In and Around Morpeth

Monday, May 27, 2013
This morning, Dad and I said farewell to Jacquie (who very kindly let us see her horse, Hobbit, before we left), and headed south out of Scotland to Northumbria.  My friend, Anna, whom I met while studying in Aberdeen several years ago, lives just outside Newcastle, and we’ll be staying with her for the last few days of our trip.
I met Anna while studying at the University of Aberdeen, when I attended the Storytelling Society.  She is a practicing storyteller with a special love for folk stories and tales with princesses.  You can visit her website at
When we walked through the door of Anna’s home, it was to find ourselves enveloped in the smells of fresh bread and new-baked cookies.  Poor Anna had a cold, but was adamant that it wasn’t going to stop her from joining us, so immediately after lunch, we set out to visit Morpeth, a nearby historic town.
We visited the tourist centre first, and picked up a map marked with a “points of interest walk,” supposed to take an hour, then proceeded to a little shop called Curiously Wicked before starting our walk.  Curiously Wicked is a chocolate shop where you can sit and have a cup of tea or coffee served by waiters and waitresses dressed up like Edwardian servants.  I think Dad’s comment ran something like, “It’s like Downton Abby up here!”   I had the best cup of Earl Gray tea I’ve ever had, and a delicious apple cupcake.  Then, we were off again, down to the Wansbeck River where, for four pounds, Anna and I rented a boat for 30 minutes and went rowing.  Anna did most of the work, but I took a turn with the oars and only hit the banks twice!
 The boat safely back at the dock, we walked down to the famous Morpeth stepping stones.  It’s said that you haven’t visited Morpeth until you’ve fallen off the stepping stones into the Wansbeck; Dad and I only went to the third or fourth stone, and thankfully didn’t fall in—it was a little chilly!
Following our map, we wandered through a beautiful park, caught a glimpse of the ruins of Morpeth Castle (open only one day a year), and visited the public aviary.  We past the home of Admiral Collingwood, famous for taking command after Admiral Nelson’s death and, in Morpeth, for planting oak trees to replenish the forests that were destroyed to furnish the English Navy.   We also visited the Church of St. James the Great, though we could only view the outside, the church having closed for the day.
Finally, on our way home, we passed over a footbridge that provides a view back toward a beautiful arched vehicular bridge.  In recent years, the Wansbeck flooded so badly that the water touched the top of the 20-foot arches.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Lindisfarne to see the priory where The Venerable Bead penned the Ecclesiastical History of Britain in the eighth century.  Can’t wait!