Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Hadrian’s Wall - Acomb, Northumberland
Our next destination was Acomb just near Hexham and Hadrian’s Wall.
We were sad to say good bye to Kielder but we were ready to explore a new part of Northumberland. We chose this spot so that we could go into Newcastle easily, explore Roman ruins, Hadrian’s Wall and two Abbeys.
First up, a visit to a market on our very roundabout, long loop from Acomb, Tynemouth, Lindisfarne and back. If it weren’t for the seals our children would have divorced us!
Northumberland – Hadrian’s Wall & the surrounding area
Tynemouth Market & surrounding area
St Mary’s Lighthouse
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Whitby and the Abbey
Captain Cook Museum
Day One – Market, Lighthouse & Lindisfarne
Tynemouth Sunday Market & surrounding area
After a discussion about who wanted to do what, and with the weather looking to turn a bit rainy this week, we had two things on the agenda for Sunday.
First, the coastal town of Tynemouth. It has a very nice Arts & Craft market in the train station with food stalls. No seating due to COVID-19, so we had lunch standing up in the courtyard. We spent a very nice few hours gazing at all the lovely crafts. I even bought a ring made from sea glass.
I really love sea glass and it can be found in many coastal areas, it is the salty sea water and the sand that creates this weathered frosted glass finish. Well, that and time, plenty of time. Something beautiful from our rubbish for a change!
If you like the idea of sea glass and want to go scavenging for some, here's a top tip, head to the beach in the town of Seaham, just south of Tynemouth. Seaham once had the largest glass bottle works in Britain.
Unfortunately, we had to save this for another trip. As always there was a decision to be made and we had decided to go North from Tynemouth, so North we went.
King Edwards Bay
On our way out of Tynemouth we had a quick walk around the beautiful King Edwards Bay.
This was a lovely walk along the sea. We admired the ruin on the hill – Tynemouth Priory and Castle.
We watched an intrepid swimmer with their red hat, float tied to their back and full wet suit head out to sea, or so it seemed to us, then back in the car to drive on to our next stop.
St Mary’s Lighthouse
Located on the northern end of Whitley Bay is the gorgeous St Mary’s Lighthouse, built on St Mary's Island. I do love a lighthouse, something magical about them. I couldn't resist putting in a few of my images. The small rocky tidal island on which the lighthouse stands is linked to the mainland by a short concrete causeway which is submerged at high tide.
If you want to go across, you can walk, there is a car park on the mainland side. You will need to look up the tide table so you arrival when the tide is out. But even if you miss the timing it is beautiful to stand on the shore opposite looking across the causeway. As you can see from my photos we didn't quite make it in time!
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, Lindisfarne Castle, band (no wait, that is something else again), about an hour and half by car from St Mary’s Lighthouse, is another amazing place and really a must-see spot. You will have to check the tides for this trip as well, the Holy Island can only be reached by a causeway submerged at high tide.
It was once one of the most important centers of early Christianity, with strong links to Ireland, in Anglo-Saxon England and was home to the famous Lindisfarne Gospels now located in the British Library. Below is a photo of the Lindisfarne Castle (my own) and one of the Priory - courtesy of English Heritage.
Founded by St Aidan (from Iona) in AD635, the site owes its fame to St Cuthbert, the greatest of Northumbrian holy men, who lived and died there. Stroll around the Monastic buildings which formed the living quarters of the monks, the remote setting adds to the unique atmosphere of the Priory.
This may look a familiar site, as you may have been to or come across a similar monastery on a rocky island. Two others come to mind, Mont Saint-Michel, in Normandy, France and another off the southwest coast of Ireland, Skellig Michael. There is a common theme here, all having been built around the 7th century, all on remote, hard to reach rocky perches. We have been lucky enough to see all three of these over the years of our explorations.
But for now, if you are UK based, Lindisfarne will give you all you need from a 7th century remote monastery, history (monks, viking raids, it was all going on), beautiful surroundings, a castle and, if you are lucky, seals! There are basking seals to be seen on the walk around the island, look out for them. The appearance of the seals did help make the drive worth it for our teenagers especially since the castle, café and, well, everything was closed when we got there in the late afternoon.
We loved this spot and I would go again in a heartbeat. My preferred option would be to stay on the Holy Island and watch the sunrise and set there.
Day Two – Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
My husband and I have been to Newcastle Upon-Tyne on many occasions, we love the size and feel of this gem of a city with is grand buildings. It has historic connects to Newcastle in Australia, where half my family are from (the other half are American with both sides, mostly, originating in Ireland).
Newcastle upon-Tyne also shares a bridge design, one of its ten bridges across the River Tyne, with the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia. You might be interested to know the Australian one came first.
The city has a university right in the heart of it and many restaurants, cafes, and cultural & civic attractions, including a great nightlife (hopefully that will return soon). You need to book, as always, restricted visiting applies here as well.
Museum - Baltic -Centre for Contemporary Art
Besides lunch, a bit of shopping and checking out the university for our daughter, we went to
The Baltic -Centre for Contemporary Art to see the only exhibition and the only area in the museum open, apart from the gift shop, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It was an exhibition by Abel Rodriguez of his precise, botanical illustrations of the plants found in the Colombian Amazon of South America where he lives.
I recommend a visit if you have time to see whatever exhibition is on, it sits beside the river and is part of the iconic Tynemouth collection of buildings and bridges most associated with Newcastle.
After our city day, for us it was time to travel even further back and visit what the Romans left behind in Northumberland.
Day Three - Hadrian’s Wall & Vindolanda Roman Fort
I first visited a portion of Hadrian’s Wall with my sister on our drive North to Edinburgh for the