Saturday, 12 September 2015

A sightseeing break in Northumberland

We spent a week in Northumberland in mid May. As with so many things, I've not had a chance to publish this blog about it before, as our house move had taken over our lives. Anyway, here it is, better late than never.  

We left home just before 11am, breaking the journey at Wetherby services and arrived at Beacon Hill Farm at 5pm. One of the owners, Christopher, gave us a guided tour of site on a golf buggy which had some novelty value. The site seemed to have everything we'd need, and some. The views from the site, and even our sofa were so far reaching, they immediately made us relaxed. We settled in, had dinner, sampled the cake that had been left for us and set about making plans for the next day. 
The next morning was Andrew's birthday so we got up and did presents. After breakfast we headed to Cragside, a National Trust property nearby. We started with the six mile scenic drive around the estate, stopping a couple of times for short walks and to take some photos. The only seating available for lunch was outside, and it coincided with the rain arriving, but what's an English holiday without eating in the rain?! After lunch we walked around the house then down and around the gardens to see the Archimedes screw. Again we were caught by the rain so we headed back to change before going back out to meet a family friend for a catch up and food. 
The next day we headed to Alnwick. We walked around the gardens first which were literally incredible, we spent a lot of time in the Serpent Garden admiring the water features. We had a break for lunch before heading on to the castle. It was very well stocked, the owners had clearly never had to sell off the family silver! Afterwards we headed into town for tea and cake and called for groceries on the way home. By the time we got back, we collapsed in front of the television for the night, with the woodburner keeping us warm.
 
After a couple of days of sightseeing, we decided to have a day of geocaching near Acklington. We picked a circuit and managed to do 14 succesfully. On the whole we were lucky with the weather, but could have done without it starting to hail as we walked across a very open field. Afterwards went to Amble for fish and chips, it took us a while to find the restaurant but food made it well worth it. 
The next day we had a plan to go to Holy Island and got up early so we could catch the tide. It took about an hour to get there and crossed before the water reached the causeway. We walked up to the castle first and then around the back to see the views and do a geocache. We met two other geocachers who pointed out the cache to us when our GPS was pinging about all over the place. Next we ventured inside the castle, which was interesting and compact. The wind was perishing on the way back into town and it started to rain as we hit the centre. We went for food at the post office as they had tables inside. It was a tiny space but the leek and potato soup was amazing. When we couldn't linger inside any longer we ventured to the priory, had a quick walk around in the wind, then into the church. We stopped for tea and cake as we waited for the causeway to reopen, then headed back.
After the weather the previous day, we decided we'd earned a lazy day and had a late breakfast and lounged around for a while in front of the fire. Once the rain tailed off we headed out for a walk. We went down to Meg's Lake first, it was incredibly windy but the weather improved as we walked around. Forgetting our plans for a lazy day, we then headed off to do the local geocaching trail. I could have done without crossing a field with a bull in, which stood up as we approached, but the views mostly made up for it. We finished what we thought was a circular walk but then had to head back, again passing Meg's Lake. The weather was horrible, cold, windy and hailing. We were glad to get back and get the fire roaring. After a snooze and some TV we headed out to the local pub, the Shoulder of Mutton, for tea. 
On our final day we headed for Embleton. We parked up and walked along the beach to Dunstanburgh Castle, which was stunning, doing a couple of caches on the way, then back along tracks and paths doing a final cache. We stopped at Alnwick on our way back for very well deserved food and cake. Afterwards we headed back to pack our bags and prepare for our journey home the next day.
We had a really good week in Northumberland and will be back to do a few things we didn't manage to fit in on this occasion. The accomodation was good, albeit the owners were a bit elusive, not responding to queries. We never did manage to find the tools for the woodburner, but managed to avoid third degree burns anyway!!

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