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Northumberland

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Last week, OH and I enjoyed a short break in my favourite English county. OH is from Tyneside, and that’s where we lived when we were first married, so it’s old stamping ground for us. In those days we had no car, and made intrepid forays north of the Tyne by public transport. Our journeys were often in old single-decker buses, involving two or three changes at places such as Morpeth, or Hexham. We visited a lot of castles and had a lot of picnics.

This time, we were very comfortable in our new (to us) car, staying in a hotel ideally situated for the places we intended to visit. We often visit the north-east, travelling there and back in one – long – day, so it was a luxury to have a local bed waiting for us.

We set off early, and decided to visit the Roman Wall at one of the less developed sites so that there would be no access problem at 8 am. Accordingly, we arrived at Cawfields, just east of Brampton. The car park is by the old quarry, where there used to be quite a large works, but which was decommisioned many years ago. When our children were small, we often stopped off here for a picnic and a run about on the way to/from visiting OH’s aunties (somewhere to finally let off steam being a priority!)

Cawfields Quarry

You may suspect that it was pretty cold – the wind was what you might expect it to be!

We walked up towards the wall from the quarry car park. It’s not far, but quite steep. The Wall is on the top of the Whin Sill escarpment – very dramatic. Every time I go there, I get a thrill. When we first visited, in the 60s, there were virtually no visitor centres, or information boards. You could scramble up onto the Wall wherever you wanted. OH had been taken there as a pupil from his school. Getting there by public transport was quite a challenge!

About 5 minutes walk away, you come across a milecastle. Milecastles were built, well – about every mile, as gateways through the wall, which was a border construction built to prevent the free movement of goods in and out of the Roman Empire rather than a defensive wall. This is rather a well preserved one. I think a lot of the walls around here must have been built of stones sourced from the Wall.

Milecastle

The gap at this side is the entrance from the south, and the gap at the far side is the entrance from the north. The far wall is the Roman Wall itself. The construction is amazing – strong, regular and remarkably well-preserved.

View north from milecastle

View west from milecastle with Roman Wall on left

The men who were stationed on the Wall must have been very tough. I understand that they were not necessarily from Italy, many were from more northern parts of Europe, but still…! We were freezing by this time, and hurried back to the car to continue our journey.

I just paused long enough to take one last picture

Length of Wall west of milecastle, all cleaned up and preserved

There are more spectacular lengths of Wall – near Housesteads in particular, and Walltown Crags. We were too early for any of those. In any case, we weren’t feeling quite strong enough for that!

By the time we arrived at our destination – by way of Hexham and our much-loved Corbridge, it was late afternoon. The weather was fine and sunny, so we drove across to the coast just south of Blyth.

Coast at Seaton Sluice (a lot nicer than its name!)

We had a very nice walk along the dunes here, and actually felt the sun warm on our backs.

Nothing very special, I suppose, but the sound and the sight of the sea always delights me.

St Mary’s Island

This is another old favourite. When we first came here, there was no car park or seats or anything, and the lighthouse was still operated by a live-in lighthouse-keeper. The lighthouse itself is just a hollow tower (pretty vertiginous to visit, I promise you. I wouldn’t do it now!) and the keeper lived in one of the houses on the island.

I’m afraid the rest of our visit, though thoroughly enjoyable, was not blessed by the best of weather! We spent the next day in Newcastle, then up to Alnwick (not the garden – it was pouring – horizontally!) and then meandered back.

Our journey back on the third day took us all day, via Jarrow, Sunderland, Barnard Castle, Penrith, Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston then home.

Did I enjoy it? YES! Did I take any more photos? NO!

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Comments

 

Great blog...fantastic scenery! reminds me of our trip up there 4 years ago with our eldest son.We stayed in Whitley Bay and travelled around a bit, seeing lots of the places you mentioned and in your pic's.A lovely coastline! Thanks for the memories, as they say!

19 May, 2013

 

What a fascinating blog Susanne! All new to me, but so interesting to see the well-preserved walls, and to feel I was by the sea too . . . thanks for the visit :)

19 May, 2013

 

Great blog, lovely part of the country. I holidayed at Alnwick once, so I do love that coastline. Thanks for the photos!

19 May, 2013

 

Most interesting blog. Thank you.

19 May, 2013

 

Great blog ... I live at Whitley Bay. Beach nice, but water freeeeeeeeezing.

As a friend once said "went in as Arthur, came out as Martha"

see family website at www.williebee.co.uk

regards !

19 May, 2013

 

Lol Kk21! You deserve a good day Melchisedec - you must be tough staying out in that cold windswept place all day! Lovely though - and I bet you enjoyed your dinner!

19 May, 2013

 

Yes, Paul - it's a great area. When the children were young we had a few holidays in Craster, on the coast east of Alnwick. The coast is fabulous, and so unspoilt (that wind!)

Glad you enjoyed the blog, Sheila. The Wall is really interesting. Even though we didn't get to any this time, I know the visitor centres are all very well set up and make for a fascinating day out.

We go to Alnwick a couple of times a year, Louisa (we love Barter Books!). It's a lovely town.

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog, Diane.

Oh yes, Kk21 - the first winter I spent on Tyneside, I thought I would die! It cured me for ever, though - nothing has ever had that effect on me since!

It had warmed up a lot by the afternoon, Steragram! We were glad of a well-heated hotel, though ;-)

19 May, 2013

 

It looks stunning and is a part of the country that I do not know at all.
It seems to be steeped in history and character and there is so much to see and do as long as you are well wrapped up!!
Thanks :-)

19 May, 2013

 

Beautiful part of our world, remember that part of the country well when we toured with a camper van when our two youngest were little. Beautiful scenery and fantastic coast line. Lovely pictures thanks for bringing back the memories of a fab holiday.

20 May, 2013

 

Fascinating blog. What a wonderful country we live in. I know the weather can be harsh and the people had a hard life but every time they looked up and saw this wonderful place its easy to understand how they coped. We came up the M1/A1 yesterday and south of Newcastle there was a lot of flooded fields at either side of the road. Sounds like you got the best of the weather. Thank you for sharing.

20 May, 2013

taz
Taz
 

great bog and pictures, One of my favorite places , the other being Scotland ,I do envy you, we try to get there once a year, but not been there this year, went to the Cotswold in stead, lovely, but not as dramatic as Northumberland, love the hills the coast, and its history

20 May, 2013

 

Thanks Wildrose, Barbara, Scotsgran and Taz. It is a very special part of the country, and now that I am home again I am beginning to appreciate just how much I enjoyed the break! (Hope that makes sense!)

20 May, 2013

 

It was nice for you to have a break in a place you enjoy so much. You have some interesting photos :o)

20 May, 2013

 

Thank you Hywel - I'm glad you like them. We had a lovely time :-)

20 May, 2013

 

Those coastal photos are charming. I wish I can go for a weekend to the coast. Is this HadrianĀ“s wall?

22 May, 2013

taz
Taz
 

if anyone's goes to Alnwick try a visit to barter books, its an old converted railway station, if your a book worm you will love this place, there is every type of book you could imagine, it still has its old waiting rooms which are now reading rooms with large open fires and large comfy armchairs, great log fires when it cold. there's also a lovely children's area and a model train runs on a track above the book racks. it is well worth a visit, check out its web site

22 May, 2013

 

Totally agree, Taz - it's a great experience.

Yes, this is Hadrian's Wall, Katarina. It's a wonderful, wild place. The Northumberland coast is superb - and bracing!

23 May, 2013

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