Church Hill, Alnmouth, Northumberland, UK by Dave Head, ShutterstockChurch Hill is perhaps the finest vantage point for a view of Alnmouth © Dave Head, Shutterstock

Alnmouth’s pastel-coloured cottages crowded above creamy sands make this old village one of the most distinctive places on the Northumberland coast.

Alnmouth’s pastel-coloured cottages crowded above creamy sands and the Aln Estuary make this old village one of the most distinctive (and photographed) places on the Northumberland coast. An unbeatable vantage point is Church Hill, a grassy knoll with a cross and ruined Victorian chapel, on the coast path. A much older church once stood on this hillock but it was destroyed during a storm in 1806 that was so violent it changed the course of the river, cutting off Church Hill from the village.

The usual approach for those travelling by road is across a multiarched Victorian bridge that skims the River Aln. If walking along the beach from Warkworth, you get tantalisingly close to Alnmouth only to find that you can’t cross the estuary and have to head inland on the long and unappealing coast path that follows the main road for a couple of miles. If you are going to attempt the beach crossing, your best bet is probably to go barefoot at the shoreline when the tide is far out (don’t attempt to cross further up the estuary because the current is strong and locals warn of quicksand).

Alnmouth’s main road, Northumberland Street, opens generously to sand dunes at its southern end. Along its length are a few gift shops, a convenience store, a church and a number of pubs and cafés. The sharp-eyed visitor will notice that a few buildings have irregular-shaped windows (the row leading away from the post office for example). They were built as granaries during the 18th century when Alnmouth was a busy port and exported large amounts of corn.

At the sand dune end of the main street in the side of a stone house is a small window displaying an old barometer that was given to the Alnmouth coastguards in 1860 by the Duke of Northumberland. It is a pleasing object, as is the description of its history.

Out of sight at the far north end of the village is the wonderful Old School Gallery, one of the best art galleries in Northumberland. Original paintings (mostly of local coastal scenes) hang on walls above crafts and pottery items.

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