Heading north, the wild expanse of Druridge Bay is home to miles of white-sand beach that stretch invitingly along the gently shelving bay, backed by epic dunes and lapped by choppy, iron-grey waves.
The beach and its hinterland are part of a nature reserve, and it’s a popular spot for bird watching. If you prefer more energetic pursuits, try a bracing stroll along the sand, cycling in the country park, or kite surfing in the shallows.
Warkworth & Dunstanburgh
Echoes of centuries past reverberate around this section of Britain’s coast, and the weather-beaten castles that dot the shore offer a stark reminder of the times when Northumbria served as the front line between north and south.
The impressive remains of Warkworth Castle stand poised above a loop in the River Coquet. In its glory days Warkworth was home to the influential Percy family, and formed a backdrop to Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II.
Nearby Dunstanburgh Castle had a similar starring role in the Wars of the Roses. Now crumbling into ruins, it lies midway between the villages of Craster – famous for its kippers – and Embleton, with its vast empty bay.
Alnwick Castle & Garden
Inland the pretty town of Alnwick is overlooked by its 14th-century castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Northumberland.
The castle itself is well worth a visit, but the spectacular garden attached to it steals the show.
Established by the current Duchess in 2000, The Alnwick Garden is a green thumb’s paradise.
The giant central fountain sends water jets surging high into the air, while the Ornamental Garden is a riot of fragrant, brightly coloured blooms.
The highlights, though, are the Poison Garden – where some of the world’s deadliest plants are grown under lock and key – and the Treehouse, set amid the branches of living lime trees.
Perched impressively on a basalt crag, the castle at Bamburgh is a serious contender for the title of England’s most photogenic stately pile.
Inside you’ll find the usual castle attractions, among them an imposing great hall, a medieval kitchen and a comprehensive armoury.
But it’s the dramatic sight of Bamburgh astride its rocky foundations, best viewed from the rippled foreshore north of the castle, that lingers in the consciousness.
The Farne Islands
Lying about three miles off the coast, the stark archipelago of the Farne Islands plays host to a cacophony of seabirds.
Visit May to July to see (and certainly hear) feeding chicks of species including oystercatchers, cormorants and Arctic terns.
But the puffins, with their jaunty bills, and the islands’ colony of grey seals, provide the greatest entertainment.
Boat trips to the islands leave from the quaint harbour at Seahouses – a beachside town justly famous for its fish and chips.
The ethereal beauty of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is accentuated by its isolation. The only means of getting there is via a narrow causeway from the mainland at low tide.
The eerie, mystical desolation of the place has drawn those seeking peace and solitude from time immemorial.
The island was first settled by monks as early as 635, and today the ruins of the medieval priory bear testament to the bleak existence of the monastic community.
There’s a castle too, tiny and wind-lashed, backdropped by the haunting panorama of the pewter-grey North Sea, coarse, sheep-strewn farmland and marram-clad sand dunes.
» Claire Goodall travelled with Wicked Campers (0808 234 8461). Van hire starts from £30 per day