Last Saturday I posted photos of the coronation procession I took part in in 1953. Irene asked if I would post photos of what was happening in my area for the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Well, it was relatively quiet where we live, nearly 350 miles from London. We watched some of the River Pageant on television:
I liked the aerial views and the close-up shots of the Queen and Royal Family, but it was different from actually being there:
The next day our son and his family came to stay and we had a barbecue on the decking, decorated with our daughter-in-law’s hand knitted bunting:
Food was eaten, drinks were drunk and games were played:
Then in the evening we went to one of the 4,200 Diamond Jubilee Beacons that were lit all over the UK and the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Commonwealth and Overseas UK Territories. Ours was at Watchlaw Farm in Northumberland, where there are magnificent views of the Cheviots and the Tweed Valley:
The beacon was lit just after 10pm:
and soon it was blazing away:
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
D took a video which is on YouTube – watch out for the rocket towards the end of the video!
Last Monday we visited Bamburgh Castle on the coast in Northumberland overlooking the North Sea. It’s a dramatic sight, a huge castle extending over ¼ of a mile, built on a volcanic outcrop, 45 metres above sea level. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)
Bamburgh Castle was bought by Lord Armstrong (who built Cragside) and renovated by him at the end of the 19th century. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is open to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events and has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1972), and Elizabeth (1998).
The entrance is through two gatehouse towers, which still have some of the original stonework. They were altered and added to in the 19th century.
From there you walk along the Battery Terrace, with its cannons facing the sea, placed there ready to defend the castle when Napoleon threatened to invade Britain.
From the Battery Terrace you can see Lindisfarne to the north and the Farne Islands to the south. Lindisfarne is just a dot on the horizon above the first cannon in the photo.
The photo below is of the Keep, which was originally built in the 12th century. It sits on a massive plinth to prevent attackers digging beneath it and setting fires to collapse it.
And finally a view of Bamburgh Castle taken from the road from Seahouses to Bamburgh:
Not very far from where we live stands Twizel Castle, high up on the hillside above the River Till. You can see it from the road glimpsed through the trees. I imagined what it was like to have lived there and wondered who had built it. It’s now in ruins, was it one of the castles that had been attacked centuries ago by the Scots, from just over the border?
One day instead of just looking as we passed it we stopped and walked up to see it properly. It’s up a steep footpath:
and this is what we found:
and inside, dereliction:
It’s amazing it’s still standing:
This castle is not what it seems. It was never lived in as it’s an 18th century castle that was never completed. It stands on the site of a medieval tower house, that was, indeed, destroyed by the Scots in 1496. It’s a Grade 2 Listed Building and is on English Heritage’s At Risk Register. For more information see Images of England and Gatehouse Gazetteer.
Berwick-upon-Tweed is an interesting English town near the border with Scotland, with three bridges crossing the Tweed. There are the Elizabethan Town Walls, Ramparts, Barracks, a ruined castle and quaint passageways like Dewars Lane, which dates back to medieval times. This is what it looks like today.
The white building on the right at the end of the passageway is now a Youth Hostel, Art Gallery and Bistro. It was built in 1769 and was originally a granary. Its fantastic tilted walls are the result of a fire in 1815, after which it was propped up rather than being rebuilt. It was used for storing grain up until 1985 and was then left unoccupied, gradually becoming derelict. It has recently been restored by the Berwick Preservation Trust.
The artist L S Lowry sketched it in 1936 on one of his many visits to the town and it is now part of the town’s Lowry Trail. Below is Lowry’s pencil drawing of the Lane.
A couple of years ago we went to the Glasgow Science Centre on the banks of the River Clyde .
There is so much to see and do in the Centre, not least the Planetarium which dominates the scene as you approach the entrance.
You can go up to the roof, where the view is excellent:
The armadillo shaped building on the north bank of the Clyde is the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, where, amongst other events, they hold hold auditions for X-Factor.
The Planetarium is fascinating – I wished it was possible to take photos inside, but of course I couldn’t. It was enough, though, to sit back and gaze upon the night sky and have constellations and planets pointed out to me.
This is the Bell Tower at the northern side of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the most northerly town in England. It was built about 1577, replacing a 14th century tower on the medieval walls of the town. There used to be a warning bell in the tower that sentries would sound at the sight of danger to the townspeople. At one time there used to be a beacon on top, which could be lit if the country was invaded.
These days it’s an odd sight on a grassy mound at the end of a residential road.
But in earlier days it was in a prime position overlooking the sea, the fields and the town. Nearby is Lord’s Mount, a fort built in around 1540 during Henry VIII’s reign. It was orginally on two floors but all that remains are parts of the ground floor and you can see fireplaces, a flagged kitchen floor, a well and a privy.
There used to be guns mounted on the parapet and I climbed what was left of the steps to see the view. I didn’t venture on to the top; it was very windy and I don’t have a head for heights!
Our first sight of the castle was as it appeared behind the railway line:
The Castle was was built in stone during the reign of Henry II, between 1168 and 1178, at a cost of £1,144. There was an earlier castle on the site, a wooden motte and bailey castle built by William the Conqueror’s son, Robert Curthose. This was replaced by the stone castle – hence the name of Newcastle! It stands high above the River Tyne – Newcastle upon Tyne.
This is the Castle Keep, which is the only remaining part of the 12th century Castle:
It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is open to the public, but we didn’t have time that day to go inside. On our next visit to Newcastle, we will make time to have a proper look at the Castle Keep!
The Gatehouse to the Castle is still standing – the Black Gate. It was added to the Castle site in 1247 by Henry III. The wooden footbridge was originally a drawbridge.
I took these photos of Smailholm Tower, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders on a grey day in November last year. It’s open to the public, but in the winter it’s only open at the weekends and we went on a weekday! We keep meaning to go back and see the inside.
I think it’s an impressive sight!
It’s a peel tower perched on top of a rocky crag, originally built in the 15th/16th centuries to protect its occupants from English raiders. It’s now a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of Historic Scotland.
Although the Tower now stands alone on the crag it was once the centre of a small castle toun. Sir Walter Scott stayed with his grandparents who lived at Sandyknowe Farm in the hollow near the Tower, where his parents hoped his delicate health would improve. It was there that his love of the Borders began as his aunt and grandmother recited to him ballads and Border tales and legends.
On Wednesday we walked alongside the River Till in Northumberland, England to its junction with the River Tweed, in Scotland.We started at the medieval Twizel Bridge – the bridge crossed by the English Army on their way to the battle at Flodden in 1513. The bridge is now a pedestrian route, the traffic speeding along a new main road. Both bridges across the River Till are shown in my photo below. (The medieval bridge is in front of the new bridge) :
Here is a closer look at the medieval bridge:
As we went along the river bank the salmon were leaping out of the water, but no matter how quick I tried to be with the camera I couldn’t snap a fish as it leapt out of water. This is the closest I got:
The nearer circle is where the fish jumped out and the further one where it went back into the river!
We carried on down the river bank to Twizel Viaduct. This stands 90 feet over the Till and used to carry the Tweedmouth to Kelso railway line. It was built by the York Newcastle & Berwick Railway between 1846-9. This line closed in 1965:
The autumn trees still have most of their copper leaves:
But when we got to the junction of the Till and Tweed there were these leafless trees on the opposite side of the river. The angle of the trunks is just amazing:
We weren’t the only people out enjoying the autumn sunshine – the fishermen were there too.
There is a ruined castle on the ridge overlooking the Till, but more about that in a later post.