Touring around Northumberland, and Hadrian’s Wall.
A week at the Bellingham Camping & Caravanning Club site in Northumberland. A pleasant and well-kept site, just a few minutes walk away from the village of Bellingham.
Visits to several Roman sites along Hadrian’s Wall, and walks around the National Park. Trips to some local tourist attractions, such as Alnwick Castle.
The heavy rains of the preceding days turned this local village show into a quagmire. Some of the things we saw came straight out of a ‘Father Ted’ script – a tiny old ice cream van being towed in circles around a field of thick mud by a tractor, and some amazing quotes from the commentator’s tent such as “There was a gazebo earlier, but it’s blown away now”, and “In the tent next door, we’ve got a lovely exhibition of spark plugs”. There was a rather quirky exhibition of vintage cars and tractors, and a small collection of trade and charity stalls. The Otterburn Mill across the road has a coffee shop, local history exhibits, and an outdoor clothing shop.
Chesters Roman Fort
The remarkably well preserved remains of a Roman fort, just outside the town of Hexham. The layout of the buildings is still complete, comprising gates, barracks, granaries, the commander’s house, and a bath house.
Housesteads Roman Fort
Another Roman site, this time a little further out from Hexham, and on a short section of Hadrian’s Wall.
Corbridge Roman Town
A large site on the edges of Corbridge. The excellent audio tour added a real depth and interest to this site, which was originally a Roman fort but gradually transformed into a Roman town.
Hareshaw Linn is a walk through ancient woodland to a magical waterfall. The walk starts from a small car park in Bellingham Village, close to the Tourist Information Point at the local heritage centre.
We picked up a leaflet called “Rangers’ Favourite Walks”, which provided a map and easy-to-follow directions for this 3 mile walk, rated as ‘moderate’ and timed at 2 hours. The route follows the gorge uphill, crossing over Hareshaw Burn via a series of wooden bridges, eventually reaching a stunning 30ft waterfall.
Roughly 30 miles away from Bellingham, Alnwick Castle is an excellent day out. As luck would have it, on the day that we visited there was a Hogwarts Special event taking place. Alnwick was used as the location for various scenes in the Harry Potter films, and on our visit we spotted several characters around the castle grounds, including Harry Potter and Hagrid.
Falstone Burn, Forest and ‘Stell’
Another walk from the Rangers’ leaflet, this one rated as moderate, 3 miles, 2 hours 15 mins. Most of the walk is through Forestry Commission land, following the route of Falstone Burn up past some waterfalls. Then a small loop around Falstone village, along the banks of the River North Tyne, past the ‘Stell’ pictured above. A rather quirky modern sculpture, combining dry stone walling, stone sculpture, and modern steel cutting techniques. The walk finishes back in Falstone at the Old School Tea Rooms, which also serves as a National Park information point.
Bellingham campsite is on the edges of Kielder Forest, and just a short drive away from Kielder Water. We visited Lakeside View at the southern end of the Dam; Tower Knowe visitor centre; and Leaplish Waterside Park. The picture was taken at the Elf Kirk viewpoint, not far from Tower Knowe.
The Drake Stone, Harbottle
One final walk from the Rangers’ leaflet, before the end of our holiday. Harbottle was a good 30 minutes drive away, out the other side of Otterburn. The full walk is rated as moderate, 5 miles, 2hours 30 mins. We settled for just the first stage of the walk, up to the Drake Stone and back. The incline and the rocky path made it quite hard work, rather more than ‘moderate’ in my opinion. But once at the Drake Stone, the views over the surrounding countryside were incredible. Harbottle village also has a ruined castle to visit.