My Absolute Favorite Castle, Alnwick

After touring Edinburgh Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle, Durham Castle and Alnwick Castle in North England and Southern Scotland, my favorite one (hands down) was Alnwick Castle in England. All of them are interesting and worth a visit, and there are even more to see in the region — Stirling, Duane and more. I’ll tell you why I enjoyed Alnwick Castle the best.

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In addition to architectural beauty, Alnwick Castle offers multiple fascinating tours, which bring the castle to life.

Upon arrival on the castle grounds, I quickly joined the film tour where I heard fascinating details of the filming of Downton Abbey (Christmas scenes) and Harry Potter. Those are the recent ones, but other films include Mary Queen of Scots with Vanessa Redgrave, Elizabeth I, Robin Hood with Kevin Costner, and Hollowed Crown.

Soon after, I joined the History Tour where the guide explained which parts of the castle were built at what time, and the purpose of each. After the Norman Invasion of 1066, the English built huge stone castles. A substantial stone castle was built here in 1133. This castle was never taken by force.

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A restored section of the outer castle wall at Alnwick Castle. The grassy area is called the Bailey, and it would have had buildings on it in medieval times.

Next, I joined the tour of the castle interior where the Percy family has lived for the past 700 years. The interior was updated in 1750 and again in 1850.  Current residents are the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who life here five months of the year, starting in October.  The public may only tour Alnwick when the Duke and Duchess are not in residence, in the summer months. (No photos allowed of the inside). I took copious notes throughout each tour, just so I could remember the information.

About 5 pm, I was still feeling curious and walked down to the gardens, just in time to join the last tour of the day, the Poison Garden.  The fenced in section contains numerous poison plants, and the guide shared even more fascinating stories.

With no break for lunch, I was hungry, and luckily was able to buy fish and chips near the garden around 6pm. What a full day!

Gateshead Millennium Bridge — Wow!

Pittsburgh PA, you have met your match. Newcastle, England, like you, is a city of bridges and a former coal and steel center making a successful transformation into a technology center with an entrepreneurial spirit.

This innovative pivoting pedestrian bridge is a great symbol of the new Newcastle. Admire the Gateshead Millennium Bridge connecting pedestrians on the wharfs of sister cities Newcastle and Gateshead. These are two university towns with an abundance of pubs, many of them taking full advantage of the riverside waterfront.

#bridge, #Newcastle, #gateshead, #millenium, #pivot, #pedestrian, #transformation, #entrepreneurial, #university, #pubs, #travel
Gateshead Millennium Bridge on a summer day connects the wharfs in sister cities Newcastle and Gateshead, England.

The pedestrian bridge closes to foot traffic and pivots, lowering the high arch and raising the lower arch when a large vessel needs to pass through. Have you ever seen a bridge like this?

Walking Durham

I spent the day exploring Durham, England. I caught the train from Newcastle, and walked into town, finding the central square and market. Strolling up the road, I took some photos of lovely storefronts and stopped into a few shops. (I should have titled this piece “Shopping Durham,” as my “shopping” blog posts are the most popular!)

I explored the beautiful Castle and Cathedral – more on those in the next few blog posts! One of the outdoor cafe tables at Cafe on the Green, between the Castle and the Cathedral called my name. My guidebook and journal kept me company during lunch. Then, I had the good instinct to cross the River Wear and walk along the far side, looking up at the town and the Cathedral in its summer greenery. Why? I realized that the Cathedral facade would be lit by the afternoon sun.

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This opening in the maple tree provided a natural vignette of Durham Cathedral.

I was even able to position myself just right so the construction cloth over the tower that is under restoration was blocked by the leaves. It was a beautiful and peaceful afternoon, part of an unusually sunny summer of 2018.

Restoration of Lindisfarne Castle

There are times when we travel across the globe only to be hugely disappointed that the monument of our dreams is covered in scaffolding. The U. S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.? The Trevi Fountain in Rome? Well, this time it was Lindisfarne Castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in England. I had admired photos of Lindisfarne Castle online with brilliant colors of sunrise or sunset and high tide surrounding the sky high castle. I had even bought a book on photography in the region.

Fortunately, the castle was reopened to the public on April 1, and I was able to walk the interior. A local shopkeeper told me the scaffolding is much less intrusive than it has been. This old castle gets quite a bit of wind and rain damage from its perch right on the North Sea.

#scaffolding, #fence, #restoration, #castle, #lindisfarne
My views were restricted and obstructed by construction fences, so I hope to return another time.

With a footnote that the above true photo was altered in Photoshop, here is my edited image. It helps us to imagine the site without scaffolding. The timing of my visit was 3pm.

#castle, #photoshopped, #imaginethis, #lindisfarne, #pastoral, #landscape #england
With scaffolding and fencing removed in Photoshop, the top of the castle is missing, but the scene regains its pastoral beauty.

 

 

Hiking the Holy Island

Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, is isolated from the mainland by the tides for five hours a day, but can be visited during low tide. Most visitors flock to the 16 century castle, which is normally quite picturesque, but is now shrouded in scaffolding as part of its restoration. I found the hike to the castle quite beautiful, along the border of this sheep farm.

#stonefence, #fields, #lindisfarne, #holyisland, #hike, #lowtide, #northumbira, #northumblerland, #england, #travel, #travelphotography, #sony
This stone fence led the way to the 16 century castle on Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, in Northumbria, England.

Saints Aidan and Cuthbert, both living in the first century, spent time on this island. Saint Aiden was an Irish missionary who founded a monastery here, and St. Cuthbert was a monk who lived as a hermit on Inner Farne and later became bishop of Lindisfarne. (Source: Eyewitness Travel, Great Britain.)