Friday, 8 July 2016

Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle

Today, another of my Northumberland posts. On what was actually the Monday of our week's holiday, we headed over to the coast. We parked in the small fishing village of Craster and walked along the path towards Dunstanburgh Castle.

It was built in the early 14th century but didn't survive sieges during the Wars of the Roses. By 1550 it was recorded as being "in wonderfull great decaye".

It's still an impressive sight even in ruins. We had free entry with our National Trust membership so went inside to explore.

I was mesmerised by all the wildflowers growing on the walls...

...and the many Green-Veined White butterflies. They kept me entertained for ages as I chased up and down trying to get a shot.

There were lots of birds too: a Meadow Pipit perched on top of the wall with a beak full of snacks for its family.

Further along we had our first views of the north side of the coast looking towards the golden sands of Embleton Bay.

Below us were steep-sided cliffs, home to nesting seabirds such as...


...and razorbills. There were lots of them on the sea and posing on the rocks.

Another view over towards Embleton Bay: it was a shame we didn't have time to walk all the way over to the sands.

Back in the castle, this is Lilburn Tower, named after John de Lilburn, one of the constables of the castle in the early 1300s. It's believed he oversaw the completion of the tower. Originally it had three storeys with a single room on each floor and would have been accommodation for the soldiers.

Inside the tower we could hear tweeting above our heads and spotted a young swallow peeping over a ledge waiting for its parents to return with food.

A Wall butterfly sunning itself.

I think this is the remains of John of Gaunt's gatehouse, dating from the 1380s. John, who was both the son and father of a king of England, owned this and several other castles at the time.

Pied wagtail

View from the top of the main tower

Leaving the castle, we circled the base of the mound it sits on, heading north. From here we could get a better view of the cliffs where all the kittiwakes and razorbills were perched.

We walked a little way before retracing our steps back to Craster.

Reed bunting

Piper's Pitch next to the visitor centre has been serving food here for 10 years. We chose to have two of his most popular items: the famous Craster kipper 'n' bun and an Auchtermuchty (haggis and bacon). Plus the best cup of tea we'd tasted all week. Delicious.

Tummies satisfied, it was time for a quick stroll around Craster itself before heading home to the cottage.

Eider ducks

These dark, flat rocks are part of the Whin Sill which was formed over 295 million years ago from molten rock.

I could have stayed there all afternoon watching the waves crashing.

This was probably my favourite day of our holidays. Any day by the sea would be up there but I loved the rugged coastline, the history and all the wildlife. I'd love to go back there one day and explore some of the nature reserves further up the coast.

Before I go, a quick update on the baby grebes. Both are growing fast and I've seen one of them starting to dive as if searching for food. The parents seem to be have divided the care and are looking after one each. It's all looking very positive for them surviving to adulthood :)

Have a great weekend everyone. Oh, and GO Andy Murray!! x


  1. It looks lovely, we had thought of calling here on our way home as we have not been to Dunstanburgh Castle,well worth a day visit. Will make a point of going next time we go to Northumberland. Love all your photos nice to see some sea birds there too.
    Just posted some more photos of Beadnell, did you visit Holy Island?
    Amanda xx

    1. Hi Amanda, yes we did - will eventually get around to posting about it! X

    2. I've just got round to posting about Holy Island, look forward to seeing what you saw...
      Amanda xx

  2. I remember that walk well from my trip there - I loved seeing the Eider ducks when I was there so glad they got a feature in your post. Good to see the grebe chicks looking so well!

  3. Oh, I was hoping you would let us see how the grebes have grown!!
    Now, I have to tell you, I LOVE this post, really I do, and your photos are really, really good!! I think you could enter some of them in a photo contest!
    Green veined white butterfly? I would have chased it for ages too! That is a great shot of it amongst the flowers. xx

  4. That's a fab place to visit. Very impressed with your pictures... And so many flowers!

  5. I love your photos!!! You saw soo many cool birds and you really captured the essence of this place. The rugged coast and dashing waves.

    So glad the Baby Grebes are thriving!x

  6. Helloooo I'm here via Lucy at Attic 24 and our combined live of Craster!!
    When we went to the castle it started chucking it down whilst we were only half way back so didn't go for kipper buns! Went straight home but next time I'll definitely go for sure! X