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davidx Warkworth - A travel report by David
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Warkworth,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Warkworth and other Northumbrian gems.

  13 votes
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Many, including English, people think Newcastle is near the border. However there are 30 miles [48km] between Newcastle and Berwick. That’s room for a good few gems. Here are some.

There is a Northumberland National Park [www.northumberlan d-national-pa de/default.htm] but I have not given it much regard in choosing which places to mention. The choice must be regarded as personal whim because Northumberland has so much and is so little known, even in the UK. To summarise, among its appeals are coast with unspoilt beaches, fine castles, [lived in and ruined], the Cheviot Hills, the largest reservoir [by far] in the UK, a large part of Hadrian’s Wall and even a unique wild animal. Let’s start with Warkworth. Whereas the mediaeval plan of the village is interesting, you will be concentrating on that almost unbelievable castle on the hill dominating the place. It really is one of England’s almost unsung gems, appealing to children and adults alike. les/castle_Warkworth-.htm This is one of my two personal favourites among Northumbrian castles, the other being Bamburgh. Bamburgh is still lived in and used for functions but you can visit [entrance charge] and have a guided tour around the splendid rooms. Have a look, at c-public-rooms.htm There are three more to mention yet. The grandest, one of England’s most historic, is Alnwick Castle, home of the Percy family. Shakespeare lovers will immediately flash their minds to Henry IV part 1. Only this century have the gardens been open to the public as well as the house. Berwick Castle, on the other hand, is a ruin and open free at any time. In the Middle Ages this was continually fought over by England and Scotland, some of the history being pretty gruesome. You may or may not realise that, although Berwick is in England, the County of Berwickshire is part of the Borders Region of Scotland. The last is made special by its position and will appear below.

Favourite spots:
What about the unique wild animal, then? I kid you not; it’s a cow; not, of course, an Aberdeen Angus, a Guernsey or a Friesian but a very special white cow, descended from the original white wild cattle, which used to roam freely. The present herd is not allowed to roam, being corralled in a large estate belonging to the Grey family from the 12th century. Even so they are wild and dangerous and admission is only allowed with the keeper. Other than supplementary feeding in winter no attention is given to the animals and they never see a vet. Only the prime bull gets to mate – with all the females. Consequently he is regularly challenged for the position. This ensures that only the genes of the strongest are passed down. There used to be hunts occasionally but the last person to shoot one was the Queen’s great-grandfather, King Edward VII. You don’t believe me? See illingham.htm [completed below]

What's really great:
I don’t remember visiting the castle when I went to see the cattle at Chillingham – perhaps it wasn’t open back then. It certainly looks good on www.chillingham-cas I do remember the amazing tombs of a crusading Grey and his wife in the church and it would be a pity to miss seeing them. The last castle from above is that of Lindisfarne [or Holy Island]. It was built as a Tudor fort and converted into a house in the early 20th century. It’s worth a visit, provided you go without expecting a castle as such. However there is much more appeal to the island than this. It’s a semi-island by virtue of a causeway – but this is closed for several hours around every high tide. Lindisfarne was the first centre of Christianity in England [Celtic style]. The remains of the Priory are in the hands of English Heritage. fault.asp?wci=mainfr-ame&URL1=de fault.asp%3FWCI%3DNo-de%2 6WCE%3D107

Hadrian’s Wall is a sight worth seeing. Within the last couple of years the whole length has become one of our long distance walks. Just for variety here’s a good site from the neighbouring County of Cumberland, which contains the western part of the wall:
Some basic facts: The wall stretched from Wallsend in Northumberland to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria and then down to Ravenglass by the coast. The length of the non-coastal stretch is a bit over 70 miles. Every 7 miles was a major fort [such as Housesteads or Vinoland]. There was a Milecastle [more minor fort] at one mile intervals [surprise!] and between each pair of milecastles, two equally spaced turrets.
No wonder it took six years to build as it was 15 feet high with 6 foot battlements [about 5 and 2 m] it started 2m wide, though this was cut to something less than 1.5m but there was also a large ditch on each side, at least two mounds and a rad for the whole length of the wall!

I’ve only stayed at the caravan site in Warkworth and a Youth Hostel that seems no longer to exist.

Other recommendations:
Now to somewhere unknown to most; the area covered by , which covers Ford, Etal, Milfield and Heatherslaw.
Heatherslaw is the site of a restored water mill, producing and selling flour and, to keep the children happy at considerable expense to their parents, a light railway.
I haven’t been to Milfield with its henge. I’ve only seen Etal castle from the outside. The place I really want to commend is Ford, in particular the Lady Waterford Hall. In my view this justifies a considerable trip. Louisa, Lady Waterford, was a talented pre-Raphaelite painter. She was also a considerable philanthropist and after the death of her husband in 1859, she transformed the village and turned the old school into a memorial to him, doing her paintings over 22 years. She used to draw the faces of biblical characters from local people, brought into the castle to pose.

I’ve yet to see the Farne Islands but they call loudly:

Published on Thursday March 10th, 2005

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Thu, Mar 10 2005 - 01:02 PM rating by magsalex

A nice report on an under appreciated and beautiful part of the UK. Alnwick Castle was used in the first Harry Potter film if my memory serves me right!

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