In keeping with the ‘summer road trip’ theme like the articles we’ve been writing about 9 ways to plan an ideal road trip and road trips to check out festivals in the USA, we have a post shared with us about road tripping in England!
Normally when you put the words ‘England’ and ‘road trip’ together, they don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand but after the experience I had, I’m certain you’ll want to think again. So for those eager to begin their shoestring style road trip in good old Blighty, read on!
My friends and I decided to embark on a journey that would take us up north, as we were told that the upper half of England had some of the country’s – if not Europe’s – best beaches. Whilst the climate may not match that of our Mediterranean counterparts, we were pleasantly surprised by what our green pastures (and sandy coasts) had to offer.
We kicked off our adventure from the grand city of Carlisle, choosing to walk along Hadrian’s Wall. There was one stretch in particular that had been recommended to us, right from Birdoswald Roman Fort to Vindolanda – and despite being a hefty 11 miles long, was worth every step.
Lesson Learnt: We took my old Clio to Wales a couple of years back…well…we took it two thirds of the way. The poor thing burnt out on the M5. This time we got sensible and looked into some car hires from Holiday Autos first. We clubbed together and it worked out pretty cheap. If only we took this ‘grownup’ approach two years ago! Ah well…hindsight always hurts.
After driving up the A1 for about an hour or so, we came across the unspoilt seven mile coastal stretch known as Druridge Bay.
Mediterranean coastline? Eat your heart out.
We were extremely lucky that the sun graced us with its presence, as we were able to enjoy the most fantastic views across the bay – and we also got to see some interesting wildlife over at the County Park; where we managed to spot something known as a grasshopper warbler! I’d go again for the laughs alone.
Next up on our list was a historical sight – the infamous Bamburgh Castle. Known as the King of Castles, this majestic building had the most amazing views from the beach – and costing only £10 to get in, was extremely good value.
Though it didn’t just stop there; before going in, a little birdy told us to take a walk around the castle (the grounds were beautiful) and for food, we were told to try the ploughman’s meal and sample the four cheeses. Northumberland, you spoilt us!
Our road trip had taken us on some pretty amazing sights, and given how much travelling we had done resulted in us working up quite the appetite – so when we came across the mysteriously named Marsden Grotto – we just had to pay this place a visit.
Situated on the coast at Marsden in South Shields, we continued on the road and the UK car hire with Holiday Autos was putting my old Clio to shame. We eventually made our way to what apparently is the ‘only Fine Dining restaurant and bar located in a cave in the whole of Europe’ (according to their official website). Delicious food? Tick. Incredible sea views and location? Biggest tick EVER. If you ever want to enjoy a culinary experience mixed with being marooned on a desert cove, then the Marsden Grotto is right up your coastline.
It was truly an all-dayer and we were destroyed by the end of it. Start early, pack a lot of water and make sure your car’s a goodn’.
Sadly, all too soon our epic adventure had to come to an end and we got some rest in the first B&B we stumbled across (for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was called).
The next morning we headed back down south but not without a stop off at the home of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School first, Alnwick Castle.
If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan like me, then you’ll truly appreciate how well-kept this place is. A family home in a castle, you can see just how hard they’ve worked to conserve its historic beauty while creating a successful tourist attraction; and the interior is simply amazing.
Top tip: Try to book in advance if you’re wanting to stick to a shoestring budget, or opt for the combined ticket if you’re planning on visiting the gardens.
On behalf of the UK, Northumberland – we salute you.