Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Travels in Northumbria

Bamburgh Castle
We came back yesterday from another stimulating few days away, partly visiting dear elderly friends in the Northumberland area. We've been many times before but have always gone straight down the west coast until we could cross the country on to the A1. However, this time we went down the east coast from Edinburgh so we could travel along a different coastline to our destination. And what a good idea it turned out to be, although we had so little time to explore that we've marked all the places we'll come back to on another visit!

Bamburgh Street
Our first stop was the very pretty town of Bamburgh which is topped by an impressive castle. Most of Northumbria is steeped in ancient history and we hadn't realised just how many castles this coastline boasts. The attractive main street has little shops and a lovely cafe/restaurant, The Copper Kettle. This is also where the heroine Grace Darling was born and, unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the museum. My mother-in-law's brother married into that branch of the family (they were from Whitley Bay) so it will be of particular interest to us.

We had a fleeting stop at Warkworth which has the ruins of a castle situated above the river on one side and the attractive town on the other. But we were disappointed to miss a visit to Lindisfarne. Since visitors have to walk or drive across the causeway at low tide, timing is all important. The other place we'll visit next time is the Farne Islands, by boat from Seahouses. People we met entertained us with stories of their visit to these islands full of birds and their fluffy chicks, where it is almost essential to wear a hat for protection against dive-bombing birds!

Alnmouth Beach

Alnwick Castle Gateway
Alnwick was next, where parts of the magnificent castle starred in the Harry Potter films. We were there on Sunday and the town looked a little forlorn, but the castle and gardens are hugely impressive - too expensive to explore when time was short, but I loved the tiny figures on top of the battlements and gateway. Nearby is the small coastal town of Alnmouth and we had a hearty meal there at the Red Lion. The best part of the evening was wandering along the almost deserted, vast stretch of beach - very good for the soul.

We were delighted with our choice of B&B accommodation as this area was newer to us. We stayed at the relatively new Sycamore House in Lesbury and couldn't have chosen better. In a quiet residential lane, Sycamore House was a peaceful haven away from all busyness. Although it was full, it has only four guestrooms so we hardly knew there was anyone else there until breakfast in the beautiful dining room. Glyn and Valerie were exceptionally kind and welcoming, going that little bit futher to make sure guests have everything they need. Definitely recommend it, as standards were very high.

Sycamore House
The village itself is lovely and the picturesque Crown Inn is within pleasant walking distance of the guest house, down to the river and over a small bridge to the village street, which is ideal if you've been driving about, or have been visiting all day like we were.

Too soon, we had to leave on the journey home yesterday but we stopped at the historic and pretty town of Corbridge on the way north. As well as a good walk from the carpark, over the ancient bridge to the town, there was a very interesting old church to explore - and a great little craft shop. Everywhere we went, we admired the beautiful brickwork of buildings and cottages.

For a writer, such little breaks in new areas is perfect - not too long away from the desk but coming home armed with new experiences, interesting information and more photos. Now just have to find a way of using it all!



Teresa Ashby said...

It looks really beautiful there - sounds as if you had a wonderful time!

Talli Roland said...

Fantastic! I've never been to Northumbria, and now I really want to go!

penandpaints said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, I love castles and bridges, so inspiring, especially for story writing scenes. Thank you for showing us the lovely photos!

Paula Martin said...

Great photos, and brought back good memories for me. I loved all the castles in Northumbria. Think my favourites were Warkworth and Dunstanburgh. Love all the Yorkshire castles too!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Teresa - it really is a lovely area and we always enjoy it so much!

Hello Talli - thanks for visiting! I'm sure you'd love all the little villages and wonderful coastline.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi penandpaints - glad you enjoyed the photos. I reckon there should be a few stories somewhere in that visit!

Hello Paula - thank you! Northumbria and Yorkshire are our two favourite areas in England. Lots of history!

Bill Kirton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Kirton said...

(Sorry, needed to delete some typos from the posting, Grrrr. Anyway ...

Rosemary, you put me to shame. On our way back from baby-sitting grandchildren way down south, we decided to stop at a lovely pub/hotel, The George and Dragon, in Clifton - site of the last battle on English soil. We had a lovely time there but it never occurred to me to blog about it. I obviously should have because sharing, as you've done with your trip, clearly extends and enhances the experience. Thanks.

CarolB said...

Love the photos Rosemary. It looks and sounds like a great area to visit-and to be inspired by. Thanks for sharing the details.

myraduffy said...

It's a while since I've been in Northumbria. We walked Hadrian's Wall (not all of it I have to confess!) and went to Vindolanda,which is so interesting if you're interested in the Roman period in Britain.Think I might plan another visit.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Bill - thanks. I guess I just like sharing photos and accounts of interesting places as a change. I like to see where other people have been!

Hello Carol - you're welcome, thanks. Definitely an inspiring area!

Hi Myra - haven't walked any of the wall yet as we always seem to be on fleeting visits!