Today was due to solely be a travel day. We had just over 150 miles to do and although much of it was to be on dual carriageway, that’s more than enough driving for me when at the helm of Basil’s bulky frame.
Once we got onto the A9 the journey was very straightforward. We went over the Firth of Forth on a new road bridge I didn’t even know had been constructed, and while crossing we could see the shipyard in Rosyth with one of the enormous new aircraft carriers in dock.
It is so long since we have travelled this route I was expecting to drive through the centre of Edinburgh, which used to be an annoying bottleneck, but there is a bypass around the city, which has probably been there for the lasts 30 years!
We were also surprised to find that south of Edinburgh the A1 is still single carriageway in places. The weight of traffic between Edinburgh and Berwick, where we crossed the border into England, was very light which is presumably why they have not bothered to build a dual carriageway.
As we approached the end of our journey, which followed the North Sea coast, I pointed out Holy Island or Lindisfarne to Sarah, who immediately suggested we visit. Since it is only accessible over the causeway for 12 hours a day she quickly checked the tides and confirmed that we could make the crossing. Traversing the sand and mudflats on the long causeway to reach the island is still atmospheric, but the quiet, tranquil, almost contemplative aura the old monastic retreat had when we visited nearly 40 years ago has largely disappeared. As we reached the island we were confronted by a huge carpark, disgorging hundreds of visitors from their cars and coaches. This is a weekday in June, goodness knows what its like in July and August.
After one look at the crowds I immediately turned Basil round and headed back across the causeway. Many attractions in our crowded isle can bear the weight of tourists but in my opinion an island famed for its peace and remoteness is not one of them. As tourists we are of course part of the problem, but we are in the lucky position of being able to pick and choose and we chose to leave. Perhaps we will try again on a cold Wednesday in February!
I was aware that just along the coast from Lindisfarne is Bamburgh Castle and some huge beaches, so we decided we would try to find somewhere to park up and let the dogs have a last romp on the sand. As we passed the castle I didn’t hold out much hope, but just a mile or so up the road we found a quiet, free car park next to the sand dunes.
We, together with the dogs, spent a pleasant hour on the extensive beach with great views of Bamburgh Castle. As I’ve said many times before, Melek, the reluctant walker, loves beaches. He ran and ran and ran. One of the disadvantages of this beach being so large is that Melek would spot another dog in the distance and run off to say hello with me running after him, shouting his name, and being roundly ignored. It always causes amusement to the owners of the other dogs, but some day he will meet a dog who is not pleased to see him.
Finally we navigated some twisty Northumbrian country roads to find our CL near Alnwick (55.399136, -1.683963 £12 including electricity). It is a small, but nicely located site, very convenient for the A1. The owner has a kennel full of labradors and springer spaniels, all working retrievers. A few minutes ago Sarah spotted him coming back with nine of them from a walk. As a car approached he said “heel” and all nine immediately huddled around him. A bit of a contrast to Melek and Mabel!
Tomorrow we have a short journey to Durham where we will spend two nights to explore the city. Our last visit before home.