Richard Hammond enjoys a breath of fresh air on the Northumberland Coast at St Cuthbert's House B&B, a converted chapel in the coastal town of Seahouses, the gateway to the Farne Islands and close to the Northumberland National Park and Northumberland Coast.
In a nutshell:
Luxurious award-winning 5-star, 6 double bedroom B&B in a 200 year-old former church in the village of Seahouses on the coast (the gateway to taking a boat out to the Farne Islands), and near the Cheviot Hills. Renovated with bags of character, includes super-king-size beds and great local food.
Rooms: 6 double rooms, 4 of which can be twin or single-occupancy
Price: Prices from: £130 per room per night
Meals: Breakfast included. For dinner, there are many places to eat nearby in village centre, approx 10 mins walk away.
Open: Year round, closed Festive season and some weeks in winter
Facilities: High quality beds with crisp Egyptian cotton sheets; LCD flat-panel TV & DVD CD/DAB radio; solid wooden hand-built furniture; free internet access, via wifi. Awarded Best B&B in England in VisitEngland 2017 Awards.
Good for Green: Walkers welcome; Cyclists welcome; Reachable by train and bus
Address: 192 Main St, Seahouses, Northumberland, NE68 7UB
Richard's Review of St Cuthbert's House B&B:
The Setting: St Cuthbert's House is an impressively restored former Presbyterian Chapel - dating from 1810 - in Seahouses, near Bamburgh on the beautiful Northumberland Coast; one of the UK’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s just a 15 minute walk from the quaint Seahouses harbour, the gateway for boat trips to the Farne islands, and just a stroll along the beach to Bamburgh Castle, and a short jaunt to Alnwick Castle & Gardens, or Lindisfarne – Holy Island.
The Rooms: There are 6 double rooms, 4 of which can be twin or single-occupancy. All are about the same spacious size and are unfussy and very smart. Some have a bathroom with a bath and shower, while there's one with just a large shower so worth checking out which you'd prefer before you book. All have heated towel rails, TV, handmade wooden furniture, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. There's wifi in all the rooms and communal areas, and really good reading material for what is available locally including a publication called the Bedroom Browser, which is an excellent local guide to everything you can do in Northumberland. Many original features of the chapel have been kept in the restoration, including the old pulpit and
communion table, and original wooden flooring.
The Food: B&B breakfast is a smorgasboard of lots of lovely local produce served in the elegant 'Cuthbert Room' - pulpit overhead. The breakfast menu includes lots of information about its suppliers and food-ethos, tells the ‘story’ of each. Local suppliers include fresh bread from Trotter's Bakery just around the corner, free-range eggs from Chatton Park Farm, oak-smoked haddock from the Seahouses smokehouse, fish from Swallow Fish of Seahouses, cheese from Doddington Dairy, home-made jams from Northumberland Community, plus Jill makes her own delicious marmalade. In the evening, I had an excellent dinner at Elan - a lovely small local Italian pizza/pasta restaurant 10-minutes walk into Seahouses (tel: 01665 721311).
The Activities: Northumberland Coast AONB and Northumberland National Park are both on your doorstep. Take a boat trip out to any of the 14 Farne Islands (brilliant for seal and bird watching – one of David Attenborough’s personal favourite destinations, it seems!) or explore Lindisfarne (‘Holy Island’).
Eco-friendly initiatives: There's only so much you can do to an old building like St Cuthbert's (a former chapel), but the owners Jeff and Jill have gone out of his way to renovate responsibly, using local workmen and low impact materials where possible. The food they serve is all local, but as they argue, if the best sausages and bread are made round the corner, why wouldn’t you? For their trouble they have received accreditation through the 'Local Food Awards', and have received many regional and national awards for sustainable tourism.
Getting to St Cuthbert's House the low carbon way: St Cuthbert’s is south of Berwick upon Tweed, which is on the East Coast mainline rail network between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh. From Berwick station, catch the X18 bus to Seahouses (there's leather seats and wifi on board). It's a very scenic journey along the coast, via Bamburgh castle. There's a bottle of wine for you if three or more of you arrive by bus - just show your bus tickets to Jeff on arrival!
Top Tip: There are several companies that organise boat trips out to the Farne Islands from the small harbour at Seahouses; choose Billy Shiels and you're get an excellent guide to the local wildlife on the boat trip out to the islands. Check out his twitter for an idea of what other guests get to see: @thefarneislands
Verdict: Let’s face it, what you're looking for in a B&B is a comfortable bed, a decent breakfast and friendly owners. You certainly get these at St Cuthbert’s. Add to that the fabulous location, it’s a great place for anyone looking to explore this part of Northumberland. Given the dearth of places to stay within the National Park itself, grab this little green gem, near the coast and yet also a great base to explore the National Park. Staying in a former chapel is perhaps a little quirky, but if you don't mind staying in a former chapel (it oozes character), St Cuthbert's is highly recommended.
Or call Jeff on: Tel: +44 (0)1665 720456. Mention 'Green Traveller' to Jeff when you book and receive a little goodie during your stay. Don't forget, there's a bottle of wine for you if three or more of you arrive by bus - just show your bus tickets to Jeff on arrival.