Warkworth and Amble- Northumberland
PUBLISHED: 16:22 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:53 20 February 2013
Historic Warkworth and Victorian Amble are near neighbours at the mouth of the River Coquet, contrasting in character but, as Judith Draycott discovers, intrinsically linked and ever charming
Historic Warkworth and Victorian Amble are near neighbours at the mouth of the River Coquet, contrasting in character but, as Judith Draycott discovers, intrinsically linked and ever charming There cannot be two places that complement each so well as Amble and Warkworth, on the coast of Northumberland. And it is no wonder that people who go to stay there will return again and again.
Alnwick may be the nearby town that is most likely to attract tourists but you would not be disappointed if you spent time at its two smaller neighbours. They have a totally different charm. Amble is largely a creation of the Victorians, explains county and district councilor, Robert Arkless, who has lived there all his life.
Before 1800, the population was 152. Following development of the harbour and coalmines in the vicinity and the construction of railways, a century later it had 4,428 inhabitants. Now about 6,700 people live there, which is in sharp contrast to when it was a hamlet - part of Warkworth Parish. It is still a working port and watching the fishing boats disgorge their catch, as they have done for so many years, is a fascinating pastime.
There are some entertaining characters to observe, many of whom belong to families that have fished there all their lives. David Milburn is the executive director of Amble Development Trust, which was set up in 1994 to lead the regeneration of the former mining town, in partnership with others. 'The town has come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade,' he says, 'and we have been able to attract significant investment here.'
This is apparent in the new houses, for example, that overlook the magnificent marina, which is the first thing you see when you drive south from Warkworth, along the side of the River Coquet. It has also led to the shop front grants scheme that the Trust runs in partnership with Alnwick District Council, to encourage the use of traditional colours and styles that are in keeping with the town.
One of Amble's main features is the quaint Queen Street, where you will see a range of small shops to complement the Co-op and new Tesco food store. It is a walk down memory lane. Eating places are limited, although there is Jasper's caf, a restaurant at The Granary and the Marina Arms public house, to name a few.
A visit to Amble is more likely to involve eating a paper of fish and chips at the harbour, possibly during a visit to the market, which is held there every Sunday, and a walk along the pier. Visitors stay at the bed and breakfasts or at the Amble Links caravan park. Cyclists, birdwatchers or those who fancy a summer- season boat trip round Coquet Island - where St Cuthbert lived - are all regulars to this welcoming little town.
Its community spirit is very strong and The Ambler newsletter is a favourite with locals and visitors too.
Just a mile away is Warkworth, a village with a castle that dominates the skyline and is situated on a hill-top above the river. The castle, which dates back to the 8th Century, is open to visitors almost every day of the year.
Half a mile away, on the left bank of the Coquet and accessible only by boat, is the hermitage. This will be open again at Easter. Open all year and guaranteed peace and quiet are the dunes and beach that are accessible on the edge of the village. A walk or a picnic here - even when well-wrapped up against the weather - can be a bracing experience, but the coast in this part of Northumberland is still one of the most spectacular features of Britain.
There are plenty of places for refreshments, whether you fancy a pub lunch or a meal or snack at Topsey Turvey's or The Jackdaw. There is an excellent selection and a new addition to the cuisine selection makes your mouth water just thinking of it.
Louise Frederique is a young chocolatiere-patissiere and she has just opened Cabosse, which is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. Every day, she makes French-style chocolates, petit fours, cakes, croissant and tartelettes that you can take out or eat in her caf. There are savoury delights too and this unique shop is a must place to visit.
In fact,Warkworth has some delightful craft and gift shops. For example, Gray's, which sells contemporary jewellery and fashion accessories is magnet for people from all over the North and beyond.
That was first port of call for four women, who were staying in the village for a weekend. They were there to shop in Gray's and be re-united with its owner, Tim Mohon, while their husbands were going to the market at Amble. Mrs Denise Tate, from Ryhope, said: 'We love coming to Warkworth and we will be back here in September. 'Our accommodation at the Warkworth House Hotel is luxury.We get excellent cream teas and crab sandwiches in the village and the chocolate shop is simply irresistible.'
The Fenwick Gallery exhibits paintings, ceramics and other contemporary fine art. It, like other businesses, has suffered from last autumn's floods that damaged holiday cottages and reduced the number of captive customers who were in the village. But, things are looking up again.