Liz O’Brien won a £100 Coastal Retreats voucher in April’s 24 hours with… guest blog competition for her springtime account of her stay at The Lodge@Shirewater.
As I pulled into The Lodge@Shirewater for my second visit in four months, I wondered if the owners would notice if I never left. Unfortunately I suspect they are as observant as they are welcoming, so I resolved to make the most of my too-brief break.
Shortly after my arrival, Anne and Peter popped by to say hello. Realising I was a returning guest, it was clear they’d reviewed my previous feedback form. This place is nigh-on perfect to me so any criticisms would have been constructive nit-picking, but I was impressed by their attention to detail and commitment to excellent customer service.
I arrived at 5pm when the early spring weather was perfect for exploring the five acres of verdant grounds. It turns out a river runs through them. The Embleton Burn to be precise, which runs past the property and into the North Sea.
Bridges cross the river at either end of the grounds, providing perfect vantage points for appreciating the wildflowers and magnificent trees.
Having crossed the river and navigated the embankment, I introduced myself to the neighbours. And their little ones.
Finally, I checked out the orchard before perching on one of the garden benches to savour the tranquillity, punctuated only by the baa’ing of the lambs.
As I sat, a hare bounded across the grass and a red squirrel flung itself expertly between thetrees. I felt very relaxed.
Late next morning a grey sky greeted me. Undeterred I ventured outside and realised it was perfect walking weather, with rain the right side of torrential and the wind blowing less than a gale. Which was just as well because I planned to walk one of my favourite bits of the Northumberland coastline, from Embleton to Craster via the imposing remains of Dunstanburgh Castle.
Setting off on foot from the Lodge, I turned right towards Embleton then took the first right signposted Dunstan Steads. The road snaked down towards the beach past a handful of properties until I found myself on the wrong side of the golf course. Between Warkworth and Alnmouth there’s a bell for warning golfers you’re crossing the course (I once took a rather cavalier attitude towards this and almost lived to regret it). Here there was no choice but to chance it; thankfully I emerged unscathed on the other side and continued towards Craster (acclaimed, of course, for its kippers).
At Craster I refuelled with coffee and cake at the Shoreline café, browsed Mick Oxley’s gallery then set off back. Reaching Embleton I realised I was enjoying walking so much I might as well continue along the beach to Low Newton. The beach was bustling but not busy, with a mix of solo walkers, local families, and delighted dogs that can’t quite believe this is their daily walk!
As 5pm approached, it was a joy to think I hadn’t been near my car for 24 hours. Instead, I’d walked until re-energised and reinvigorated by the sea air. And that’s why I love Northumberland.
How to enter May’s guest blog competition
Email your entry in no more than 500 words, with 24 hours with… in the subject line, to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on May 31. For more details plus the terms and conditions, see here.