Alnwick was on our list of places to visit if ever we were up this way. It has had a turbulent history due to the fractious relationship between England and Scotland. Alnwick has survived wars, skirmishes, sacking and burning. King Malcolm 111 of Scotland was killed here, marked with a cross near the castle, and King William of Scotland was captured here in the Second Battle of Alnwick. The castle was built and expanded by the Percy family (it was given to Baron de Vesci after the Norman Conquest and later acquired by the Percy family) and a wall was constructed around the town itself to defend it against the Scots Border Lords. It is a much more peaceful place today but its history can be seen throughout the town.
We were able to park near the castle and walk alongside the gardens into the town. We were only there for the day so we did not expend a great many British pounds to visit the castle and gardens. There was plenty to enjoy for free and we made the most of the day.
Having driven through the town looking for a car park, we already had our bearings. We went into the market place and ate our sandwiches on a rather splendid bench. The town seems to specialise in splendid benches! We washed them down with a cuppa from one of the cafes in the square. Never let it be said that we don’t support the local economy.
We enjoyed roaming around the historic streets before returning to the Castle and Gardens area. The railings separating the gardens from the public footpath, were splendid, and we had tantalising glimpses into the gardens beyond. We missed seeing the splendid water sculptures and the grand cascade, although we got a quick peek through the entrance gateway.
The grounds surrounding the castle are open to the public and would make an ideal place for a picnic. There were lots of families enjoying the space.
Barter Books is one of the largest second hand and antiquarian bookshops in Britain. The bookshop is housed in the old railway station and is an absolute joy to visit. There is plenty of comfortable seating, coal fires and an in-house Station Buffet serving fresh homely food all day. I could have spent all day in the bookshop but, sadly, I had to relinquish the thought and move on.
On our way back to the van, we had a look at the enormous treehouse on the outskirts of the gardens. It houses a restaurant that is accessible without paying to go into the gardens.
There is a lot more to see in Alnwick but we were really just passing through. I would recommend it as a place to visit for longer than one day.