I’m really trying to make an effort to explore the UK a little more, and in particular the North East. Since moving to Newcastle over a year ago, I’ve definitely visited a few amazing places, one those being Alnwick. Pronounced ‘annick’ like panic, Alnwick is a gorgeous little town that has some historical charming qualities.
If you search ‘what to do in Alnwick’ then you’re going to immediately be inundated with pictures and websites all telling you to visit Alnwick Castle and Gardens – and for good reason too. I’ve unfortunately never been in the castle yet, but even standing outside there’s a lot to admire. If you’re into your Harry Potter, or just love a good castle, then it’s definitely one to visit. Remember the scenes where Harry first learns to ride his broom and starts to play quidditch? Well that was all filmed right at Alnwick Castle – and they definitely cater to that audience, since you can dress up in character and get a picture on a broomstick.
But my favourite spot here is the Gardens. Trust me, I haven’t aged about 40 years, the gardens are one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever had. To tie in with the magic of Harry Potter, these gardens have a magical beauty to them. The amount of work that must go in to upkeep all the different leafy pathways, water sculptures and even wooden swings, must be insane. You can easily spend the full day here and not be bored. There’s even another garden inside full of poisonous flowers – so really something for everyone.
Sadly on our recent trip to Alnwick the weather was pretty miserable, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of the town. The main reason we went was so I could visit Barter Books – another place that will definitely come up high on that google search. It’s an independent old book store that sits in a converted railway station. You can easily lose some hours in here as there are rows and rows of books – there’s such a varied mix here that you’re sure to find something. They even sell first edition books and some records. If you do get tired out after all that shopping, you can rest your feet in their cafe and grab a coffee and some food from the buffet – the perfect spot to hide from the rain.
If you are lucky with the weather, or don’t mind the rain so much, you can hit up their market in the local square. I’m not quite sure what days this is on, but we went on a Saturday and there was some really nice stalls. Lots of fresh fruit, pottery, artwork and some clothing to shop around. I did think because of the rain that there was probably less stalls that normal, which just means I’l have to visit again.
Now after all that walking around, you’re definitely going to want to grab some food, and there are plenty of independent cafes, restaurants and pubs to chose from. We ended up going to the Black Swan pub – which had some massive portion sizes and some really delicious food. I chose the cauliflower fritters with a side of fries, whilst David went for the English classic of scampi and chips. We then shared a malteaser cheesecake (I know, not vegan, but it was really yummy!) I definitely go back here, it was super cosy and like a typical english pub. Although I didn’t really enjoy my fries, the fritters were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – I’m a cauliflower convert.
The final thing on our list was to mooch around the local shops some more. There’s actually a load of independent shops in Alnwick, which I loved! Some of the shops did look a bit like they hadn’t changed from about the 40s, so it’s amazing that they are still in business, but there was definitely plenty of modern quirky shops if you were looking for a gift or just to treat yourself.
Overall I really love visiting Alnwick, and it’s definitely a place we’ll go back to. There’s still so much left to explore and it’s really so close to Newcastle that there’s no excuse not to go. If you’ve ever been to Alnwick let me know some of your favourite spots down below! If you are looking for some more things to do in Alnwick, then I’d recommend the Visit Northumberland website.