We started our time in Northumberland in the centre of Newcastle for the Diana Wynne Jones Conference. I quite liked what I saw of Newcastle (though most of that was this massive mall-amoeba which had grown and sprawled underneath seemingly endless city blocks).
Sadly, the venue for the first day of the conference (Seven Stories) was - while a neat place - hot, stuffy and oddly-lit, which is a perfect trigger for migraines for me, so I had to go back to my hotel at midday and lie down. The next day was at Newcastle University, which was very pretty (although confusingly right next to another, similarly-named university) and starting to be touched with autumn colours (I get two autumns this year and no spring).
After the conference, we spent an entertaining morning collecting our rental car (there was a big race in the city, the rental office was shut, two hours with suitcases by the roadside, etc, etc) and headed for the first of our holiday lets. [Much cheaper to rent a place in a district for a week than constant hotel rooms, and so much nicer to have a whole house at our disposal rather than a single room.]
The cottage was near a place called Haydon Bridge. We walked down into the village one day (and then, wheeze, we walked back up O.o).
After lolling about for a day or so, we headed off to our only castle for this particular county, a place called Alnwick - once Hotspur's castle - and also Alnwick Gardens, which had both a very nice walled garden section, and a garden dedicated to plants that can kill you:
The next day we headed to Vindolanda, an excavated Roman Fort:
We were also planning to do a big walk along Hadrian's Wall the next day, but my sister had been nursing a cold the entire week, and finally managed to pass it on to me, so we did part of a circle walk around Sycamore Gap:
It was very misty most of the time we were in Northumberland, but it had burned off by the time we did get up to the top of the wall after doing the flat part of the walk. It was actually quite flat for most of the wall once you got up to the top as well - the photo quite fails to convey the being on top of a hill part. I can't help but feel sorry for the people who had to build this thing.
After this, enormous amounts of snot and phlegm, and a relocation to the Lakes District.
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