Tag Archives: scenic

Alnmouth Beach

28 Feb

Check out the kite skills:

We are pretty spoilt for beaches here in the North East. From the vast expanse of Druridge Bay, to secluded spots like Sugar Sands or the all-action Tynemouth Longsands.

But one of my favourite all-rounders is Alnmouth. Parking practically on the beach almost feels like cheating, and is especially handy when it’s just me and the kids. I can keep nipping back to the car for the kite, ball, blanket, buckets, spades, rug, picnic, change of clothes, and the rest of the paraphernalia you bring to set up camp for the day.

Gazing out across the white sand and sea, you get that desert island feeling – but just a few minutes walk and you are in Alnmouth – with ice cream parlours, pubs, fish and chips and the glamourous but handy toilet facilities!

The walk round to the village takes you past fishing boats and keep going you will come to a lovely play park.

Or walk to the left and there is a great walk along the beach, up over the sand dunes and back to the car park.

Visit Alnmouth

Random fact: not one for the kids perhaps but Alnmouth is home to the UK’s most haunted hotel…

Read about The Schooner Hotel and its resident spirits here

 

 

 

 

Charlotte’s Day Trip to Whitby

27 Dec

Charlotte’s holiday homework is to keep a diary, so she’s been helping me out on the blog this week. We tried to find out some facts I never knew about Whitby, including snakes and monkey puzzle trees…

 

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Whitby facts:

  • A monastery was built in AD657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. It became one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world under the Abbess Hild. She ruled over both men and women in a double monastery called Streaneshalch.
  • It is said that sea birds flying over the ruins of the abbey tip their wings in honour of Hilda while the presence of ammonite fossils on the shore at Whitby is explained as the remains of a plaque of snakes which Hilda turned to stone.
  • Whitby Abbey was the inspiration for a famous scary book called Dracula by Bram Stoker that was written 1897. Lots of people come to Whitby at Halloween.
  • Some people say there are 199 steps, some say 198 and others 200. so they say you have to try and count them for yourself!

 

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Things we want to try next time we go back:

  • Mummy would like a necklace made of Jet

Jet Shop W. Hamond says: Unlike most gemstones, Whitby Jet is actually fossilised wood, similar to our present day Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria Tree, which has been compressed over millions of years.

The colour of Whitby Jet is unique; its blackness is so intense that the expression ‘as black as jet’ has been a commonly used phrase for hundreds of years.

Queen Victoria had a necklace made of Whitby Jet

Read more about it here: Whitby Jet

  • Katherine and I want to bring our buckets and spades and go down to the beach and ride on a donkey in the summer.

Other facts we found out about Whitby:

  • By 1795 Whitby had become a major whaling port. The most successful year was 1814 when eight ships caught 172 whales.
  • The famous explorer Captain Cook learned how to be a sailor in Whitby and his ship the HMS Endeavor that he sailed to Australia and New Zealand was built in Whitby.

Family bouldering at Shaftoe

18 Jul

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Northumberland has so many natural playgrounds. We headed to Shaftoe crags for a family bouldering session.
Great for parents to have a play as well as the kids for a change!

Despite being only a short drive from Newcastle, there is something about the crags of Northumberland that makes me feel I have ventured into another world or far into the past. And the children enjoyed hearing how the rocks have their own names such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Piper’s Chair.

Parking:

From Belsay on the A696, head for Bolam Lake. Go past the lake car park on the right to a crossroads, turn left along an unmetalled road past a row of cottages. Park by the wall on the moor just over the cattle grid.

To the crags:

Follow the wall up the hill until you go through the gate, then turn left and follow the path along the wall that takes you down in amongst the rocks.

Scowling dwarfs and ancient stones: a walk at Simonside

12 Jul

Despite being carted up hills and even the odd mountain since they were bairns in backpacks, mention the word “walk” to my kids (six and four) and the response is something like eurghhharrrgh and “why?”

So I have to get a bit more creative to lure them out to where I want to go and think “will be good for them really.”

And this week my creativity involved some stories about the ancient scowling dwarfs said to roam the hills of Simonside dressed in lambskin and a moss hat – and basically bribery of an amazing picnic once you got to the top…

But the odd whine and whinge from my own “scowling dwarfs” was definitely worth it as wow, there is some view and it is not every day you get to eat your lunch next to rock carvings said to be 4,000 years old.

For anyone not familiar with the history of Simonside, near Rothbury, Countryfile sums it up pretty well here:

“The fell sandstones of the Simonside Hills were deposited from a river delta some 330 million years ago. Weathering

and erosion have led to their dominant aspect, which makes them recognisable throughout the county. Their spiritual significance to the Bronze Age people, 5000 years ago, is evident in the burial tombs and rock carvings that adorn the slopes and summits.”

The main car park, just a few minutes drive from Rothbury, has a map of the  area. We followed the red route  (pictured below)  and it was very well signposted and easy to follow. But a shorter route which may be better for younger children is available here along with lots of extra info about the area.

http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/simonsidefamily-adult-lo.pdf

Points of interest:

Little Church Rock This isolated outcrop of fell sandstone is hidden within the forest. Its name may be a reference to the rock’s use as a gathering place. There is a set of cup marks in the stone on the lower right side of the rock which are thought to be man-made and could be over 4,000 years old.

The Simonside Dwarfs also known as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar are a race of ugly dwarfs. Their leader was said to be known as Roarie. They are said to mostly appear at night, when they prey on lost travellers by showing a light to draw the traveller nearer, and then tricking them into a bog or luring them over the edge of a precipice. Read more about these little critters here:

http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/duergars-of-simonside.html

 

 

 

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Bluebells and stone skimming in Plessey Woods

26 Apr

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Like the blue sky, breaking up through the earth”

The bluebells are just starting to flower in Plessey Woods so I’m going to make sure I head back again next week, as I’ve heard it’s a wonderful sight.
Spotting signs of spring is a popular past time in our house at the moment. “Mummy, mummy, come and look at THIS!! Look NEW LEEEAVES!!!” And our walk to school takes twice as long as they fill their pockets with fallen blossom.

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-img_20150426_175024.jpgI may not get as excited as my four-year-old but I do love spring and those first hints of the summer to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wpid-img_20150426_173400.jpgAnother past time I also never seem to grow out of is stone skimming. There were some crackers down by the river today, dare I even say I think I found the perfect one?! Although I still lost out to the other half in the distance competition.
After much coaching and a few near knock outs (of me as stones came whizzing past my head) Charlotte managed to skim her first stone too, even if just two hops.

Her sister meanwhile looked more like she was auditioning for the highland games and was happier hurling small boulders in to the water, I kept my distance.

 

 

 

 

We then headed home via the play park, which is next to toilets (always handy!) and a small cafe.

There’s a good size car par that is now free too!

Plessey Woods Country Park (Bluebell Woods) is located near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid way between Bedlington and Cramlington and about 5 miles south of Morpeth.

The Park offers 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore. The woodland is home to many birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and tree creeper, as well as animals including red squirrel, roe deer and fox. The banks of the River Blyth are also an important habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers, dippers and otters.

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1892

 

Apparently our beloved bluebells are facing a fight for survival… read more here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/britains-bluebells-now-face-a-fight-for-their-very-survival-10204300.html

 

Other Bluebell Walks:

  • I grew up in Middlesbrough so naturally Roseberry Topping has to be my number one. The walk through Newton Wood to the top is simply stunning  http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/enjoy-outdoors/walking/our-walks/walking-routes/roseberry-topping-and-cooks-monument
  • The National Trust recommends Allen Banks, Northumberland and
  • Dunes behind Embleton Bay, Northumberland
  • Ratcheugh Observatory & Bluebell Walk, Alnwick http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/outdoor-event/ratcheugh-observatory-bluebell-walk
  •  Longacre Wood Hidden between the A1 at the Angel of the North and the main railway line this is Gateshead’s best bluebell wood with three ages of woodland to explore.
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust suggests Goose’s Nest Bluebell Bank – This small site lies on a steep bank above the Ray Burn near Knowesgate and possesses a swathe of bluebells forming a magnificent display in late spring.

A few facts about Bluebells:

  • In folklore, bluebells are also known as ‘fairy flowers’. It was believed that fairies used bluebells to trap passersby particularly small children,
  • Other folklore tales would have us believe that by wearing a wreath made of bluebell flowers, the wearer would be compelled to speak only the truth. Or that if you could turn one of the flowers inside out without tearing it, you would eventually win the one you love.
  • Bluebell plants are poisonous.
  • 25-49% of the world’s population of bluebells are found in the UK.
  •  Bluebells can also be white. These rare individuals lack the pigment that gives bluebells their distinctive colour.
  • The bluebell is being studied for its medicinal qualities because it contains things called water-soluble alkaloids that could be useful in developing drugs to fight cancer.
  • “We love native bluebells for their wonderful scent of cooking apple, mango, lychees, ginger and freshly mown grass,” said Dr Trevor Dines, a botanist for Plantlife.
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson described bluebells as ‘like the blue sky, breaking up through the earth’.

Bamburgh Beach

9 Apr

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A winter walk on the beach at Alnmouth

16 Feb

With a car park right on the the beach, this almost felt like cheating. The village and its brightly coloured houses and the boats in the estuary are great for a walk around too.

http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/alnmouth

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