I love to travel like many people, I feel passionate about sharing my travels and stories with people hence why I originally set up this blog! However when I am in the UK between travelling I like to explore, we have much to offer tourists in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Being from the North East of England myself, I feel there is an abundance of great places of interest right on my doorstep. This is the reason for writing this very post, I want to highlight this area of England to all my readers, my hometown. I have recently joined the English Heritage as a member, so now I can explore all of my region and rest of the UK’ Castles, Halls, Ruins, Gardens and many more areas of interest for free or a reduced rate. The idea thrills me, why not take a look for yourself at the membership English Heritage
I decided to call this blog ‘Hometown ‘Heritage’ as I am from Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North East of England and aside from the obvious attractions in Newcastle city centre which I have previously written about, there is a wealth of places of interest and local history in the Northumberland countryside and on its coastline. This week I have been visiting some of these places, including Warkworth Castle, Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman Fort ‘Housesteads’ and Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens.
Warkworth Castle is located in Warkworth town, in Northumberland. The Castle and town are set by the River Coquet and in walking distance of the north east coast. The date of when the castle was actually founded is unknown, it is thought that the construction was down to Prince Henry of Scotland in the 12 th century and King Henry the II took care of it’s building when he took control of England’s northern counties. The Percy family, Earls of Northumberland, are attributed for giving Warkworth Castle’ it’s greatest glory, as they held high power in the North during the middle ages and their family badge proudly resides on the Great Tower. Which is the castle’s “most distinctive feature”. It was refurbished in the late 19 th century and since 1984 English Heritage has took over it’s care, as it is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The setting of Warkworth Castle is breathtaking, it stands bold and strong. Compared to other castle’s it remains fairly complete. It is a joy to explore and imagine life back then, as you walk through each room and level. I especially liked the hand held tour guide, a device like a phone that talked you through each area of the castle and it’s grounds. Telling you stories about ‘Harry Hotspur’ plus information about what was happening at the time and the goings on in the castle. The views of the scenic Northumberland countryside were picture perfect from inside the tower and the beautiful spring sunshine added to the magnificence. After I toured the Great Tower and came back down into the grounds I sat and marvelled at the site before me, whilst enjoying a coffee. It made me proud of what our region has to offer tourists.
There is also a Hermitage to visit up the river by boat, which is a religious building carved into the rock. It was known to be the Earl of Northumberland’s private chapel. I couldn’t visit on the day I was there as it is only open on certain days, I will however return another time to the Hermitage.
For anyone interested in history, exploring or a great day out, then head here and you won’t be disappointed at all. Warkworth town is a short walk from the castle and offers lovely places for afternoon tea or lunch. I dined at Bertrams in the outdoor terrace, lovely food and service. Afterwards I walked to the medieval bridge and up the hill to the coast, where I had a walk along Warkworth beach. Perfect day.
Opening times & Prices
10am-6pm April to September
10am-4pm November to March
Closed 24-26 December & 1 January
Family (2 Adults & 3 Children) £16.10
Overseas passes are available to buy online
April to June 11am-4pm Sun,Mon & Bank Hols
July – August 11am-4pm Fri to Mon
September – October 11am-4pm Sun-Mon
November to March CLOSED
Family £11.20 (2 Adults & 3 Children)
Joint tickets for both are available too!
To me the North East’s history is personified by Hadrian’s Wall. This is my first visit back to the area since I was a child, on the school trip. Again the weather was on my side, a sunny yet breezy day perfect for a walk along the wall and a tour of Housesteads Roman Fort. There is so much to stop at and explore along Hadrian’s Wall, as the wall itself is 73 miles long. I decided to pick a couple of these stops and return to explore the others at another point. If you were visiting the area or on a holiday in the North East you could easily spend a few days up here.
Hadrian’s Wall is a Unesco World Heritage Site and a National Trail, take care to sticking to the signed paths and visit the organised paying sites along the route.
Housesteads is set on a hilltop called Whin Sill escarpment with amazing views of the countryside and long stretches of the wall. It is the most complete Roman Fort in Britain. You are free to explore the large amount of remains, for example the ‘famous’ Roman Toilets and learn more about the story of the fort and the people in the interactive museum exhibit, including a video room showing a short film. The Romans were in this area from 100 AD to 400 AD. Housesteads was one of 16 permanent forts supporting Hadrian’s “frontier system” and was known as Vercovicium. It is a must visit in my opinion for young and old, there is always something new to learn and is an enjoyable walk there and back to the car.
Opening Times & Prices
April to September 10am-6pm
November to March 10am-4pm
Closed 24,25,26 December
Family £19.50 (2 Adults & 3 Children)
Overseas passes available online
This temple is not far in the car from Housesteads and is free to enter. Make sure you have good footwear on as its rather muddy in parts. Mithras Temple is a temple to the eastern sun god Mithras, it was founded in the 3rd century and was desecrated by the Christians it is thought, nearby there was a shrine of the water nymph Coventina but it is no longer visible. The Temple is also known as Brocolitia. This is a great place to see and visit, a short walk from the car park down to the temple. Enjoy!
Belsay Hall has so much on offer to the visitor, the obvious being the famous Belsay Hall, it’s own castle and the amazing gardens. Believe it or not growing up not too far from here I have never visited Belsay Hall before, my goodness was I in for a treat. With now being a member of English Heritage it was free for me to visit and enjoy my afternoon perusing the lovely grounds of Belsay. After parking up, I went to the shop to ask where I should begin, I was met by lovely welcoming staff who pointed me in the right direction. Firstly I toured the Hall, then the front gardens and croquet lawns afterwards continuing to the Quarry gardens and lastly to the castle in which I went right to the top. This was the route offered to me by the staff, but feel free to explore and see in any which way you want too! I bought a guide book this time, I don’t always and it was a massive help in the gardens as they are a good size, 20 acres in total…
This magnificent estate was the creation of the Middleton Family “over more than seven centuries”. Belsay Castle was built in the times of Anglo-Scottish warfare and was built in order to impress, with it’s huge 14th century ‘Pele tower’. The origins of the estate date back to 1807 and Sir Charles Monck (previously Middleton) who designed Belsay Hall, it is Classical Greek Revival Villa that was inspired by Monck’ honeymoon in Athens. Looking at the buildings he had seen and a love for Ancient Greece, this design was born. The gardens are a real treat, again Sir Charles was inspired to create the ‘Quarry Garden’ from the idea of Sicilian quarries, the ravines and sheer rock face. His grandson then took this further, Sir Arthur Middleton, from being a pioneering plantsman, he brought exotic species into the garden from all over the world and added new features such as the winter garden. The gardens are my favourite part of the estate especially the Quarry Garden, as in parts it reminds me of the Botanical Gardens in Kandy, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world. You could spend ages in the gardens alone, I will be back to see the changes throughout the year. As depending on the months certain plants and flowers bloom. So if you want a change from the norm come and visit Belsay!
There is also a tearoom which is in the original kitchens. To enjoy a scone and a cup of tea!
Opening Hours & Prices
April to September 10am-6pm
November to March 10am-4pm
CLOSED December 24-26 and 1 Jan
Family £22.80 (2 Adults & 3 Children)
I have thoroughly enjoyed my explorations this last week into parts of Northumberland I haven’t seen in years, taking a trip down memory lane as they say! And seeing places for the first time that are on my doorstep, it’s refreshing to say that the North East of England has much to offer people visiting from other parts of the UK or around the world. I am proud of my ‘Hometown Heritage’ and will be exploring locally a lot more.
Any questions or help feel free to ask me firstname.lastname@example.org