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England: Visit North East England

Sunday, November 17, 2019
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North England: Northumberland's Magic

From beautiful guest houses in Northumberland, we take a look at the picturesque landscapes Northern England is blessed with, historical sites dating back to the Vikings Era, the city of Newcastle and its’ people and of course, the culinary delicacies of England.

Here is a 4 day diary in Northerumberland 

Why Northumberland?

My fascination to the North isn’t a secret, neither is my nerdy addiction to historical eras and particularly the Anglo-Saxon era or star gazing to say the least. Did you know that Northumberland officially has the largest protected area of night skies in Europe. The sky over the protected landscape of the Northumberland Coast Area is also a great opportunity to see the Northern Lights! 

England is famous for beautiful landscapes and more specifically North East England. There is everything for everyone! For Harry Potters fan, Alnwick castle would be the best place to visit and enjoy events there such as the wizard week with potter inspired characters, wand making and broomstick training. 

Foodies will enjoy the delicious home cooked meals with fresh ingredients handpicked on that day! 

Rich in history, Castle lovers will fall in love here in North East England! There are many impressive ancient castles, one of them,  The Last Knight, was filmed in Bamburg Castle. Hadrian’s Wall remains one of my favorite historical site, Stretching nearly 80 miles, the wall was constructed by thousands of workers as the Roman’s northern frontier, while Lindisfarne topped my bucket list of places to see, dating back in 635AD, Saint Aidan chose to settle and spread the Christian message from his monastery on the Holy Island and it did not disappoint! 

There are many reasons to visit, and most of all, I needed to get away from so much noise that was surrounding my daily thoughts. This trip gave me a mental break. Being back into nature always heals the soul. I thought I would share my itinerary that was planned by VisitBritain in the most incredible and professional way!

October is one of the best months to visit and witness the change in nature’s colors

Newcastle’s Historical city streets

12 acres of meandering and magnificent Gardens in Alnwick Gardens

Alnwick Castle: Northumberland is also home to Hogwarts

The 7am morning sun in the incredible Northern landscape of Northumberland 

Wildlife found on an early morning drive

How to get to Newcastle

How to get there from Dubai:

EK flies direct from Dubai to Newcastle upon Tyne daily departing at 7:20 AM

How to get there from London:

The average journey time between London and Newcastle is 3 hours 16 minutes . On an average weekday, there are 31 trains travelling from London to Newcastle.

TOP TIP: Rent a car in order to drive around the country! It’s the only way to truly experience Northern England!

Best Time to Visit

It really depends what sort of holiday you are looking for! For warm weather, Spring and Summer (March to September) and for those orange foliage colours to experience the Autumn season is from October to November and experience comfortably warm and sunny by day and rather cool by night. Most likely a good season to visit! Winter in November to March where it gets very cold, up to -12 degrees Celsius, the advantage during this period is that it would be off season, so prices would be lower!

Hadrian's Wall ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea

DAY 1

Arrival Day

Arrived in Newcastle Airport at 12pm, pre-rented an Audi for the week and drove to The Pheasant in where I spent one night. The drive took about an hour.

The Pheasant in is 17th-century farmhouse, it’s been a pub for over 100 years and has all the characterful hallmarks of a country inn with exposed-stone walls, traditional bar, a clutter of horse-brasses and farming implements. There are 8 rooms and I was staying in the 2 bedroom suite cottage! The food here is freshly prepared and cooked sourced from local and regional suppliers.

Highly recommended.

Address: Shilling Pot, Stannersburn, Hexham NE48 1DD, United Kingdom

After lunch at The Pheasant Inn, I made my way to Housesteads Roman Fort and Hadrian’s Wall, taking me back to the Roman Empire.

My guide Mandy showed me around the site and their interactive museum showcasing objects that once belongs to Roman Soldiers and the mini-cinema that will take you on a journey through time. Hadrian’s wall was definitely one of the best places to shoot for sunset too!

Address: Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 6NN

Dinner was served at William De Percy Inn and Crêperie.

The William de Percy Coaching Inn and Crêperie menus are packed with all the usual, and a lot of the unusual, pub paraphernalia but with an added sprinkle of edible oomph. Their menus are packed with good hearty food, added with some quirky flavours that you won’t be able to resist. From dishes such as “The biggest fish the boat could safely land” to “Pork belly with spiced apple, and Yuzu Compote, Pak Choi and Hoi sin gravy”.

They have a sister property called Le Petit Chateau, it is a very famous and unique wedding venue.

Address: Jedburgh Road, Otterburn, Newcastle upon Tyne NE19 1NR, United Kingdom

Late night 11:00 pm: Kielder Observatory

Approximately 20 minute drive, Kielder Obesrvatory is one of the most remarkable places to visit in the whole of the UK. A public astronomical observatory which is second to none, under some of the darkest skies in the world where you’ll find “infinite inspiration” and wonders you could never have imagined!

Come and join their inspirational team of astronomers as they observe the darkest of night skies above the internationally renowned Kielder Observatory. This late night event is timed to coincide with a new moon and when the skies are at their very darkest.

From their observation deck the heavens look astounding with the skies awash with stars and the Milky Way arching overhead. Weather permitting, they will have their comfy two-seater “moon chairs” out on the deck with blankets for you to snuggle up under what must be the most inspiring views of star fields and clusters anywhere on our planet.

Within the observatory they will reveal distant objects through our large aperture telescopes including planets, galaxies, star clusters and nebulae all with the expert guidance of their friendly and knowledgeable astronomy team.

When the weather prevents observations, you will still get to see all our equipment up close and be shown how it works with advice on astronomy from their expert team. You will be shown the wonders of the Universe on their large screen while kept cosy with the log-burning stove and a hot chocolate will be served during the evening.

Parking: Parking is provided at the Observatory during events so please drive all the way up the track to the observatory car park, which is less than 2 minutes’ walk from the Observatory building. The track will be open around 30 minutes before the event starts at the latest

Address: Black Fell, off Shilling Pot, Kielder NE48 1EJ, United Kingdom

DAY 2

Visit Alnwick Castle

The origins of Alnwick Castle date back to the Norman period. Since 1309 its history has been intertwined with that of the Percy family, a family with a history as illustrious as the castle’s own.

The second largest inhabited castle in the UK, Alnwick has served as a military outpost, a teaching college, a refuge for evacuees, a film set and not least a family home.

Visit Alnwick gardens, their 12 acres of meandering and magnificent Gardens are home to the world’s largest Tai Haku Cherry Orchard, a Grand Cascade comprising 120 water jets and the world’s largest Treehouse Restaurant.

Drive time: 1 hour

Address: Northumberland Estates Car Park, NE66 1NQ

Lunch at TreeHouse Restaurant

Enormous and beautifully crafted, The Treehouse is built from sustainably sourced Canadian cedar, Scandinavian redwood and English and Scots pine. It sits high in the treetops in a copse of mature lime trees and looks as if it has been there forever.

Opened in January 2005, The Treehouse is spread across 6,000 sq ft of complex buildings linked by suspended walkways.

The Treehouse Restaurant can be found at the heart of the structure, beautiful and unique, with a log fire in the centre, trees growing from the floor, handcrafted wooden tables and chairs and screens created from fallen branches.

Next Stop: Billy Shiel’s Boat trips

Drive time: 25 minutes

Address: Harbour Rd, Seahouses, United Kingdom, NE68 7RN

Parking: Seahouses is a popular resort so it does get busy at peak times. Pay and display parking is available at the harbour, above the harbour and also in the main village car park which is situated off the roundabout between Barclays Bank and the public toilets

Sunset at The boat will take you to land on the Inner Farne first, the trip continues around the islands to see the grey seals and other wildlife. 

 

Next Stop: Cookie Jar Hotel

Address: 12 Bailiffgate, Alnwick NE66 1LU, United Kingdom.

Parking: Parking available on road as situated on a residential street.

This cosy retreat in the heart of Alnwick. Formerly the Convent of Mercy, this historical building has been tastefully renovated into 11 luxurious rooms and suites, and offers all the home comforts you could need with an added little bit of unexpected cookie-ness.

The Chapel is the Cookie Jar’s ‘must stay’ super-suite. The Mother Superior of all suites can be found on the first floor. Featuring all the beautiful features of the former chapel, such as stain glass windows and carved wooden beams, it’s the perfect place to rest your head in Northumberland.

DAY 3

Lindisfarne Castle

Drive time: 45 minutes

Address: Holy Island TD15 2SH, United Kingdom

Lindisfarne, otherwise known as Holy Island is a tidal Island that is only accessible

twice a day during low tide and was on my bucket list! If you are familiar with Vikings history, here is where the vikings first found England and had their first attack on this island!

Lindisfarne is internationally famous both for its medieval religious heritage and also its more recent picturesque 16th century castle.

These, together with most of the community, are located on the Southern part of the island – the main focus for tourists and holidaymakers. Many are also attracted by the peace and tranquillity which pervades the Island and the remote Northern conservation area, with more than its fair share of quiet beaches and unique natural history.

If you are catching the sunrise, the only place that serves breakfast before 9am is the post office cafe.

Next Stop Bamburgh Castle

Drive Time: 40 Minutes

Explore the Royal Fortress, Norman strong hold and coastal home. Bamburgh Castle has stood guard above the spectacular Northumberland coastline for over 1,400 years. Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau, Bamburgh Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

Check-in: Jesmond Dene House

In an enviable location; almost in the country yet still in the city. They have space, peace and room to breathe.  All this makes them even more passionate that their guests are well looked after, above all, feel at home.

Address: Jesmond Dene Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EY, United Kingdom

DAY 4

Morning: Start your day visiting The BALTIC Center for Contemporary Arts

Address: S Shore Rd, Gateshead NE8 3BA, United KingdomContact 

Their mission is to create greater understanding of the world through outstanding, experimental and inspiring contemporary art which has power, relevance and meaning for individuals and communities. Housed in a landmark industrial building on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for ContemporaryArt is the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution.

I have the pleasure of experiencing two exhibitions: Joy Labinjo, who makes large-scale paintings featuring portraits of relatives, friends and people she has discovered in family albums. Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up in the UK with British-Nigerian heritage, Labinjo explores the relationship between identity, race and culture and Play Rebellion, which is is an interactive exhibition created by artist Pippa Hale. Staged inBALTIC’s Level 2 gallery, audiences are invited to become active participants and get physical with the artwork, creating new possibilities and reconnecting with their inner creative geniuses. After that, I made my way to Sage Gateshead.

A 4 minute walk, Sage Gateshead is a music centre rooted deeply in the North, with an international profile. They are for audiences, for artists, for the North and for the long term.

Lunch A very special lunch at Blackfriars Restaurant

Address Friars St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4XN, United Kingdom

Blackfriars is believed to the oldest purpose-built dining room in the UK, having served as the refectory for the Black Friars of Newcastle so has historical significance for the city. It currently holds the title ‘Taste of the North East’ in theNorth East England Tourism Awards. One of the best dining experiences!

The remainder of the afternoon I spent absorbing the some of the most beautiful locations in Newcastle city centre. I met with 2 wonderful guides Gwen Keating and Ed Young who showed me around the historical places and Ed took me to the top of Grey’s Monument. Here are their contact details!

Contact Name: Ed Young
Contact Number: +44 (0) 773 990 4247

Contact Name Gwen Keating and her Contact Number: +44 (0) 7947327374

Evening, dine at STACK, a unique space filled with some of the North Easts freshest up & coming local independent eateries and bars. With regular live events, this is a destination concept in the heart of Newcastle city centre. A must visit too!

A massive thank you to VisitBritain , NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle International Airport and Visit North East England for organizing this beautiful trip, it has been one of my bucket list to visit North England! The itinerary planned was done by them and thought of sharing it with you because it was perfect. A huge thank you for Wego Arabia for the support. WEGO is a platform that operates 52 country sites in over 20 languages and local currencies. Wego displays travel rate results in real time from over 700 travel sites, so users can shop and compare flight and hotel prices available online.

A FAMILY GUIDE TO NEWCASTLE

Travel Junkie Diary

A bohemian traveler

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