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Report 2043: Northumberland in the Snow in January

By Eleanor from UK, Winter 2013

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Page 9 of 10: Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle

photo by MAW

Dunstanburgh Castle

Craster is a pleasant small village of dark whin stone houses built above the harbor. It was once an important fishing post as the boats followed the herring shoals as they moved along the coast of Britain. Now there is no herring caught locally and the only fishing is for crab and lobster. In 1906 the Craster family improved the harbor in memory of their son who died serving with the British Army in Tibet. As well as fishing it also shipped out large quantities of stone from local quarries which are now the site of the car park at the edge of the village. The tramway taking stone from the quarries to the harbor is now a linear footpath.

The skies had cleared and the sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds - the first time we’d seen it since we left home. We decided to do the exhilarating 2km above the shore to the stark ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, silhouetted against the sky. It is an easy walk across rough grassland but after all the snow was very squelchy under foot and very muddy around gateways.

We could see the massive gateway with its two flanking towers, the tall remains of the Lilburn tower and the long curtain wall stretching down to the shore. Again it was shut weekdays during the winter. It didn't matter as this is one of the castles that is much more dramatic from the outside, less so from the inside.

Back in Craster we headed for the Shoreline Cafe and a welcome cup of tea. On entering an excellent selection of what looked like very good (and very fattening) cakes greeted us. After the pork pie and sausage roll, we reluctantly decided we better give them a miss. Locals happily tucking in assured us that our description was accurate.

Next stop was Robson’s smoke house recognized by the smoke coming out of the roof and the tarry smell of traditionally smoked kippers. For anyone who has not tried genuine traditionally smoked kippers, they are an eye-opener and completely different to what is sold in the supermarkets.

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