My Grandmother – someone who I covet, and whom I owe most of my being to – is from a small town called Belford which is on the Northumbrian coast. My family went on holiday for a few weeks this September and when they invited myself and Mike up to join them I knew I couldn’t turn it down. Northumbria is one of my favourite places, and I got the chance to visit some of my favourite childhood memories as an adult – not many people can do that and I feel incredibly blessed that my childhood, my family and Mike came together so perfectly.
|A photo of Bamburgh Castle taken from the beach. My favourite place in the entire world.|
Our first stop (literally, it was where our train journey ended..) was Berwick-upon-Tweed. This town was the first stop when I was on these trips as a child, as we used to stock up the family caravan by shopping here. It always looked massive as a child, and the fact its a walled city always enchanted me – I didn’t see the cannons fire this visit, but I have incredibly vivid memories of walking the walls hand in hand with my Grandmother before I was tall enough to see over them..
Almost nothing has changed. I’ve included the candid photograph of myself and my Grandmother happily chatting to the owner of two sausage dogs because I love it – its so typical of us, and I know she’ll hate it being here but I feel it encompasses our relationship perfectly – as much as my anxiety has crippled my later years I lose it when I’m around her and people don’t bother me nearly as much. I know deep down that she’s an incredibly strong woman, and I only hope I can grow to be as strong!
|The iconic Berwick-Upon-Tweed bridges.|
This is the iconic view I remember so well. The bridges leading in and out of Berwick – it was my first time on a train this time so I’m glad I got to experience it from a different angle. I remember being small and watching the swans here – it was magical and I could never understand how so many swans could ever be in one place – a huge contrast to the day this photograph was taken.. There were none at all.
We moved down the coast after having a browse around Berwick, to Scremerston Beach. I went hunting around rock pools as a child here, paired with a bamboo cane and strips of bacon. I never caught anything, but I don’t know if crabs really have a taste for bacon or whether it was a childhood folly* I was told.
*a childhood folly, such as Haggis being tiny creatures that could only run around hills one way because they had a set of legs longer one side than the other. To catch the, you ran the opposite way around the hill to scare them and make them fall over/roll down the hill. I believed this for longer than I should – thanks Dad.
|Empty rock pools at Scremerston Beach.|
I used to visit Scremerston with my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother too – we spent a good amount of time walking their dogs on this stretch of beach as it tends to be a bit rockier and easier on the knees. This time I visited the rockpools were empty and I was quite happy to wander on my own for a little while.
Next on my whistle-stop tour of the Northumbrian coast was Lindisfarne – or Holy Island, to some. This is a truly magnificent place, and one that still leaves me a little in awe as you can only access it when the tide is out due to the causeway which accesses the island being completely covered when it comes in.
|Once you’ve braved the causeway, you cannot and will not be disappointed with Holy Island.|
Holy Island has a castle, as you can see above but we’ll get to that a little later. After reaching the island itself you arrive in a small town, which boasts its own host of treasures that can’t go unmentioned. From the shop that sells drinking horns to Game of Thrones set (Celtic Crafts, website available here – I adore their Leaping Hare Necklet and wish I’d picked it up!) to the hotels which sell fresh crab for lunch – the town isn’t to be missed.
Naturally we visited Lindisfarne Mead (website available here) and had a good snoop around. While I didn’t indulge in taste-testing the mead, I had a great time looking through the local produce. I ended up walking out with my much coveted jar of Tweedside Honey which is perfect in camomile tea, some lavender lipbalm and a jar of pink grapefruit preserve which isn’t available on the website. I adore locally sourced items so this store was a huge hit for me – as you can tell by the photographs I was well and truly down a rabbit hole!
|We even popped to the Priory to have a walk around.|
I visited the Priory as a child and wandered it many times – I noted that this visit, there was a charge which is new to me. Both the Priory and Castle are both National Trust attractions now so you are looking at around £6 to enter either. We chose not to this time, but only because we had a time limit of one day to pack as much as we could in to.
|My Father, capturing a shot of the castle while on the rocky beach.|
The beach close to the castle isn’t very welcoming at first sight – made up of rocks, its a far cry from the soft shores of Bamburgh. It has its own treasures however and both myself and Mike spent a long while looking for rocks and fossils – each place we visit we try get a rock so we can take a small piece home with us. Holy Island gave us three rocks as we really couldn’t decide!
|Lindisfarne Castle in all her glory!|
The castle is stunning – perched on a huge rocky mount, it overlooks the whole island and can be seen from the Northumbrian coast as you travel on the East Coast train line or the A1 if you prefer driving. Again, I’ve been inside as a child but we couldn’t fit it in today – we did clamber up to the gates and walk right around from beach however, so we saw her from each angle. I always thought this castle looked lonely – looking at the magnificent Bamburgh castle in the distance as you can see Bamburgh from Holy Island. Did they communicate, in times gone by?
At this point, we started wandering back to the car – via the coastal route.
I had a heavy heart as we drove back to the mainland, leaving this magical place behind us. It hasn’t lost any of its mysterious charm in the years I’ve not visited and I’m sure I’ll be back again.. There are so many stories, so many little titbits of information on this place I’ve stored in my mind over the years I feel like I could write forever.
This post is the first of a two part series, because I have so many memories and pictures I don’t want them all lost in just one post. Next week I’ll be sharing Bamburgh and Seahouses, make sure you come back and check it out!