Time to see a couple of different areas of the north of England. We've made the trip to Scotland numerous times but only via the main motorways and never really deviated.
The Northumberland Coastline, that friends described as a well kept secret, is wild, unspoilt and quite dramatic in places.
One of our first stops was Holy Island with the Lindisfarne Priory, sadly crossing times didn't allow us to get there.
View of castle from the Bamburgh
Out of the quiet little village of Bamburgh this amazing castle appears. It stands in all its glory right on the coastline, coming out of the rocks as if guarding the territory, which of course it probably was.
The wide sandy beach beneath it stretches for miles - a magical site. Perhaps not the kind of beach you'd find a lot of bikini clad sunbathers, but just the type of beach you feel like walking the dog, running, playing french cricket and building sandcastles on. Even miles of sand hills are crisscrossed with great walking tracks.
As you head further south to Craster, Seahouses and the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle you can imagine the bloody battles that have taken place along this rugged coastline.
River Wear - Durham
Another less talked about city in the north of England is Durham just south of New Castle. It sits on the River Wear, which meanders through the city in such a way to form a peninsula. From the bridges you can admire this wonderful fast flowing river with steep riverbanks which are densely wooded.
The old Norman Cathedral dominates the skyline and is quite spectacular and nearby is 11th century Castle which has been home to the College Uni since 1832 .
Durham Cathedral peeking over the trees
The town was a lovely find with its cobbled streets, stylish boutiques and quirky craft shops all mingled alongside the big name brand stores. A busy market place today that was bustling with people, lively sounds, some great looking food, and delicious smells.
Food market Durham
The University of Durham claims to be England's third oldest after Oxford and Cambridge, although I gather this is debatable. But the city certainly has that lovely University town buzz to it. The grounds up near the Cathedral are littered with students and tourists wanting to enjoy a bit of grass on this spectacular day. They scatter themselves around and give the environment that lovely feeling of a 'lived in' home. Couldn't help but join them for while and enjoy this spot.
How to enjoy a sunny day in Durham
The third of our northern stops was to sneak a quick look into the lake District. Sadly we didn't time this very well, the clear blue skies had arrived,the mercury had risen and the people were out 'on mass'. We stopped in Keswick, a rather gorgeous little market town, replenished the food stores and headed up Derwentwater in search of some good walks and fewer people. We didn't have to go far - found the village of Rosthwaite, our bed for the night, but no one home at the inn. So headed on to Seatoller after getting some advice from a local. From there were loaded the suntan lotion, boots and backpacks on and set off. A rather pushy National Trust rep got a bit snarky as we didn't want to join and then was to be heard laughing about us heading off with no map! Oh well nothing like an adventure, we are Kiwi's remember, and we're not that adverse to listening to directions and following a few criptic marker points.
We wandered through a farmyard, along the river and then up into these glorious hills. Unbelievable countryside (pics don't do it justice at all) - stunning views and the few people we did come across were very willing to help - funnily enough!! The Lake district National Park has over 15 million visitors annually so its no surprise to find it
bursting at the seams in the towns. But there are miles and miles of fabulous tracks and areas that cater for everybody, from those who just want to stroll around the Lakes right through to the more serious climbers.
Wettest part of the England
Stayed the night in a classic Airbnb - Neil the owner was a bit distracted with car and children challenges so his ex wife hoped over the fence, wandered on in to the unlocked house and said 'Help yourselves'!! So we did just that - showered, cups of tea etc . And when he did turn up later we were entertained by his stories. You got to love the attitude and the trust that goes with it. Fun night!