If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed I was on my travels last weekend. Not anywhere far, just around the corner in fact to Northumberland.
Ok, so it’s about an hour or so away but it’s still on my doorstep. I mentioned in my last post about how I need to start exploring what’s around me instead of desperately trying to find my next getaway. So that’s what I’ve been doing!
Fortunately, very close family friends of ours live in a cute little village called Elsdon. Elsdon, the historic capital of Redesdale, is the perfect Northumbrian village. It has an ancient parish church, a tower house and even the remains of a castle. The village is about 10 miles to the southwest of Rothbury and Alnwick is about a 45 minutes away.
Myself, my Mam and my other half, decided we were overdue a visit since the couple we were visiting have just got a new dog! Any excuse. We headed down last Friday for a weekend of relaxation and discovery. Driving there is probably one of the best bits, nothing comes close to taking in the beautiful surroundings!
We arrived and the weather was quite dull, typical after this summers heat wave but we were in good spirits! We had a lovely evening eating and drinking catching up with our friends.
I decided to get up early on Saturday morning to have a quick run and the weather was still rubbish! The hills were quite a challenge but I managed to power through. It’s a bit scary running in a direction or area you don’t have an idea about, but the last thing I was told was to run to the gibbet! The gibbet FYI is a lone pole once used to display a man’s corpse which now stands empty, but the memory remains. It has a totally creepy story behind it which is basically in 1792, William Winter, along with two female accomplices who killed Margaret Crozier of Raw Pele, were hung two miles south of Elsdon. Creepy.
After my run, it was time to head to Alnwick. After being asked where I’d like to go I said, Alnwick Castle. I used to love history at school but fell out of love with it after I had a rubbish teacher. It still interests me so I thought why not have a nosey around Alnwick Castle.
Alnwick Castle is a castle and stately home in Alnwick. It is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest and renovated and remodelled a number of times. It is a Grade I listed building and receives over 800,000 visitors per year. The current Duke and his family live in the castle, but occupy only a part of it (lucky them!). The castle is open to the public throughout the summer and astonishingly after Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England.
I think probably what put Alnwick Castle on the map was the fact that it was used as a stand-in for the exterior and interior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Its appearance in the films has helped shape the public imagination regarding what castles should look like.
Prices to enter the castle are a little steep in my opinion but it is magnificent and definitely worth visiting. It’s £16.00 at the gate for an adult but if you book online you save 10%. You can also but packages to visit the castle and the garden which we would have done had the weather been better! Worth mentioning is the fact your £16.00 ticket lasts a year.
The weather stayed dry much to our delight! We started our tour in the main garden courtyard to watch the Boomstick Training! Broomstick Training sessions last approximately 25 minutes and take place at various times daily. Basically, the professors will use their unique skills to teach every class the basics of mastering a broomstick. I would have loved to get involved but I think I’m a bit old for it! It looked like great fun for the kids!
We then headed to State Rooms! These rooms are lavish Italian Renaissance style interiors, with richly carved, painted and gilded ceilings inspired by the Vatican, St Peter and Castle St Angelo in Rome, sumptuous silk wall coverings and pre-eminent works of art, are contained like a jewel within the magnificent fortress castle exterior. The rooms are truly stunning! My favourite room was the library, house goals. I wonder whether the current Duke and his family have parties in those rooms?!
The exit of the State Rooms leads you to near the Artisan Courtyard. You can dress up in medieval costume and meet the townsfolk as you join the hustle and bustle of life in the 14th century. Available for the kids is authentic medieval crafts and traditional games in the square.
After another half an hour or so just taking in the ore of the whole place we left and headed into Alnwick town centre. The castle has such a fun and exciting atmosphere, I really enjoyed my visit and will certainly be back to visit the gardens.
Alnwick is a sleepy market town which was once voted the best place to live in the UK. Located just 5 miles from Northumberland’s heritage coastline and roughly in the centre of the County, equidistant from Berwick and Newcastle. The town has a population of just under 10,000 and with its old buildings and cobbled streets it’s a great base from which to explore. One place I love in Alnwick is Barter Books which one of the UK’s largest second housed in the town’s old railway station. I didn’t get the chance to visit this time around, gutted!
After a lot of walking, we were starving so grabbed some tea at Di Sopra, an Italian Restaraunt in the town centre. Again, I’d recommend a visit as it’s cheap and cheerful for a bite to eat.
Our busy day came to an end and we headed back to Elsdon. There’s a village pub called the Bird In Bush which has recently been taken under new management so is undergoing some renovations but is really warm and cosy. The drinks are cheap too!
And then it was Sunday, suddenly. A rainy Sunday too! We did plan on going for a long walk however the weather had other ideas so we headed home earlier than planned much to my disappointment.
I loved my staycation to Elsdon, anyone interested in staying in the village there is a few holiday homes available to rent and the Bird In Bush is also a BnB! Sometimes it’s good to just get out in the countryside, isn’t it?