We’d forgotten just how much we love road trips. Seeing so many new places and forever stopping just to take in a view or to walk around a castle or wander along a beach. Oh, and having a car all to ourselves for a while is fantastic. It may be normal to millions of others but we really enjoy having our own vehicle for a few days. Feels like luxury.
Berwick upon Tweed
Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worse and a colder, misty day welcomed us as we left Mordington near Berwick for our trip south to the Yorkshire town of Hexham through the Northumberland National Park. First things first though, breakfast.
We were staying in the Old School House and just look where we had breakfast! The library. Probably the poshest room we have ever eaten in and absolutely crammed from floor to ceiling with bookshelves and books on modern history. I could have stayed in there for days but we had to be off on day three of our North East Road Trip. A delicious fry up cooked by the eccentric host (ask us about him if you see us in person) which we shared with an odd fella who was trying to do the Three Peaks Challenge but was looking in a bad way. No boots, no hiking gear, just jeans and trainers! No wonder he had blisters.
Our plan was to drive down through the Northumberland National Park to Bellingham and stop off to do the Hareshaw Linn walk up the valley. Although cloudy it was a lovely morning and our walk through the ferns and across the five bridges of Hareshaw took us right up to the waterfall. At an hour each way it was a fabulous excursion.
A healthy packed lunch enroute and we were soon back in the car on our way to one of Britains most incredible places.
Not far from Bellingham, at Haydon Bridge, is the Housesteads Roman Fort built on Hadrians Wall. If you’ve never heard of it, the wall was built by the Roman emperor Hadrian in AD122. It ran right across England from the River Tyne on the North Sea across to Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. It was 73 miles long and had forts and castles positioned every few miles.
A common misconception is that it was the border between England and Scotland, that was never the case and the wall has always been completely in England. The Housesteads Roman Fort is a ruin now but sits on one of the best preserved sections of the wall. So a stop was obviously in order but being the frugal JWalkers that we are we bypassed the Visitors Centre and the entrance fee and wandered up on the public footpath. Easy. Fascinating to walk around the ruins and even along the wall and just imagine what it was like and try and comprehend that it’s been standing there for nearly 2000 years.
Hexham and the Forum
Overnight was booked in the Station Inn in Hexham, an old railway pub just on the edge of town. A quick wander around the town before deciding to spoil ourselves and eat out for a change. The Forum ticked all the boxes as it was an old cinema converted into a pub, very cool indeed.
Deteriorating weather meant our next day began in heavy rain which unfortunately continued pretty much all the way through. After a little shopping therapy in Hexham and a quick visit to the Abbey we set off again through the North Pennines Area of Natural Beauty and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Crossing through Stanhope and Blanchard we weaved along picturesque Yorkshire stone-walled roads with beautiful view all around. The only issue was that we couldn’t see hardly any of it. Heavy rain and low cloud. A real shame but it didn’t stop us loving the drive and enjoying the day.
A coffee stop at the Blueberry Cafe in Alston and a potentially scenic drive to Melmerby before arriving in Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales. Our next nights accommodation was at the delightful Ivy Cottage on the main village green. A lovely Bed and Breakfast with a gorgeous outlook and a comfy bed. Perfect.
It’s a Small World After All
Bizarrely, when we were working in Scotland back in May cleaning lodges in Aberfeldy I got talking to some of the guests who happened to be from Yorkshire. One particularly ‘chatty‘ guy told me all about his county, his town, and everything that was great about Yorkshire and he happened to be from Reeth. As I popped out to go for a quick walk from Ivy Cottage I turned the corner and ran straight into him! Unbelievable. He knew he knew me but couldn’t place where from. As the cogs started turning and he stared harder and harder I decided to make a dash for it. The old ‘I think my phone has just gone off‘ ruse came into play and I turned away starting a fake conversation with Bob (first name that came to mind – I don’t know a single person called Bob). As I walked off I caught him still staring and weirdly starting to count on his fingers! A close call I think.
Thursday saw us visit Richmond on our way across the North York Moors National Park to Danby and the Moors National Park Centre. I think if the weather had been better we may have explored and walked more but it was still pouring so we cracked on towards the east coast. Passing through beautiful villages like Lealholm, Egton and Sleights we arrived in Whitby for a quick drive-thru before stopping at the wet and windy Robin Hood’s Bay.
Final stop: Scarborough
Jo had always wanted to visit Scarborough so we’d added it in as our final nights stay on this North East Road Trip. With the rain stopping thankfully we checked into Robyns Guest House and set off to explore Yorkshire’s biggest coastal town. Apparently the locals are known as Scarborians, which I thought sounded like a race of aliens from Dr Who, but everyone seemed very welcoming to a couple of vagabonds with soft southern accents.
As a proper end to our road trip we decided to feast on Fish’n Chips before heading back to the lodge. You can’t beat the fish’n chips on the east coast of England, best in the world easily. So it was a great way to finish a great week and as we travelled back to York the following day our minds were made up on a couple of things.
Our North East Road Trip, which I should really have referred to as NERT, was always intended as a bit of a taster as neither of us had been to this part of the country before. We just wanted to see what it was like and check out whether we wanted to return and see more. Even with the weather conditions our minds were made up and we would definitely be back! The whole trip was a complete success although it left us wanting to explore Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire so much more. Another road trip maybe?
11/06 – 14/06/2019