We’ve just come back from a long weekend in Alnwick, Northumberland. We’ve been wanting to go back since taking the kids nearly ten years ago. With its glorious coastline, abundance of castles and pretty villages there really is something for everyone. Which will explain why, along with obvious global reasons, it was so difficult to book anywhere to stay! However, we made it and here’s what we got up to whilst we were there.
We spent a morning at Alnwick Castle, buying a family ticket that allowed us to explore the grounds and have a look inside part of the castle. The inside of the state rooms are beautiful and we were able to see some of the locations used for the Downton Abbey series. Sorry no photos as you’re not allowed to take any inside but I’m glad we took the small tour inside. There was a little queue due to current restrictions.
The kids, ok the youngest, was looking forward to the broomstick training. She loves anything ‘Harry Potter’ and this was another filming location for the Harry Potter film. As part of the admission, broomstick training is available at timed intervals, after collection of a ticket from the Artisan’s courtyard. Its popular, so if you want to have a go you might want to get yourself a time slot once you’ve arrived. Whilst we queued for this, we also got tickets for the Dragon’s Quest. We took on Alnwick’s most ferocious beast and survived to tell the tale. Well, not all of it because that would spoil things! This little experience lasted about 15 minutes and takes place inside. There are some steps, twists and turns, so isn’t suitable for pushchairs.
We then wandered around, listening to Stuart, who was very knowledgeable about the armour on display, followed by a visit to the shop. After that we saw the Jester’s show which was very entertaining and funny. Then at last it was time for the broomstick training. Despite a possible broken arm, Little legs was declared the best at training her broomstick. The broomstick trainers had all the kids, and a few adults, running around with their broomsticks, playing a few games, and mastering the all-important magic. It looked great fun and even our eldest got involved.
Shopping and eating in Alnwick
There are a few other things to do in Alnwick itself and as we visited during the school holidays it was quite busy. As well as the castle there are the gardens to visit too, but we left them this time. Instead, we went shopping. I am partial to the odd gin, so a visit to the local gin shop was on the list. It’s our wedding anniversary soon so I bought us some presents! Hotspur Gin Emporium has a variety of gins to choose from along with run, liqueurs and Lindisfarne mead.
Barter Books is a must. A second-hand book shop situated in an old Victorian Railway station. It has comfy armchairs; a small café and a small miniature railway runs along the top of some of the bookcases. There are hundreds of books, a children’s section and glass cabinets containing older books and special editions. We spent ages in there and came out with something for all of us, I even found something to help me on my uni course. My husband and eldest went back the next day for another look and came out with more. There was a small queue to get in and it is quite popular. We didn’t have to wait all that long though and it made it a nicer experience not being too crowded.
I haven’t pictures but here are some recommendations for places to eat:
Di Sopra Italian restaurant – They had a special early bird menu and also have a specials board and kids menu. There was plenty of choice for both food and wines. I recommend you book before you go. It’s popular and they were having to turn people away. We were stuffed and enjoyed a lovely meal.
Sherkhan of Alnwick – A lovely Indian restaurant with great menu. We love Indian food and were spoilt for choice on what to have. We sat upstairs and the restaurant is light and airy and the staff friendly. Again, we emailed to enquire about booking a table beforehand.
You can’t visit the area without a mention of the beautiful coastline.
We drove first drove to Alnmouth, close to Alnwick, parking in a small carpark close to the beach. It’s a tiny place but we enjoyed a walk along the beach and around the village. From there it was a drive up to Bamburgh to see the castle and have a walk on the beach there too. Parking is a little pricy at £7. We didn’t visit inside the castle this time as we’ve been before, nearly ten years ago. On a rather blustery day we walked along the beach after navigating the sand dunes. There is a pub and a few cafes and sandwich/coffee shops just up the road from the carpark.
Druridge Bay Country Park is close to Amble and we stopped here on our way home. It has freshwater lakes, playground, extensive beach, woodland and meadows. Luckily, we arrived early and had our pick of parking spots, although it did get busy later. We felt like we had the place to ourselves. We walked along the beach after walking through the woodland, and then made our way back through the pretty meadows. The youngest was determined to paddle in the sea, whilst every two minutes we were shouting at her not to get her cast wet! I was delighted to see some Highland Cows in the meadows and relieved they weren’t too interested in us! The visitor centre has toilets and a café.
All in all, a great long weekend and hopefully it wont be nine or ten years till the next visit.
Have you visited Northumberland?
You may also like this walk if visiting Hadrian’s Wall.