A Day Out In Alnwick
Alnwick is about 20 minutes from Beacon Hill and lots of my guests go there to visit the three main attractions. They all have web sites but you will find an introduction to all three below.
The Alnwick Garden
The Alnwick Garden is one of the worlds most ambitious new gardens. The Duchess of Northumberlands vision for a forgotten plot is now a truly 21st century experience full of imagination, inspiration and fun. The Garden is a wonderful combination of spaces, themes, quirkiness and play.
Sparkle Grand Cascade (c)Graeme PeacockFrom the tranquillity of the Cherry Orchard, the excitement of the Grand Cascade and the mysteries of the Bamboo Labyrinth, to the Serpent Gardens spell-binding water sculptures, the intrigue of the Poison Garden and one of the worlds largest tree houses, there is plenty to surprise and delight.
The Garden is a space designed to be enjoyed with a collection of over 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and countless opportunities to get wet and play in the Gardens water sculptures. It might be worth taking some dry clothes as I often see children getting utterly drenched.
Wheelchair access is available throughout the garden.
Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England. It is the home of The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and is open from April until October.
The state rooms are some of the finest in Europe in the style and aesthetics of the Italian Renaissance. There are countless priceless items of paintings and furniture in these rooms – the ceilings are a thing of wonder. There is a marquetry table in one room that 2 craftsmen spent 3 years making and I don’t suppose they were working hours that would be allowed by the European Time Directive!
Alnwick Castle doubles as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, as fans of the series will recognise. The Disney Corporation have limited what the Castle can do to cash in on this connection but they have still managed to make it an exciting trip for youngsters.
Barter Books is a magnet for visitors every day of the year except Christmas Day, from 9am to 7pm. It is based in part of Alnwick’s magnificent old Victorian railway station which closed in 1968.
There are thousands of second hand books available, some of great value. I always ask when visiting what the most expensive book they have at the moment and the highest priced so far has been £46,000!
The shop has many extra features: open fires in the winter, beloved by all. The Station Buffet now has an Executive Chef and an extensive menu! Food is served all day and this restaurant now serves more meals than anywhere else in Alnwick as the quality is so good. One eats ones meals in the different waiting rooms, many of which have roaring coal fires. No wonder this has become such a popular place to spend time.
Barter BooksChildren love Barter Books as they still mostly love books – but there is more to offer- there is a children’s room with enough toys to allow parents and grandparents to browse elsewhere in peace, provided one guardian is left to look after the children!
A model railway runs above ones head, never stopping.
I strongly suggest you visit Barter Books and it is a place one can visit time and time again. A large proportion of the books in the cottages have come from here and as a child I used the station. It is great to see it come to life again and it is now one of the best bookshops in the UK