Northumberland Cottage
           

Alnwick

Alnwick Castle Alnwick Castle Alnwick Gardens Gate Gallery Barter Books

This historic market town was recently voted by Country Life as the best place to live in England. It is only 10 miles from Branton, travelling south a couple of miles on the A697 and then east along the road signed to Alnwick, which joins the B6341. There is ticket parking in the town centre, although it can be difficult to find a space at times, especially on market days (Thursday and Saturday). There is a larger car park behind the main street (coming from Branton, go through the town and turn left as you come through Hotspur Gate arch at the south end of the town, at the junction where the Alnwick Playhouse is sited.

Dominated by Alnwick Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Northumberland (and the location for Harry Potter films) the town offers a variety of shops and eateries. The cobbled market place and main street, and the warren of narrow alleyways and streets dating back to medieval times adds to the sense of history. The local Bailiffgate Museum tells you more.

The newer Alnwick Garden and tree house are great for outdoor entertainment and picnics, but you need several hours and some good weather to get the best out of the garden, with it's magnificent fountains and frequent events. The Willowburn leisure centre, a mile or so outside Alnwick, has a large swimming pool, which provides inflatable fun in school holidays (ring for details) and Barter Books provides more leisurely wet weather activity for book lovers.

Hulne Park is Alnwick Castle's extensive 500 acre parkland with beautiful meadows, woods and moorland. It contains the ruins of Hulne Priory, one of the earliest Carmelite monasteries in England built in 1240. Tel: 01665 510777. Open all year and admission is free, but dogs are not allowed in the park.

Armstrong Museum is 5 miles North of Alnwick off the A1 on the Chillingham Road. There are six rooms depicting rural life in Northumberland from a byegone era: a kitchen, bothy (with farming tools), milking parlour, washing room, nursery (with clothes and toys) and a show room with quilts, rugs, glass, china and literature. Admission: £2.50 (2005). Tel: 01665 579443

Town Foot Stables, Shilbottle, Alnwick offers riding lessons and hacks. Run by Andrea Simpson (Tel 01665 575020 ) this is a small, friendly yard where everyone of all ages and abilities is welcome. Hacking / Trekking - Groups of up to 7 riders can enjoy relaxing rides through the surrounding countryside. Beach rides can also be arranged, lasting from 1 hour to half a day. A 5 day riding holiday programme can be made to suit individual needs, however there is no accommodation on site.

You could always combine a trip to Alnwick in the morning with lunch in Eglingham (The Tankerville Arms) en route home, taking a cirular route via the B6346. Look out for the large white radar 'egg' belonging to the MOD which makes its appearence on the horizon every now and then, great for playing see who spots the giant egg first!

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Last updated: 8 October, 2007
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