Road Trips: Northumberland


Northumberland, the northeast part of England, is an area that’s not all that familiar to me and my husband. My only experience with this region is driving through it en route down from Scotland on a long-ago bus tour, and a brief overnight visit to Sunderland a couple of years ago. We’re going to do some day trips and road trips in September out of the Manchester area and invited a friend to come along on one of them. He suggested Northumberland to my husband and they even found a nice inn in a small coastal town called Seahouses that we could use as our base. I started to surf the net.

There are a number of castles in the area including Bamburgh and Alnwick and I realized this is also the spot where the Holy Island is located, just off the coast. Holy Island is or was the home of a very old abbey, Lindisfarne where some famed illuminated Gospels were created. There’s a castle ruin as well and it’s also famous for being raided by Vikings! I have heard of this place through another friend that has been here and I always thought it would be very interesting to see. So … that’s on the list!

Picture of Holy Island Causeway which is also known as Lindisfarne causeway. The island is linked to the mainland by a three mile long causeway, built in 1954. Twice each day the tide still renders the road impassable for 2 hours before high tide and 3 hours after.

Picture of Holy Island Causeway which is also known as Lindisfarne causeway. The island is linked to the mainland by a three mile long causeway, built in 1954. Twice each day the tide still renders the road impassable for 2 hours before high tide and 3 hours after.

You access the island by a causeway and have to watch for the tides so it’s only accessible for part of each day. Visits have to be timed around that. We can see that perhaps in the morning and go to one of the castles in the afternoon or vice versa depending on the tides. There may also be a quick stop in Sunderland to see friends on the way home.

On the way to Northumberland we have to cross from one side of the country to the other and if we drive north then east, we can follow the route A62 that follows generally the line of Hadrian’s Wall, the old Roman fortification built to keep out the Scots. There are several excavation spots with museums and visitor centres along the way and I think we’d all find that really interesting, too. English Heritage owns most of them so I may buy an online overseas visitor pass which you can purchase for a 9 day or 15 day range (single, or more people up to a family size pass)  as long as you have your passport or other ID that shows you live outside of the UK. Check. (as long as they don’t look at my husband’s ID, too!)

There are so many interesting and historical places to visit in the UK and in Europe that day trips and road trips are a real delight.

Day Trips: The Snake Pass

SnakePassRouteWhen I travel to see my fiance, now my husband, in the UK, we usually take a few day trips by car. There are lots of nice places out of the Manchester area that make for a good road trip. We’ve often gone to  York, into the Peak District or up to the Lake District, among other places, and we’ve also gone across the border into Wales as well. My next visit is in September so we’re starting to decide where we might go.

One scenic route I’d heard was really nice was through the north of the Peak District National Park across the Snake Pass. G. loves driving along twisty, turny roads so he won’t mind at all. There is a particularly pretty stop off at the Ladybower Reservoir and there is sure to be a country pub or two along the way to choose for lunch. I always say Google is my friend so I’ve learned this about the pass. It’s got an elevation of 1680 feet at it’s highest point. It is the main connector road between Manchester and Sheffield but can be closed in the winter if the weather is bad. It’s actually been closed as I write this for road works and repairs so I will expect it to be in top form in September.

The Ladybower Reservoir was built in the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peaks in the mid 20th century and two local villages were “drowned”. One was demolished completely but apparently you can see the remains of the other one if the reservoir is low. It’s a very picturesque spot and an interesting place to visit so maybe we’ll stop there to stretch our legs.

As we circle back up north of the area into Yorkshire, we thought we might stop in the village of Holmfirth, famed for the filming location of The Last of the Summer Wine, which is one of the longest running sitcoms ever. It aired from the 70s for just over 30 years. I have seen the occasional episode but I haven’t watched it much. It was very popular in the U.K. and the village is a tourist attraction now. It’s got lovely stone cottages and shops and is surrounded by beautiful scenery. We may stop off there on our return leg.

Driving the pass without stopping really shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours or so but with stop offs, it will make for a grand day out!