Please follow the links in red below for more info.

It is a shame that the attractions north of Alnwick are not better signposted and better known. From Morpeth north, there are many CASTLES and Alnwick is just one of them.

Belsay, Morpeth, Warkworth, Norham, Dunstanburgh, Etal, Ford, Chillngham and Lindisfarne are equally worth visiting! We even have a castle at Bothal near where I live… Northumberland is supersaturated with castles due to the troubled history of the Scottish borderlands. We’d never really visited either Ford, or Etal Castle until this year and we didn’t have time to see all there is to see but we’ll be back to see the rest.

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This is Etal Castle, which has a little information centre dedicated to the Battle of Flodden Field — a particularly bloody incident in border history (10,000 Scots slaughtered in a matter of hours). The battle site itself is not far away. I have been there too, and it exudes that silent sadness that is common to such places.

Etal is a pretty village which also features the only thatched pub in Northumberland, The Black Bull. Chef Stefano, makes black pudding bonbons to die for!!! Nice chap too. Came out and chatted. The thrice cooked chips are great as well and the beer is very good. It’s a must for the thirsty visitor.

We parked at HEATHERSLAW MILL which itself makes an interesting place to visit (we did last year) and again I bought some of their wonderful stone ground flour. The next day was my sister’s birthday and I found the perfect present in the Mill Shop. She wore it on Holy Island because hey, Northumberland is a beautiful county but the Bahamas it ain ‘t!!! and Lindisfarne off the North Sea coast can be about as cold and windy as it gets. Sometimes a woolly scarf is just the ticket!

There are several other gift shops too. We took the Light Railway from Heatherslaw on the 4 mile trip along the banks of the River Till, one of the cleanest waterways in England. The countryside is beautiful with views of the Cheviot Hills and the steam railway is FUN trip!!!

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And so to our evening at The Bluebell in Crookham.
a well earned pint, an excellent meal, a cosy room and a fantabulous breakfast! Life doesn’t (in my opinion) get better! Esme had this cherry and meringue pudding that was huge and decadent! As soon as she sends me a photo of it I will enlighten you as to just how decadent is was. She did somehow manage to eat it all though. Brave lass!!!

So onto Holy Island to visit our friend of 25yrs, Dorothy, and celebrate Esme’s Birthday with an evening meal at The Ship. This is a regular haunt of ours and the Lamb Tagine is particularly good.

HOLY ISLAND

There’s no such thing as a bad picture on Lindisfarne

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Like all tourist destinations, don’t expect the impossible. There’s plenty to see but if your family wants rides and a Macdonalds — there are none. This is an island, not a theme park and God forbid it should ever become one. I heard one man as he turned away at the abbey gate, say to his partner: There’s nothing much here! Just as in Paris you have to bring your own romance, so on Holy Island you need to bring your curiosity with you, your appreciation of history and your own peace. It’s busy when the causeway is open. It’s remote when it’s closed. If you want lots of shops and a great selection of restaurants this is probably not the place for you. There are few eateries on the island and be aware that you’ll need to book somewhere if you want an evening meal.

It’s crucial to know the tide times. Please check HERE.

I hope this has whetted your appetite for a visit to the grim North, the most castellated region in England. The natives are, for the most part, friendly and there’s lots to see and do under the big skies. Just — bring a warm coat!