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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.

Warkworth castle keep
swans on the River Coquet
rock-cut chapel (5s)

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.

Barter Books, Alnwick
Bamburgh castle, above a stark coast
hay bales

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.

Lindisfarne causeway
not just tides: explosives, quicksand, and wildfowling as well!

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.

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