We left Porto bright and early on a Friday morning and took a KLM flight to Amsterdam and then on to Newcastle. Our wonderful friend Tracy lives there and kindly shared her amazing home (a renovated 1800s chapel!), city, and pup with us. Remember, locals are always the best tour guides. She picked us up from the airport and we went right to The Angel of the North to be welcomed to the north of England.
Exploring the North
The next day, Tracy took us exploring. We started with breakfast at Riley’s Fish Shack, a converted shipping container now delicious seafood purveyor. They use local catches and the menu varies accordingly. We had a hearty breakfast of fishcakes atop crispy salads with capers and pickles. Riley’s is tucked into a beautiful bit of coast with a wide curving bay. Surfers braved the cold water and people and pups walked along the shore. It was perfect.
From there we drove to either the northernmost town in England or the southernmost part of Scotland. I’m still not sure which! We walked ancient walls and saw the bridge that takes you to Hogwarts.
Afterwards we braved the incoming tide and drove out to Holy Island. The causeway gets submerged throughout the day depending on the tide so we could only drive out to the island and back. We picked up a few tourists who were worried about being stuck and ferried them back with us to the main land. (Tracy is the best person!) Next time we’re in the North I’d love to stay on the Island overnight and explore Lindisfarne Priory.
On wards to Bamburgh Castle and a silky, sandy beach. The castle sits up on a hill overlooking the ocean with grassy dunes between it and the coast. According to Tracy, who has been inside, the view from the beach is better than a tour of the castle. The sand is so soft we took our shoes off and had a nice wander around. You can see Holy Island and sometimes seals from the beach below Bamburgh Castle.
After the castle we stopped by the Ship Inn so Joel could try some of their beer. Joel is friends with an Austin brewer who knows the the brewer at the Ship Inn. (Always ask your friends for recommendations.) It is the most adorable tiny pub on the sea. There were pups and children playing on the grass outside and lots of locals and holiday-makers taking an enjoying a beer or prosecco .
Our last stop was to a former train station now bookshop, Barter Books. Remember the Keep Calm And Carry On posters? They were rediscovered at the the train station building that is now Barter Books. The place itself is a really great used bookstore. You can find anything from a vintage Agatha Christie to the modern bestseller you’ve been meaning to read. The former waiting rooms now hold tables and chairs and welcome guests as they enjoy a cream tea or hearty sandwich. If you love books and are in the area, you must go!
How to See the North by Car
Can you believe we did all of that in one day? We really did! If I could plan the perfect day in the North it might look like:
- Riley’s Fish Shack – Coffee and breakfast
- Holy Island – Explore the priory and beaches. Eat lunch in the tiny village.
- Bamburgh Castle – More beach time.
- Barter Books – A leisurely afternoon of book shopping and tea.
- Ship Inn – Dinner by the sea.
The north is gorgeous and I hope you won’t just take my word for it. Go see it for yourself!