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Introducing Bamburgh

Bamburgh is all about the castle, a massive, imposing structure high up on a basalt crag and visible for miles around. The village itself – a tidy fist of houses around a pleasant green – isn’t half bad, but it’s really just about the castle, a solid contender for England’s best.

Bamburgh Castle (214515; www.bamburghcastle.com; adult/child £6/2.50; 11am-5pm mid-Mar–Oct) is built around a powerful Norman keep and played a key role in the border wars. It was restored in the 19th century by the great industrialist Lord Armstrong, who also turned his passion to Cragside and was the owner of Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle. The great halls within are still home to the Armstrong family. It’s just inland from long open stretches of empty white-sand beach, ideal for blustery walks.

The Grace Darling Museum (214465; by donation £1.50; 10am-5pm) has displays on Bamburgh’s most famous resident, lighthouse keepers in general and the small boats they rescued people in. Grace was a local lass who rowed out to the grounded, flailing SS Forfarshire in 1838 and saved its crew in the middle of a dreadful storm. She became the plucky heroine of her time – a real Victorian icon.