Ahead of schedule,
We decided to add a quick visit to Harbottle Castle after visiting the 📄 Drake Stone and before checking out Ladys Well.
We’d seen Harbottle Castle car park just before arriving for our route earlier that day so it made perfect sense to pay a quick visit.
1km (30 minutes)
Map OS Explorer OL42
Arriving to a small, unassuming car park,
The obligatory tourist information board was Rachael’s first port of call. This was swiftly followed by checking out the engraved stone which we didn’t quite understand at the time. 📄 Wikipedia informs me that the engraving is a childs poem about the castle which if my memory of how Roman Numerals work serves me correctly would have been erected in 1998.
As we exited the gate from the car park, we were immediately presented with a field of golden flowers and a farmer in a 4×4 patiently waiting for us to cross onto the public right of way towards the ruins.
From the car park, trees obscured much of our view of the ruins, but as we followed the worn path through the field the ruins and more importantly sheep came into focus.
From the summit of the ruins, a beautiful swathing landscape comes into view. My OnePlus 6 has a good lens for a Smartphone but nothing compares to how these looked to my own eyes at the time.
After taking a look around the ruins and dodging a variety of sheep poop, I had a small exchange with a lamb who was calling for its mother.
After watching it’s mother call back to him it was really fun to watch the lamb haul ass across the top of the ruins to be reunited – something I sadly was unable to capture.
Having had our fill of Harbottle Castle, we headed back to the car and made the short drive to Holystone to take a look at the Ladys Well.
Having navigated the single track road through the very small village to the Forest Enterprise parking, it became very clear that this was going to be a very short walk and nothing close to the guides estimate of 45 minutes.
After two short paths we arrived at a kissing gate, and we respected the tradition with a quick kiss before heading towards the well, protected by thick trees.
If it were not for the fences that it was just about possible to make out from a distance, the well would be completely secluded and would be very easy to miss.
When almost upon the well, the statue and cross figures become visible. The entrance was signposted and required us to walk around the fence to the right to access the main gate.
Before posing by the gate, I noticed the village’s water supply is provided via natural stream from the well which left me a little shocked.
I’m far too used to seeing everything run through metal and plastic piping – a reminder that we’re walking through a place with a history that predates modern plumbing.
True to description, the water was very clear and with the exception of a metal debris grate, it appears as though it has looked this way for hundreds if not a thousand years.
Pulling from the guide, the statue (constructed in medieval times) in the featured image of this journal is that of St Paulinus who baptised over 3000 people in the well in Easter week of the year AD 627.
The history of Ladys Well stretches back even further with St Ninian preaching and baptising in the 5th century. It is believed the well was first constructed by Romans and has the same orientation as the Roman road leading from what today we know as Rochester, past the well and to the River Aln on the Northumberland coast.
After immersing ourselves (figuratively, not literally) in this small slice of history, we headed out and back down towards the village – passing a few inhabitants along the way.
Taking a right towards the final field, true to form we took a wrong turn and had to mount a fence to escape back onto the main road. It was then a short walk back to where we had left the car not 25 minutes prior ready to head home.
We needed a short walk for Rachael. It just so happens that Warkworth Castle is one of the shortest routes in our guidebook!
One of the shortest walks in the guide book was just over 2km at Plessey Woods – perfect for the heavily pregnant wife.
With what may just have been the final sunshine of 2020, a hike to the famed Sycamore Gap was in order.
Stonehenge was somewhere I’d wanted to visit for the longest time. So, despite the torrential rain, we decided to pay a visit.
In the afternoon, determined to continue extracting value out of our new English Heritage memberships we headed to Carisbrooke Castle in the middle of the Isle of Wight.
Entry to Osborne House gives you access to the full grounds and a section of the ground floor of the house.