Bumper Bank Holiday weekend provides boost for tourism in Northumberland
Glorious sunshine ensured many Northumberland tourism attractions enjoyed a bumper Bank Holiday weekend.
Thousands of holidaymakers and local residents flocked to the coast, providing a welcome late summer boost for tourism-related businesses.
Crowded beaches at the likes of Bamburgh, Beadnell and Druridge Bay created scenes more associated with Mediterranean resorts.
More than 4,000 visitors headed to Bamburgh Castle over the long weekend, making it one of its busiest weekends of the year.
Visitor services manager Will Douglas said: “It’s really been a continuation of a phenomenal year for the team here at Bamburgh. We’ve introduced a number of new measures to make us as accessible as we can be to people and to really maximise our visitor experience.
"Allowing dogs into the castle grounds and our Armstrong and Aviation Museum has proved a massive success. Since April, over 3,000 dogs have visited the castle with their owners, with 150 dogs coming in over the weekend which is fantastic. We had all sorts of different events and activities taking place in the castle over the weekend, from lego workshops, medieval archery and re-enactments to name but a few.
“People can associate visiting the castle as a rainy day activity, but the views when the sun shines are unbeatable.”
Sean Donkin, managing director for The Inn Collection Group which owns the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, Hog's Head at Alnwick and Lindisfarne Inn at Beal, said: “We have had a record bank holiday weekend trading across each of our units.
"Come rain or shine, people need to eat and drink and our inns themselves are handpicked by us for their locations close to world class attractions like Bamburgh Castle and The Alnwick Garden to maximise trading opportunities.
“We’ve seen a rise of up to 17% in families looking to holiday in the UK, a factor which could be contributed to Brexit concerns, a weak pound rate but also because Northumberland is such an exceptional place to visit.”
Glendale Show, the biggest agricultural show in north Northumberland, attracted an attendance of over 12,000 on Bank Holiday Monday.
Stallholder Neill Maxwell of Doddington Dairy ice cream said: "It was a very good day for us in what has been quite a challenging summer with all the rain we've had. Fortunately I don't live too far away so I was able to nip home in mid-afternoon to pick up some more stock."
Alnwick Castle enjoyed one of its best August Bank Holiday weekends ever in terms of visitor numbers.A spokesman said: "The atmosphere was amazing across the whole weekend. We enjoyed seeing lots of families having so much fun in the sun."It was also the start of the Harry Potter "Wizarding Week" and this is always one of the most popular events during the season."Its sell-out Cinema Under the Stars screenings of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman were also a huge success.
National Trust properties were also a popular attraction.
A National Trust spokesperson said: “Our places enjoyed a very busy bank holiday weekend thanks to the warm and sunny weather. At Cragside people cooled off with canoeing and kayaking, while at Wallington visitors enjoyed a range of sports activities including getting out and about on the cycle trail.
"The late summer flowering gardens at Wallington and the Gertrude Jekyll garden at Lindisfarne Castle proved popular, while shady woodland walks and a good selection of ice cream on offer helped people to stay cool as the temperatures rose.”
However, the volume of visitors also brought its problems with major parking congestion in some places. A serious accident on the A1 on bank holiday Monday also resulted in long tailbacks.
B&B owner Jude Leitch of North Northumberland Tourism Association said: "It was very busy on the coast, almost getting a bit too much for the infrastructure we've got.
"It highlights the success we have had in promoting Northumberland, especially during the school holidays and on bank holidays, but we have to try and spread the demand a little bit more.
'We've got to try to encourage more people to visit the attractions we have inland and encourage them to come outside of the peak periods otherwise we risk people coming and not having such a good time. I know we had guests at Howick Old Rectory who went to Lindisfarne and they were put off by the crowds."