A Castle Rising from the Dunes

There are some places which, upon learning about them, utterly capture my imagination. Whether it’s a picture or a written description or a friend’s recommendation… some places just have me at hello (so to speak). New York City, Angkor Wat, Patagonia, the plains of Mongolia… my list is a long one.

When researching places to explore within the U.K. not long after my arrival here two years ago, I came across such a place: Bamburgh.

On the northernmost coast of England, in Northumbria, there is an expansive white sand beach lined with sand dunes and beach tussocks. From the dunes rises a breath-taking, ancient, formidable castle. I saw one photo and was hooked in a moment.

What drew me to this place so much was the location – I have been to coastal castles before, but located atop cliffs where their lookout make for an obvious building point. Never had I heard of or even imagined a majestic castle in such a setting as this; what could easily be a New Zealand beach (if it wasn’t for the centuries old structure casually standing amongst the sand). To see a castle amongst the sand was truly a sight I wanted to behold, and I haven’t let go of the obsession since I saw that first picture.

This past weekend I finally turned the dream to a reality, and it was every bit as incredible as I would have imagined. Plus, it had been a long time since I'd had a beach day like this! Cornwall’s beachside castle, St Michael’s Mount, and France’s famed Mont Saint-Michel are still on my travel wish list, but I am not sure they can top this.

The best part? The complete lack of people. I would have expected a place like this to be rammed, but it was vast, and sparsely frequented. Having visited with friends during the day, Jesse and I returned along at dusk when the sun had turned golden and was setting the castle sideways, and in the whole time we were there we spotted about five other souls on the huge beach. I will never forget what it was like to stand there, and I cannot recommend this spot enough to anyone who ever gets the chance to visit!

P.S. Nearby Holy Island, home to Lindisfarne Castle is another stunner – we made it out there but sadly were greeted by a castle blanketed in scaffolding… I do seem to be cursed when it comes to maintenance being carried out on sites I go to see!