Carol's Blog from Northumbria.
We recently spent a week in Northumbria.It was our first visit. Read on to find out more.
- Carol's Blog from Northumbria
- When we got there
- The Location
- What else did we do?
- After Lunch
- Then came Tuesday
Carol's Blog from Northumbria
We decided we wanted to visit Northumbria, which is in the north east of England. It was an area we had never been before, and when we looked on the map, it appeared to have some very nice sandy beaches, and as we were taking our dog with us, it seemed an ideal spot to stay.
When we booked our cottage, the tenancy ran from Friday to Friday, which meant we would be travelling there on my birthday, so the celebrations would have to wait at least another day, as I had been promised a meal out.
A close friend of mine lived on the route to our cottage, and when she found out we were going, she invited us to her house to break the journey, and have a cup of tea, before we reached our destination. We were very grateful for that, as we had already broken the long journey a bit by travelling to Suffolk the day before, and staying the night at our holiday bungalow.
When we got there
We set off in the morning from Suffolk, with just one stop along the way, and reached Mo's house at 3 in the afternoon. You can imagine my surprise and delight when she wheeled in a trolley full of delicious home made food, and the crowning glory, a chocolate birthday cake especially for me.
I hadn't realised she even knew it was my birthday, and I was very touched by the cake, I have not had one of those for years. We always go out to celebrate, but not with a cake usually. Mo introduced me to her husband Alan, who was great fun, and then her daughter and grand daughter came round to meet us too, and we felt very much a part of the family.
All too soon, it was time to head for our holiday cottage, as we wanted to arrive there before it got dark.
Our cottage was situated overlooking hills and fields, there were panoramic views from every window. It was probably built about 1700, so it retained much of its charm and character, whilst boasting of modern amenities such as central heating and a wood burning stove. However, it was so warm and cosy, we never actually lit the stove.
The first evening was spent settling in, and then Saturday came, and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had been warned that the weather can be quite cold in April, so we decided to make the most of it, and we spent most of the day discovering local beaches, and nearly walked the legs off our dog Leo, which he loved. He was jumping in and out of the rock pools.
In the afternoon, we stopped off at a local supermarket, and bought our provisions for the week. After that we rounded off a very enjoyable day with a meal at the local pub, and wine, which was first class. We will definitely return there in the future.
It was nice to discover that where we were staying was central for all the places we wanted to visit. Most of the towns and beaches we wanted to explore were within a ten mile radius, so no more than a 20 minute drive in the car.
What else did we do?
On Sunday the sun shone on us again, so we explored the sandy beaches that stretch from Alnmouth, we saw Seahouses, which has a harbour, and there were many people strolling around enjoying the clement weather.
This part of Northumbria is a joy to drive around, the roads are not busy, it has fabulous views, whether you are driving on the coast road,, or inland, past all the fields, hills, and meadows.
On Monday we planned to visit Alnwick castle, which stands proudly against the skyline, but as it was too hot to loeave Leo in the car, we settled for a walk around the town. Alnwick is a very interesting town, with a stone archway as you enter it, shops and banks in abundance, and if you buy a cardboard disc for just one pound, you can use it to park anywhere in the area for any number of times.
Tuesday was duller, so that was our day to see the castle, which has so much to offer the tourist, you really need a day to get round it. We started off with the woodland walk, and tree house area, there is even a cafe built from treentrunks, with tables on the decking. Inside one of the room a video shows just how hard the men worked to create this very special area.
Next we visited the state rooms, which are as opulent, and elegant as one would expect. There are portraits of past members of the family, and up to date photographs of the current heirs. The interesting thing is the castle is still used by them today during the winter months.
We very much enjoyed the guided tour around the garden of poisonous plants. It is closely protected by a locked gate, and they need a special licence to show the plants to visitors. It was mind blowing to know, that what look like inoocent plants growing by the side of a river can be deadly, as our guide explained, one particular species could burn you, then you could get hospital treatment, and believe yourself to be cured, but then go out in the sun again, and even with protective barrier on, you can burn again, and need further treatment.
Our guide showed us a Laburnam tree, which I remember were plentiful when I was a child. But nowadays, I now understand why they are only grown in restricted areas, as they are deadly poison to humans and animals.
We returned after lunch for the guided tour, during which our guide explained the history of the castle, and the long line of descendants, most of which met their deaths too early, simply because of not getting on with whichever king happened to be on the throne at the time.
Various architects were called in at certain times to alter the structure of the castle according to what particular style was in fashion at that time. Some liked a Gothic style, but then others frowned upon it, so it was then changed.
Up until the present, there are about 50 gardeners employed, to keep the gardens immaculate.. There are a wealth of beautiful flowers, many bloom in the summer, so we were a little early to see them all.
The fountains rise spectacularly in the centre of their own garden, and you can walk up the stairs at the side of them for a closer view. At the top is yet another flower garden, and notices stating that you can buy some of the flowers displayed there. We came home marveling at such a wealth of beauty and interest, and we have every intention of going back, as our tickets last for a year.
Then came Tuesday
On Tuesday it was raining, but we still had much more to see. We drove to Holy Island , which is an experience in itself, as you actually drive across a path in the sea to get to it. You have to abide by the tidehere.
When we arrived, we got out of the car to go for a walk, and noticed a castle standing against the grey rainy skies. It was Lindisfarne Castle, and the amazing thing was, in spite of the weather, there was a huge crowd of people waiting to view it.
We joined the queue, and climbed up the stairs. Once inside we found it was decorated in Edwardian style. It had amazing sea views from the windows, and our guide explained , originally a holiday home, it had now been given to the National Trust in the 1970s, so everyone could enjoy viewing it.
Wednesday was also rainy, and we decided to visit Cragside House. This was built by William Armstrong, who was a famous scientist and inventor born in 1810, who lived until 1900. He is credited with being the first person in the world to light his home with hydroelectricity.
We visited the kitchens, where women in period dress explained how in those days, they would spend most of their day cooking. Armstrong also invented a hyrdra lift, which took the people upstairs, which was operated by water, which was always his greatest fascination.
The house is decorated in Victorian period, and its vast gardens stretch over 6 miles, which can be accessed by driving around the designated vehicle tour. There is a man made iron bridge, amongst the first of its kind, which can be viewed from the upper part of the house. Even on a rainy day, the beauty of this country house and gardens, is not to be missed if you visit the area.
All too soon our last day arrived, and it was dry, although a little windy. We wanted to spend it with Mo and Alan, because we knew it would be some time before we saw them again.
We arranged to meet at Newbiggin, which is a sandy cove along the coast, about midway between both of us. We found a lovely country park on the way to walk Leo, so were happy for him to sleep in the car whilst we went for a walk. We walked along chatting, then decided we were hungry. We found a fish and chip shop, which was great, as the friendly waitress had a sense of humour, and joked about the fact that we all wanted different things.
The meal was very nice, and after we walked back to get Leo out, and then have another walk along the front. He was enjoying his freedom, and we were taking snapshots of the statues along the promenade.
After our walk we sat in their car, and Mo, always the hostess, produced tea and pieces of her delicious home made coffee and walnut cake. Inevitably it was time to go back to our cottage and pack up to go home, so we said goodbye to them, and drove off.
When we arrived home the next day, it was early evening, we were tired but very happy, with plenty of experiences to talk about. There is so much to see and do in Northumbria, a week was just not long enough. We will return, I am not quite sure when, but when we do, I know we will have a great time, and would thoroughly recommend this area to anyone planning a holiday, especially if you like castles, stately houses, and vast sandy beaches..
The photos are my own. My thanks to Youtube for the video