The Northumberland Coast Path has some annoyed but necessary detours away from the coast because of a number of river estuaries in Northumberland. The most annoying one is just south of Alnmouth. Perhaps it was because we were towards the end of a 15 mile section, but it seemed particularly frustrating that we could almost touch the town about 3 miles before we entered it; blocking our way the muddy estuary with the meandering River Aln snaking through it.
Although the crossing between the path and the town is narrow, we were warned that an attempt to cross the muddy estuary on foot could end in disaster, and so were forced to take the 3-4 mile detour around to the first bridge into the town.
Still, the walk wasn't as grim as it might be as the path doesn't run directly along the road for too long a distance. The route takes you along a heavily hedge shielded route alongside the road and then through fields with the mud flats and that tantalizing view of Alnmouth clearly in view for much of the trip.
Alnmouth was once Northumberland major port and today is home to a number of grand and important buildings once used for storing goods being imported and exported. We also hiked (staggered) past a deserted muddy hill topped by a cross, which gives some idea of what living on a mud flat must be like. This hill was the site of the town church until a storm in the early 1800s diverted the route of the river to cut the parish church off from the rest of the town and resultantly being abandoned.
The town doesn't have much luck as the French and the Americans have both fought battles over the place. The French actually took it over for a period in the late 1500s and during the American War of Independence, John Paul Jones warship took a pop at the church spire (but missed).
When we finally arrived at Alnmouth it turned out to be a handsome town and fairly lively. There are plenty of places to eat and drink and rest your feet a while.
Alnmouth is around 4 miles from its more famous big brother Alnwick with its famous castle (used for filming Harry Potter amongst others). This is as close the Northumberland Coast Path gets to Alnwick, and if you haven't been to Northumberland before you might want to add a little detour to fit the town in.