Summer in the UK: Northern highlights
From Hadrian's Wall to Scarborough's seafront, this region has top attractions and little-known delights, as Jackie Hunter discovers
Sunday 08 August 2010
It's almost 200 years since Lord Byron married Annabella Milbanke at Seaham Hall (0191 516 1400; seaham-hall.co.uk), her parents' elegant cliff-top home by the wild North Sea coast.
The marriage was brief, but the poet's romantic legacy lingers because the house is now a luxurious boutique hotel. It's designed to be enjoyed à deux, with its sumptuous rooms and the sybaritic Serenity Spa, which was a finalist in the Good Spa Awards 2010. Enjoy a soothing Balinese massage for two, then reinvigorate yourselves in the ozone pool, steam room, sauna and – brrr! – ice fountain.
Jesmond is Newcastle's trendiest suburb, stuffed with coffee bars, boutiques and restaurants where well-heeled students and city commuters gather. Jesmond Dene House hotel (0191-212 3000; jesmonddenehouse .co.uk), a Georgian residence with an ornate Arts and Crafts extension, attracts visitors from further afield. There are 40 stylishly modern rooms, although the classical features of this Grade II-listed house are beautifully preserved. Its restaurant, bearing three AA rosettes, has undergone a redesign this summer; dine in the elegant former music room or the airy garden room.
Rural East Yorkshire now has it's first Michelin-starred restaurant, The Pipe & Glass Inn (01430 810246; pipe andglass.co.uk). Proprietors Kate and James Mackenzie (he's the chef) deliver top-quality cooking (pictured right) and hospitality, always aiming for local and seasonal: wild rabbit rissoles with cockle and caper vinaigrette, braised lamb with a mutton and kidney faggot, sage and onion risotto with walnut pesto, ginger burnt cream with stewed rhubarb compote. Children and vegetarians are well catered for. The wines come from small producers, the beers from Yorkshire breweries.
On 29 and 30 August, the magnificent 16th-century Burghley House (01780 752451; burghley.co.uk) at Stamford will turn its stable courtyard into a Fine Food Market. Whet your appetite with lunch in the Orangery restaurant, an 18th-century structure designed by Capability Brown, then shop for traditional treats from the region brought to market by 20 local producers: tangy Lincoln-shire Poacher cheese; peppery rare-breed pork sausages; and Lincolnshire plum bread.
This year sees the 40th birthday of the world-famous Beamish Museum (0191 370-4000; beamish.org.uk), 300 outdoor acres in County Durham where working life during and after the Industrial Revolution is recreated. Anniversary updates include the restored 19th-century Steam Gallopers carousel, due to open early next month. It's a nostalgia theme park, all brilliantly brought to life by costumed interpreters telling tales of the past.
Instantly recognisable as Hogwart's, the 14th-century Alnwick Castle (01665 510777; alnwickcastle.com) is a great place to visit even if you're not a Harry Potter fan. It's also home to the Duke of Northumberland, who opens his doors to some 200,000 visitors each year. Every day this month, children can take part in creative activities such as wizardry, sword fighting, dragon-making, and medieval crafts. Alnwick also has one of the world's finest contemporary gardens (accessed separately), which was rescued from dereliction a decade ago by the Duchess of Northumberland.
While Scarborough and Bridlington offer candy floss, crazy golf and amusement arcades to North Yorkshire day-trippers, between those two resorts is lovely Filey (filey.co.uk). The bay, with its five miles of golden sands, is a clean, peaceful beach spot and a haven for seabirds and wildlife. It's overlooked by an Edwardian promenade whose colourful beach huts are a famous feature, available to rent by the day or week.
Maryport Roman Festival runs throughout August at Senhouse Roman Museum (01900 816168; senhouse museum.co.uk), showing visitors to Hadrian's Wall Country how the beautiful Cumbrian coastline was defended by Roman legionaries in the hilltop fort here. Meet a soldier, handle 2,000-year-old artefacts, or eat some traditional Roman dishes recreated by local celebrity chef John Crouch. Hadrian's Wall Path (01434 322002; hadrians-wall.org) is 84 miles long but well served by public transport at different points, so you can easily walk a partial route between Cumbria and Tyneside.
For further information on all these destinations, go to: new castlegateshead.com; yorkshire.com; visitlincolnshire.com; visitnortheastengland .com; visitnorth umberland.com; nationaltrail.co.uk
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