Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Monday 14th March - Lindisfarne Castle & Holy Island

Another promising morning awaited us today. Although it was fairly dull, you could tell that the sun was just itching to break through the clouds and cheer everyone up. The original plan today was to have gone to Cragside near Rothbury, which is a fantastic National Trust property set in beautiful gardens. However, thankfully I checked the website first, only to discover that it is closed on Mondays.

So, we quickly juggled our plans, and instead headed North to Holy Island, or Lindisfarne if you prefer. We took the opportunity to drive on the coastal road as far as possible, which meant that we got to pass through Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh on the way. All three have a special place in our hearts from previous visits up to the area, and the spectacular view of Bamburgh Castle is something's that you could never tire of.

I had also checked the tide tables before we set off. The island is only accessible by driving across a causeway that gets flooded by the sea at high tide, and you have to consult the charts as the times it is safe to cross vary quite dramatically from day to day. Today it was safe to cross from 09:45 until 16:30.

Once there, and parked up, we had a quick chat to the man at the NT van in the car park, who told us that the castle may well be closed for the whole of 2017 for major renovation work. The previous time we visited the island the castle had not yet opened for the season, so it was definitely the right time for us to give it a visit, fate it would seem had taken things by the scruff of the neck.

The castle is about 3/4 of a mile walk from the carpark, which is on the edge of the village. The castle itself sits imposingly on a tall rock, and despite being quite small does look very impressive.

There were plenty of people making the walk up to the castle, although once inside it wasn't as busy as we expected it to be. It seemed very "cozy" inside the castle, which is something we have never felt before with either a castle or an old house. Perhaps because it had been quite windy outside and the thick walls were keeping that at bay it just felt nice and warm inside?

I hadn't  really known what to expect of the inside, but it wasn't quite what we found. It turns out that the run down castle had been discovered by the owner of Country Life magazine many years ago, he had bought it and renovated it to live in. So the furniture and fittings were not as old or medieval as I had expected, and the castle's military history was virtually nowhere to be seen.

Despite this, it was very interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The views from the castle both inland and out to sea are very impressive, and the inviting nature of the rooms almost had us thinking "we could live here", as opposed to the usual thinking of "how the hell did people live here" when wandering around old houses or castles.

The walk to the castle had been up a fairly steep cobbled slope, so the walk back to the village was a lot easier, and the sun had started to really show itself by now, and the day was becoming very pleasant indeed. Back in the village, we needed refreshments and stopped at a cafe that prided itself on its coffee. Of course, we both opted to have tea! Sally went with a slice of carrot cake, and I chose something called Cuthbert cake, which neither of us had come across before.

The carrot cake was lovely, but the Cuthbert cake was amazing. Fruit, nuts and seeds combined together and with a lemon icing to finish it off, it was truly delicious, and quickly had us checking Google for more information. It seemed that "Uncle Google" had also never heard of this awesome cake, and as we were leaving we were going to ask the staff for some information about it. Just as Sally was waiting to ask, I spotted some recipe cards, and one of them was for Cuthbert cake! We bought the recipe and the lady behind the counter said that this was the recipe they constantly sold out of first. Seeing as the others were for cakes that everyone would have already have heard of, I found this unsurprising!

We wandered around the rest of the village and ended up visiting the famous Meade shop and sampled some of their wares. I had been keeping an eye on the time due to the tide, but we left the island in plenty of time, and made our way back South to pass through Bamburgh again, and finally stopped in Seahouses for a bite to eat and a look around the shops. It does seem that everywhere closes ridiculously early around here, and by 4:30 pretty much everywhere was closed. 

Once back at the cottage we settled down to watch some videos for the evening, I struggled to stay awake for all of the time as the sea air makes me feel so tired. That's my excuse anyway! Another successful day came to an end, and finally to bed for a good nights sleep.

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