A Travellerspoint blog

The Far North

Northumbria - Northumberland Coast

overcast 17 °C
View Northumbria on kmmk17's travel map.

After a quieter day yesterday, our last full day was busier, as we were headed up the Northumberland Coast as far as the Scottish Border.

We began by heading to Bamburgh Castle, viewing from both the beautiful sandy beach, as well as from the village, where the castle (which sits on a hill between there and sea) creates a beautiful imposing backdrop.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

After a brief stop we headed north to Berwick-upon-Tweed, the last town before the Scottish Border. The town had historically been Scottish, and still gives it's name to the area north of the border.

Berwick-upon-Tweed

Berwick-upon-Tweed

The town still has intact city walls by the estuary of the River Tweed, which we walked along around half of.

Berwick was surprisingly pretty, despite not really knowing much about what it had to offer before we visited.

Our next stop was just around the corner, at the border - the second one we were visiting this weekend. This time however we would stop, and the laybys were signed as tourist spots. This was (almost) the northernmost point in England, in the far north - Newcastle is 1h20mins south, and London is over 6 hours away. Whilst Edinburgh, capital of Scotland is a little over an hour north.

Scottish Border

Scottish Border

After stopping at the entrance to Scotland, we did a U-turn at the next junction, and stopped at the layby on the other side, welcoming us (back) into England.

We were now heading south again and towards one of the top places on my list for this weekend - Lindisfarne/Holy Island. To get to the island we had to drive along a causeway, which was now accessible due to low tide.

The Causeway

The Causeway

Driving along the causeway was a strange experience, and on the north side of Holy Island it was still very tidal. Eventually after around 5 minutes we arrived at the car park to the village, which felt like the entrance to a tourist attraction, rather than to a place people actually live! Although with the majority of people being tourists, it didn't exactly feel like a village.

We started with a visit to the war memorial, with views over the bay and the Priory, which was temporarily closed due to Covid, before we walked along the coast to the Castle, which like many in this area had imposing views.

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

It had been a long day so far with lots of castles and scenery, and we had one last one to visit on the way back - Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick is another pretty small town with an imposing castle, and even though by now we had seen many similar, this was still worth stopping by.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

After a long day of exploring, we headed back to the hotel for our final evening.

The following day we checked out of the hotel and headed home, stopping by Newton Aycliffe to visit some friends before heading back home.

Northumbria had been very pretty, and compared to Cornwall, which is actually nearer from here, it was much easier to get to, as it was nearly Motorway from start to finish, and even when not, it had pretty good roads. Although obviously colder as it was further north it was still a nice getaway.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 02:58 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scotland coast island castle border causeway northumbria Comments (0)

Touring Tyne & Wear

Northumbria - Newcastle, Gateshead & Durham

semi-overcast 19 °C
View Northumbria on kmmk17's travel map.

After two busy days, we decided to take our time a bit more today, and would spend it seeing the sights in Tyne & Wear without too much driving.
We began by heading to the centre of Gateshead, parking at the SAGE Centre, and going for a walk around the Tyne, crossing into Newcastle over the Millennium Bridge.

Tyneside

Tyneside

We then continued walking along the riverside under the Tyne Bridge before heading up to the Castle, which has been cut in half by a railway viaduct, somewhat ruining the image of how it would have been every few minutes!.

Newcastle Castle

Newcastle Castle

After heading back towards the car park we drove out of the city, stopping at the Angel of the North, which unlike most places was still full of tourists.

Angel of the North

Angel of the North

After a short stop, we headed to the furthest place on today's trip - Durham.

Covid had really affected Durham, and it felt particularly empty - especially around the old city. Much of the peninsular is taken up by the University - various halls and colleges, which were all empty. Even the souvenir shop was closed.

Durham

Durham

However as luck would have it, the cathedral had not been closed, and opened for the day just as we arrived. We had a quick look around, and then headed for a walk around the riverside.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Our last stop for the day was to the Penshaw Monument, just outside Sunderland, where after climbing the steep hill to the top, there were scenic views to be had across the local area.

Penshaw Monument

Penshaw Monument

Normally we don't tend to spend an awful lot of time in each place anyway, but with a lot of places closed it meant we had whizzed around even quicker than normal, and after just a few hours we were already back!

We were however not done for the day. Being opposite a TGIs we decided to book ourselves a table, and so instead of grabbing a quick meal we went out to eat - the first time post lockdown. In a way it was nice to feel like getting back to normal, however at the same time we were constantly reminded due to the empty and roped off tables and one way system in place. Something to tell the kids in 20 years!

Posted by kmmk17 08:16 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged monument river bridge city hill Comments (0)

When We Couldn't Even Wed in Gretna Green

Northumbria - Barnard Castle, Hadrian's Wall, Lockerbie & Gretna Green

overcast 17 °C
View Northumbria on kmmk17's travel map.

With travel completely disrupted by Covid, and all our original plans out the window, any travel this year would be last minute and national.
We seized an opportunity with lockdowns easing and semi-decent weather to get some time away from the house and have a minibreak.

Similar to those carried out in previous years, we would carry out a road trip exploring part of the country we hadn't seen before - this time heading up to Northumbria.

We began by setting off up the M1, stopping at Woolley Edge Services, where every northern holiday begins, before reaching Barnard Castle via Scotch Corner and the A1.

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle

I hadn't heard of the place until it made the news when the top government adviser broke lockdown rules to visit in order "to test [his] eyesight", but it was actually really pretty and being almost en route, we decided to stop.

We took a short walk by the riverside, before then driving through through the centre of town which was really very pretty. It was not much longer before we were driving past the Angel of the North and arriving at our hotel just on the edge of Newcastle.

By now it was late afternoon, and we had already spent a lot of time travelling, so all that was left was to grab some dinner and chill at the hotel.
Our hotel was just around the corner from the MetroCentre - the second largest shopping centre in the country. However with the country only just coming out of lockdown, many of the shops were closed, and almost every restaurant was closed. We ended up settling for a takeaway McDonalds, which we had to take and eat in the car park.

The following day was our first to really explore the area, and as the weather had seemed the best today, we headed towards Hadrian's Wall.

Like all Roman creations, it was created without really taking into account elevation, and so it runs in an almost straight line across the country. Most of which has now been lost, but a section in the remote middle of the country remains in quite good condition. We parked up and started our work, to find section of impressive wall was cut right across two rather steep hills. It made it stunning, but it was a really tough walk - at one stage it was almost like rock climbing!

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

As we were not far from the Scottish border, and we had all afternoon, we decided to take a drive into Scotland, visiting a couple of places close to the border.

The first, being Lockerbie - the small village that a plane fell on in 1988. We took a visit to the remembrance garden, on the site of two former bungalows that were destroyed in the crash, in a residential street on the edge of the village. An eery site....

Lockerbie Memorial

Lockerbie Memorial

The second was Gretna Green. Famous for being the first village in Scotland, and where a lot of marriages of English couples take place due to less restrictive regulations on this side of the border. As we couldn't marry in a week's time anymore we pondered if maybe we should just do so here? Except lockdown restrictions were even tighter in Scotland right now and all of Gretna Green was shut. In fact until a few days ago it was on a strict lockdown where no one was allowed out, so hardly surprising.

An empty Gretna Green

An empty Gretna Green

With not much to see we didn't hang about long, and by mid afternoon we were back at the hotel, but we had at least got to see lots of new and different things something that didn't even seem possible a few weeks ago.

Despite some dark clouds, the weather had stayed dry for us and we were hopeful for this to continue...

Posted by kmmk17 05:31 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scenery rural castle roman wall macabre northumbria Comments (0)

Day Trip to Tescos

Day Trip to Wales - Wye Valley

rain 6 °C
View Day Trip to Wales on kmmk17's travel map.

As Coronavirus has hit it's meant many of the plans for 2020 have gone out the window. For us this not only meant major things like our wedding, stag dos and honeymoon, but also other trips and breaks we had planned. As we try to make something of the year by doing new things we wouldn't have done otherwise as the lockdown eases, let me take you back to that week in March where everything went crazy and we had no idea what would happen from one day to the next.

So originally, we had planned ourselves a (somewhat) last minute trip to Egypt. This was already a Plan C, as we had originally been planning to go to the Caucasus before Turkey back in September, however my health problems peaked and we had to cancel the week and only got to do the second half of the holiday.

I cancelled my annual leave for the week and decided we'd reuse it later in the year when I'd (hopefully) feel a bit better. During the Autumn we had thought about booking a last minute trip away, and having wanted to try and enjoy a bit of sun we had looked at going to Mexico. We had found some good deals in Cancun, however just before we decided to settle some dates Thomas Cook went bust and all other operator's prices shot up making this a pretty poor deal.

Instead we decided to go away in mid-March, and seeking somewhere that would be warm, whilst still being interesting we settled on Egypt. We had a plan to visit the pyramids, Luxor and Abu Simbel, which was all going swimmingly until just a week or so before, when the threat of Coronavirus came.

As most people, in hindsight we had been rather delusional thinking it wouldn't cause too much of an effect and we'd probably be fine. However the closer it got to the trip the more things escalated. We had already packed our bits and were ready to jet off just a few days later when it became clear we wouldn't be back before lockdowns would start.

Just two days before we were due to fly we made the decision to cancel our trip and were able to turn this into a open ticket which we could use sometime later in the year when things settled down.

It is a good job we had cancelled, as five days into to the trip, and two days before we would have flown back, all international flights out of Egypt were stopped, and we would not have been able to fly home as planned anyway.

Having been the second holiday in six months we had had to cancel, it didn't feel as gutting as the first, however I still had the week off to take as this was my carryover and needed using by the end of the month. We decided to take the week off as planned anyway, and use it for something useful. We started the week by repainting our bathroom.

Knowing a lockdown was coming we also wanted to try and squeeze one last holiday in whilst we could, and so quickly researched a two day trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, which we booked the night before we left after checking no new regulations had come in.

The following morning we left the house and started making our way to the Severn Bridge. We headed off towards Swindon, however not long after leaving, the stress of the whole situation started to get to us and we started to wonder if we had caught Coronavirus ourselves.

We continued driving to see if we'd feel a bit better, and not long later we crossed the River Severn and stopped in Chepstow on the English-Welsh border. It was raining and after popping inside the town's Tesco we ate some lunch in the rainy car park before continuing north up the Wye Valley.

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey

We drove past the beautiful Tintern Abbey en route to Monmouth, where after arriving, we took a quick (rainy) walk around the centre of the small historic town before heading back to the car. By now we had to make a decision, do we continue towards Pembrokeshire or turn back and head home?

Monnow Bridge, Monmouth

Monnow Bridge, Monmouth

Sadly, we decided to turn back as we really didn't feel great and weren't sure if we were up to continuing. Abruptly ending our trip, and cancelling our third holiday we drove back home where we arrived by early evening.

It turned out we didn't have Coronavirus at the time but we simply didn't know. A few days later the lockdown came into force and with it, all our plans for the year went out the window.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 03:18 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged rain wye Comments (0)

A Winter Wedding

Sandy's Wedding - Amsterdam & North Holland

rain 9 °C
View Sandy's Wedding on kmmk17's travel map.

Our final holiday for the year was a weekend in Amsterdam, as my friend Sandy was getting married shortly before Christmas. As the wedding was on Monday 23rd, we decided to make a weekend of the trip as Chris had never been to the Netherlands.

With there being several flights a day, we headed on an early afternoon flight and arrived in the Dutch capital around an hour later. With plenty of time, we took it easy, and after grabbing some dinner popped over to the Westerpark area where an indoor Christmas market was being held - perfect for a cold December evening, before heading back to the hotel for the evening

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

The following day we headed into the city proper. Having been to Amsterdam 5 times before I knew my way around, but there were a few things I hadn't seen, so we started by visiting the Museumplein, with views of the Rijksmuseum and another Christmas Market.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

We then headed into the city itself, past the many canals and the flower market before arriving at Dam Square

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

We then made our way over to the Red Light District, where Chris got waved at by a lady. After grabbing food, we headed over to the Anne Frank House before finally making our way back to the hotel.

The following day we left the hotel and headed out of the city, as today was the day of the wedding. So far we had been staying at a hotel close to Sloterdijk station, so that it would be central to the airport, the city, and getting to the wedding - none of which being more than a 30 minute train ride away.

After taking the train we arrived in the small town of Castricum, from where we would need a taxi for the last 3km as there was no public transport. On researching prior to the trip it seemed we could just get an Uber when we arrived. However when we turned up this wasn't possible, so we ended up taking a stretched limo taxi for the 5 minute drive.

The wedding was taking place at a hotel just outside the town, and not long after arriving Sandy's parents came over to say hello, after having a nice catch up my friend Roel from the south of the Netherlands also arrived.

After having a quick catch up having not seen each other for over 3 years, it was now time for the wedding to start. We headed into the hall where Sandy's mum, who is a registrar was carrying out the wedding herself.

Waiting for it to start

Waiting for it to start

It was very much the same as a usual wedding, although longer than those I was used to - being full of many life stories and ending around an hour later. However as it was all in Dutch, we didn't know fully what was being discussed, except the lovely, but also slightly embarrassing moment when the language swapped to English to thank us for coming, and everyone else turned round to look at the foreigners!

After the ceremony finished and the couple were married, we then tucked into the wedding cake before mingling, and photos.

With the happy couple

With the happy couple

Room keys were then handed out as everyone was staying at the hotel overnight, before a half hour breather prior to dinner. It is interesting to see how even though parts of the ceremony are all the same, they take place in a different way!

We then went into dinner where we were sat with Roel once again, and we had another catch up. We weren't sure exactly what was going on and made sure we had our fill on the food before realising that this was only the starter, and more food was coming!

With Roel

With Roel

Being a relatively small wedding, we got to spend plenty of time with the happy couple as well, and felt very much part of the day despite an occasional language barrier.

Games

Games

After games, the party started! Sandy, Roel and I all know each other primarily as we are Eurovision fans, and I was pleased to hear some of the songs made the playlist. And even better, everytime one came on the dancefloor cleared, so I had free rein for dancing :D

Party Time

Party Time

Just before the party ended we all went outside to create a sprinkler tunnel for the couple to walk through, and then at midnight we had a countdown celebration as it was now 10 years to the day that they had got together.

After a long busy day we went off to bed and the following morning had a breakfast together with all the other guests, who by now we had got to know quite well.

Roel then gave us a lift back to the station and we headed back to the airport and finally home for Christmas.

Posted by kmmk17 07:17 Archived in Netherlands Tagged wedding city friends party christmas Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 224) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »