We had a relaxed start to the morning in Hawick before setting off on what would be a long journey home. As with yesterday, we didn't necessarily want to travel by the most direct route, and instead had planned what we hoped would be a scenic diversion.
Our diversion meant that, when we left Hawick, rather than driving south we actually drove slightly northeast toward the Northumbrian coast. In total it was a journey of around 50 miles on small roads, but it was extremely scenic as we travelled around the edge of the Northumberland National Park. Our destination was the small village of Bamburgh, which is famous for its historic castle. We knew we were getting close when we saw this view on the horizon.
What we hadn't realised was that Bamburgh was an incredibly popular tourist destination. Having driven for miles through Northumbria hardly encountering a single soul, it was a surprise to arrive in Bamburgh and find it packed to bursting. It was so busy that, after several attempts at driving around the castle car park in search of a space, we decided to give up and see whether the Sat Nav could direct us to another car park.
The Sat Nav identified that there was another car park about 2 miles away, so we decided to give that a go. We found it without any difficulty, but it turned out to be located on the edge of the Lindesfarne Nature Reserve and it would have been a difficult walk back into the village along a main road. We got out of the car to take a brief look at the view, before jumping back in and driving back towards Bamburgh.
On our second attempt in Bamburgh we got lucky and Tim managed to find an empty space along the main road. We parked and got out for a stroll.
The village itself is extremely pretty.
The church of St Aidan's was originally built here in 635, although the present church dates from the 12th century.
But the most impressive thing about Bamburgh is definitely the castle.
A Celtic fort was originally built here in the fifth century, coming under the control of the Anglo-Saxons in 590.
At this point the settlement was known as Bebbanburg rather than Bamburgh.
The fortress was ultimately conquered and destroyed by the Vikings, but the Normans later built a castle on the same site and the origins of the present day castle stem from that time.
Earlier this year we'd been watching a DVD of 'The Last Kingdom' about the Saxon Uhtred from Bebbanburg, so that made visiting Bamburgh particularly exciting
It would have cost £11.85 each to go into the castle, so we decided not to do it today. It looks like an enormous site and it would have been a rush to get around everything quickly before continuing our long journey south. But it was possible to stroll around the green underneath the castle and walk up to the entrance walls for free.
As we climbed up the slope towards the castle, we had a good view out across Bamburgh. A game of cricket was being played in the middle of the village green.
Soon we arrived at the castle entrance.
From here we had a great view out to sea
We could see out towards what I assume were the Farne islands.
It was a really lovely place
We were able to get a little way inside the castle courtyard...
...where there was a display of the life of the castle through the ages.
That was all we could see for free, so we headed back downhill again.
Hopefully we'll be back in this part of the world again some day and have time to go inside properly
There was just time for a final stroll around the green...
...before we needed to head back through the village to the car.
From there we had 247 miles to drive to get back home. We probably added a few on to that by following a signposted scenic route which took us around some more of the Northumbrian coastline, but it was well worth doing
Overall we've had a really great holiday, despite the fact that it wasn't quite what we had originally planned for this week in August. My rough calculation is that we've driven around 1,500 miles and walked approximately 144,000 steps, so it's definitely been a busy week The accommodation hasn't been quite as cheap as it would have been in Latvia, but the views at places like Glen Coe and Bridge of Orchy have more than made up for it!