Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Touring Northeast England with the Newly-Weds

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Touring Northeast England with the Newly-Weds

Capt. Cook stands on the West Cliff, looking out to the Whitby Ruins on the East Cliff, Whitby UK
I stood between them and their honeymoon but now it is finally done; they have just returned from Prague this weekend.  Now I can write about how April and Clint acted as my tour guides around North East England after Bill left. During weekends of my four weeks’ stay, they took me to the Newcastle City Centre, nearby Corbridge and Tynemouth, the fishing port of Whitby, and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. 
Newcastle's Chinatown
Church of St. Thomas the Martyr
Newcastle is the most populous city of 200,000 in North East England. At its Chinatown I was able to shop for much-missed Asian groceries and get a treat of delectable dimsum. The City Centre is divided into several districts. Haymarket is the city’s northern edge, mainly a business area. The Church of St Thomas the Martyr is a prominent landmark opposite the Metro station. The Quayside is the more modern part and is marked by four bridges that cross the River Tyne: The High Level Bridge, the Swing Bridge, the Tyne Bridge and the Millennium Bridge. Other smaller areas are Central Station around the Newcastle railway station, Grainger Town, and Gallowgate.

@ Corbridge Town Square
My first whiff of North East England’s rural scene was Corbridge, just 26 kilometers west of Newcastle. We had a lot of photos taken at the little town square where the couple spends many a Friday evening, just sipping wine, with nary a care. A pretty river runs through town and a charming little English bridge runs over it. Flowers still abound through the height of summer.

King Edward's Bay
the old swimming pool at Tynemouth
April was happy to show me Tynemouth, population 17,056, a prosperous area with comparatively expensive housing, at the mouth of the River Tyne. This headland that towers over the mouth of the river has been settled since the Iron Age. In the 7th century a monastery was built and later fortified. However, the monastery was sacked by the Danes in 800, was rebuilt and made operational by 1083. Today, the ruins of the Priory make a dramatic stance against the ocean.

Longsands Beach
In the late 18th century, sea-bathing became fashionable in King Edward's Bay, a small beach on the north side of the Priory, sheltered on three sides by cliffs and reached by stairways, or over the rocks around the promontories on the north or south sides. Another favorite was Longsands, the next beach to the north, an expanse of fine sand 1200 yards long, lying between the former Tynemouth outdoor swimming pool and Cullercoats to the north.The newly-weds love the cool sea breeze there.

the view of the East Cliff from the West Cliff of Whitby Harbor
at Whitby Abbey Ruins
In my last two weekends in Newcastle, Clint and April took me to two places they had not yet visited. One was Whitby, a seaside town in the English county of North Yorkshire, at the mouth of the River Esk, population, 13,213. Its East Cliff is home to its best-known landmark, the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where we watched a charming, funny, well-acted short play about Dracula. That is just to be expected because the town has been featured in literary works, television and cinema, most famously in Dracula.

with the Dracula cast
It also developed as a fishing port during the Middle Ages, supporting important herring and whaling fleets. This was where Captain Cook learned seamanship and this maritime heritage is commemorated by his statue as well as the whalebone arch that sits at the top of the West Cliff. Other significant features of the town include the swing bridge, which crosses the River Esk and the beautiful harbor sheltered by its East and West piers. We tried what was supposed to be the best fish and chips in England in one of Whitby’s many outlets. We could not resist taking a few sweet crabs home with us.

beautiful view of the Whitby Harbor
the spectacular Castle at the background
We spent another interesting weekend at The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the northeast coast of England within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Northumberland Coast. The island has a population of 200 and measures 3 miles from east to west and 1.5 miles from north to south, and comprises approximately 1,000 acres at high tide. The nearest point is about 1 mile from the mainland of England, close to the border with Scotland. It is accessible at low tide by crossing sand and mud flats.  We actually had to postpone our trip until we could assure ourselves of a long enough day at the island.  

the island is accessible only at low tide
Priory Ruins on Holy Island
After the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished and a small castle was built upon it in 1550. The Priory ruins are now under the care of the English Heritage which runs a medieval market and joust around it. The castle is under the care of the National Trust and, though small, creates quite a spectacular scene. We took lots of photos but then it got to be too windy and, since the bus was not running that day, we did not brave the long walk.

The island plays an important part in Christianity.  In the early 700s the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was made there. Sometime in the second half of the 10th century an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) gloss was added to the Latin text, producing the earliest surviving Old English copies of the Gospels.  The Gospels were written with a good hand, but the illustrations, of Celtic, Germanic and Roman elements, are outstanding. The Lindisfarne Gospels now reside in the British Library in London. Too bad we didn’t get to see it!
the couple in the middle of the Medieval Market, ruins at the back

In medieval days when monks inhabited the island, it was thought that if the soul was in God's keeping, the body must be fortified with Lindisfarne Mead. The monks have long vanished, but the mead's recipe remains a secret of the family which still produces it. Lindisfarne mead is produced at St Aidan's Winery, and sold throughout the world. Of course, I bought one for Bill to taste!

April at the Joust
The isle of Lindisfarne was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the North. The Lindisfarne Gospels have also been featured on television among the top few Treasures of Britain. We will especially remember the island for one of our best and most inexpensive seafood meals we had in England. It was at a kiosk by the roadside. Going home, we passed by a fishing town and bought two lobsters to take to the Pijuan kitchen.  

What an unforgettable one month of stay with Clint and April. Bill was not with me but it was a great bonding time for me and my youngest and my new son-in-law. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did because Northeast England is a great place to tour!


  1. I know this area well. I really enjoyed reading about your adventures!!

    1. How did you know about the area? Didn't know the area is that pretty!

  2. Great pictures, looks like great time. Makes me want go.

  3. Thanks for taking me with you through this area. I've always want to visit Whitby, but never had the pleasure in person.

    1. You are welcome! Whitby is such a lovely place!

  4. Very coincidentally, I live in the town of New Castle (in Westchester County, New York). My town must be the new, new New Castle:-)

    1. Happy coincidence! Hope you are not too cold these next few days!

  5. Loved reading about your adventures as although I come from England I know so little about the north. Would love to go one day, so thanks for the journeying with you today :)

    1. I'm glad! Didn't kniw about the North either...until my daughter lived and loved it there!

  6. Really want to do a tour through the British Isles, even more now after reading this.

    1. And remember this is just the northeastern part! I have posts on all other parts...spent 2 months there. Thanks...that is a nice compliment.


Leave a Comment