On Day Two of our short Northumberland Adventure, our target was Dunstanburgh Castle.
After a very peaceful night in the van, we woke this morning to an 8:30am alarm. I’d set it because we’d booked tickets to visit the castle, which is managed by English Heritage. We’re not members, but as members of the National Trust, we’re able able to book free entrance online (something that happens everywhere at the moment, of course). We’d booked our tickets for 12noon, so the alarm was just to make sure we’d give ourselves enough time to get breakfast and be able to walk there.
The distance from the campsite to the castle is only two and a half miles, so we figured a leisurely stroll, through the village of Embleton, and along a couple of footpaths instead of sticking to the road, would only take an hour at the most.
Sure enough, we poled up at some time just past midday, showed our tickets and National Trust memberships cards to the attendant on duty, and wandered into the grounds of the castle.
I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a great deal left of Dunstanburgh Castle to look at. Despite that, it managed to keep us entertained for a good couple of hours. After wandering around the main buildings, we passed through a small gap (Postern Gate) in the outer wall just below the ruins of the Constable’s House, and found a great place to settle down and eat our lunch.
Behind us, the twin-towered gatehouse of the castle loomed over a tiny bay known as Queen Margaret’s Cove, from which rose a cliff-face full of noisy, nesting seabirds. In the other direction, rocks stretched away from us, down towards the sea, where we watched a kestrel tucking into its own, freshly-caught lunch. Needless to say, we were in our element; Tracey loves a bit of bird-watching, and after eating my sandwiches I spent a good while scrambling over the rocks, filming and photographing the little bay and the birds, and – in fact – anything that took my eye.
We wandered the length of the outer wall enjoying the extensive views up the coastline, pausing to photograph the lone Lilburn Tower on the North side, above Gull Crag, and watch a couple of puffins on the sea below, before tracing the western wall back to the gatehouse.
It’s not as grand, or in such good condition, as Bamburgh Castle a few miles to the north, but it was enough to channel my inner-Uhtred (we’re big fans of ‘The last Kingdom’).
From the castle, we spent what was left of the afternoon wandering along the coastline; north, to the point where we’d walked to the evening before, and back across the fields to the campsite, in time for tea and another pleasant, relaxing evening in the van.
All-in-all, it was another good day… tomorrow, we head inland towards Kielder Forest…