One of the benefits of living in the UK is that wherever you are you're never really that far from the coastline, and what beautiful coastlines we have!
Sometimes on a hot sunny day you just need to pack up your car and take yourself off to the beach - and so last weekend that is exactly what I did. James, Puggy and I decided to take a trip down to one of my favourite beaches - Bamburgh on the Northumberland coastline. It's really just a hop, skip and a jump away from where I live in the Scottish Borders and I have lots of happy childhood memories spent exploring it's golden sands there, and at the nearby Coldingham Bay.
What makes Bamburgh special and a particular favourite to me isn't just the expanse of soft white sand and top notch ice creams on offer, but there also happens to be a fuck-off-great-whopping-medieval castle overlooking the whole beach. I'm a huge history fan (my Dad was a History teacher - it's in the blood) and I love nothing more than to stretch out on the sands admiring it, reading about its history and imagining invaders storming the shoreline and trying to take the castle. Bamburgh Castle is well over 2,000 years old with small settlements being built on the land long before the stone fortress that stands today was even constructed. It is a formidable building with strong stone walls built atop cliffs and continues to be a defining piece of the surrounding landscape. Traditionally it was the seat and capital of the Kings of Northumbria, although it now belongs to the relatives of the industrialist Lord Armstrong, who helped preserve and restore the castle at great expense.
Funnily enough - although I've been to the beach lots, I don't think I've ever ventured inside the actual castle. Perhaps this is something I can rectify on my next trip as I also need to visit the nearby Holy Island of Lindisfarne. I think the North East coast is definitely very overlooked as a place to visit as the whole region is absolutely steeped in history. Just down the road you have Alnwick Castle (I actually have been inside this one! Several times! And also to it's beautiful gardens and quirky treehouse cafe!) the historic seat of the Percy family and film location for Harry Potter, and if you continue up the A1 you find yourself in the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. You can also easily drive along Hadrian's Wall and spend a day exploring the centre at Vindolanda, one of the UK's, and indeed Europe's best Roman archaeological sites. Really there is so much to do and see that I'm going to plan more trips where I can revisit all these amazing places that I used to frequent in my childhood. I've not been to many of these places in years and I swear I used to beg my Dad to take me to Vindolanda every single weekend (although he wasn't complaining. I have photos of him trying on the full Roman soldier gear in the centre. I could barely manage the helmet!)
However until then you can take a look at the pics from our beach trip. Perhaps it'll encourage you to pay a visit to the wonderful sites of Northumbria! It ain't so grim up North after all!
ps - Do visit these wonderful websites for further information or help planning your trip, and if you do go then tweet me some holiday snaps!