Our Northumberland excursion started with a visit to Ashbourne for a house viewing (unfortunately, a disappointing viewing, so our search continues) before making our way further north.
On leaving Ashbourne, we got wind of problems on the M1 and soon found that we would have to take a diversion to avoid it (it was closed between two junctions due to an accident) – disappointingly, the diversion took us into a traffic jam caused by yet another accident and we wasted several hours before we were able to motor on.
However, these delays then resulted in us arriving at Newcastle just in time for rush hour, so a further hour was lost while we navigated our way around the city.
Not the best start to our adventure – a drive that should have taken six hours ended up taking thirteen! – and it proved to be an omen for the rest of trip.
It rained! We managed to get out and about but walking was restricted and the camera stayed in the bag.
We visited Bamburgh and got a ‘Wow!’ moment when we turned the corner and saw the castle for the first time – it really is a very impressive building. We were going to grab some breakfast first but everywhere was still closed, so we had a wander along the beach – how good was that? A beautiful spot with golden sands, dunes and views of the castle.
Brunch was followed by a trip to Berwick upon Tweed – I’d heard how nice it was and there was a pic of the bridge that we wanted to grab. However, plans went astray when we found the path to the bridge was closed and we decided to move on following a walk along the ramparts which resulted in an incident with some of the local yobs who were bombing people and cars with raw eggs!
Such a disappointment when places don’t live up to your expectations but at least we can cross it off our list of places we like.
It rained! Another day of wandering around, avoiding the worst of the weather and visiting several cafes.
On the plus side, we visited Alnmouth, which is a gem of a seaside village – lovely beaches and we met some terrific people.
We’d also visited Alnwick in the morning but weren’t overly impressed with it – and anyway, it rained! Again!
Woohoo – we managed a sunrise at Bamburgh Castle. We were down on the beach by 6.30am and found that three other photographers were already in place.
The sunrise wasn’t spectacular (and it was very windy) so there weren’t many images kept from the morning but it was great to be out.
One thing we found during the week is that Northumberland is the place to go if you like beaches – we found several absolutely stunning examples and kept returning to two in particular – Bamburgh and Alnmouth.
Back to Bamburgh again – this time for a morning session with Andy Gray for a lesson on how to produce ICM (intentional camera movement) images. It’s basically jiggling your camera around to capture images and then processing them afterwards on a computer. We really enjoyed the session with Andy and he showed that there is more to it than simply swinging the camera about (check out his website: www.andrewsgray.photography).
Holy Island (Lindisfarne) had been on our list of places to visit while we were here so, instead of trying to get on and off the island before the tide turned (the causeway link to the island gets submerged when the tide is in), we decided to spend the whole day here and it proved to be a good move.
As we arrived at the car park, we were greeted by a beautiful Barn Owl landing by the entrance – not something that you normally see so I jumped out and grabbed the camera to try and get a picture. However, as I made my way to the entrance, a police car pulled over to check on the owl which caused it to fly off into the distance. I may not have got a picture but it was the talking point for the rest of the day!
The rest of the day was spent wandering around the island, checking out the Priory and Castle to see if there was anything worth photographing - there were plenty of options but the grey sky and poor light meant that we came away with nothing.
Oh, and we also had a wonderful encounter with a Kestrel - we'd seen it flying around and tried following it get a photo but as soon as we got close it sauntered off. We then spotted it sat on the castle walls so tried sneaking up on it but it saw us and moved on but then came back and hovered directly above us - it couldn't have been more than 20-30m above us, and stayed there for some time while we just marveled at how lucky we were to experience that. We still didn't get a picture, mind you!
Having packed the camera away, we decided to do the walk around the island and, while it was windy, we were lucky enough to avoid any rain until we got back to the village – a lovely walk, followed by coffee and cake but no further sight of the Barn Owl.
Another early rise as a sunrise looked possible so we were back at Bamburgh – we actually arrived way too early, so parked up in the car and waited.
An hour and a half later, and with no sunrise due to a lot of cloud cover, we decided that it was time to make our way home.
Northumberland has some wonderful photographic opportunities – given the right conditions - but the week had proved to be our most disappointing trip away, with the weather not playing ball, which shows how lucky we’ve been on all of our other travels.
Anyway, we’ll quickly move on from this one as we’ve got another short break coming up but before that there is our first Art Show to prepare for – more on that later.