Northumberland: a land to discover

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

Author and references

I discovered the existence of Northumberland thanks to the detective show Vera broadcast on Giallo, and since I am a great lover of the Anglo-Irish world, I dragged my parents to discover this beautiful land, little known but which has nothing to envy to the most ? famous Scotland and Ireland. To end the holiday we took a trip to Scotland and a visit to its capital, Edinburgh.

Here are the technical details of the trip: plane, accommodation and car rental.

We left and went back to Milan Malpensa and in England we arrived in Newcastle and then left from Edinburgh.
We did the flight to Newcastle with KLM with a stopover in Amsterdam for 155 euros per passenger and the direct return from Edinburgh with Easyjet for 45 euros each; in both cases suitcase in the hold excluded.

When I go to England or Ireland I always prefer b & bs to be able to enjoy their fantastic breakfasts. On our first stop we stayed in Haltwhistle at Gray Bull b & b, triple room and breakfast included for £ 227,50. The room was spacious and clean and the breakfast really great, both in terms of English breakfast and buffet breakfast (excellent yogurt, fresh fruit and lots of other choice). The only drawback, if you want porridge you have to tell him the night before.
In Wooler instead we stayed in a small house booked through airb & b, why? i couldn't find cheap b & b. ? cost 277,18 euros for three nights, I would say quite cheap. Being a house obviously there was no lack of space, it was clean and well equipped, there was Alexa from Amazon and also the Nintendo wii, even if for some strange reason we could not make it work. British furniture and very dated bathroom, but in any case we cannot complain; we practically lived like Brits for 3 days!
The latest accommodation in Edinburgh? stayed at the Cruachuan guesthouse, booked through for 216 pounds including breakfast. Nothing to complain about room, bathroom and location, but breakfast has me a bit? disappointed. The English one was good, but otherwise there was practically nothing.

Overall I can say to recommend more? or not all three accommodations, with a marked preference for the former. For Edinburgh the choice? however very abundant and as for Wooler, if I were to return to Northumberland, I think I would rather try to find accommodation on the coast, Wooler in s? it didn't impress us much, especially in terms of catering.

We used Europcar with the discount code offered by Easyjet, which made it the most? cheap of all. The rental from 3 to 8 August? cost 302 euros, including the additional driver and standard deductible. As coverage of the deductible we always take an extra insurance provided by and which costs only around twenty euros, instead of the hundreds offered by car rentals. In practice, in case of damage to the car, the car rental charges the amount due and then you turn to this other company to get reimbursed. I can't tell if it works well or not, why? luckily we haven't had to activate them yet! However, the reviews on their website are good. Can you? even buy an annual cover, if you travel and rent a car often, for around sixty euros. Definitely more? convenient of car rentals.

1 day

We arrive in Newcastle on time, despite half an hour late in arriving in Amsterdam, the bags arrive after a 15 minute wait and we head straight to the Europcar counter. The car ? late, we have to wait half an hour, but the employees are nice and offer us a drink. Although I had written what we wanted, that is? a tea, a coke and a coffee. They bring a cup of tea and two coffees, which are disgusting. So all three of us drink from the same cup of tea. After the expected 30 minutes they give us the car, what? a brand new Ford Fiesta with navigator included, and in about 40 minutes we reach our first stop: Haltwhistle and the Gray Bull B&B. The room ? beautiful, clean and spacious and the owner's welcome very warm. Driving on the left doesn't it? then too complicated, luckily the car has a manual gearbox and the English roads are splendid.
Given the time, let's go immediately downtown on foot to eat. We stop at the Black Bull pub, where we eat our first fish and chips of the holiday and drink very well at a low price.

2 day

After a hearty English breakfast we head to Steel Rigg to begin a few hours' walk along Hadrian's Wall. All parking in the area (and not only) are paid, so we pay our offer of 5 pounds for 3 hours (with credit card at the machine) and begin our walk. The weather ? beautiful, the wind? cool and moderate and acts as a counter-altar to a warm and pleasant sun. After a while we arrive at the famous Sycomore Gap, what? a spot where there is a huge sycamore tree, made famous by the film Robin Hood with Kevin Kostner.
The walk ? circular, and after skirting some remaining portion of the wall, we return to the parking lot passing in the middle of a farm, through the fields and between cows and sheep. All very bucolic, even if when I pass by the cows and sheep I always fear a little? their reactions, even if perhaps they have more? afraid of me, tant? who stay away and turn away if I want to photograph them.
After hours of walking, we retrieve the car and stop for something to eat at Once Brewed, a brewery and guesthouse on the road. We got 3 cups of tea and two desserts (a crumble with custard and a chocolate fondant) for £ 16, all very good.
After being refreshed we take the car back to go to another point where you can? walk along a large portion of the wall: Cawfields quarry, an old quarry where there is a long portion of the wall, including one of the various milecastles, which were the places where the Romans stood for access points, as well as exit points. surveillance of the area. The wall ? it was an impressive construction for those times, over 100 km long, 3m wide and 5m high, it was the largest border. north of the empire and to think that at the time they did not even have half? of today's means, c ?? really one wonders how they managed to erect such a building. The Romans were really smart people.
Did we shoot a little longer? among the various sites listed on the map, which in the end are a bit? all the same: immense expanses of green and some portions of the wall, and in the end we returned to Haltwhistle. There are also museums and points of interest for a fee, in particular Vindolanda, where there are the remains of a fort and some reconstruction, we preferred not to do them.
The whole area of ​​Hadrian's Wall? very beautiful, the places are well indicated and above all, c? ? around few people, and? wonderful to walk among the green fields and the animals.

3 day

We left Haltwhistle for the north. The first step ? was Arbeia with its Roman fort, which is located on the coast just after Newcastle. The entrance ? free and there was a beautiful black kitten to welcome visitors. In the fort, of course, there are mainly stones, but they have still rebuilt one of the entrances and some of the barracks where the officers and soldiers lived. After all ? been nice. After the fort we took a ride to South Shields, which has a beautiful huge sandy beach. We ate fish and chips by the sea from a beachside kiosk. We wanted to lie down and take a nap kissed by the not too hot sun of the north sea, instead we left to visit Alnwick Castle.
This castle? famous why? ? often used as a location for films, including Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey. We bought the entrance ticket the same morning via the internet, as there was a 10% discount. The castle, like so many in these parts,? private and still inhabited in part by the family tant ?? that visiting the state rooms, are there scattered here and there? also quite recent family photos. Detail of the somewhat macabre state rooms in Alnwick? the presence of some of the family's dogs stuffed and placed so that they appear to be alive: one in an armchair, another under the piano looking like he's taking a nap? Surely they did it there because? they loved him very much, though? do a little? impression.
Of Alnwick I? particularly liked the museum dedicated to the fusiliers of the Northumberland regiment. Me too? there was a poor stuffed dog.
After the castle we took a quick stroll around Alnwick in the rain and then we drove to Wooler, to our cottage.
We ate at the town pub, Angel inn, really nothing special.

4 day

The day ? started with a splendid sun and we left for Bamburgh castle, perched on the seashore. Very nice in particular the museum dedicated to William Armstrong, who? was a successful British genius, inventor and entrepreneur, as well as one of the owners of the castle. Here too you can visit the rooms more? or less richly decorated, with lots of photos and family heirlooms.
We had a delicious snack at the castle's tea room and then headed to Seahouses and took the Billy Shields boat ride to the Farne Islands. Seahouses? a town on the sea, which that afternoon was invaded by many tourists, so much? that we were able to park only in a residential street why? the city parking lots were full. But there? went well, cos? we didn't pay the parking fee.
We did the £ 20 boat ride, which only landed on Inner Farne island for one hour, plus the boat ride around all the other islands. If you want you can? also do the long tour with disembarkation also on Staple Island for 2 hours and 2 hours on Inner Farne for 40 pounds. The boat ride? it was very nice, there was also the comment, but unfortunately I didn't understand much. We have seen very closely the colony of seals that stay in the archipelago, are they so cute and cuddly?
After a good hour on the boat we landed in Inner Farne for an hour. The disembarkation costs 11,90 pounds and must be paid to the National Trust at the port before leaving. the islands are a kind of national heritage. After paying, they give you a phosphorescent yellow bracelet, which the rangers check when landing on the island, so you can't do it. overshoot .. However, if you? National Trust members, these islands and many other admissions are free.
There are thousands and thousands of birds on the island, including the world-famous puffins. There are 39000 pairs of this species alone. The island? very small, and the quantity? of birds? really disproportionate, tant? that the risk of being hit by some bird intent on doing its business? very high. In addition to the puffins there are many other species. When we went, the Longtail Terns in particular were nesting and therefore were very aggressive towards anyone to protect their eggs. What they did was flit around you screaming like obsessions and then peck you on the head to make it clear that you have to stay away. Have they caught more? sometimes me too and I must admit that not? It was nice, I felt like I was in Hitchcock's The Birds. Fortunately, this species was stationed only at the entrance to the island, then it was quiet, but the return to the boat I did it all in a rush so much they had traumatized me! When I paid the disembarkation fee to the National Trust, the woman at the counter informed me of this and advised me to put a hat on. Honestly, when he told me, I didn't think it was going to be like this. frequent, but why? I did not imagine that there was such a quantity? of birds on the island! Luckily he had scared me enough, so that? before leaving I bought a nice hat in one of the souvenir shops near the port, and I was very happy to have it on my head once I landed on the island. Therefore, I recommend that anyone visiting the Farne Islands to bring a hat to protect themselves from pecks!
On the island c ?? a prearranged path, can't you? go where you want, why? in the rest of course birds nest, however well so ?. ? it was very nice to see them cos? close. ? a trip that really deserves to be done. For non-bird watchers, I recommend taking a trip like ours with only disembarkation in Inner Farne, given the costs,? pi? which is sufficient compared to the other tour with the landing also on Staple Island.
Back on the mainland we took a walk along the coast to Seahouses, a walk that partly passes even in a golf course, but n? golfers n? passing dogs seem to be disturbed by the presence of others.
We ate there for dinner. at Seahouses in an Indian restaurant, just to avoid yet another fish and chips.

5 day

Today we went to Holy Island, what? famous for its tide which makes it an island for a few hours a day. In fact, there are times of the day when you can? go on foot and by car and others where? surrounded only by the sea.
We took a ride to the castle, we did not enter this, imagining it would be more? or less like the others, since? private. And then to the tiny town where c? a beautiful church and the remains of a priory, also part of the National Trust, so members get in for free. After the tour on the island we seemed to have spotted some seals stranded between the island and the mainland, so we looked for a way to get closer and see them better, but we didn't. So we returned to the access road to the island and waited together with other tourists for the slow but imperious tide to rise.
? it was nice to see the sea go up. We had to move the car a couple of times, why? the tide was rising, and I have to admit that for a moment? was also distressing, why? it takes very little to literally find yourself with water in your throat. There was also a guy with his bagpipes who for a while? he played (at the end with his feet also soaking) and made everything even more? magical.
For dinner we went back to Wooler and ate the worst kebab of our life at a take away kebbabaro called Fry Fry. I never thought it was possible, but did the British manage to do something terribly easy and the absurd thing crap? which was also quite popular!

6 day

We leave Northumberland for Scotland and Edinburgh, but first we make a last trip to England. We started with the idea of ​​going to see the Roughtin Linn waterfall, which my father found by searching on Google. In reality? for? we have not found n? she, n? the path to reach it. We went to Ford, what? a pretty and almost picturesque village, but then we left. So we decided to visit Chillingham Castle and the famous herd of wild oxen that live there. next to. On the flyer they define the experience almost like a safari in the midst of ferocious animals, actually. the guide accompanied us on a meadow and at a good distance from the herd, which was doing its business a little more? down. Anyway ? was interesting, why? told us a bit? the history and characteristics of this herd, which? actually wild and in contact with man there is no ?? nobody. They have been autonomous for hundreds of years, and? a very curious fact, given that they always and only reproduce among themselves.
After the short cow tour we visited Chillingham Castle, what? precisely there? next to. This is the umpteenth castle inhabited by private individuals. The visit of the rooms? it was however interesting, in this castle they were very welcoming and seemed really lived. Some seemed to be used as a closet where to leave all the objects and things no longer? in use. At the end of the visit we had tea and something to eat in the castle's tea room, this really beautiful. Was it a semi-underground room, slightly furnished? like a hunting lodge from the 1800s and above all with a splendid lit fire. We had a scone with jam, a slice of victoria sponge and a bacon sandwich, all washed down with the usual tea: exquisite and in a truly picturesque setting.
After the visit we left for Edinburgh passing only by secondary roads. It took us about 2 hours, due to a bottleneck on the Edinburgh ring road. We left the car at the Europcar branch in Sighthill, just off the ring road and check out? been very quick. Then we took the 300 Skylink bus which for 1,70 pounds takes you to the city? in about 30 minutes.
Arrived at the b & b where we left our suitcases, we went downtown for a walk and looking for food. We ended up at the grassmarket and ate at The last drop pub. I took the haggis, what? a sausage made of I do not know which entrails, accompanied by pur? and gravy and then the sweet cranachran, cream, honey, oats, whiskey and raspberries, very good and typically Scottish!

7 day

The only full day scheduled to visit Edinburgh is? turned out to be the worst of the holiday in weather terms. It rained practically all day and continuously, from the series: welcome to Scotland!
After a good breakfast in the hotel, but not very good, much better than Haltwhistle's, we left for the famous castle. At the top we queued at least 20 minutes to buy tickets. It was like being at Disney. If you want you can buy in advance on the site to avoid the queues, but a minimum of queue in reality? c ?? even at the collection points.
Once inside, it seems to be more? in a small village than in a simple castle. We visited the various museums dedicated to the Scottish armed forces, all very interesting with lots of historical material and nice descriptions. At one o'clock, in the pouring rain, we went out to watch the cannon shot being fired to indicate the time every day. Did I find that there are still quite a few in the world? of places that maintain this tradition. It also seems to be in Rome, although I wonder if it is true.
After the cannon shot we went to visit the prisons and then queue again to see the crown jewels and finally a couple of royal rooms, which honestly didn't seem like much to me.
The pi? interesting of the day? was again going to drink and eat in the castle's tea room. I had a very good giant shortbread and my parents two slices of lemon cake, all accompanied by the usual excellent cups of tea. The setting wasn't as picturesque as Chillingham Castle, but the desserts were still very good.
After the visit to the castle we went a bit? around the city, with the rain giving a respite. We passed by the Scott Monument and then onto Chilton Hill, which offers a nice view of the city? and the castle.
We went back to the grassmarket for dinner and ate at Beehaven, which was the only pub at the time where you didn't have to wait for a table. Honestly dinner isn't it? that was great, it gave me the idea that everything was defrosted.
I must admit that on this holiday the food side did not impress me very much. Pi? times we ended up in places that a little? they let us down. I have eaten much better in Ireland, where in the end you eat exactly the same things, but the quality? I found it much better.

8 day

Last day in the city. We asked the b & b if we could leave our suitcases and they told us until 16 pm, after a slight negotiation, since the lady at first told me until 15 pm.
We went to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, the royal yacht that served the family for her travels and not around the world from the 50s until 1997.
The yacht? moored in Leith, so we took bus 10 which passed in front of the b & b and we arrived in 40 minutes. The cost of the visit? high, as for the castle, but at least in this case the audio guide? included in the price. Visit ? it was really beautiful, in every room of the ship there were lots of family photos and it really felt like being immersed in a piece of history of the English navy but also of the royal family. A really nice visit, which I highly recommend to anyone, not just fans of the genre.
Returning to the city? we stopped to eat at a kiosk in Princes street, we had a look at the shops looking for some souvenirs and then we went back to retrieve the bags at the b & b. To go back to the airport we took the bus 300 Skylink again, the ticket for which can be booked. be paid directly by credit card to the driver (on all other city buses the payment to the driver can only be made in cash and does not give change).

Northumberland? very beautiful, very green and not very popular. A destination to be absolutely recommended for those who love the English countryside, walks, nature and do not want to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of tourists. I recommend the walks to Hadrian's Wall and the visit to the Farne Islands. We have seen little of what in the Reat? this land has to offer. They are beautiful landscapes, they give you a sense of peace and tranquility. that are now more and more? hard to find.
Edinburgh? a city? very nice, quite dirty I must say and with a bad climate. Either way it is worth a visit at least once in a lifetime. It has its own particular charm, I especially loved the architecture of its historic buildings, which blends perfectly with the gray sky typical of these places.

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