Howick and Craster
Mon 29th February 2016
What weather and it is still February.
This walk was everything you could have hoped for, when you are planning guided walks for February on the coast you dream of blue skies and sunshine and when this is what you experience who could ask for anything else.
We all met at Sea Houses, near to Howick and it was great everybody arrived in good time.
After a quick introduction we headed off South to the coast. Before we arrived at the coastline we were treated to stunning views of Sugar Sands before we dropped down to the North Sea and we joined the North Sea Trail.
We then headed North up the coast and soon came across the Bath House. This truly unique and most charming Grade II listed cottage stands in possibly the most idyllic and desirable location on the Northumberland coast. Set in a superb and secluded position on the cliff edge with a sandy cove below, it commands panoramic coastal views from every window. The majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle can be seen in the north, whilst to the south there are distant views of Coquet Island.
We then continue North up the coast path and soon reached Craster.
Craster is a small fishing village on the Northumbrian coast of England. It has a small harbour and offers a view northwards along the rocky shore to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.
For many years, the village has had a herring-curing business: Craster kippers are well known in England. The local herrings are smoked in a traditional manner by the Robson family.
The remains of a tower on the end of the harbour are all that can be seen now of the much taller building which was part of the overhead equipment which used to convey the local stone from where it was quarried to boats in the harbour. The disused quarry is now a car park. A small distance inland lies Craster Tower, the home of the Craster family who owned the quarry and had the harbour improved for its benefit.
Our lunch stop was Craster Tourist Information centre and Piper's Pitch, the food van that is rated as the No1 place to eat at Craster. It was very civilised to be sat on chairs for lunch!
After lunch we headed inland through some great farmland before reaching Howick Hall.
Howick was the home of the Grey family from 1319 and Charles 2nd Earl Grey is the most distinguished member.
As leader of the Whig party he was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834, during which time the Great Reform Bill of 1832 was passed in the teeth of opposition from the Duke of Wellington; this started the process of parliamentary reform which eventually led to our modern democracy. He married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby in 1794; the marriage was happy and fruitfut and the couple had 15 children.
Howick is also the home of Earl Grey tea! The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water from the well at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used it in London when entertaining as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it and it is now sold worldwide. Sadly the Greys, being un-business like, failed to register the trade mark and as a result they have never received a penny in royalties.
We then had a short walk back down the road back to the cars.
A lovely walk complimented by some great company!