December 11, 2023 12:44 PM

Explore, Relax, Repeat … A Craster Retreat

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A guest blog written by Donna, the Coastal Custodian.

Coastal walks along endless stretches of almost empty beaches with uninterrupted views of the rugged Northumberland coastline. With castles and historic sites along the way, followed by lazy pub lunches then back to the cosy warmth of a wood-burning stove in a modern 19th-century cottage, is this your ideal place for a getaway? Harbourway is one of Catch the Breeze Retreats’ beautiful Northumberland properties and is a stylish four-bedroom cottage set in the centre of the picturesque fishing village of Craster, which is renowned for its world-famous smoked Craster Kippers and is just around the corner from Harbourway.  

Harbourway’s sister property in Craster, Driftwood, is right next door whilst Middlerigg, Craster Reach and Rock Lobster are just across the road, and these properties are perfectly situated next to each other and can be booked together with Harbourway for larger parties if required. All are perfect coastal retreats any time of the year, but especially peaceful during the autumn and winter months when the summer crowds have gone. 

I stayed at the stunning Harbourway, a four-bedroom, modernised cottage, formerly known as ‘Choughs Cafe’ by the locals. I was delighted to see that amidst the stylish interiors and modern additions, such as the light-filled sunroom and underfloor heating, that many of the original features like the flooring, beams and doors had been sensitively restored, as well as the many impressive inglenook fireplaces throughout the property. I just loved the huge bay windows in the lounge and dining rooms which were absolutely perfect for enjoying the fabulous views of the nearby Harbour whilst enjoying a morning coffee, curled up with a favourite book or one of the board games that are available in the cottage. 

The kitchen is so well equipped, spacious and contemporary, ideal for socialisng with friends, and has everything you could possibly need, even its own wine cooler and American fridge freezer with ice dispenser! The generously sized dining room is full of character and its impressive inglenook fireplace is perfect for family get-togethers and celebrations. 

Contemporary open plan kitchen
Dining room with beautiful bay window and inglenook fireplace

One of my favourite rooms at Harbourway was the sunroom, filled with natural light from the atrium-styled roof and the sliding doors leading straight onto the patio and garden overlooking the harbour, such a tranquil and peaceful space to recharge. This property is so well proportioned and as well as offering spacious living also has its own private off-road parking and extensive outdoor space, with a beautiful, enclosed garden to the front and enclosed space at the rear, and even its own raised terrace area for enjoying drinks or breakfast in the warmer months, perfect for those Craster kippers! 

Sun-room filled with natural light leading to patio

Upstairs there are three bedrooms (two king-sized rooms, 1 twin) all with harbour views and the king-size rooms have modern ensuites in addition to a huge free-standing, egg-shaped family bath, ideal for soaking in after long coastal path walks. On the ground floor is a fourth bedroom, which is another generously sized king-size with its own ensuite, suitable for anyone with limited access. 

King-size bedroom with harbour views

Stylishly decorated throughout, the house is modern and tastefully designed with nods to the property’s previous maritime heritage and history, a perfect place to retreat and cosy up. 

Being right by the coast, there is no need to worry about outdoor space with long stretches of coastline to enjoy, especially if you are bringing your four-legged friend along with you (one dog allowed). Harbourway has more than ample outdoor space, enclosed and secure for both them and your family to enjoy. An enclosed garden to the front and rear, the front garden affords fabulous views down to the harbour, whilst to the rear you will find a raised terraced area, perfect for outdoor dining and socialising. Harbourway also has its own private off-road parking, enough for three vehicles, which in a small fishing village is a real bonus. 

Harbourway Location

Whilst I have visited Craster many times previously as a day tripper, it’s usually to walk across to Dunstanburgh Castle followed by coffee and cake at the nearby Stables Yard, where you will find a delicious range of home-baked cakes and pastries, as well as in The Village Farm Shop in the nearby village of Embleton. And if you’re after a more substantial refuel, The Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel has a great selection of food and drink options. 

Staying the week at Harbourway, rather than visiting for the day, it was so nice to have time during my stay to explore some of the lesser-known places around the village like the Dunstan Heughs, which is a wooded walk and leads to where there are still remnants of Italian prisoner of war camps and old World War bunkers evident. Also, the nearby Arnold Memorial Nature Reserve and Embleton Quarry Nature Reserve which are bursting with local nature and wildlife. As well as the popular Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle walk, in the opposite direction, the Craster to Howick section of the Northumberland Coastal Path provides miles of dramatic views and rugged coastline where you can still visibly see The Great Whin Sill, a tabular layer of the igneous rock dolerite rocks from centuries ago, like the dramatic headland of Cullernose Point. And be sure to add Howick Hall to your visit too, it’s the ancestral home of the Earl Grey, as in Earl Grey tea, and is a great spot for afternoon tea overlooking the beautiful botanical garden. If you enjoy a bit of beachcombing, the Rumbling Kern by the Bathing House is a perfect spot to stop for this. In addition to the more popular locations, these lesser-known areas are definitely worth adding to your visit. 

Cullernose Point walking from Craster to Howick

Dining at The Jolly Fisherman in Craster, a world-famous seafood restaurant, at least once during your stay is a must, where you can dine from the field, the land and the sea. I can personally recommend the Craster Kipper Scotch Eggs and the Halibut with Lobster Bisque, it is delicious – oh, and don’t forget to add a side of their beef dripping chips too, which are absolutely moreish. 

Locally caught halibut with lobster bisque at The Jolly Fisherman

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