Part 3 of a June Jaunt. Wales to Northumberland. Heading north to the south of Northumberland!
Leaving Wales we turned north up the M6. We made a lunchstop just off the Motorway at junction 40. Dalmain Mansion is a fascinating stately house near Ullswater, open Sunday to Friday, and HHA members get in free. Starting with 2 Pele towers, built in the 14th Century as defence from the border raiders, or Reivers, the towers were linked with a manorial hall, and later 2 Tudor wings were added, and then a Georgian front and courtyard. The guided tour was really interesting, and a real journey through the ages!
The Chinese room has exquisite handpainted wallpaper from 1757. The paper was made and painted in China, then shipped over in Tea Clippers. The purchaser often had local artists embellish the original paper with symbols and creatures from their own history, thus blending the 2 cultures. Sadly no photos allowed. This was from a card in the shop!
It seemed very appropriate to be here just a day after Paddington Bear was seen during the Jubilee celebrations having tea with Queen Elizabeth. Dalmein is a place Paddington knows well, as it is home to the Annual World Marmalade Championships, which attract hundreds of entrants from all over the world. Finally, the gardens are worth exploring, and are home to their own strain of beautiful Himalayan Blue poppy - Dalmain Meconopsis Grandis.
From here it was a super drive across the A69 and the B6318, along the route of Hadrian's wall, which we had walked last year. From here, just 30 minutes north took us to the very nice C&CC club site at Bellingham. Great facilities and ehu £23.50. The C&CC sites give an over 60's discount which makes a big difference to costs. (Not offered in high summer!)
The scenery is lovely here, and we had 3 objectives for our stay, so an early start was needed! Next morning we drove into Bellingham village and parked easily in the car park for the walk to Hareshaw Linn. The campsite have a really informative leaflet. Return distance is 3 miles, and it is very pretty and well marked. The buildings at the start were an old ironworks, and in this now peaceful scenery, it is hard to imagine that 500 people once worked here. The many grassed mounds you see are the spoil tips from over 70 smelting ovens. Then ancient woodland follows the river up to the waterfall at the top. The walk was used by Victorian sweethearts, and apparently, on special days, picnics were taken up to the top, and musicians would play while everyone danced. The waterfall is not particularly large, but very pretty, although a fallen tree was blocking it slightly. All the way up there was so much bird life. Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch fledglings, and best of all, a pair of spotted flycatcher were nest building at the top. We really recommend this walk.
From here we visited Chipchase Castle, HHA, but only open for a few weeks each year. It featured in the excellent TV series Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing, and has a magical setting above the River Tyne, with fishing and shooting rights. The guided tour was excellent. The house is again based on Pele towers with Tudor and Georgian additions. It contains many wonderful items and artefacts, and we were wondering how they protect them when 'lively' shooting or fishing parties are in residence! Again, no photos inside.
Lastly we visited Wallington, a National Trust property. We knew the house was closed that day, but the huge walled garden is really worth a visit in summer. Finally on to the CAMC club site at River Breamish, our base for 2 nights. A 20 minute drive away is the village of Eglingham, and we had an excellent, and reasonably priced supper at the Tankerton Arms, including their delicious Black pudding bon bons!
This site is right next to Branton Lakes Nature Reserve, and a peaceful early morning walk increased our bird list with the super sight of Goldeneye with chicks. Then, we drove through lovely scenery to Ingram and up the River Breamish valley. At the end of the road, we were lucky to get one of the parking places. The views of the Cheviot hills are stunning here, but we chose to do the fairly strenuous (for us) walk up to the waterfall at Linhope Spout. It was a great walk, but sad. In December 2021 Northumberland was hit hard by storm Arwen and thousands of trees were blown down. We saw whole plantations on the ground, lots of evidence of logging, and the area near the falls was no exception. After the walk, driving back along the river valley, there are lots of pretty, quiet places to stop for a picnic.
From here we drove across to the coast to Hauxley Northumberland Wildlife Trust reserve. It is an excellent place to visit, with lots of hides, and a lovely colony of Tree sparrow. We also saw a Bullfinch, one of my favourites. On our way back to the campsite, we found the excellent M&S food store just outside Alnwick, and so stocked up!
Saturday morning saw us return to Alnwick to meet up with Pam, Paul and Alan. We visited beautiful Alnwick Gardens, and had fun with the water sculptures! The herbaceous borders and roses were a good 2-3 weeks behind gardens further south, so not at their best, but the landscaping, fountains and the poison garden made up for it. Gardeners World 2 for 1 card is accepted here, and English Heritage members gat a discount.
Alnwick itself is a lovely town, and we visited the enormous Barter Bookshop, home to over 300,000 secondhand books, armchairs, fireplaces, and a model railway that runs above your head. Also in town is Hardy's fishing shop. This world renowned maker of rods, tackle and other fishing accessories was founded in the town in 1872 and is still in existence today. Their new shop has an interesting little free museum upstairs. In 1892 they patented the 'Perfect' Reel which outclassed all it's rivals. They also were famed for their hand tied salmon flies, still sold today. They are exquisite.
Prior to World War I, no women were allowed to tie the Salmon flies as it was thought to be unlucky. However now it is acknowledged that women hold the records for many of the largest salmon that have been caught!
From here we drove to the very North of Northumberland to Ford bridge Campsite, our base, with our friends, for the next 6 nights.
Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for episode 4! If you subscribe by leaving your email address, you will automatically get an email when a new blog is posted!