England – Castles of the North East: Bamburgh

If you happen to find yourself in the North East England without a set plan for a couple of days, I would highly encourage you to use at least one of those days for visiting one of the many castles to be found here. You are sure to be spoilt for choice, so I wouldn’t blame you if you struggle to decide which fortress to check out. Hopefully I can make things a teensy bit easier – I’ll be covering a number of the local castles over the course of the summer. The place I’m starting with is a real gem: Bamburgh.

Bamburgh is located so far up north you can barely tune to any English radios, so I’m hoping you like Scottish pipes – they’ll be keeping you company while you drive here. It takes about an hour to drive here from Newcastle, or if you’re coming from Scotland, it will be an hour and a half’s drive from Edingburgh. Jokes about pipes aside, Bamburgh definitely does have a bit of a Scottish feel to it. Being so close to the border, it’s one of those neither here not there places. Above all, Bamburgh feels like it’s lost in time.

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I’m well aware that the castle was built near the sea for strategic reasons and not for the view, but that is no reason not to take in the scenery. In fact, the natural beauty of the area and the stunning beach with the castle impressively towering above it are what makes Bamburgh stand out from its counterparts in the north. I would encourage you to visit on a sunny day, take a couple hours to explore the castle and then spend the rest of your afternoon relaxing on the beach with a picnic. I highly recommend bringing your own food, but if you come unprepared the castle café in the clock tower will be ready to sort you with a picnic pack (or you can stop here for an afternoon tea, should the weather be less favourable).

The castle itself was built by the Normans in the 11th century (although there had been forts in its place even before that), and is much more than a pleasant beach background. £10.50 will get you into the castle grounds, and more importantly, the state rooms. There are 14 rooms the public can explore in the castle, and most of them are guaranteed to have your imagination running wild.

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The Kings Hall is particularly breathtaking, with the windows being unusually large for castle standards, which lends the room a magical lighting. It wouldn’t take much of a stretch to picture the nobility gathering and feasting in this room, and leaving its tantalising atmosphere will no doubt prove to be difficult. But there are more rooms to see, including the armory, a period kitchen (complete with a Victorian fridge) and even a dungeon.

The castle closes at 5, with last admission at 4 (even sooner in the winter months), so make sure to allow plenty of time for your visit. A sunny day at Bamburgh is a day well spent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the castle’s charm wouldn’t lure you back in the near future.

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