First off, my apologies for most of the photos appearing here at the start – I’m having a spot of bother again getting them where I want them!
Apart from visiting Hadrian’s Wall sites when in inland Northumberland we also went a little further afield, visiting the Angel of the North, Beamish Museum and a Sunday afternoon in Newcastle.
Beamish museum was somewhere that I was aware of and keen to visit. I love ‘living’ museums like this where the exhibits represent how we used to live, often with buildings saved from different areas and rebuilt in the museum. Similar museums around the country include the Weald and Downland near Chichester, St Fagans Folk Museum in Cardiff, Blists Hill Victorian Town near Telford and the Black Country Museum in Dudley. I have been to each of these museums (except the Black Country Museum) at least twice, and as a result often shout excitedly at the telly when I see a location I recognise (as they’re often used for filming!)
We actually visited Beamish twice. There were 2 reasons for this, the 1st being that they are one of these, really pretty annoying, attractions where your entry fee allows you to visit for a full year. This is all very well if you live in the area and are likely to visit more than once – but how about a cheaper price for those of us who are just visiting? We missed out on Leeds Castle because of this policy (and saw many others turning round and leaving), and need to visit Chatham Docks again before May in order to use our tickets again before they run out…
Anyway, the main reason we had to return was that a couple of days after our first visit there was a big classic car show being held. So that was reason enough to go back….
Beamish is a living history museum located in the village of Beamish, near to Consett. There is an awful lot of walking available as you make your way around the site, between the pit village (and a quick tour down a real pit shaft – not far but very interesting), the town, the hall and the farm.
Entrance to the pit at Beamish
On the way down the pit
Where the miners worked (only without the light…)
The Pit Village at Beamish
Don’t despair however there are plenty of transport options; old trams and buses run frequently and there is no extra charge for these. There are several houses that have been rebuilt and dressed in the style of the day, both in the pit village, the town and also the hall. Don’t miss the tower as you exit the hall – this is the most interesting part of the building!
Over the 2 visits that we made we managed to see every part of the museum and were suitably impressed (at £19 each though that’s a good thing!)
On the way to the museum we had visited the Angel of the North , the iconic sculpture designed by Anthony Gormley which you cannot miss as you drive by! There is free parking and an information board at the bottom of the hill that the angel is sited on, and she is really an awesome sight!
We returned to the van via Consett as we needed to get fuel.
After our 2nd visit on the Sunday we headed in to Newcastle to have a look. We ended up having some lunch – I found out that Weatherspoons now operate a system where you’re able to order online, including your drinks! Brilliant! (However, I also think this is old news, just like when I got all excited about the automatic ordering in McDonalds…)
After lunch we headed off to have a look around Newcastle. I’m not sure how far we walked, but it was a far way. We were impressed with the city – it wasn’t what we were expecting at all. Added to the grand old buildings there was a definite vibe about the place even on a Sunday afternoon in September.
Finally in this area, on the Saturday between these 2 visits to the museum we decided to have a lazy day but ended up heading out for a drive, visiting Heddon on the Wall and then Prudhoe Castle. We also found where the British Masters was being held (we’d seen signs for parking as we’d been driving around the area for the previous week) at Close House, which was busy preparing for the tournament that was being held the following week.
Prudhoe Castle is an English Heritage property, but whilst a pleasant enough way to spend, maybe, half an hour, it wasn’t one of the better properties we’d visited. Put it this way, it’s one of the properties that we would have been fed up to have paid out £12 between us if we hadn’t been members…. However, if you do go make sure to visit the room above the gatehouse 🙂
So our time in Hadrian’s Wall country came to an end, but not our time in Northumberland. We had 11 more nights and 2 more sites on the coast to visit before moving on to Scotland!
Keep travelling 🙂