Lindisfarne Inn, Beal - A good base for touring Northumberland
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The Lindisfarne Inn is an old coaching Inn on the A1 at Beal, a tiny settlement of a few houses. Blink and you miss it. The attractive cream coloured building is set alongside the A1 with a modern extension housing the bar and dining areas. The bedrooms are in the newly refurbished stable block which provides 21 rooms on two floors. Effective double glazing meant there was little noise from the A1.
We were given a warm welcome by Alice who took us to our room and checked that everything was satisfactory. It was. It had been newly decorated with magnolia paint. Rooms were warm and cosy but possibly a little snug if wanting to stop for several days. There is a choice of twin or king size beds, comfortable with crisp white bedding and a good supply of pillows. Easy seating was provided by a large settee. A good size dressing table also doubled up as a working area. There were plenty of plugs but Wi-Fi is only available in the bar area. There was a small wall mounted flat screen TV and well stocked welcome tray.
The shower room is off the bedroom and has a large walk in shower with plenty of hot water and a good supply of large, absorbent towels. There was no heating or extractor fan so it was a trifle cold and did get steamed up.
There is a small bar in the main building and there was a minor panic when we went to order our meal as the hand pumps were tucked away in a corner of the bar and we hadn’t seen them. We settled on Black Sheep, the guest beer which was in excellent condition and drank that with the meal rather than wine. The menu was long with a mix of traditional pub favourites like fish and chips, steak and ale pie and gammon as well as more exotic offerings. The friendly and helpful waitress checked we had seen the specials board before ordering, which was even more exotic. Difficult decisions had to be made.
Michael began with black pudding and bacon starter with peppercorn sauce, attractively served in a tall, narrow container with a salad garnish. I made the ‘mistake’ of choosing long potato boats. This was a huge jacket potato cut in two with onion and melted cheese and salad. It would have made a filling main course. Fortunately Michael helped me out.
Michael chose the lamb shoulder which was served on parsley mash with a selection of seasonal vegetables. It was a small shoulder, succulent and tasty although the bone did present a few problems. I chose the beef stew with herb dumpling which was described as a traditional Northumberland recipe. This was served in a cast iron casserole with huge chunks of tender meat with potato, carrot, peas and mushroom in a rich wine gravy. Again it was a huge serving and with extra broccoli, carrots and cauliflower would have been enough for two. We passed on the deserts. We felt the Lindisfarne Inn had the edge over the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses and Hog’s Head in Alnwick on choice, quality and presentation of food.
I must confess we weren’t very hungry at breakfast time but still managed to do full justice to the English breakfast of local sausage, bacon, hash brown, fried bread, baked beans, mushroom, tomato and eggs which set us up for the day.
The car park is at the back of the Inn and there are three steps up to reception. There is level access through the side door of the bar. A wheelchair friendly room is provided with level access from reception. First floor rooms are reached by steps, there is no lift.
In the winter months the hotel offers a bargain £44.50 per person dinner, bed and breakfast deal for one night which includes an allowance of £15 towards the evening meal. In summer the price is £80+ for a double room which includes the full English Breakfast, still a good deal compared with places like Premier Inn.
In January it was very quiet. In summer it gets very busy with passing traffic and also people from the nearby Haggerston Castle Holiday Park, so book a table. There are a few picnic tables round the outside for use in summer but views aren’t great.
We enjoyed our stay here, especially the food, and can whole heartedly recommend it. Being cheeky, I filled in the flier to win a two night break and am keeping my fingers crossed.
It is a good location for visits to Lindisfarne (check tide times) and only a short drive to Seahouses for boats to the Farne Islands.
A bit further south is Alnwick, a delightful small town with its links to Harry Potter and the Alnwick Castle Gardens. Cragside, the home of Victorian industrialist William Armstrong and the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity is near Rothbury, less than an hour’s drive.
Berwick is only a short drive as is Wooler and the Ford and Etal estates, again popular in summer. There is Bamburgh with its magnificent castle and Grace Darling museum. Chillingham Castle with its unique herd of Wild White Cattle is a good visit and the cakes in the tea room are highly recommended. There are ruined castles at Etal and Norham to explore. The great border houses of Manderston and Mellerstain as well as Floors Castle are less than an hour's drive.
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