Druridge Bay Country Park, Northumberland
So, you’re starting to plan your next campervan trip and drawing up that all-important short-list of attributes you’d like from your next campsites. I’m sure, like me, you think there’s always something special about being close to water. A fabulous beach nearby, a pitch with views across a lake perhaps? Sand dunes and nature reserves with bird life in abundance really epitomises #vanlife. Peace and quiet? Certainly, unless you count the crashing of distant waves on a deserted beach and the constant, melodic backdrop of birdsong. Add in some great walking and biking routes, good pubs and restaurants within easy reach, but not earshot or spoiling the view!
How about some stand-up paddleboarding or canoeing should the urge take you? And the anticipation of winding-down your day’s activity in splendid isolation (except for the odd hoot of a passing owl) by the BBQ with a bejewelled dark sky for stargazing overhead? You might also prefer more camping than driving. It’s a great wish-list and I can think of many places that offer up some of these attributes, but I know of only one campsite that has them all: Druridge Bay Country Park on the beautiful Northumberland coast.
Druridge Bay is further south and closer to Newcastle than many of the more famous and busier neighbouring beaches, such as Bamburgh and Beadnall, meaning you can be setting up camp less than 90 minutes after collecting your Up North Campervan.
The bay is a seven mile stretch of pristine sand running from Amble to Cresswell and at its mid-point, abutting the wild sand dunes, lies Druridge Bay Country Park with its 100-acre lake and surrounding woodland trails. This year they have started to open the park up for overnight visitors with the development of a new campground, with 20 hardstanding pitches and a small adjacent camping field for tents.
Best of all, when all the day-visitors have gone home, they lock the gates and you and a few fellow campers have the entire country park to yourselves.
At the time of writing (July 2022) some of the planned amenities are not in place. The electric hook-ups are still to be connected and the brand-new shower and toilet block was somehow inexplicably located almost a quarter of a mile away from where your middle of the night “call of nature” needs it. For the moment they remain a teasing unused glimpse of what’s to come, but alternative (if equally far-flung) toilets and showers are available for overnight guests in the park’s Visitor Centre. However, don’t let that put you off, this is truly “paradise found” and I recommend going there before the secret gets out. The friendly and helpful team at the park are a pleasure to deal with and are working hard to get everything finished to perfection – including getting the amenity block moved closer to the camping pitches!
During the day the Country Park is alive with day-visitors making the most of the great outdoors. The on-site café provides good sustenance, their bacon butties making campervan breakfasts a cinch.
If you’re up for a walk and you like your food, then amble to Amble. The walk of about 5 miles to this little harbour town is a pleasure in itself, most of the route being over the dunes or on the beach. Your efforts will be rewarded by a surprising choice of small restaurants offering fish cooked fresh off the boats. Our current favourite is The Fish Shack. It’s Shack by name and shack by nature. Rustic and unpretentious, where you can dine on the quayside whilst overlooking the fishing boat that landed your catch.
Don’t worry about having to hike back, there’s local taxis for the return trip. It’s also worth taking time to wonder around the harbour’s craft village, a collective of beach huts which sell everything from cheese to charm bracelets, alongside the Northumberland Seafood Centre & Hatchery. It’s a place full of makers, doers and creators.
Just up-river from Amble lies Warkworth. This small town’s picture- perfect, sloping High Street looks as if it’s been transplanted from the Cotswolds but is crowned with the sort of magnificent castle you won’t find in Burford or Stow-on-the-Wold.
Further afield Northumberland has so much to offer, unrivalled beaches, magnificent castles and offshore islands teaming with wildlife. As you may gather, we love its unspoilt, uncrowded beauty and we especially love Druridge Bay
From collecting your Up North Campervan it is 5 minutes to the A1 then head north, skirting Newcastle by either the Tyne Tunnel (don’t forget to pay the toll on-line, £1.90) or staying with the A1 past the Metro Centre (currently experiencing delays with road works). In both cases pick-up signs for Amble turn right into Druridge Bay Country Park from the A1068. Est 1hr 24 mins (63.4mls)
For a 2-centre Northumberland break dual Druridge Bay Country Park with Dunstan Hill Camping & Caravanning Site further up the coast.