We enjoyed our trip to Northumberland for the first May bank holiday so much that we were keen to return to the same part of the world for the second bank holiday. The only problem was that we hadn't booked anything in advance, and the second May bank holiday falls during school half terms, meaning there is a lot of demand for accommodation. When we started searching on booking.com at the start of this month, we couldn't find anything suitable available in Northumberland at all, just a handful of apartments which felt more like they were on the outskirts of Newcastle. That was disappointing, until we hit upon the idea of looking for accommodation just across the border in Scotland too. That turned out to be more successful, and we ultimately managed to book an apartment in Hawick, the small town in the Scottish borders where we first stayed last August.
Driving from Nuneaton to Hawick is quite a trek (258 miles), so we wanted to make a stop en route. Last time we were in Northumberland we had looked into visiting a place called Hamsterley Forest in Durham. We didn't manage to fit it in in the end, because it was raining so much on our final day that we just had to drive straight home, so today felt like a good opportunity to make amends.
We left home around 10.30 and it was some time after 2pm when we finally made it to the vicinity of the forest. It turned out to be quite a confusing place to arrive at for the first time, with numerous signs to different car parks in all directions. We eventually parked in a small car park which felt like it was in the middle of nowhere and found a picnic bench to eat our lunch.
Once we'd had some food we set out to explore and soon found ourselves on a riverside path.
Much to our surprise, this turned out to be a Gruffalo-themed trail.
As we walked along we found several sculptures of characters from the book. First of all we found the owl...
...and then the snake.
The view on the opposite side of the path was really pretty too, as we passed a field covered in bright yellow flowers.
Having walked along this path for a mile or so, we came to the forest's visitor centre and main car park (where we probably should have parked!). There was a cafe here so we stopped to get a coffee and I had a slice of the most amazing chocolate orange cake, which tasted just like a jaffa cake!
From there we retraced our steps back along the Gruffalo trail...
...and found that the path actually continued, higher, on the opposite side of the road from where we had parked. As we walked on this side, we had a beautiful view of the forest.
We also found more Gruffalo sculptures. There was a squirrel...
...and my absolute favourite, the mouse
The drive from the forest to Hawick was another two hours or so, so we needed to make our way back to the car. We arrived some time after 6pm and found the apartment we'd booked without any problems. It was self check-in, which definitely makes life easier.
Considering it was one of the few available places left on booking.com, it really is a nice apartment. We've got a spacious living room...
...a small kitchen...
...and a bedroom with some rather startling cushions!
It's really centrally located in Hawick too, so as soon as we step out of the door we have this view of the town hall
All we've had time to do this evening is get some food in Hawick, but we're looking forward to exploring the local area on both sides of the border over the coming days