20 - 24 MAY 2008


Hello, I am Dunstan and I come from Northumberland. So, when Uncle Brian and Dad went on another visit to Northumberland, taking me and a few of my other Hug pals, they all said that I should be the one to write the story about our visit. I hope that you enjoy reading about our adventures and what we saw.


Setting off mid morning we headed north up the M6 at one point passing through the Lune Gorge where the Howgill Fells tower to one side. We were interested to see them as we know that our intrepid Hug walking group STAG had climbed many of them. Today Dad had said that we were going the direct route passing by and over the remains of Hadrian's Wall built in Roman times to keep the marauding Scots out. It was now getting near lunchtime so as you would expect they found a café to stop at. This was at Kirkharle where the buildings have been converted to accommodate a number of different artisan workshops.

However Kirkharle has a much greater claim, as it is the birthplace of Lancelot Brown otherwise known as "Capability" Brown the most famous English landscape designer. More information at - www.gardenvisit.com/biography/lancelot_capability_brown

For the first time we were staying at the Blue Bell Hotel in Belford. In the past we have always stayed with Aunt Pam and Uncle Kenny but they have now retired. We called in to see them for a chat. They made such a fuss and I got a hug too. It was then just a short drive to Belford and the hotel.

It is a very comfortable and friendly place as we had a nice room with a settee that we bears immediately took over. While Uncle Brian and Dad went for their dinner we relaxed in the room having our picnic.


It was a sunny morning and today I took Chuck, Lucky, and Norfolk Shades for their day out. We drove to the village of Bamburgh with its huge castle that is literally above the beach.

We did not visit the castle today, but instead went to the newly extended Grace Darling museum run by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). Grace lived with her family at the lighthouse on Longstone in the Farne Islands just off the coast from Bamburgh. She became a national hero when on the 7th September 1838 she rowed with her father in their coble in ferocious seas to rescue the survivors from the steamship Forfarshire that had foundered on the nearby Big Harcar Rock.

The museum was fascinating having on display many items relating to the family and Grace and also the actual boat used in the rescue. It is large and of heavy construction and we could only marvel at the effort that must have been required to carry out the rescue. Chuck is an RNLI bear so he was fussed over by the manager and staff. Here we are with the museum in the background. Left to right - Norfolk Shades, Chuck, Dunstan & Lucky.

Almost next door is the cottage where Grace Darling was born.

She died of consumption only four years after the rescue, and is buried in the churchyard of St. Aidan’s Church opposite…

This is named after the early Christian saint and Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in the church in 651AD. See - www.lindisfarne.org.uk/general/aidan.htm

Well, after all this excitement we were ready to have a rest in the car while Dad drove us to Chillingham Castle, where Aunt Julie runs the café situated in the old kitchen with walls about 10ft thick. They had lovely soup and then Uncle Brian had a scone with butter and Dad a large piece of chocolate cake - you know what he is like by now! We all sat out but did not have anything to eat as we had picnicked in the car earlier. With the thick walls it is always cool in here so the huge log fire made it really warm and cosy. It was then back to the hotel to tell our other friends all about the day.


After a cloudy start the sun soon came out but the strong cool wind prevented Uncle Brian and Dad wearing their shorts. Today I took Dougal Tennyson and Warwick for their day out. We went to the island of Lindisfarne (known as Holy Island) crossing by the causeway from the mainland. We had to be sure that we got off in good time in the afternoon as the tide covers it and the island is cut off. Uncle Brian has a disabled parking badge and so we were able to take the car into the village and in fact we parked overlooking the harbour. Dad took us for a walk and we were interested to see the old upturned boats that have been converted into storage sheds.

Outside one was a bench and we settled ourselves on it. Left to right - Dougal, Dunstan, Tennyson & Warwick.

From here we were able to look across to the impressive Lindisfarne Castle.

and the ruins of the Priory.

This was one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Britain and St Aidan and St Cuthbert were both bishops here. There is a real sense of history. Nowadays the island relies on tourism and some fishing as evidenced by the lobster pots and old anchors lying nearby…

We had a most fascinating time and discussed it sitting in the car while they went to look in the shops and spend their money. On return to the mainland Uncle Brian and Dad went to a recently opened café called the Barn at Beal for lunch. We had our picnic sitting out looking at the superb view to Lindisfarne and more distantly Bamburgh Castle. There was such a lot to tell our friends when we got back, after Uncle Brian and Dad had been to visit Aunt Pam and Uncle Kenny again.


Last time we were in Northumberland Fred, Gladly Ally, Bramble and I went on the Heatherslaw Railway and we were allowed to sit on the engine. Dad sent them the photograph and we had a nice letter addressed to us saying that it would be used in "find the bear" competition at Easter weekend. We wanted to see if it was still up so Dad took us to find out. We arrived early but Dad got the tickets and we were able to settle in the carriage.

The driver and guard today were Mick and Carl who had let us sit on the engine. As Mick walked past he recognised us immediately and made such a fuss. He said that the photograph was very good and had indeed been used but had been put away safely for now. We all enjoyed the ride on the little train as it goes along slowly to Etal alongside the River Till and saw lots of birds by the river - swans with cygnets, oystercatcher, great crested grebe and lapwings. Who needs Bill Oddie and Springwatch? Here is the train at Etal Station ready for its return journey.

While there we all chatted to Mick and Carl. They told us that their wives collected soft toys and had about 100 and 40 respectively. Soon it was time to return to Heatherslaw so we hastily settled in the carriage. When we arrived, Dad and Uncle Brian chatted to Mick, Carl and the lady in the ticket office and then we all waved to Mick and Carl as they set off once again to Etal. While we rested in the car Uncle Brian and Dad went to the mill shop, where the lady immediately recognised them – once seen… It was now to Chillingham Castle once again to see Aunt Julie & Aunt Heather. Only I went into the café, the others going to play hide and seek in the woods! They were so pleased to see us and really made a fuss and during a quiet period sat chatting. I sat with them too to have my photograph taken – it made my day…

All too soon it was time to go and having rounded up Fred & Co. we returned to the hotel. A feature of the holiday had been the huge amount of yellow gorse that is all over the countryside. Here is just one example.

Well our holiday was over again and all that remained was to return home the next day. We all had lovely memories of our visit and Dad took the usual group photo in the garden of the hotel.

back - Dougal
middle row - Tennyson, Gladly, Chuck, Fred & Warwick
front row - Ally, Dunstan, Norfolk Shades, Lucky & Bramble


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