Further tales from Northumberland: Travelling Along the Great Whin Sill
Published: Monday 18th Apr 2016
Written by: The Grace Darling Holidays Team
This week on the latest instalment of Further Tales from Northumberland, Robson Green followed the route of the Great Whin Sill, the rock formations that give Northumberland its distinctive rugged and beautiful landscape.
Formed nearly 300 million years ago, the Whin Sill is the very backbone of Northumberland, and Robson began this week’s journey at the most easterly edge – The Farne Islands, a place home to over 20 different types of seabird and is a spot that’s synonymous with local heroine Grace Darling.
In 1838 Grace and her lighthouse keeper father William braved the stormy sea to save nine crew members of the shipwrecked SS Forfarshire, an act of bravery that made her a local legend.
After visiting the place where she’s buried, Robson learned more about the modest young heroine, who tragically lost her own life after a battle with TB at just 26. Find out more about her from our website, Grace Darling Holidays, which is named after Grace: http://www.gracedarlingholidays.com/explore/grace-darling-museum/
From there, Robson followed the route of the Whin Sill along to the market town of Alnwick, to visit the second largest inhabited castle in England, Alnwick Castle. The powerful Percy family have lived here for over 700 years and Lady Jane Percy is famed for her fabulous work overhauling the now-famous Alnwick Garden.
Inspired by gardens from the Palace of Versaille to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, this garden is treat for the senses. But along with a stunning array of beautiful blooms – and no less than 180 varieties of roses – there’s also a garden filled with danger here: the Poison Garden.
Lady Jane took it upon herself to give Robson a guided tour of the ‘plants that can kill’, even showing off everything from plants most of us have in our own gardens, to illicit specimens which required a special licence from the Home Office to grow, including cannabis. If you fancy visiting, check out the Alnwick Castle website and the The Alnwick Garden website.
As well as having a starring role in the early Harry Potter movies, another claim to fame Alnwick Castle has is playing host to one of Northumberland’s greatest sporting traditions once a year: Shrovetide Football.
For over 200 years, the people of Alnwick have turned out to take part in this game played at the castle every winter. And with no pitch markings, no referee and no limit on player numbers, it means chaos all round! Once the game is over, the ball is kicked into the river and the first to reach it and carry it to shore wins. And since it sounded so fun, it was only fair Robson gave the rough and tumble game a go himself!
This week Robson's explorations along the Whin Sill concluded on a spot along Hadrian’s Wall, where he learned about the importance of Roman pottery in our history – and even had a go at making some.
Next time on Further Tales From Northumberland, Robson goes hunting in rock pools, visits the rare sea birds of Beadnell Bay and tries his hand at kite buggying along the coast.
If you’ve been inspired by Robson’s travels around Northumberland, find your perfect holiday cottage in the area with Grace Darling Holidays.