Hexham Gaol

After breakfast we checked out of the Vermont and, in a last minute change of plan, visited Hexham on the way to our new destination, Durham. First port of call was Hexham Gaol which is built with stone from the nearby Roman Corbridge site and bills itself as the earliest purpose-built prison in England.

The Moot Hall - Hexham

Afterwards we walked around the town calling in at a couple of book shops where Mr C hoped to find a book on the Battle of Hexham, before having lunch in the Refectory Cafe at Hexham Abbey. We both chose a toasted cheese scone with chutney which was delicious, although messy due to melting butter.

Angel Wings - Hexham Abbey

After lunch we visited the Abbey which currently has an installation called ‘Angel Wings’ that was inspired by the 2020 ‘Wing and a Prayer’ installation at Ripon Cathedral. The Angels are displayed at a height of 45 ft in the chancel and in other places around the building. They are personal dedications and commemorations from people who were affected by the 2020/21 pandemic.

Tour of Britain

As we left Hexham, we noticed that the road was being cordoned off and there was a police presence. We soon realised that this was due to a stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race passing by that afternoon. A bit further down the road we were redirected by a police motorcyclist as our planned route had also been temporarily blocked. We realsised this was a ‘not to be missed’ opportunity so did a U-turn and parked at the side of the road near to where the cyclists would pass and waited for them to arrive.  When the last of the cyclists had gone by we continued our journey following the race until eventually it peeled off in a different direction.

Tour of Britain Tribute

This explained a lovely bicycle display that I had admired whilst walking around Hexham.

The Wenlock Suite

Once at Durham we checked in where there was a bit of a saga with authorising the credit card. When this had been resolved we were directed to a lovely room on the ground floor, named The Wenlock Suite. We were also informed that the room would be serviced every three days and that if we needed tea or coffee to ask at reception. We were rather dismayed to find only paper cups!

We unpacked our bags and chilled out for a while before visiting the hotel bar for a pre dinner drink. They had run out of our first choice of beverage so we had to go for plan B. Dinner was in a restaurant called The Cellar Door. We managed to walk down the wrong set of very steep outdoor steps only to be redirected to the correct entry to the restaurant, a small doorway where we were led down just as many steps into the cellar. I chose chicken supreme which was delicious.

The Market Square

Durham at Night

After dinner we had a stroll around the square to the sounds of a busker singing ‘I only have eyes for you’.   Someone in the square decided to join in with him which rather drowned out his lovely singing voice.

We returned to the hotel for a nightcap and were told by the bar staff that the bar was closing in 10 minutes. It was 10.20 and the bar shouldn’t close until 11pm. We made our order and 15 minutes later we were told it was last orders if we would like anything else to which we said no thankyou.

A little while later, just before 11pm another couple arrived and sat down at the bar and ordered drinks only to be told the bar had shut. The produced an exclamation of ‘Really’ to which the reply was ‘well we are in 2.5 minutes time’. They were promptly served causing another larger group of people to purchase another round of drinks. Shortly after this the bar tender tried to take Mr C’s glass away before he had finished his drink!

No Comments CherryPie on Sep 27th 2021

St Nicholas Cathedral

For breakfast I chose the continental option which was delicious. Afterwards, we returned to the Cathedral to appreciate some of the things that I had learned about in the guidebook I purchased the previous day. Some of the Cathedral’s features were now temporarily covered over for a student graduation event. It was lucky that we had visited the day before because I would have missed out on the new guidebook and getting my pilgrim passport stamped.

Alnwick Castle

We drove to Alnwick. Mr C wanted to visit the castle because of current interest in the Wars of the Roses. Despite having to book a time slot, the castle seemed a lot busier that I remembered it on previous visits. Visitors were asked to keep a respectable distance from others but many people ignored this. One woman was herding me along, almost in my pocket. I stepped to one side to let her go in front. She muttered an apology and someone else got herded along.

Alnwick Castle

Mr C visited the military museum in one of the castle’s turrets. I chose to wait outside soaking up the rays. The castle shop turned out to be disappointing and Mr C didn’t find any books on his subject. We had hoped to have lunch in the café but it was shut due to staff shortages. The only food outlet at the castle was a concession that sold Greek kebabs. The teashop next to Alnwick Garden was limited to mostly cake, the main café being inside the garden which we had decided not to visit. We had a quick look around the shop before heading into town for lunch. We found a takeaway sandwich bar where I chose a chicken and stuffing roll, which when it arrived was enormous. I enjoyed the delicious sandwich sitting on a bench next to the market square.

St Lawrence Church Walkworth

By the time we had finished our lunch it was too late to visit Cragside (as I had hoped) for its formal garden and pleasure drive. Instead we headed off along the ‘coastal route’, eventually stopping at Warkworth where we found a teashop that had a piece of raspberry Bakewell tart with my name on it. Before leaving Warkworth, we visited St Lawrence Church and explored its treasures.

The Castle, Newcastle

The carparking area around the hotel was in utter chaos when we arrived. Mr C grabbed the last pay and display space rather than struggle to see if a space could be found on the hotel carpark. After we had parked we learned that the reason for the chaos was due to some students having their graduation celebration in one of the hotel’s function rooms.

Safely back in the room, we freshened up before dining in The French Quarter, Arch 6, the arch being one of the arches under the railway viaduct. We found that the French cuisine was served in a Spanish Tapas style and whilst we perused the menu we enjoyed a glass of bubbly Prosecco.

2 Comments CherryPie on Sep 26th 2021

The Tyne Bridge

The Vermont breakfast was up to its usual standard.  We had become accustomed during our recent hotel stays to table service being the only option due to Covid safety issues but unexpectedly the usual buffet service was on offer.   However, a time slot needed to be booked in advance to restrict the flow of people in the breakfast room. My choice of breakfast was scrambled eggs on toast which was one of the items that is cooked to order.

St Nicholas Cathedral

After breakfast we visited St Nicholas Cathedral and were surprised to see it had changed a lot since our previous visits. The space had been opened up to let in more light. Later, I found out from the latest guidebook that this was due to a project to make the Cathedral more open and accessible. Part of the project involved removing the Victorian pews and tiles which revealed secrets beneath.  The transformation is amazing. Whilst in the Cathedral I got my Pilgrimage Passport stamped with both a stamp and sticker, the latter being placed carefully to cover the bleed from a stamp on the reverse page. We had hoped to visit the Catholic Cathedral and bookshop but on arrival we found that it was closed on Wednesdays. So we returned to St Nicholas Cathedral tea shop for elevenses before driving to Jesmond Dene.

Jesmond Dene

We had lovely walk around the parkland at Jesmond Dene taking in some of the historical features along the way. After our walk we shared a tuna baguette from the cafe, sitting outside in the sunshine until it was time to meet JD. On our way to his house we had a mini adventure. All the local carparks required coins to pay rather than a card payment so Mr C stopped off to visit a bank which he found was closed on Wednesdays. He found a nearby bank that was open. The cashier was bemused by his request for coins; “We don’t hold coins,”


After this diversion we  continued on our journey. We had a lovely afternoon chatting with JD and came away with a generous gift of paintings including one that Mr C had liked on two of our previous visits (the photo does not do the painting justice).

Back at the hotel, with the help of the concierge, we were able to get a space on the hotel carpark. When we entered our room, we were pleased to find that it had been serviced despite being told that it would not be when we checked in.

Dinner was in Restaurant 21. The food was a little slow to arrive due to the restaurant being unexpectedly (for them) busy. The service and food were excellent.

The Sage at Night

We walked back to the hotel along the quayside. I was amused to find that the Sage Gateshead building that appears as a giant slug by day had resembed a sailing ship at night, the structure almost invisible with the insides glowing.

6 Comments CherryPie on Sep 23rd 2021

hollies Garden Centre

We surprised ourselves by being ready to set off on our holiday adventure early. The Satnav took us on a delightful route through Hodnet, Whitchurch and Tarporley. Just before we joined the motorway south of Warrington, we stopped off at Hollies Garden Centre in Little Budworth, Cheshire for a late breakfast. I chose a danish pastry and a refreshing cup of tea. The wasps were out in force so I had to keep my pastry half wrapped in its bag to keep them at bay.

Kirkby Lonsdale

Our lunch stop was Kirkby Lonsdale. After struggling to park we found a sandwich bar where I chose chicken salad and watched the chicken being freshly sliced. Whilst the sandwiches were being made we chatted to the lady serving us. She mentioned that she often had customers who were cycling from Lands End to John o’ Groats. We ate our sandwiches sitting under the town’s market cross and enjoying views of the distant hills.

Mainsgill Farm

After lunch we rejoined the M6 before travelling through Kirkby Stephen where we realised that we had mixed our Kirkbys up (again) and this was where we had intended to stop for lunch. Our journey took us past Brough towards Scotch Corner and  Mainsgill Farm Shop where we stopped for a cup of tea. It has changed a lot since our previous visit a few years ago so we took the opportunity to browse around the shop. I enjoyed seeing the resident camels, although I still miss Kevin who was such a character, often wandering over to customers and posing for photos.

The Tyne Bridge

Later, we arrived at the Vermont to find that the hotel carpark was full and we had to pay to park the car overnight. After checking in and unloading the car we headed into Newcastle. Whilst in town we spent some time in Waterstones both ending up with a purchase, mine being a cookbook ‘Simply Raymond’ which I had had my eye on for some time.

Back at the hotel we freshened up before dining in the hotel restaurant. We found that menu had become more down market than on our previous stays, although when the food (Haddock and Chips for me) arrived it was both excellent and delicious. We had a nightcap in the hotel bar before retiring for the evening.

8 Comments CherryPie on Sep 21st 2021

If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature’s way.


Jesmond Dene

8 Comments CherryPie on Sep 19th 2021

Two great holiday locations to go exploring from. I need to organise my photos so that I can share my adventures.

The Cathedral of St Nicholas

Durham Cathedral

4 Comments CherryPie on Sep 18th 2021

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

Croft Castle Walled Garden

6 Comments CherryPie on Sep 17th 2021

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