Attractions cash in from Easter influx of visitors

Queues outside the Neptune fish and chip shop in Seahouses on Good Friday.
Queues outside the Neptune fish and chip shop in Seahouses on Good Friday.

Tourist attractions in north Northumberland have had a good Easter period, with many seeing a real boost in visitor numbers.

Over the Easter bank holiday weekend, visits to the county’s tourist information centres (TICs) were up by around 20 per cent compared to last year and, in particular, coastal TICs noticed a rise in visitors.

Staff from Seahouses TIC noted that the village centre was very busy with the car park filling up by 10am.

Craster TIC also had a busy weekend, especially on Good Friday, when additional car parks had to be opened due to people heading to the coast.

The National Trust’s Cragside, at Rothbury, had one of its best Easters on record with more than 8,300 visitors compared to last year’s 5,400.

More than 2,200 people visited Lindisfarne Castle over the Easter weekend.

Scott Sherrard, executive director at The Alnwick Garden, said: “It’s gone very well, we have been busy throughout. We have had a record couple of weeks in terms of Friends joining (the venue’s membership scheme).

“That’s important because it’s not just about people coming, but about people wanting to come back.”

At Bamburgh Castle, visitor numbers were up for Easter week and the first week of the school holidays, continuing this year’s trend, which has seen numbers up every week since opening in February.

Philippa Clark, from Kielder Water and Forest Park, said: “Projected visitor numbers would suggest we were definitely busier than this time last year, but with over 250 square miles to enjoy, the beauty of Kielder is that even during busy holiday periods, you still feel like you have all the space in the world.”

At least one visiting couple who enjoyed the county over the Easter period had decided to come to follow in the footsteps of Robson Green in his recent ITV series, Tales from Northumberland.

Gerald Fenech and his wife, from San Gwann, in Malta, stayed at Coach House B&B at Brownieside and took in Hexham, Alnwick, Seahouses as well as the Ship Inn, at Newton-by-the-Sea, which all featured on the popular programme.

Towns attract tourist trade

The Easter influx of visitors was not just confined to the county’s tourist attractions, with a number of traders doing very well too.

Carlo Biagioni, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said: “It’s been really good and one of the best Easters for Alnwick. A lot of people said they were really taken aback.

“We do believe it’s to do with Robson Green’s documentary (Tales from Northumberland) as well as another documentary last month.

“I think maybe it’s something to do with free parking as well.

“I have also spoken to some of the B&Bs and they did well over the Easter period.”

Mr Biagioni’s one gripe was that a coach trip of German tourists arrived in the town on Good Friday, only to find that the toilets on Greenwell Lane were closed.

Amble also seemed to thrive as people flocked to north Northumberland.

Katie Spurr, of Spurreli ice-cream parlour, said: “It’s been a phenomenal Easter and probably the best sales week in our four years.

“It didn’t really take us by surprise; Amble was heaving and the weather was ice-cream weather, so we couldn’t have asked for more.

“We had visitors from absolutely all over – foreigners as well as visitors from Yorkshire and Scotland.”