All the kids (3girlsandaboy) are back at school with their backpacks in tow, new shoes laced up and lunch bags packed. They were all excited and ready for the new school year. It seemed like summer was a distant memory for them.
But for me, I wasn’t feeling it… I didn’t want to let go of the lazy morning wake-ups, laissez-faire schedule and barbecue dinners at the pool. So with that said, I’m going to stay in summer with this blog post in hopes to have a little escape from my current circus of school logistics and schedule. It’s the only escape I’ve got right now, so I’ll take it!
One of our family’s summer adventures included a visit to Newcastle, England which is about an hour train ride south from Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s not your typical tourist destination, but Newcastle has a special place in our hearts since we have many memories from there. We used to live in Newcastle 13 years ago because my husband, Paul, had a work opportunity there and we decided to take it without a second thought. So we packed up our things, got our 4 week old daughter ready and started a 2 year adventure living in England.
Fast forward to now, we were able to get back to Newcastle with our entire crew in tow and more… two boosters, 6 pieces of luggage, and multiple other carry-on bags for snacks and other bits and trinkets that the kids couldn’t leave home without… so AWESOME! We don’t travel lightly and with that approach we’ve had our share of misadventures! You’ll want to learn from our travel mistakes, for sure! But that will be a different topic to share with you.
Ok, back to this blog post. One of the many things that I love about Newcastle is the string of castles that border the North Sea coastline. These royal towers and estates can give you a sense of England’s history and its natural beauty. My kids always want to know which King or Queen lived there and what tragic, romantic or funny events happened in their lives. It’s drama, romance and comedy at its finest form. There’s never a dull moment!
Dunstanburgh Castle is my favorite castle because of multiple reasons. First, it has not gone through a restoration project. So what you see are the natural ruins in the midst of a rugged coastline. Second, you can’t just park up to the castle; you need to hike through a local golf course and a trail that meanders along the North Sea coast. The views are spectacular and the sheep are friendly and welcoming. Third, there is a lot of open space to allow your kids to run, climb and release any pent-up energy. You can spend hours exploring the broken down walls, toppled towers, old staircases and imagine a life of royalty. I promise Dunstanburgh Castle will not disappoint!
Another castle that we visited this summer is Alnwick Castle. This is a more typical castle destination with different exhibits, gardens and staged rooms. Alnwick Castle has gained more popularity since some of the Harry Potter movie scenes were filmed here. And with all the visitors coming in, the castle offers many activities. There are workshops and dress-up, broom flying lessons and archery, dungeons and more! This place is a true mecca for kids! And if you or your kid is a Harry Potter fan, then this is a must visit!
Other castles that we frequented when we lived in Newcastle included:
- Bamburgh Castle – A majestic castle along the coast with sandy beach views.
- Belsay Castle – This venue will periodically host different art and fashion exhibits which is something fun and different.
- Tynemouth Priory and Castle – Beautiful coastal views among the ruins.
With all that castle hopping, you can get quite hungry! Lewis’ Fish & Chips in Seahouse was our local go-to restaurant. And to continue with that tradition, we took the kids there after our full day of castle adventures. I didn’t recognize the restaurant at first since it was updated from its original and homey setting to a more modern and nautical decor. However, the fish and chips didn’t change. They were as delicious as I remembered it 13 years ago and the kids ate it up!
So whenever you get a chance to visit England, I would recommend to rent a car, use your google map and take the windy roads through the country side and visit these incredible castles! And while you are in England, here’s a short list of our other English favourites:
- English flapjacks
- British bacon butty
- Bangers and mash
- Pints and a curry
- Premiere league football
That’s it from me! If you have any favourite castles or other British favourites, don’t be shy and comment and share!