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Review of St Cuthbert's House, Northumberland UK

Posted by Paul Miles at 03:55 on Wednesday 01 September 2010

>> For contact details, availability and booking, see our full listing for St Cuthbert's House

The lovely original windows at St Cuthbert's HouseThe lovely original windows at St Cuthbert's HouseThe rooms
This B&B was once a Presbyterian church. The pulpit still watches over the chosen few, communing at breakfast and dinner or with some unholy spirit in the lounge, beneath ceilings that reach to heaven. There’s not much asceticism to endure in the six comfortable bedrooms either. Named after Celtic saints who visited these shores and nearby Lindisfarne Island, all are en-suite with either double or twin beds. The showers and baths are large, the beds soft and everywhere has a cleanliness befitting such godliness. There’s one groundfloor, fully-accessible room that has a wet-room (and a vibrating pillow fire-alarm system.) There are tea and coffee making facilities with fair trade products – naturally - and fresh milk available.

The food
“Would you like mead with your porridge?” asked the owner, Jeff Sutheran as he took my order for breakfast. It’s the first time I’ve started the day with this honey wine with my oats and I hope it’s not the last. Many ingredients on the breakfast menu are sourced locally: from the mead, brewed on Lindisfarne; the chilli and orange marmalade, made by an old man in the village (“We had to persuade him that people would like it,” says Jeff) and the kippers smoked in the nearby smokehouse. Co-owner, Jill, and their grown-up children occasionally offer evening meals such as organic, local lamb in a tender hot-pot and indulgently rich chocolate desserts.

Enjoy a tasty breakfast at St Cuthbert's HouseEnjoy a tasty breakfast at St Cuthbert's HouseThe activities
One of the main attractions of the area is boat trips from the harbour of nearby Seahouses to the puffin colony on the Farne Islands, where as many as 60,000 pairs gather to breed. For those without sea-legs, there are fabulous walks along one of the longest sandy beaches in the UK, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You could stride out for a long time – the 64 mile long Northumberland Coastal Path passes nearby St Cuthbert’s B&B. Bamburgh Castle, arguably one of the most picturesque in Britain, stands sentinel over the beach from its basalt outcrop, just a couple of miles along the beach from Seahouses, itself just a mile’s walk from St Cuthbert’s. Bring your own bicycle and there are plenty of quiet country roads for cycling too. If all this activity is too much, there are castles, gardens, traditional fish-smokers and other more sedate attractions nearby. Perhaps Jill, a talented musician, will even teach you the Northumbrian pipes?

The Green
The wooden furniture is all made in Britain from sustainable timber, the herbal cosmetics are paraben-free, rooms are well insulated, waste is recycled and food sourced locally. Plans for a ground-source heat pump were thwarted by the planners, so the heating is oil-fired. Jeff and Jill plan to change from fossil fuels to biodiesel (from waste oil we hope) as soon as possible.

The cosy interior at St Cuthbert's House is full of charmThe cosy interior at St Cuthbert's House is full of charmThe journey
By Jeff and Jill’s own admission, it’s difficult to reach here by public transport. The nearest station, Chathill, is just four miles away, reached from Newcastle but there are only two trains a day that stop there (one departing Newcastle at 0545 (!), the other at 1737) and no bus service from there. Perhaps your best bet, if visiting by rail, is to stop at Alnmouth (15 miles) or Berwick upon Tweed (20 miles away). Jeff and Jill may be able to pick you up or there are infrequent local buses to the door of St Cuthbert's House. You would get extra brownie points for packing your flip-flops and hiking boots into panniers and taking your bicycle on the train, then cycling to North Sunderland.

The verdict
A comfortable, family-run B&B with delicious food and helpful staff in a beautiful part of England. Unfortunately, there are no picturesque views from the bedrooms but you’ll probably spend most of your time out and about, exploring.

For contact details see the full listing for St Cuthbert's House.


Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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