North Northumbrian coast
Sunday September 19th
We said goodbye to Jenny and Thomas, packed everything into our shiny
silver Rover, and off we set. We filled up with petrol - 43 pounds!
- in a small village (Red Row). The man who served me had a strong
accent, but when he turned to the next customer, who was a local, he
became almost incomprehensible.
Our first major stop was at the ruins of Warkworth castle, which is
not big but has a well-preserved keep. Since we were lucky enough
to be there on a day when it was open, we also went to visit a nearby
rock-cut hermitage: after a pleasant walk along the River Coquet, the
guide ferries you across in a small boat. The hermitage is only small,
but fascinating - and there are impressive lines cut in the stone marking
the highest levels of flood years.
We had lunch in Alnwick. We didn't visit the castle there, just looked
at it from across the river, but we did go to the famous Barter Books.
This is a huge shop, with cute signs and a model train running around
on tracks laid above the bookshelves.
We stopped in Seahouses, where we had scones, tea, and cheesecake and
watched cormorants, gulls, and ducks on the shore. We were too late
for the cruises to the Farne islands - and we didn't really have time
for one anyway.
At Lindisfarne the tide was high and still coming in, so we couldn't cross
to the Holy Island itself. And we were discouraged from walking along
the shore by a barrage of warnings about tides, unexploded ordnance,
quicksand, and wildfowling. An array of large concrete blocks could
have been old shore defenses, or obstacles to stop people driving onto
the tidal flats.
We stopped in Berwick-on-Tweed for a quick look around the ramparts and
the Tweed mouth, then sped on to Edinburgh, with the only break a drive
through the car park at Torness power station.
Next: a day in Edinburgh
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