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Northumberland gem Amble is a super place to mill around

Coquet Island, Amble, Northumberland (Alamy)
Coquet Island, Amble, Northumberland (Alamy)

WITHIN a few minutes we can totally see why Mill House in Guyzance, Northumberland was a silver medal winner in the local tourism awards.

And why the B&B is one of literally a handful shortlisted as the best in the whole of the north of England.

It’s a gem, the sort of home from home that instantly makes you wish your abode really was like this.

And that owner Karen was your neighbour (when snow trapped everybody in a few years ago she dragged supplies on a sledge up hills to isolated neighbours).

The house wins us over just as much as this delightful one-woman force of nature.

It’s a 16th Century cottage, formerly part of the Guyzance Hall Estate and home to mill staff.

We read about one of the workers, Fred – he also served in the local Dad’s Army during the Second World War – in a personal testament Karen points out in the gorgeous sitting room, original beams catching the eye.

It’s the cosiest of country hideaways and every single thing has been done to the highest possible standard. Some, we learn, by Karen herself who donned dust masks to sand floorboards and hunted for period doors.

Warkworth Castle (Alamy)

A former teacher, we wonder if there’s anything she can’t do. Will breakfast disappoint perhaps?

Don’t be silly. It’s simply sensational. All cooked on an Aga and with attention to detail you’d struggle to beat in the most high-end hotels.

Everything is perfection, from the porridge with honey and coconut milk to the full English, with the tomatoes marinated overnight. If there’s a better start to the day anywhere, I haven’t found it.

Mill House is the sort of place you could just settle down with a book in the garden to watch the deer on the hillside.

But it’s just a few miles from Amble, which hugs the estuary of the Coquet, the river that actually runs right by the B&B.

Seafood has always played a massive part in the pretty little town and one of the most recent additions is the Harbour Village with its chic huts and fab foodie choices.

It’s a lovely place for a seaside stroll and explore.

A short drive away, on the other side of the A1, is Cragside (

Run by the National Trust, it was the extraordinary Victorian home of Lord and Lady Armstrong. It stands in 1000 acres of grounds – brilliant for a peaceful walk – that look as though they have been like that for hundreds of years.

The reality is that the landscape was designed, like the house, to the taste of the inventor, engineer and businessman who was a massive figure far beyond the north east.

Seven million trees were planted, lakes created and sweeping drives laid out (we take the six-mile Estate Drive as we leave).

Cragside was the first house in the world lit by hydroelectricity and standing in the very room where people marvelled at this wonder, you can feel the sense of history wash over you. Thankfully, we weren’t in a hurry. This isn’t really a pop in and have a quick peek place, there’s so much fresh fascination round every corner that hours passed in a flash.

And when it comes to there always being something new to discover, there’s Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles, two of Northumberland’s greatest and grandest attractions.

Boats in Amble Marina (Alamy)

Alnwick (, right in the centre of the glorious market town, is famous for both being the real home of the Percy family and the fictional one of Harry Potter, as Hogwarts in the smash-hit films. We learn some of the behind-the-scenes stories by joining one of the fun location tours – a Downton Abbey Christmas special was also shot here – before exploring the magnificent house.

And surely there can’t be a castle that dominates the coast more spectacularly than Bamburgh (

It’s gloriously intact and we discover that we have our old friend Armstrong to thank for that. It was his deep pockets that brought it back to life after he bought it in the late 19th Century.

It took a decade and more than a million pounds – a massive fortune back then – to reverse hundreds of years of neglect.

We can’t help but feel that if he needed some know-how in bringing a building to brilliant new life, Karen would have been just the lady to help!


Mill House has single occupancy from £80, doubles from £90, bed and breakfast.

All tourism info from