Sometimes you just want a break but you don’t want to go far and honestly, when you live with ‘spectacular’ on your doorstep, why fly? Last September we were in Yorkshire with James. This September James is no longer with us but I know he’d have loved our choice of holiday.
Just an hour’s drive from home there were some places we wanted to revisit. It’s strange how when you’re working you don’t get round to these things. 25 years ago we went to The Duddo Stones in summer and couldn’t get across the field to see them because there was a crop. We’d also gone to the site of the Battle of Flodden Field which is not at Flodden but at Branxton. It was a bit muddy and there was no designated path, so although we saw the monument on the brow of the ridge, we didn’t go up. Now there is a proper path. Although we’d been to Berwick upon Tweed many times we’d never visited the Regimental Museum of the Borderers. We planned to go there and to walk the town walls again. Lady Waterford Hall was a place we’d never heard of until this May when we visited Etal but we didn’t get over to Ford Village so that was also on our list of things to do. Now we could of course have done these on day trips from home but that would have environmentally unfriendly and we happened to have stayed at a very nice Inn called The Bluebell, at Crookham, which is within easy distance of all these places. 12 miles to Berwick. 3 to Duddo. 4 to Ford. 1 to Branxton Hill. It also happens to have a rather extensive menu of good food and wonderful desserts, vast breakfasts served until 9:30, a variety of ales, gins and a nice Cote du Rhone. Hardly any travelling? No dishes? Win — Win!
So let me begin with The Duddo Stones.
They are roughly 4000 yrs old and situated on a hill that commands 360 degree views yet they are not visible from the road. In fact they are quite difficult to find. The vast landscape here just swallows them as you’ll see by the slideshow, and the network of tiny roads crisscrossing North Northumberland is such that a wrong turn can take miles to correct. But there are lots of signposts to the Stones. The only marker is a small white notice by a gate at the edge of farmland and one has to park on the grass verge. We were lucky. Two cars were already there (and their owners were on their way back — we chatted). The other thing you need to know is that it takes at least an hour to walk to the stones and back on permissive footpaths along the field margins. It took us nearly and hour and a half but we did stop a while at the stones to savour the atmosphere and we went farther down the field to see the information board. When you begin to cross the first field (there are three) you see the stones very distant on the ridge. It looks daunting! But don’t be put off. We had our sticks with us and wore sturdy shoes but it’s not a steep walk, nor a hard walk, at least when it’s dry. We had ideal weather! The stones reward you with spectacular views and close up they are impressive and strangely beautiful. Ready?
And then we had to walk the whole way back.
I am glad James was able to explore some of our favourite gardens with us in April and I couldn’t help thinking this week — James would have loved the Duddo Stones. You don’t have to go very far if you travel in time. Just Dud-Do it!