5. 8/29 North England – Holy Island, Bamburgh & Alnwick Castle

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series Edinburgh-London Trip 2014

Today we took a tour of Holy Island, Bamburgh & Alnwick Castle. They are actually all on the side of England, close to the border between England and Scotland.

The first stop was Lindisfarne in North Sea, which was a religious holy island, because Lindisfarne Priory, once a monastery, was a place of pilgrimage for 1300 years. From the priory, one could see Lindisfarne Castle 20 minutes walk away.

The interesting thing about Lindisfarne being an island was that the road to it only surfaced during low tide and would be under sea water during high tide. Visitors must check tide tables beforehand to make sure they’re not driving on the road when the tide comes in. This feature was a defense for the priory against attacks in the history. From our bus we could see mud and seaweeds on both sides of the road when we drove there.

After Lindisfarne, we passed Bamburgh Castle. Since we didn’t have a chance to go in, it looked just like Stirling Castle to me.

Then we came to the feature of the day–Alnwick Castle. Alnwick Castle is the home of Duke of Northumberland. It is the biggest castle I have seen in my life, and we got to climb up towers and ramparts. It was both fun and grand. No wonder this castle was used for filming Harry Potter. The castle interior was almost as fancy as Versaille, but at a much smaller scale of course. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside. So I can only show you the old horse carriage, which was used for the wedding of the duke’s daughter.

To me, Alnwick Castle was like “the Disneyland for grown-ups”, but actually it had several games for children too. I imagine any child who has grown up with it would find Disneyland too fake, because they get to play with the real thing.

After the castle, we visited the Alnwick Garden, belonging to the same family. (You can see how rotten rich people can be.) It had several gardens with interesting designs, especially its impressive water works and shaded paths. The only stupid part was the red and black Chinese-seeming thing in the pond. It was ugly and so not Chinese! The same was true of the pavilion and bridges they had in the Chinese Garden of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Garden. Whenever these things were designed, their notion of Chinese structures was more from their own imagination than based on reality.

Outside the garden, there was a big tree house, which was actually a restaurant.

We returned to Edinburgh after our tour and had dinner at Howie’s Scottish Restaurant. Again we each had a 3-course meal. What’s worth mentioning was the traditional Scottish Cullen Skink, which was a creamy fish soup, like clam chowder but with smoked fish instead of clams, and the whole fresh lobster. They were both super nice! Our desert was nice too, especially Affogato if you don’t mind caffeine.

Series Navigation<< 4. 8/28 Edinburgh Castle6. 8/30 Edinburgh – Palace of Holyroodhouse >>

One thought on “5. 8/29 North England – Holy Island, Bamburgh & Alnwick Castle”

  1. Complicated Rain says:

    I used to live in Alnwick when I was a kid. So this was the local castle. Mum says it used to house my brother’s nursery school, and I think the Duchess (whose house this is…!) was part of her sewing circle. So … yeah. Some people have big houses.

    A note on pronunciation seems to be in order. ‘Alnwick’ and ‘Bamburgh’ are said ‘Anik’ and ‘Bambrə,’ respectively. If you are English, this more or less makes sense. Trust me.

    Lindisfarne: This was also a centre of learning and culture during some very dark times, and the point at which the (very different) Celtic and Roman variants of Christianity met. The priory (like so many in England) met its end as a consequence of the dissolution of the monasteries (part of the political and economic fight between Henry VIII and the Pope which—as opposed to Henry’s love life—was the real backdrop to the English not-very-protestant reformation).

    Food: Who’d have thought that smoked fish, potatoes and cream would make such a fine soup? The steak was insanely tasty, too. Mmm! Cow.

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