We stayed for four days at Market Cross Guest House in Belford, having a wonderful time exploring Northumberland. There is so much to see but these are our highlights:
The first day, we spent the morning in Belford, as the Tour of Britain Cycle race was passing through the village. There was a great atmosphere, standing with other spectators and we enjoyed the build up to the cyclists appearing. When they came, they whizzed past us at speed. It was all over very quickly, but great to experience.
We then headed for Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, which can only be accessed when the tide is out. Driving across the causeway was fascinating, and we could see the poles marking the pilgrim’s way for those adventurous enough to walk across. There were more buildings than I expected, but it’s only a short walk to the quieter parts of the island. We wandered around the outside of the priory and had a bite to eat at the Manor House Hotel, and I have to the mention the chips; they were amazing. We walked up to the Heugh, a high point on the island, from which there are lovely views across the water, and along the island to the castle. From there we walked down to the harbour, around to the castle, and then back to our car. It is a lovely peaceful place to wander.
Next day, we had booked to go on a boat trip to the Trinity House Longstone Lighthouse, on the Golden Gate, the only boat that is licenced to land there. We met lovely Ailsa at the ticket booth in Seahouses, and then set off with George on the Golden Gate. The weather was misty to start with, but soon cleared. George gave commentary as we approached the islands, pointing out the different wildlife and features of the islands. As we reached Longstone Rock, we could see seals bobbing around in the water near the boat. We landed at Longstone, and then George led the tour up the lighthouse. There are a lot of steep steps to the top, but worth it. George told us about the history of the lighthouse and Grace Darling. Once out of the lighthouse, we were able to walk around the tiny island, which is beautiful and so peaceful, and we could see the seals both in the water and basking on the rocks. The time came too soon to return back to Seahouses, but we had a wonderful trip and it was the highlight of our stay.
After leaving Seahouses, we drove just along the coast to Bamburgh Castle, which is magnificent. Once inside the walls, the views are wonderful. We went inside to see the state rooms, the biggest of which is stunning. There is a good cafe, where we had yummy crab sandwiches. Good value visit.
Our third day saw us heading to Alnwick Gardens. The first thing you see when you enter is the tumbling water feature that dominates the gardens. These have fountains which dance every half an hour. There is so much to see here. One of the highlights for us was an area of cherry trees, where there are double swings in lines between the trees. We tried a swing, and would like to return when the blossom is out in spring. At the end of the visit, we walked to the Treehouse restaurant, where we had a late lunch. It was lovely food, and a fascinating place to eat, up in the trees.
Leaving Alnwick, we drove to Craster and wandered down the path along the shore edge to see the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, a lovely walk.
On our last day, we drove west into Northumberland National Park before leaving. We headed for Ingram, in the Breamish Valley, and stopped just past the village at a car park called Bulby’s Wood, from where we walked up a steep climb to reach Brough Law Hill Fort. It was worth the climb, it is amazing to think how old it is, and the views were astounding. Back down, we stopped at Ingram’s Cafe for cake and a cuppa before sadly departing for home.