Road Trip: North East

December 9, 2020

by Eleanor Dinnes

Hadrian’s Wall, giant High Force waterfalls, the quaint Durham city and an eye test at Barnard Castle. Our North East road trip takes in all the best sites.

  1. Barnard Castle and The Bowes Museum
  2. High Force waterfall – Middleton in Teesdale
  3. Alston village and Kilhope mine
  4. Hadrian’s wall – various points
  5. Beamish Museum – Open air Victorian living museum
  6. Durham city


Barnard Castle

30 mins from The Black Swan

A favourite destination of Dominic Cummings, Barnard Castle is a beautiful old town filled with antique shops and cafes. It is also the home of The Bowes Museum (sister of the V&A in London). They have fantastic collections acquired by the Bowes-Lyon family as well as exhibits on loan from the V&A. The town itself and the village of Bowes have links to Charles Dickens’s book Nicholas Nickleby and there are plaques denoting these throughout the town. Drive past Barnard Castle School and you can also visit Egglestone Abbey ruins just 5 minutes away from the town centre.

The Bowes Museum – www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk
Barnard Castle – www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/barnard-castle
Egglestone Abbey – www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/egglestone-abbey


High Force & Teesdale

40 Minute Drive

High and Low force waterfalls are beautiful and easily reached from the hotel. You can either travel via Barnard Castle or head over the fells is the weather permits. Teesdale itself is full of idyllic villages such as Romaldkirk and Cotherstone which are beautiful to drive through. Park up at High force and take the 15-minute walk to the falls. You can take a longer walk between the two falls but this is not suitable for people who find fell walking difficult.

High force – www.thisisdurham.com/things-to-do/high-force-waterfall-p26441


Alston & Killhope Mine

60 mins Drive

Weardale is a long dale stretching from the heart of County Durham straight across to the very edge of Cumbria. Alston sits at the Cumbrian end of the valley and is a very small town with lovely small cafes and a few shops. It doesn’t get more “dalesman” than this. Further along Weardale is Killhope lead mine.  This is a brilliant educational day out for the family and a chance to see the harsh conditions the miners of County Durham endured. If you’re brave enough you can head down the mine itself. Head back along  the dale in the direction of Stanhope to make a full loop back round to Teesdale, Barnard Castle and back to Cumbria.

Alston –  www.visitcumbria.com/evnp/alston
Killhope lead mining museum – www.killhope.org.uk


Hadrian’s Wall

1 hour – 2 hours drive depending on which section you visit

Hadrian’s wall is the barrier built by the Roman Army as the border between the Roman Empire and the world beyond. This really is an amazing place to visit and there are various places along the wall for you to see Roman settlements, active archaeological digs and walk along some of the remaining wall. Vindolanda and Housesteads are possibly some of the best places to see Hadrian’s wall and a full roman settlement with museum, live dig, café and tourist centre. This is definitely a highlight for any history lover!

Vindolanda – www.vindolanda.com
Housesteads –  www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/housesteads-roman-fort-hadrians-wall


Beamish Open Air Museum

1 Hour Drive from The Black Swan Hotel

Beamish is one of the greatest places to visit (in my opinion) in the whole of the north. It is several small hamlets and houses with a full village built in Beamish park to resemble a Georgian/Victorian northern town. It has real working Victorian shops, farms, trains, mines and cafés all manned by actors who complete the experience. It is totally fantastic and very educational. The only way to describe it is to go and spend a full day – get ready for your mind to be blown. It’s a very full day so set off early.

Beamish – www.beamish.org.uk


Durham City

70 minute drive from the hotel

Durham city is stunning in so many ways and well worth a visit. Take a wonder around its beautiful old streets, enjoy the lovely bookshops and cafes, explore Durham Cathedral and learn about the ancient history of this part of the country. Keep an eye out on the Cathedral’s website for performances inside as well as special events that happen throughout the year, Kynren is a wonderful festival of British History that happens just outside of Durham every year – if you’re here at the right time you’re very lucky and should try and snap up some tickets. The same can be said for Durham Lumiere festival of light and the Christmas markets.

Durham – www.thisisdurham.com
Durham Cathedral – www.durhamcathedral.co.uk
Kynren – www.kynren.com
Lumiere – www.lumiere-festival.com

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