Beamish Museum and the Angel of the North

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

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 🙂



Goathland – aka Aidensfield or Hogwarts…

Our final day in the moors was reserved to visit Goathland, otherwise known as Aidensfield (Heartbeat’s location) or Hogwarts Station (the train station was used in the Harry Potter films).

We would have loved to have arrived in the village on the steam train (North York Moors Railway), but the cost was prohibitive unfortunately.  Even just to travel 1 stop between Grosmont and Goathland would have cost us £26 return….  There were plenty of trains running though so obviously plenty of people paying for this.  Apparently it wasn’t always this expensive – it appears that the Harry Potter effect has caused the increase in prices.

We saw the steam train for the 1st time at Grosmont – perfect timing actually as we were at the front of the queue when the level crossing gates closed!  We do love to see the trains in operation so this was an absolute treat.

Next it was a race to get to Goathland before the train! We managed it – just.. Parking by the road and running up to the bridge, which is where I took the main picture from 🙂  Another train was coming the other way so we saw both in the station.  Heading back to the car we spotted a waterfall which we tried to get a bit closer.  I had to give up as I picked a wrong spot to place my foot and nearly sank!

We then carried on in the car towards the village itself, starting with the train station which I had a quick look at – unfortunately it didn’t really mean much to me as I haven’t watched any Harry Potter film all the way through (I’ve maybe seen 15-20 minutes in total)….  See photos below 🙂 Continue reading “Goathland – aka Aidensfield or Hogwarts…”

Walks in the North York Moors


When we first arrived in the North York Moors we drove past Roseberry Topping a few times on our way out for the day.  Each time we both said we’ll go up that while we’re here 🙂

On our 1st day back we had taken a wrong turning and found somewhere to park for free from where we could walk up the peak; Gribdale Gate.  From here we could also go in the opposite direction to visit Captain Cook’s monument.  This was perfect as the car park sited on the main road has a cost attached – although I think the path is more straightforward and definitely looked easier in hindsight!

We thought that we were being clever but from our direction we actually had to cope with 3 ascents and descents.  There are ‘steps’ provided in places but these are not particularly easy to negotiate – we were in awe of the young couple who were walking this in the pouring rain with their young baby on the dad’s back 🙂

So, yes, we had a rainstorm on the way up, but by the time we got to the top the sun was back out – very changeable.

The last bit up to the summit was particularly taxing for me, so I thought I’d have a little sit down – until I spotted the lizard that I was about to sit on! (I thought it was a snake at first..)  I carried on 🙂


The views from the top were absolutely amazing so I’ve included this video showing them all around, plus a few photos on a slideshow. Continue reading “Walks in the North York Moors”

A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge

We did a lot of walking in the North York Moors – even when we were ‘going’ somewhere!  So this post will deal with 1 of the days that we were, sort of at least, heading somewhere and I will do a separate post for the days we actually set out just to walk (to the top of Roseberry Topping and to see Captain Cook’s Monument to be precise).

On day 2 in the Moors we headed to the nearest decent sized town, Stokesley, which turned out to be extremely pleasant.  The parking system was disc parking and, not having a disc, we drove through and parked as soon as we could, giving us a short walk back into town.  There are an awful lot of old buildings in Stokesley and the centre has a really nice feel about it, with lots of independent shops and several butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

We also found a dedicated running shop here (I needed a new water bottle).  The 1st bottle they showed me was £35 – I politely explained I wasn’t actually THAT much of a runner!  I did get what I wanted though, and then realised that I recognised the couple from my previous morning’s ‘run’ – I had stopped to wait for them to pass me with their 4 dogs as I was embarrassed by my shambling and didn’t want them to observe it!  These 2 are proper runners – he went up the hill like it  was a Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas I had to bully myself up this hill (all 20m or so of it…).  The shop is called Let’s Run, and they are very involved in coaching and getting beginners out with groups.

From here we headed towards Middlesborough as we both wanted to see the Transporter Bridge that crosses the Tees there.

We found it, and we went across the river on it (£1.30!), a very quick crossing after which we found ourselves in an area called Port Clarence, which used to be very busy, but which is now less so.

We had a quick drive around Middlesborough and were impressed by the evidence of past grandeur, and also the clear evidence of ongoing regeneration.

Making our way back the, slightly long way, we saw another bridge that appears to lift.  I have since discovered this to be the Newport Vertical Lift Bridge which is no longer in use, so no chance of seeing it in action unfortunately 😦

A couple of days later we decided to head south through the moors towards Helmsley.  Continue reading “A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge”

A little more of our time in the Yorkshire Dales

What I’m writing about now actually happened more than a fortnight ago (meaning I am really behind here – I do have good reasons though!)

We actually stayed in the Dales for a week, and as well as all the waterfalls that I’ve already written about (click here if you’ve not read it yet), we enjoyed simply driving along the country roads (and along some of the high passes), visiting a couple of the towns and villages and visiting Fountains Abbey and Castle Bolton.

Driving down the road from the campsite we came across an escarpment at Cray that a number of people were climbing.  So we stopped and went up to have a closer look 🙂

From here we continued along the road until we came to Grassington – make no mistake through several pretty villages before getting here; this was just where we decided to stop 🙂

Grassington is actually a town, albeit a small town with a population at the last census of 1,126.  It’s very pretty with a history of lead mining, a country park, a folk museum and several gift shops and eateries.  Well worth a visit; we enjoyed wandering around for a short while 🙂

We were actually aiming for Ripon when we set out in the morning, and once we’d left Grassington we aimed once again for this town.  On the way we saw signs for How Stean Gorge which I had read about in the Rough Guide, and I thought it looked like it could be really good to visit.  It took a while to get there, but we couldn’t see much.  Unless we paid £7 each…  Now it might well have been worth this money, but it’s only about 1000m long, and the weather wasn’t brilliant, so we decided against it.

There is however an awful lot on offer including canyoning, gorge walking, canoeing and the via ferrata (a high wire adventure), so I really think it’s worth a visit for the more adventurous among us (okay among you…!) Check out their website here if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Back on the road again to Ripon we next came across Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden.  Now I did, of course, know that this was here, but I wasn’t going to suggest stopping.  But then we saw the magic words ‘World Heritage Site’, so decided to have a look after all.  Being members of the National Trust we had nothing to lose – if we weren’t impressed we could just leave 🙂

We weren’t disappointed even though we didn’t actually manage to visit the church in the grounds (where Freddie Truman is apparently buried – according to my dad anyway 🙂 ) (I have just checked and Wikipedia says he’s buried in Bolton Abbey; but then again Wikipedia has been known to get it wrong…!), or the Studley Royal Gardens (which are actually the World Heritage Site).  But we did see the hall (much of it now holiday & staff accommodation) and the remains of the abbey itself.  These are really impressive being very extensive.  You can clearly see the seats where the monks sat in the choir, visit an upstairs room (still completely intact) and a massive hall that still has it’s ceiling and arches.

There is quite a steep climb back up from the ruins – so much so that the tall church tower looks a little like a gatehouse as you’re walking towards it!

We fully intended to go back with our bikes to visit the water gardens and the deer park, but sadly never actually made it (as is so often the case).

Time was no getting on so we just drove through Ripon and headed back to the van via a Co-op in Masham (there is a distinct lack of shops in the Dales themselves!)

This we found out to our cost later that evening.  We had forgotten a vital item when in the shop, but decided to wait until after our tea to go back out.  Big mistake!  We headed back out at 7.35pm.  The garage in Aysgarth had closed at 7pm, so we decided to head for Hawes, 8 miles away, as that’s a fairly decent size – no, all that was open were pubs.  And a Chinese.  So then we had to come back and head for Leyburn, 8 miles in the other direction, all the way looking for shops, garages etc.  There were a couple of village shops and garages, but everything was shut, except for the pubs!

Finally in Leyburn – a decent sized town, we found a choice of 2 shops.  So because we forgot something we drove about 36 miles and were out for over an hour.  And we complain at home because our nearest shop is a mile away!!

We headed back to Hawes another day, although we didn’t stop (this was the day that we visited Hardraw Force).  We then took the Buttertubs Pass, an amazing road with wonderful views over the dales.  So called because apparently farmers would leave unsold butter in the deep natural potholes along the side of the road when they left market.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We drove a 2nd pass – no name given – and at the bottom we spotted a mole running along the side of the road!  Just amazing 🙂

At the top of the pass we found Muker, a busy little village with a couple of tea rooms and a pub.  We were confused as to why it was quite so busy until I realised that it was on the route of a long distance walking path.

We continued along the ‘back road’ to Aysgarth until we got to Castle Bolton.  This is where the reception for the wedding I mentioned previously was held.  It was very cold that time!  This time not so much.

There was a medieval music festival being held there this weekend and we were able to access the ground floor as well as the café on the 1st floor.  There was quite a lot to see!

Castle Bolton

So another couple of lovely days in the Dales were concluded.  Just 1 more post on this, dealing with a visit to Richmond and Leyburn 🙂

Keep travelling!

Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales – Days 2,4 & 6 :)

There is water everywhere in the Dales.  Tumbling over rocks in rivers and streams that run alongside the road, flowing serenely into Tarns, ready to be enjoyed in reservoirs and thundering down falls or over escarpments.

However you experience it it’s awesome beauty cannot be ignored 🙂

We have made it our business to visit 3 areas of falls; Aysgarth, Hardraw Force and the Cauldron Falls at West Burton (not even mentioned in guidebooks!)  I think we actually enjoyed the Cauldron Falls most as we were able to explore them more fully – we almost walked behind them 🙂

Note: I will pop most of the photos at the end on a slideshow 🙂 Continue reading “Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales – Days 2,4 & 6 :)”

Cornwall – the most beautiful place in the world :)

After Yorkshire we headed for Cornwall…  Yes, a slight deviation from our route around the coast, but necessary to attend my friend’s Very Important birthday celebrations 🙂  Louise had rented a house for the week in Rock where she was staying with her family, so we took the van and had my sister & brother-in-law to stay for a couple of nights + another friend and her husband in their tent for a couple of nights (as it happened due to the weather they put their tent away and stayed in the van with us for their 2nd night).

Now, I have spent a lot of time in Cornwall throughout my life and it remains my favourite place in the world.  I did think that perhaps I wouldn’t feel the same when I returned, what with all the wonderful places we have seen over the last couple of years, but no, as ever, it felt like I was coming home 🙂

On this trip we managed to visit 3 of my favourite spots in the county, Tintagel, Bedruthen Steps and Port Isaac.  Unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn’t get to Boscastle this time (if you’re visiting Cornwall for the 1st time it’s a must).  We also managed to visit several places that I’ve somehow missed on previous visits, although it’s always possible that I went to any of them as a child and have simply forgotten; Rock itself, Trevone, Trebarwith Strand and Port Gaverne – a short walk from Port Isaac.

Rather than write in detail about each I’ve simply decided to put pictures up!  They really speak for themselves 🙂


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had such a wonderful weekend with the focus being on birthday celebrations.  On the Friday evening the ladies were all heading over to Padstow to eat at Rick Stein’s Fish Restaurant.  We went over on the ferry and came back on the water taxi (which you have to call, but is basically a ferry as well).

I have to be honest here and admit that I wasn’t looking forward to this particularly as I’m not overly keen on seafood, I knew it would be fairly expensive and, shock, horror, I’m not actually a fan of Rick Stein.  However, the food was exquisite, the atmosphere was very laid back and the bill wasn’t actually as expensive as expected.  On top of that, on discovering it was Lou’s birthday, an additional dessert was brought out with 6 mini desserts on a plate on which happy birthday had been written in chocolate 🙂

We had such a lovely evening, made even better when we received a text from Calv with a picture of the menu from the pub the boys had gone to in Rock (see below for extract!)


Also, here’s a picture of my dessert 🙂  Very nice it was too!


We struggled to get a taxi to take us back to our campsite 2 miles away from the house (as in, it was impossible!) so we had to walk back on both Friday night and Saturday night – after the barbeque.

As the bbq didn’t start until mid-afternoon those of us staying at the campsite headed out to Port Isaac in the morning after Emma and Chris arrived.  In fact they arrived before Debbie and I actually got back from our walk to pick the car up – we went the long way across the fields and the golf course so that we could have a look at the historic church that’s right in the middle of the golf course, St Endenoc.  This then took us across the dunes and down onto either the beach or into the car-park – depending on which of numerous paths you choose!


Watch out for the parking wardens – a ticket was received by 1 of the cars for being parked partly on the grass of the packed car park.  As ever Port Isaac didn’t disappoint and, this time, I walked up to the headland beyond the Doc’s surgery with Calv 🙂

On the road down to Rock there are a number of individual shops including a butchers and a bakers.  We used both of them and they were wonderful!  We also used the fish and chip shop on Sunday night when we headed again to the house to harass Lou and her family!  This was a bit of a special evening actually culminating as it did with a  sing-along with Lou’s grandparents; an amazing couple , married 68 years and still going strong 🙂

After a boules match, that saw both Calv and Debbie beat the mega competitive Chris (!)  Don’t worry I played him after Debbie and Paul left and I let him win….  Haha 🙂

We then headed off on a trip down towards Newquay to Bedruthen Steps, a beautiful beach with natural caves and rock formations, accessed by some brutal steps!  I was very happy the next day to find that I am obviously much fitter than I was 3 years ago when we first visited – in that I was able to actually move and walk the next day with no problems whatsoever (it took me days to get over it last time, and I struggled to get into and out of the van!)

On Monday we had to move sites (we were moving to a certificated site a mile or so away that was £13 per night.  In August.  In Cornwall….!)  Other than that we did very little apart from head into Wadebridge to do a little bit of shopping.  It pretty much rained all day.

Tuesday dawned much nicer and we headed back to Rock for a day on the beach with Lou and her brother & his family.  We took the kayak with us and the girls loved it!  Louise and I failed miserably at the first attempt of climbing the dunes – they were far too high to tackle in flip-flops…  We finished the day with a wonderfully competitive game of French cricket (proper rules!)

One thing we noticed both at Bedruthen and Rock were the number of jelly-fish washed up on the beach – they were everywhere!

On Wednesday we headed for Tintagel but took a wrong turn just before we arrived and found ourselves at Trebarwith Strand.  We decided to take a look which ended up with Calv going into the water to get a little girl out who’d slipped off the rocks, and was in danger of being swept away down the narrow channel into the sea.   All he got for his efforts was a deep cut above his eye and blood all over his face – no thank you from her father when he turned up….

As he was soaking wet and more than a little shocked we headed back to the van – Calv with massive pasty in hand.

We did make it to wonderful Tintagel the following day before we left for home, via Bridport.  Or so we thought…

We intended to stop in a free car-park by the police station in Bridport, but got there to find that the fun-fair had moved in for 3 days 😦

We stopped to try to find a motorhome stopover and found a pub, but on phoning them there was a problem with them enabling us to fulfil the condition of having a meal in the pub, so we abandoned that plan.  We eventually found a certificated site that could take us and headed there.  We missed the turn though so had to continue along the road, which took us past the pub we’d tried to get into (the car park was far too small for us anyway), but I realised that Lou’s nan and granddad actually lived opposite the pub!  Lou later told me that they were all eating in there that evening, AND, the site we ended up at was, quite literally, behind here mum and dad’s house!

1 final coincidence was that there was a couple in a motorhome on the same site as us that night.  We arrived late and only said ‘hello’, and they had left before we got up the next morning.  When we pulled up at Kia Ora, our ‘home’ site in Nutbourne near Emsworth, this same couple had just pulled in…  You couldn’t make it up!

We did notice that there were more foreign visitors in Cornwall than anywhere else we have visited (and there have been plenty).  All nationalities here as well, but lots of Italians for some reason…

We have just had 10 days at home and today have moved back up country – we’re just south of Sheffield.  Check back for my next post which will deal with a cycle ride along the Hayling Billy yesterday 🙂