Last Monday I left you with one eye on the sky, looking towards beautiful Bamburgh. Soon after, I was high in the battlements of the castle. It’s just 3 miles around the coast from Seahouses, and the coach whisked me there in minutes. You know I would have prefered to walk, but time was of the essence. I had never before gained access to this, one of the north’s mightiest castles, and was hugely excited to be there.
Bamburgh is a small village, totally dominated by the castle, seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, and the burial place of Grace Darling. I would have loved to visit the museum to her memory but today I was on a mission. I had just a couple of hours and it wouldn’t be wasted.
The sky was dark but the flag flying proudly as I climbed the hill towards the gateway, and caught my first glimpse of the dunes. In the far distance, the Farne Islands, home to a colony of puffins and numerous seabirds.
Inside the gateway a sequence of information boards gives a brief history of the castle, and then you’re approaching the battlements. A small boy is very enamoured of the tubbiest canon, and I wait patiently while his Dad coaxes him away. Beyond the battlements an expanse of green stretches out, a roller propped against a wall testifying to hours of work to maintain its pristine appearance.
The castle astounds with its scale, and venturing through the doorway you may well pause in surprise. The walls are thick, as a castle wall should be, but light flows in from high windows. The alcoves are deep and have been used to display the castle’s many treasures. I am particularly taken with the clocks, which appear throughout the castle, and there’s a fine collection of Chinoiserie, historic paintings and photographs.
Be prepared to gawp in admiration as you enter the King’s Hall. Built on the site of the medieval Great Hall, it is a Victorian masterpiece. The ceiling is made with teak from Thailand. The King of Siam, as it was then known, was a good friend of Lord William Armstrong, the industrialist who was responsible for completing the restoration of the castle.
Perhaps it’s time to squeeze a little history in. There is archaeological evidence that as early as 10,000BC this area was inhabited. The Romans arrived sometime between 43AD and 410AD, to find a Celtic fort, and knew it as Din Guayrdi. Written history begins with the Anglo-Saxons, when Christianity was brought to the area by saints Oswald, Aidan and Cuthbert. The Vikings destroyed the fort in 993, the Norman castle and tower which eventually replaced it being the foundation of the present one. The Percy family, Earls of Northumberland, were based at the castle when a 9-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, ended the Wars of the Roses in 1464. King James 1 then gifted the castle to the Forster family. Somewhat surprisingly it became a surgery and dispensary for the poor and sick under John Sharpe. Finally, the castle was bought by the first Lord Armstrong in the 1800s, but he died before restoration could be completed. It’s obviously much more complicated than this, but I’ve brought you full circle. The Armstrong family still own the castle today. Now let’s enter the King’s Hall.
Impressive, isn’t it? Did you spot another clock? A little too ornate for my mantelpiece but looking fine against the wood panelling. And so it goes on. Opulence follows opulence and I spent considerable time admiring.
But that clock was ticking and, after a brief interlude in the kitchens and scullery, I tore myself away and made for the outdoors. A quick tour of the castle walls, then will I have time to make it down to that beach?
At the rear of the castle I find a narrow pathway down through the dunes. A sign points it out as the Victorian path to the beach. I imagine swishing skirts and parasols, and certainly the steadying arm of a gentleman friend. I follow it most of the way down but it twists and turns and I doubt that I have time to make the return trip. I retrace my steps to the front of the castle.
A band is setting up on the huge village green and I wish I could hang around for the festivities, but it’s time for my return to the coach. I hope you enjoyed walking with me in this beautiful part of the world.
The Bamburgh Castle website is a beauty, and will give you many more details than I can provide here. You can even stay at the castle, if you wish. Meantime, let’s get that kettle on and visit a few more walks.
Many thanks to all my contributors and to you folks in the armchair too. You liven up my Mondays beautifully. If you’d like to join me there are details on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Please do!
Anabel finds a little incredible beauty of her own :
Much nearer to home for me, and looking lovely in full bloom :
Jackie’s menu planning and sunshine!
A misty lake and horses! Nice combination, Janet :
Liesbet has some very interesting formations to show us this week :
And I can always rely on Jude for something beautiful :
Delighted to welcome Madhu here, with some fascinating insights into Brussels :
Drake takes us back to his Danish roots, where the living is easy :
Welcoming more beauty with Meg’s rock hunting post :
Woolly’s back on the Memorial Trail this week :
We all need a little of this, and Annika’s sharing :
And lastly, a wonderful surprise for me- Gilly playing hopscotch! Enjoy Florence, hon :
That’s it for another week! Fabulous, aren’t they? Please do find time to visit. I’m off out walking with my group, if the rain holds off. Have a happy week ahead!