A relaxing beach holiday on the amazing Northumberland coast
Northumberland is well-known for its fantastic beaches, amazing scenery, friendly seaside villages, and easy access to castles and attractions. Alnmouth delivers all of this and more in a picture-postcard, easy-to-reach package. Perfect for a family staycation!
Quick Guide to Alnmouth
Alnmouth is tucked away in a long bay on the Northumberland coast, about 5 miles from Alnwick, and part of the Northumberland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village itself is incredibly pretty, sitting on the corner of land where the River Aln flows out to the North Sea. Home to a picturesque row of “coloured houses”, VisitNorthumberland even calls Alnmouth ‘the Tobermory of Northumberland’. It’s certainly just as attractive (and easier to get to!).
Alnmouth is a small village with a permanent population of about 500, but with holiday accommodation, plenty of places to eat, dog-friendly pubs, a few shops, two golf courses, welcoming locals, and an enormous beach, the village is pretty much the perfect spot for a chilled-out family beach holiday.
Quick fact: the L in Alnmouth is not silent like it is in Alnwick – so it’s pronounced phonetically as Aln-mouth.
Visiting Alnmouth With Kids
We’ve visited Alnmouth many times and our last trip was half-term week in October 2020. We’re already booked to go back this summer, when hopefully COVID restrictions will be at a minimum. Our children love it there: the easy access to the beach and the estuary means there’s always something to see. They also love being so close to the tearoom and the gift shop! Below are some family-friendly recommendations for staying in Alnmouth with kids.
Things to Do in Alnmouth
Alnmouth may be small but there’s lots to see here, and there’s plenty to keep you and the kids occupied, even in such a tiny place.
Visit Alnmouth Beach
The beach at Alnmouth is the village’s main attraction, and it’s absolutely glorious. It’s huge at low tide, and you’ll feel like you have it to yourself even when others are around. There’s plenty of space for building sandcastles, having a picnic, and generally enjoying a great beach day. There’s a vast amount of space and good sea winds, so it’s also a perfect spot for flying a kite.
At the southern end of the beach is the River Aln Estuary, and if you go a few hundred yards inland to the harbour area where the boats are moored, the ebb and flow of the river makes dozens of little pools to go puddle-jumping in at low tide. (Note that swimming is strictly prohibited in the Estuary area because of strong currents.)
There are public toilets available, but not directly at the beach. They’re in the village, at the bottom of Pease’s Lane.
Get Something To Eat at Alnmouth’s Cafes
For a small village, Alnmouth has a good choice of places to eat, with both pubs and cafes lining the main street. I haven’t sampled them all, but here are a few we’ve tried and loved:
Scott’s Of Alnmouth is a little gem, with a fully-stocked artisanal deli and small café serving delicious food throughout the day. They also have great homemade ready meals to takeaway, pies, quiches, sausage rolls, pastries, cheeses, and some of the best coffees and hot chocolate for miles around. The shop also stocks a good variety of gins and wine.
The Village Tearoom serves lovely sandwiches, toasties, soup, home baking, coffees, milkshakes etc and they’re very accommodating for kids. They’re usually open until 4pm and make a great lunch or afternoon tea stop.
The Hope and Anchor serves up great fish and chips, woodfired pizzas and other Italian and gastropub dishes. Book ahead as it tends to get busy!
Walk Around the Village and See the Coloured Houses
There are plenty of lovely walks on your doorstep in Alnmouth, and there is a locally produced guidebook to the walks, which you can buy from the gift shop (see below) featuring all of these routes.
A good short walk to do with children is the walk around the village, which is only about a mile long (and can also conveniently end at the playpark!) Head north along the main street and then turn left at the roundabout. Keep walking until you’re almost at the bridge over the Aln. To your left you’ll see steps down towards the river and this will take you to a path along the shore with a lovely view of the coloured houses and back towards the playground. Continue round the estuary and you can take steps up to the street and back where you began.
Visit the Old School Gallery
At the north end of Alnmouth, in the old village schoolhouse, is the Old School Gallery, which sells a wide variety of artwork and also features a shop selling prints, cards etc. The courtyard outside has tables for coffee and cake, and even sometimes features a gourmet pizza van!
Do a Spot of Shopping at the Aln Gift Shop
Right in the middle of the main street, the Aln Gift Shop is a complete delight. Packed with a well-chosen selection of gifts, bags, scarves, jewellery, homeware, postcards, and a small but perfectly-formed selection of toys, it’s a must-visit.
Go Ghost Hunting at The Schooner Hotel
On the main street you’ll see the Schooner Hotel, which has a bar and restaurant as well as rooms. Claiming to be the most haunted hotel in the whole UK, there have apparently been 3000 ghost sightings here and it was featured on the TV show Most Haunted. Do you dare to go in?!
Climb Up Church Hill
Often when you see photos of Alnmouth, it’s pictured with Church Hill in the foreground or background. Just across the estuary from Alnmouth, Church Hill has a large cross on top marking the site of the old church. You have to walk, cycle or drive across the bridge and round to the other side of the river to get to Church Hill, but it’s worth it as it has fantastic views back over Alnmouth and along the coast.
Visit the Alnmouth Playground
If you’re staying in the village with small children, the playground is really handy. Just round the corner from the main beach and beside the estuary, it’s well spread out and has plenty of equipment, benches, and even communal barbecues for use. It’s also a good spot to watch the sunset.
Cycle from Alnmouth to Warkworth
Alnmouth sits right on the popular Coast and Castles Cycle Route and NCN 1, and there’s a great section from Alnmouth to nearby Warkworth, which is just under 4 miles and is completely traffic-free, making it perfect for a family cycle.
Alnmouth Village Golf Club
Right next to the beach is Alnmouth Village Golf Club, which is apparently England’s oldest 9-hole links course. It has fantastic views and they take bookings from visitors.
Visit the Ferryman’s Hut
Beside the river, where the boats are moored (and just along from the playground) is The Ferryman’s Hut, which is the smallest museum in Northumberland at just 7ft by 9ft. The hut was originally used by ferrymen who would row passengers over the River Aln, and this tiny museum is dedicated to them.
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Things to Do Near Alnmouth
One of the best things about a holiday in Alnmouth is its close proximity to some of Northumberland’s best attractions.
Visit Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden
I think The Alnwick Garden next door to the castle is actually the best attraction though, with so much to see in a relatively small space, including water features, the world’s largest Japanese cherry orchard (full of tree swings!), and the Treehouse Restaurant, which is the biggest wooden treehouse in the world.
Beside the Garden and on the way to the Castle, you’ll also find The Forgotten Garden Adventure Golf which is a small crazy golf course featuring giant insects, towering toadstools, and a spider which shoots water at innocent passers-by. My kids think it’s the best attraction in Alnwick and it’s well worth a visit.
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Take a Trip to Barter Books
The nearest train station may be based at Alnmouth now, but before 1968 it was situated in Alnwick. That station was closed as part of the Beeching cuts and the old station building is now home to the wonderful Barter Books.
Barter Books is an incredible secondhand bookshop with open fires, comfy chairs, a model train zooming around at roof-height, a brilliant little café and ice cream parlour, and a children’s section with space to play among contemporary and classic children’s books. It’s a fantastic place to visit, and you might want to stay for hours.
Visit Nearby Warkworth
Drive (or cycle) a few miles south down the coast from Alnmouth and you’ll get to Warkworth, which is probably my second favourite village in Northumberland after Alnmouth. Here you’ll find the mighty Warkworth Castle and another amazing beach to explore. Warkworth beach is generally a bit quieter than Alnmouth (and just as huge) so it’s a good shout for a busy day.
Try the Seafood at The Old Boathouse in Amble
Next along the coast after Warkworth is Amble, which is a bigger seaside town. If you’re looking for amazing, award-winning seafood, go to The Old Boathouse , or to their more child-friendly sister venue, the Fish Shack.
Go to Howick Hall Arboretum and the Earl Grey Tea Room
6 miles north of Alnmouth is Howick Hall Gardens and Arboretum, which is great for a relaxed afternoon out. It has a variety of ornamental gardens, including a sensory garden which children will love, plus a 65-acre arboretum with lovely walks. There are family nature challenge sheets available at the ticket office to keep small people busy along the way.
After your walk, head to the Earl Grey Tea Room for lunch and fantastic home baking.
Walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle
Near to Howick Hall is the seaside village of Craster (famed for it’s kippers!). You can walk from Craster to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle along the coast. It’s almost 2 miles each way along flat, easy walking on the grass beside the beach, and our 4-year-old managed it just fine with a picnic stop before we headed back. The path is not that buggy-friendly, although a good off-roader would handle it no problem. The view is stunning and it’s a great day out.
Staying Self-Catering in Alnmouth
Alnmouth has plenty of self-catering accommodation, although it does get quite booked up ahead of time. On our last trip, we stayed at St Julian’s, a 2-bedroom holiday apartment in Argyle street. With its own small backyard for storing your wellies and beach gear, and less than a minute’s walk onto the beach, it was ideal for a family holiday.
There’s a small shop to get supplies in the village, and Scott’s deli does fabulous fresh ready meals for takeaway. You’ll also find most main supermarkets in Alnwick, less than 10 minutes away.
Getting to Alnmouth
Alnmouth is really easy to get to, both by car and train. If you’re driving, it’s less than 10 minutes from the A1 at Alnwick and is clearly signposted. It’s also on the East coast main line train route, so whether you’re coming from the north or south, it’s easy to reach.
If you’re visiting for the day, on-street parking is available (when it’s not too busy) or there’s a big public car park between the golf course and the beach, which is signposted shortly after you enter the one-way system in the village. In the busy spring and summer seasons there’s a charge for the car park.
I hope this post gives you a good idea of what to expect on a family trip to Alnmouth. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll reply!