition.

We weren’t very hungry at breakfast time but still managed to do justice to the English breakfast - a huge plateful of local sausage, bacon, sautéed potato, baked beans, mushroom, tomato and eggs. We didn't want any lunch.

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