Monday, September 23, 2013

NORTHUMBERLAND (and a few castles)

We drove about 125 miles northward arriving in Wooler our base for the next four nights.  We are in the care of Patrick and Paulette at The Old Mill B&B which by it's name you can probably tell it's an an old mill. No longer milling flour, the building has been converted into a three story home and B&B.  We are ensconced on the third floor which,due to it's age is slightly sloping to the east.  Each morning both Patrick and Paulette serve up a delicious cooked to order breakfast in the solarium.

This part of the country is very popular with walkers or hikers as we call them.  Actually walking is popular all over the UK with marked and signposted paths all over the country.  There are paths going from east to west and north to south.  

Many Englishmen take their holiday (vacation) by walking some selected path for a predetermined distance, stopping each night in a B&B, pub or hotel.  Many pubs have rooms to rent, inexpensive meals and of course beer.  We've manage to eat at several pubs which serve simple but filling fare.  After a 5 mile walk the stop at a pub is a welcome respite to quench one's thirst and fill one's stomach.


Cathie and I both came prepared on this trip for taking some walks across the English countryside.  We brought with us our boots and trekking poles.  Using a very detailed guide book provided by our hosts here in Wooler, we were able to take a circular route in the Cheviot Hills.  Mostly a treeless landscape with rolling hills, one walks through farm fields and pasture lands filled mostly with sheep.  Sheep are everywhere in this part of England.


Of course this part of the country isn't just about walking,  it's also about castles and stately homes. Turn a corner and there is another castle or someones mansion.  In various states of repair from a complete pile of fully intact lived in castle.  Your could spend days touring them as most sell admission tickets. We're being selective opting see most from the outside and saving the best for a complete tour.

(of Waterford Crystal fame)


Alnwick Castle used in the filming of many of the Harry Potter films, has made it a draw for many visitors. Before Harry Potter fame the castle has been used in numerous films going back to Becket in 1964 starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.  Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland and his family still live in the castle.

We took a drive out to Holy Island where the is another castle.  It was closed for the day so we had to entertain ourselves with a walk around town.  The Island is a tidal island only accessible by road at low tide.  The surrounding tidal flats are shallow and when the tide comes in it comes in fast. Before driving out to the island it is best to check the tide tables.  Many people have been caught, either stranded on the island till the outgoing tide or worse, driving across the tidal flats and being caught by the raising tide.

The little hut is for walkers who might get caught by the rising tide.  No such place to hide if you're in your car.

We continued to drive down the coast to the next castle, Bamburgh Castle and as advertised it is the king of castles.




We've enjoyed our stay in Northumberland and had great weather to boot.  Got in some great walks, toured a huge castle, saw some great sights, too many sheep, so it is time to move on. Tomorrow we cross the border into Scotland for some more exploring and discovery.

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