A birdwatcher's heaven
Northumberland is often described as 'a birder's paradise', and for good reason.
The diversity of the Northumberland landscape makes for some of the best birdwatching anywhere in the country.
From moorland, hill and woodland to sweeping cliffs, beaches and expansive mudflats - Northumberland is a county of diverse habitats, giving wonderful opportunities to see rare bird species and breeding colonies of international significance.
Within a short drive of St Cuthbert's House, you can visit two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (we're in one of them!) ans several SSSI's, as well as the Northumberland National Park - the least-populated of England's National Parks, and officially its most tranquil place.
Head to the National Park and the North Pennines AONB across lovely quiet roads, to see black grouse, golden plover and curlew. A slightly longer day out, to Kielder Water & Forest Park, gives you a good chance of finding crossbill and goshawks. A pair of ospreys has also hatched chicks in the Park for several consecutive years now. Many rivers locally are home to dipper, goosander, common sandpiper and grey wagtail.
But of course for most birders, the pinnacle is to walk a few minutes from here to the harbour in Seahouses, and take a boat trip to the Farne Islands. We have lots of useful information on our Farne Islands page.
Little can prepare the birdwatcher for the landing on the Farne Islands, especially during the period from mid-May to mid-July. Depending upon whether you're on Staple, Inner Farne or Brownsman, you'll find yourself surrounded by guillemot, puffin, kittiwakes and shag. You are so close to the birds, and they are present in such mind-boggling numbers, that a visit to the Farnes is truly an unforgettable experience. For intimate bird photography, the islands are without comparison anywhere in Britain.
Twenty minutes south, you can embark on a boat to visit Coquet Island, where you can see Britain’s rarest breeding seabird, the roseate tern.
There's something to see at all times of year; spring and autumn migration periods are a treat on the Northumberland coast for keen rare-bird spotters. Through the winter, see geese almost anywhere along the coast but especially around Holy Island.
There's so much to explore; you could even treat yourself to a day out with Martin Kitching of Northern Experience Wildlife Tours who is a professional guide. His intimate knowledge of the area will take you to the best spots whatever time of year you're visiting.
At the end of a long day out, come home to relax and unwind in the comfort and luxury of St Cuthbert's House.