Stretching from the high Cheviot hills in the east to the relatively low coastal plain in the west, and from the crowded industrial areas in the south to the loneliness of the Scottish Borders, Northumbria has it all. In fact, when it comes to castles it probably has too many.
Oddly, despite their very distinctive accent, the locals did not seem to have a particularly strong sense of regional identity.
Unlike their neighbours to both north and south.
Castled out by the time we reached Alnwick (pronounced "Annick"), but we did enjoy a very interesting bus tour around the town.
The castle, a Victorian restoration of the original medieval structure, is best known for its appearances as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films.
The current Duchess of Northumberland has undertaken a massive reconstruction of the gardens including a Poison Garden especially for the children! Something else to come back for.
The town itself is picturesque with plenty to see and do, and lots of places to eat.
External Links and References
All you ever wanted to know, and more. https://www.alnwickcastle.com/
Separate site covering the gardens and the progress on the re-construction https://www.alnwickgarden.com/
Beadnell Limekilns are the substantial remains of three limekilns, the oldest of which dates from 1798.
As the nearby plaque explains, they were filled with alternate layers of coal and lime
that were brought from the nearby estate of one John Wood on a tramway. The burnt lime was then loaded into ships in the tiny adjoining harbour, and would be used mainly as a soil improver and fertiliser.
The whole site was cluttered with bits of fishing tackle and other paraphernalia and rather untidy when I was there, which was a shame.
Craster and Dunstanburgh
Known worldwide for its kippers, Craster Harbour was built by his brothers and sister in 1906
as a memorial to Captain John Charles Pulleine Craster of the 46th Punjabis who was killed in Tibet.
The Robson's Smokehouse still operates, although these days the herring have to be imported. It has a restaurant, but this seemed to be a bit sniffy about children which rather put us off (even though we didn't have any kids with us).
The pub in the village, Jolly Fisherman, can be warmly recommended though, especially the crab sandwiches.
From the village there is a pleasant walk along the coast to the romantic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Unfortunately I did not have the legs to tackle it and do the castle justice. Something to come back for.
External Links and References
National Trust Handbook entry detailing opening times, ticket prices, facilities, etc. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/north-east/dunstanburgh-castle
The Jolly Fisherman
Unpretentious village pub, with a good range real beers, and the excellent Craster Kipper P?t?, Homemade Crab Soup and Crab Sandwiches. Site also includes a history of the village and Dunstanburgh Castle. https://thejollyfishermancraster.co.uk/
Howdiemont Sands are reached by a narrow back road from Long Houghton through Low Stead Farm.
Here there is a gate across the road and you are asked to pay a modest parking fee in aid of the local church. Pleasant low-lying coast-land, with some interesting rocky outcrops.
Driving round this area of Northumberland, once you get your eye in you can spot Bastles everywhere. There were, after all, over 1000 of them at one time.
A sort of cross between a Castle and a Barn, these were fortified houses built to withstand the constant cross-border raids this area
suffered right up to and even after the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603.
Most have now either been incorporated into later more comfortable dwellings, or lie in ruins.
Woodhouses Bastle, however, was occupied, largely unaltered, right up to the early 1900s, and has now been preserved by the National Park Committee. There is an interpretive display board by the entrance path.