You remember I won Travel Candy’s competition a few months ago and bagged myself a stay in Northumberland? Well I went last weekend! Hands up, I never would have chosen to go there, it’s not at the top of my bucket list, but I’m completely glad I did. It’s damn gorgeous ‘t’up north’. The drive up from Milton Keynes was a killer, but it was worth it for the beautiful views!
And it wasn’t my normal hostel stay either. I stayed at Battlesteads, a hotel with both an award-winning restaurant and an on-site observatory. Because Northumberland is home to Dark Sky Discovery sites, aka the best places in the UK for stargazing!
Sounds pretty neat, right?
Well despite being a good twenty years younger than the majority of the patrons at The Battlesteads, it was really nice to have a romantic getaway with the boyf. The room was fab, the complimentary three course dinner where we could choose whatever we wanted was damn tasty and the staff were super friendly. In a couple of decades, this place is going to be my jam.
But what about the stars I hear you cry?
Well the Battlesteads Observatory was pretty cool and the astronomer Roy from Astro Ventures taught us quite a bit about stargazing! The thing is, it was pretty cloudy. Which, you know, is the thing about the UK. But I actually still really enjoyed it. Here’s what I learnt –
- How to actually use binoculars (turns out you don’t just look through them)
- There are a ton of apps you can download that tell you what the stars are saying (not in a horoscope way, but to be fair that’s more my thing), as well as when you can see an aurora which is pretty cool
- If I’m in a situation where you need to be quiet and listen, I will inevitably have a coughing fit
The astronomy thing is not something I would have done ordinarily but I am definitely more inclined to do something like this again. Although probably in a warmer climate where clear skies are more likely!
Although it was nice to retire into a warm bar with an open fire, a comfy leather sofa, a large glass of red wine and even a resident cat called Gilroy (who does not like his ears tickled). So that was pretty much my highlight!
The next day we decided we needed to make the most of Northumberland seeing as I had driven all that way. I mean the countryside views on their own were pretty good, but how about a crack at Hadrian’s Wall yeah?
Now here’s the thing I really want to tell you guys about – Hadrian’s Wall is not easy to find. You’d think as the ancient Roman wall separating England from Scotland you can’t really miss it right? Wrong. To be fair I really should have done some kind of research beforehand. I followed the sign to Hadrian’s Wall, as you do, and kept driving down the longest country road ever, looking out for signs and… nothing. I just figured seeing as the previous sign said Hadrian’s Wall, there would be some kind of visitor centre up here – like, hey over here, it’s Hadrian’s Wall!
I mean, I was driving past random places, but none of them said Hadrian’s wall. So after a long time driving down the road I turned around and went back to the last place I’d passed – Housesteads. It turns out you can see Hadrian’s Wall at one of the five Roman sites along it, including Housesteads. I had basically just driven nearly the width of the country trying to find the wall I was driving parallel to. Well I did just dye my hair blonde to be fair.
So Housesteads. I finally arrived. It was the ruins of a Roman fort and it was cool! My primary school history of the Roman times came flooding back and I filled in the gaps with what I heard 7 year old children telling their parents.
The wall itself, is pretty much just a wall. But there were some really gorgeous views from it. And obvs I took a few token tourist photos. Another thing I found weirdly difficult – which one is the freaking wall anyway? There are a lot of walls it’s very confusing. I got there though, don’t worry (unless all of these photos are some random wall I found…).
It was a neat little day out and really interesting. And a fab weekend overall! (Thanks Travel Candy!) It made me realise I really need to explore more of my own country and I’m aiming to do a lot more of these little weekends this year!
Have you been up to Northumberland? Have you hung out at Hadrian’s Wall? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!