Around ten days before the start of my luxuriously long Easter break, I booked some time away in a cottage in Northumberland. Since getting the dogs, the year before last, holidays have changed, and are now built around what will work for the dogs. Having them was and is my choice, and I am happy to accept that they are part of life, whatever is happening. Although we own a Campervan, staying in a holiday cottage seems to work particularly well; home comforts whatever the weather.
Following recent visits to Norfolk, Wales and North Yorkshire, I fancied a change of destination. I’d spent two or three nights in Northumberland at the end of my first half term teaching (I basically just slept, then came home). That time was spent inland, near Hexham, meaning the rest of the area was unexplored. I found somewhere with availability a few miles from Bamburgh. It looked nice and said the garden was fully secure for dogs. Reviews were good. I booked it.
1. On Easter Monday morning we hit the road. Google Maps said it was a straight three hours north up the A1, but the bank holiday and speed-restricted roadworks, plus an obligatory comfort break at a supermarket, meant it took closer to five. On the evening of our arrival, once settled, we walked the dogs down the lane, and as dusk fell we wandered across fields. The silhouette of an owl swooped by as we hurried back before visibility was lost completely.
2. Tuesday brought sunshine, and we followed instructions and took the local’s route down to the coast. The sand was soft and golden, the beach was sparsely populated and the dogs ADORED being off the lead and frolicking along.
After a couple of miles along the shoreline, we cut inland and headed back to Bamburgh across the fields. There was a nervewracking few minutes as the dogs chased a hare about a mile – really – across a field, but apart from that, the walk was peaceful. In Bamburgh proper I purchased a crab sandwich, but after two mouthfuls containing what felt like grit, I ate just the bread cake. Lesson learnt: I don’t like crab.
That night we were left with two very sleepy boys.
3. Another beautiful day, and Seahouses was the destination of choice, just a few miles down the coast.
More of a touristy town, but in an inoffensive, understated way, a walk along the beach was followed by a wander around the shops, and a stop for a few essentials the house was lacking (salt, sugar, oil – really?!) I was excited to find a craft shop, which I’ll blog about separately and where I now wish I had spent more time.
4. Today was forecast to be the warmest of the week, even up along the breezy North Sea coast. We drove north towards Holy Island, and stopped part way up the causeway at a place called Snook, so the dogs could have a run before attempting to walk them around town.
Great plan, in theory. In reality, Wilfie AND Oliver teamed up and went up into the dunes in search of adventure. They did good, finding something dead (a sheep or seal, I declined to examine more closely). And what do my dogs like to do when they make an animal-scented discovery? That’s right, they roll in it. A lot. On their backs, wearing their harnesses and collars. And then they wriggle some more. Even after a *forced* dip in sea, I just couldn’t look at Wilfie in the same way until he had had a bath. Delightful. Lunch was eaten on a rock, overlooking the sea and listening to the sound of the seal colony across the water. The dogs weren’t sure where the strange noises were coming from, so to be on the safe side they paddled out towards these tyres very cautiously.
This was the only day when I got away with wearing just a tshirt – a first for 2015! Again, we looped around the island admiring the castle all the way. Oh, and I treated myself to a tit-box, because, why not? 5. The next day we drove south, through Alnwick and towards Alnmouth. After a brief wander, we established that crossing the river that ran down to the sea, was not, in fact, an option.
It was another beautiful, sandy beach though. Onwards to Warkworth where we parked up and headed to the coast path, looping first up the beach and then back inland, through a static caravan park that appeared to be lost in time. The end of this walk felt like a hard slog; I was hungry and the sky had clouded over. Onwards to Amble where fish and chips, plus half an hour in a craft shop, helped.
6. Back down the motorway to Alnwick today, begun with a three mile walk designed to tire out the dogs before approaching the shops.
Initially I liked to think the first couple of pics taken have something of an ethereal quality, but it turned out to just be a smudge on my lens.
Even without the smear, Alnwick and its surroundings are incredibly picturesque.
In town, the obligatory first stop was a book shop, housed in the old railway station. Stunning. Plus it was dog-friendly!
After a wee wander around town, and a windswept lunch in the market square, it was back to the van with a brief detour around this pretty churchyard.
7. Last day! For the first time in a week, it rained, rendering dog walks implausible until after 3pm. Though the forecast was rubbish, by mid afternoon the rain had subsided so we headed back down to Bamburgh, for a final seaside stroll. The beach was even quieter than other days, meaning the dogs could spend most of the time off the lead, chasing along.
In a nutshell, or more topically a seashell, that was my week! A completely a-typical Sunday Sevens, so please be sure to visit Nat at Threads and Bobbins to see how it’s really done.
I’ll admit to having fallen a little bit in love with this part of the UK. It’s beauty is natural and understated. The towns are welcoming and unpretentious. The weather has been stunning and the coastline dramatic. What more could I want?Northumberland, I’ll see you soon.