Embleton Bay, Northumberland - Castles and Kippers (Free Route)

Route Summary

Circular Craster to Low Newton by- the-Sea, via Dunstanburgh Castle. Gentle coastal paths crossing low cliffs, sandy beaches and dunes. Some muddy stretches. Magnificent Castle and beach; Craster and its famous kippers; Newton Pool Nature Reserve.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance:  7.7 miles (12.4 km)

Walking Time: 03h 45m

Type: Circular

Start location

Craster Tourist Information Centre, NE66 3TW

lat: 55.4717274

lon: -1.5965278

Getting there

Starting Point:Craster Tourist Information Centre, NE66 3TW at the entrance to Craster village on the right, Northumberland (NU256198)

Regular buses, run by Arriva Northumbria and Travelsure, operate year round between Alnwick and Craster.  https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/north-east/   https://bustimes.org.uk/operators/TSCL

Alnmouth, the nearest railhead, lies 13.5km/ 8.5miles south; the station is a stop on the east-coast main line between London and Scotland.

For bus and train timetable information, contact Traveline (tel 30871 200 2233 or www.traveline.info)

Route Map

embleton bay route image



On leaving the Tourist Information Office at Craster, turn right and walk down the main road towards the village. After a couple of minutes take a turning on your left (Norwell Brow).  Head to the end of the cul de sac, from where a path continues ahead, veering right shortly after through the gorse. Having passed the last gardens and houses, you then emerge through a gate onto open pasture, with a low, gorse covered ridge to your left. Instead of keeping to the path, it’s worth drifting up to the ridge top, where (at NU255204) you’ll find the remains of Craster’s World War II secret radar post and a fine view up the coast to the castle. From there improvise a route dropping diagonally via sheep tracks through the gorse bushes to reach the bottom right hand corner of the field. (A) The two concrete buildings on top of the escarpment are remains of the Craster radar station.  The larger housed the radar equipment with aerials of the roof.  The smaller building held the generators.  Set up during the early years of WW2, the Chain Home radar system along the coast protected Britain from attack by sea and air.  This was made up of radar stations with tall towers that reached far out to sea and lower structures, like Craster, with less range but greater detail and accuracy.  Buildings inland housed the staff and were later used as accommodation for Italian prisoners of war.


Here a five-bar gate leads to a signposted junction: bear right across the adjacent field along a fainter trail leading to the main coast path. Shortly after meeting this you arrive at another gate. Instead of bearing right along the broad path to the entrance to Dunstanburgh Castle, head left via Earl Thomas’ medieval ditch, with the steep bank rising to your right. Once you’ve reached the shoreline beyond the castle keep to the coast path on the dune as it skirts Embleton golf course.  After 5 minutes or so you’ll reach the point where the black rocks on your right give way to the sand of Embleton Bay; a path leads down to the beach. (B)  Dunstanburgh Castle, a 14th-century ruined fortress, is managed by English Heritage.  There are signs of medieval rig-and-furrow on the slopes near to the castle to improve drainage by creating raised areas of cultivation and furrows to carry away water - possible evidence of subsistence farming for the castle inhabitants.


Walk along the beach for approx 10–15 minutes, passing a gap in the high dunes on your left marked by an orange life ring on a post. Eventually you’ll see a second, almost identical gap and life ring at NU244230, which you should head through (if you reach the river you’ll know you’ve gone too far). The second gap leads to a footbridge across a stream, then, shortly after, a path junction from where a surfaced track leads left to the golf course clubhouse.


Ignore the track to the clubhouse and the second footbridge immediately on your right and instead head straight along a clear path running along the bank of Embleton Burn. After a few minutes this reaches a tight right bend in the river from where you can swing right to follow the sand. Once back on the beach keep left, with the huts on the high dunes above you, heading north around the point to Low Newton harbour.


The hub of Low Newton by-the-Sea consists of a three terraces of old fisherman’s cottages enclosing a little green. (C) Low Newton-by-the-Sea is a small isolated 18th century fishing village owned by The National Trust.  An inn is said to have been here since the 1700's.  St Mary's church, at the far end of the village, dates from the end of the 19th century and was bought in kit form and constructed from corrugated steel sheeting. Our path re-commences behind the Ship Inn. Follow the little lane running down the back of the north terrace (Farm Road), turning left when you arrive at the end of the houses to follow the track down the back of the pub and out along the foot of the dunes (a continuation of Farm Road). When you reach a fork just before a detached cottage, bear left on to a narrower path towards Newton Pool Nature Reserve: you’ll see a turning to the two hides on your right shortly after. (D) The area is renowned for its good bird watching, in particular the 'Newton Pool Bird Reserve overlooking Newton Pool where you can watch mallard, coot, teal and swans.  Two well-constructed bird hides are provided, including one with disabled access.  The early summer months of May and June are of particular interest, being the breeding season. Note that after heavy rain this section can be impassable and you may have to detour back the way you came along Low Newton beach.  After 10 minutes or so the northern end of the golf course is reached.  Keep left at the fork and continue uphill through the dunes past the holiday cabins, then back down to the perimeter of the golf course again. The path crosses a little stream, and soon after rejoins the sandy trail followed earlier along the bank of Embleton Burn to the junction [4]. For the next section of this walk, you retrace the outward route in reverse, back along the beach (or the soft sand path running along the top of the dunes if you prefer), turning right onto the coast path at the south end of Embleton Bay where the rocks take over. Keeping to the edge of the golf course the path winds towards the castle the entrance to which is in the main gatehouse on the south side of the complex (visit recommended).


From the castle, it’s plain sailing all the way back to Craster via the main coast path, which keeps to grassy pasture all the way to the village. To return to the Tourist Information Office and car park follow the lane that takes over from the path (Dunstanburgh Road) with the houses to your right, then bear right at the first junction on to West End. You’ll see the Tourist Information Office after 5 minutes, on your left.


Terrain: Gentle coastal paths crossing low cliffs, sandy beaches and dunes. Some muddy stretches. 

Maps:  OS Explorer 332 and 340.

Visitor Information: Craster Tourist Information Office Quarry Car Park (tel 301665 576007 www.visitnortheastengland.com).  
English Heritage (www.english-heritage.org.uk).  English Heritage manage Dunstanburgh Castle. Click on their “Research & Conservation” page for a fascinating report on recent archeological findings.  
National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk). As well as the castle, the NT owns Embleton Bay and Low Newton by- the-Sea.
Alnwick Food and Beer Festiva is held early Sept. 

Eating & Drinking:  Craster and  Low Newton-by-the-Sea, 

Sleeping:  Craster and Low Newton-by the- Sea