Francis Watson-Armstrong owns one of Northumberland’s most iconic and famous landmarks and tourist attractions, Bamburgh Castle, which sits on a basalt outcrop overlooking the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne, as well as miles of golden sands.
He lives on a farm near the castle with his girlfriend Claire and three children, William, Rosie and Juliet. Here, he shares his love of Northumberland and some of the county’s best kept secrets
How long have you lived in Northumberland?: Most of my life apart from when I’ve been away at school and agricultural college.
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: Its sparse population and beautiful countryside, from the flatlands of the coast to the wilds of the Cheviots. It is such a diverse county. It’s also the Northumbrian people themselves.
What’s your favourite Northumberland beauty spot?: Bamburgh Castle and its environs.
Do you have a favourite walk?: Along the beach at sunrise each morning. I walk our two dogs – Lola and Gonzo – along the beach where we see an amazing array of marine wildlife. We then cut across and walk through fields where we see a variety of nature. We pass the castle each morning which looks different each day depending on the light and weather.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without….?: A visit to Bamburgh Castle, a good meal in one of the local pubs and a trip to the Farne Islands.
Is locally produced Northumbrian food the best?: It is definitely up there among the best. Our Bamburgh butcher sells locally produced beef and lamb which are second to none, while G.S Clark in Bamburgh grows a lot of his own vegetables which he sells. There’s also Swallow Fish just up the road in Seahouses which is a real traditional fishmongers.
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: The Mizen Head at Bamburgh is a restaurant I find hard to fault. During the winter months the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses has excellent steak nights which I enjoy.
Northumbrians are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: Hospitality and a welcoming character are inbred traits of Northumbrian people.
Coast or country?: Coast.
Your favourite historical site?: Bamburgh Castle!
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: I like driving from Cornhill in the borders to Morpeth along the A697 – it’s a great driving road and the views are amazing.
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland?: Walking with my girlfriend and children and the dogs either along the beach at Bamburgh or around the old Carriage Drive at Debdon, Rothbury.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets