Craster has a reputation for some of the most delicious oak-smoked kippers (herring) in the country. The commercial fortunes of Craster have long depended on fishing. After the white fish trade declined, lobsters and crabs provided an alternative harvest. Today kippers and tourism are the mainstay of Craster's economy.
What can I do?
- Visit Dunstanburgh Castle - a ruined coastal fortress about a mile and a half north of the village along the Northumberland Coast Path
- Visit the harbour, built in memory of Captain Craster and to help export stone from the surrounding quarries. On your way, look for rare examples of houses built with local whinstone.
- Follow the Craster and Dunstanburgh circular trail - a four mile walking route taking in the dramatic ruins. Buy the leaflet here or for only 50p at the Tourist Information Centre
- Visit the Arnold Memorial Northumberland Wildlife Trust Reserve (an old quarry) and see if you can spot some migrant birds or even a red squirrel.
- Buy some kippers from L. Robson & Son’s smokery and make some Kipper Toasties when you get home.
- Take the Craster and Howick circular trail (four miles) and visit Howick Hall Gardens – rated as one of the top 5 coastal gardens in the country. Buy the leaflet here or at the Tourist Information Centre for only 50p.
- If you are feeling really energetic, walk north along the Northumberland Coast Path to Low Newton, Beadnell or Seahouses and catch the bus back.
- Visit the Mick Oxley Gallery - The gallery serves as both work and display space. As well as Mick’s evocative seascapes, it contains a good variety of creations from other artists.
What do I need to know?
- There is very limited parking in Craster and the car park is often full by mid-morning. If you can, leave the car behind and catch the bus to Craster (see below). The only car park is in the old quarry and is pay-and-display.
- There is a public toilet in the same building as the Tourist Information Centre at the entrance to the car park
- Craster has a range of cafes and pubs serving food.
- The walk to Dunstanburgh Castle is one and a half miles along the Northumberland Coast Path. It is flat but uneven in places.
Getting to Craster
Craster is served by an hourly daytime bus service between May and October, which reduces to two-hourly between November and April.
The Arriva X18 Coast and Castles Service and the Travelsure 418 Service connect Craster to Seahouses, Bamburgh and Belford to the north and Alnwick via the coastal villages to the south. The X18 continues north to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Morpeth and Newcastle to the south.
Dunstanburgh Castle is a complete ruin. The castle is situated just to the north of the village of Craster. Construction of this castle started in 1313 by Thomas, the Earl of Lancaster. Thomas was the wealthiest nobleman in England and leader of a baronial faction that opposed his cousin King Edward II. It is thought that the Dunstanburgh was built as a symbol of Thomas’s power and prestige as well as offering a refuge at a considerable distance from the intrigues and politics of southern England.
Thomas never occupied his northern castle and it is thought that he may have seen it just once in 1319 on his way to the siege of Berwick. Civil war between Edward II and his barons in 1322 resulted in Thomas being captured and executed.
The castle was of impractically large and much of the inside of the 68 acre site remained empty. John of Gaunt strengthened the castles defences and added two towers in the 1380’s. The castle was a focus of fierce fighting during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485) being a Lancastrian stronghold. It was after this time that Dunstanburgh declined into the romantic ruin that inspired JWM Turner and artists alike.
Address: Dunstanburgh Road, Craster, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3TT
Telephone: 01665 576231
Getting Here: Dunstanburgh Castle is a one mile walk north of the village of Craster along the Coast Path. Parking in Craster is very limited and we advise you to arrive in Craster by bus if you can. During the summer there is an hourly service to Craster (X18 and 418) - this is two-hourly from October to May. English Heritage offer a 20% discount to visitors arriving by bus*. See our Getting Around page for detailed travel information.