I’m interrupting my Polish stories to take you briefly to Northumberland. The reason being that it is rhododendron time of year at Cragside, and if we don’t go soon you’ll have missed them. I managed to capture them in the last week of May, when they were looking truly fabulous.
Cragside is rightly famous for being the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, and makes a fascinating tour. My interest, however, lies in the acres of woodland walks and the formal gardens which surround the house. Former owner, Lord Armstrong, is described as a landscape genius, and I saw nothing to make me dispute that claim.
To get the lie of the land you can take the 6 mile circular carriage drive around the estate. On a sparkling blue sky day it is a sight to behold. Within that there are a selection of waymarked trails and over 40 miles of signposted footpaths. Enough, even for me?
As always I am magnetised by the water and my first stop is Nelly’s Moss, where there are two lakes to walk around. Craggy boulders split the woods and some of the trail is made up of solid stone slabs. No-one to disturb, but a curious duck or two.
No doubt you can tell I’m besotted by the rhododendrons, but the pleasures don’t end there. In fact, they’re just beginning. There’s even a Trim Trail, should you wish to test your fitness levels. Perhaps I shouldn’t define that as a pleasure. I’m content to drive back to the Visitor Centre, fronted by lovely Tumbleton Lake. Parking and restaurant are close by, or you can simply picnic beside the lake. Some folk like to travel in style.
The Armstrong Trail follows Debdon Burn, past the Archimedes Screw and the Pump House, through woodland leading to the Iron Bridge. From here you can climb through the sea of azaleas and rhododendrons up to the house, or you can take a detour to the formal gardens.
I don’t remember these from my long ago visit, but the setting is superb. On a truly radiant day, with the valley below rolling down to Rothbury in the distance, you just want to sit on a bench and breath deeply. No such luxury for the gardening team, but they seem happy in their work, rooting out disobedient weeds. I linger over tubs of tulips, beside a bedraggled rose and among the cool greys of the fernery.
Irridescent colours gleam at me, and it doesn’t really matter that many of the flowers are past their peak. I can still luxuriate in their finery.
I hope you enjoyed sharing Cragside with me. Full details are to be found on the website. Meanwhile I’d like to share another great selection of walks. It’s been a busy but wonderful couple of weeks and I won’t be posting a walk next week. Instead I’ll be taking life a little more easily in the Algarve. Among other things I have a wine tasting session that I need to attend. Time to put the kettle on now, and settle in for a good read.
I always know it’s going to be a great week if it starts with a walk from Debbie :
Cheese anybody? And don’t miss Jackie’s recipe for Slow Mongolian Beef :
Let’s accompany Janet to the mall next, for some high end?
Jesh is someone who doesn’t take beauty for granted, but often paints it, beautifully :
And speaking of beauty, the happiest of memories brought back for me, from Lady Lee :
Drake brought back more fond memories, of a long ago week at the Austrian lakes :
While Jaspa unintentionally brought back some not so happy memories of a Greek crisis for me :
And Irene brought just a little more heavenly light :
This post from Denzil gives you a choice of 4 walks and a lovely castle. Not bad, hey?
Cathy hopes to be fit for the Camino in September, but meantime shares some fabulous views of her native America :
As always, thanks to you all for walking with me and for sharing such wonderful companionship. I need a little time out but I’ll be back as soon as I can. Take good care till then.