Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Ooop North

Bev and I trotted up to Northumberland last week. It's a very peaceful and very beautiful part of the country, full of interesting gubbins. Here's a brief summary of what we did and saw.

We decided that on the way up we would visit Hadrian's Wall. Bev had been years ago, but I'd never seen it. We peeled off the M6 at Carlisle and headed east. Once off the main road, we couldn't help but notice that the roads were very, and I mean very, straight. It's always an interesting sensation driving along a Roman road but this was a little different; off to our left we could occasionally glimpse little bits of 1800 year old wall!

We arrived at Housesteads Fort, where we joined the National Trust (at a discount!) and strolled up from the visitor centre to the remains of the fort. Check the link for more info, it's a pretty impressive site. The immense sense of space was also quite wonderful. The fort is fairly high and the country just seems to roll away in every direction under an enormous sky.

Bits of Roman wall at Housesteads Fort.

The wall at the bottom right of the picture is Hadrian's,
and if you look carefully you can see it sweeping up to the highest point of the horizon.

After mooching about for an hour or so, we saddled up in order to press on to Alnwick, our base for the next couple of days. However, before we could complete our journey, the road swept over a steep and ornate bridge which is part of the grounds at Wallington House. Conveniently, this is a National Trust property, and as we were determined to get maximum value for money from our freshly minted NT membership, we pulled over to have an explore.

The house has some bonkers decoration going on which truly words cannot describe...

This is the entrance hall. It featured large murals of notable Northumbrian events.
It is, 'ow do you say, ridickaling.

Apparently the gardens are very pleasing but sadly time and energy did not permit their exploration. Onwards, onwards to Alnwick.

So after a very pleasant drive across beautiful countryside and under beautiful sky we arrived at Alnwick. We were staying at The Georgian House B 'n' B. After a friendly welcome, we crashed out in our room before wandering in to town in search of food. Which we found. And ate. After a brief digestionary pause we strolled around town before collapsing wearily back at the BnB.

The next day dawned bright and breezy. Bev had spotted a leaflet in our room advertising boat trips to the Farne Islands. After a quick call to Billy Shiels in Seahouses to confirm that the trips were running we drove down to catch the 10 o'clock boat.

On arriving at Seahouses we realised that whilst it was breezy in Alnwick, here it was windy, maybe even quite blowy. The sea looked lively but the boat's crew seemed relaxed so we boarded Glad Tidings with 37 other souls and set off.

The MV Glad Tidings

Whilst the crossing was lively it was quite invigorating, particularly the occasional faceful of North Sea that made it's way inboard. Eventually we arrived at the islands which were sadly generally bare of birdlife, what with the nesting/hatching season being over. There were though many seals bobbing about in the sea or sunning themselves on the rocks.

A seal, basking.

In stark contrast to this, quite literally out of the blue, three RAF Tornados started circling the islands before hurtling off toward the mainland. It was quite cool...

After a brief stop on Inner Farne, home in the 7th century to St. Cuthbert (Also NT so we saved another tenner here) we returned to land, where we headed to Barter Books in Alnwick. It's a big big bookshop in an old railway station, where frankly there is almost too much choice. Check it out if your ever up in that part of the world.

That night we went out to Zecca in Amble where we ate a comedically absurd amount of food. Bev wanted dough balls "for the table" which were a sufficient starter in themselves. We ordered starters as well. Bev's Moules cooked in cider with spring onions was a fairly large starter but it paled in comparison to my potato skins which came in a pile a good 6 inches deep. We valiantly battled through these heaps of food (I admit to being defeated by Spudageddon) before our mains turned up. So jammed with food were we that tempting as the dessert menu was, we left unsweetened.

Leaving bright and early the next morning we headed back down the coast, passing through Amble where we paused to look at the sea, which was looking even livelier than it had the day before.

We carried on south, skirting Newcastle (where we saw the Angel of the North) and headed on to Whitby. Whilst it looked like an interesting town it was pretty busy, so we headed on, crossing the edge of the Yorkshire Moors to Pickering, and then on to Harrogate. Harrogate is a cool Regency Spa town, with loads of green spaces and a pretty pleasant vibe. Oh, and Betty's Tearooms, which was the main reason Bev wanted to go! After a very civilised hot choc (and a chocolate and raspberry torte) it was time for us to face the fact it was home time! Three and a half hours and 188 miles later saw us pushing open our front door...

1 comment:

  1. Northumberland is Britain's best kept secret. It is breathtaking.

    Nice travelogue Mr K