Thursday, April 27, 2017

Alnwick Castle

Our drive today took us from Haltwhistle to Seahouses with a major stop at Alnwick Castle and gardens. As a point of interest the town is pronounced with a silent 'l' and 'w' so called 'Anick rather than Alnwick.
As we left our B&B we drove to the bottom of the hill for a final photo. This was our favourite accommodation to date.

The drive was wonderful. We did not use one major road. Along the way there were great rural scenes.

We passed by several National Trust properties and great little villages. Alnwick is actually the only city in Northumberland. Our favourite was Rothbury.

We spent half the day at Alnwick Castle. There were a lot of options!

                                               The walk to the Castle.

The castle is the ancestral home of the Percy Family, the XII Duke of Northumberland. They were in residence till Easter.

                                    Considered by many to be the finest castle in the UK.

The gardens are also beautiful if not at their best today! Yesterdays wind removed the flowers from the cherry trees.

                                                They were designed by Capability Brown.

We went to several special events. The Lost Cellars was a type of ghost tour but the film location tour was interesting.
The castle was the site for most of the filming of Harry Potter movies. You may recognise some of the scenes! The Christmas edition of Downton Abbey was filmed here and many scenes from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

                                  We think that our guide was left behind from the filming! There were broomstick flying classes but we decided not to attend.

                                    Site of the Quidditch field. Mountains were added by special effects!

We also visited several museums, a Knights challenge and a Dragon event.

                                                   This was not the REAL dragon!

We are now at Seahouses on the coast and will be in Scotland tomorrow.

                                         Taken from our room. No zoom required!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hadrian's Wall

Warmly dressed we drove the short distance across to the wall with our first stop at The Roman Army Museum.  After a 3D film we explored the many artifacts on display. This museum is built on the site of the Roman city of Magna.

There were full scale models of Roman forces, weaponry and more everyday items such as clothing and tools.

We drove back to Birdoswald Roman Fort that we passed yesterday. All that remains is the outline of the buildings at ground level. Most of the excavation is still to be undertaken.

This must not be the wall as you are not allowed to walk or climb on the actual wall.

We visited the Cawfields Quarry where much of the stone for Roman buildings and the wall came from.


                                                      It is a very picturesque place.

Vindolanda was the original Roman town and administrative headquarters that was built before the wall. It covers a large area and was a remarkable place to visit.

This is an original milestone. There are also modern ones that include the distance to Rome.

There was also a museum with many interesting items. This is a gravestone of an unknown woman.

                                                           The Vindolanda Calendar.
There are only three calendar fragments of this type that have been found. The other two were found in France.

                                                                Horse's chamfron.

The famous sycamore tree at Sycamore Gap. It featured in "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves "
Kevin Costner rescued the boy here! It has been voted Britain's favourite tree.

Our final stop was at the largest and best preserved Roman fort in Britain. Housesteads Roman Fort was huge. It is about a mile uphill to reach it but worth the effort.

                         Gail with a section of wall behind. It is large and solid at this point.

Each of the areas was identified with specific buildings for all sorts of purposes.

                                            It was cold and we were getting very tired.

                                                             Food storage granaries.

                                                  The lambs wandered all over the sites!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Off to Haltwhistle

We had planned to cross into Scotland and travel around to the west. We changed plans and drove up to the Northumberland National Park and are spending two nights at a great B&B.Not only are there a number of great little towns and villages but this is sitting next to Hadrians Wall so will report on that next. As we left we removed the snow and ice from the car. The ice detector light was on till late morning.
Our first stop was at another of the lakes of the Lakes District. Keswick is very pretty but today it was very cold! Too cold to enjoy so we soon retreated indoors for tea, coffee and toasted buns.

                                     Does Gail look cold in this photo? It was snowing a few minutes later!

The drive was wonderful, especially with the car heater turned up. Lots of stone fences, very cold sheep and green fields with a light dusting of snow.

Our main stop was at Carlisle We visited the castle. It was Anzac Day but not a single reference to it at any time today!

The castle is the most besieged place in the British Isles. We were close to the current Scottish border!

                      It was a long climb to the top of the keep so a rest was in order.

                                This is 15th century graffiti from bored soldiers.

                                                Rob held an impromptu book reading!

                                                           We need a new cannon!

We drove on past the Roman Fort when we reached the National Park near Hadrians Wall but will return tomorrow. We found a great B&B, possibly our best. It is the main room of the former vicarage
and very large and comfortable...and warm as it is still cold outside.

                 This seat was very cold and wet! The building dates from 1856.

Haltwhisle is an interesting town. So far we have not done much except have lunch and dinner at local establishments. We had some difficulty deciding on where to patronise. Here are some of the options.

                                             The Working Men's Club....or

                                                   the comrades club....or

                                                       the conservative club!

Haltwhistle is considered to be at the geographic centre of Britain if you base it on the Orkneys rather than The Shetlands!

          We could have stayed at The Centre of Britain Hotel. Every second business has the 'Centre of  Britain' in its name as in The Centre of Britain Dog Wash.

Tomorrow the wall!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lake Windermere

We are staying at Bowness, the more upmarket end of Windermere that is close to the lake. We walked down and purchased an all day ferry ticket and were soon on our way.

I would love to have either a one or two man rowing boat like this to row around the lake at Conjola.

We headed out bound for Ambleside. We passed many stately homes on the way.

It was a pleasant day when out of the wind. 

We would settle for this great boathouse right on the lake.

..or even this one.

At Ambleside we walked the mile from the ferry to the town. We passed parks and an old roman fort.

Not much remains of the huge Roman complex.

We walked past the church, the B&B's and the shops but then returned to the pier.

Our ship for the next leg was the 'Tern' built in 1891. This photo was taken later when we passed by.

We passed Wray castle, not an old castle but known as the place where Beatrix Potter stayed for holidays.

Top deck of the 'Tern'

We passed lots more old homes but reached the southern end of the lake after a stop in Bowness on the way. At Lakeside there are various options. An aquarium, a major car museum or a steam train. We had lunch and returned on the boat about an hour later.

                                                      Rob at the train station.

We returned to Bowness on the much larger 'Swan' built in 1936.

After looking at various shops we returned to our B&B for a rest, When we woke up it was snowing.
We stayed indoors very comfy and watched the surrounds turn white