England - a thrilling weekend in Northumberland

by sbritt

The combination of an exciting horse ride on the unspoilt beach of Holy Island, a cosy B&B and an excellent night out proved to be a fabulous introduction to the north east of England

Our primary reason for visiting the north east was for me to join an exciting horse ride which took place on the beach of Holy Island. This being my birthday present, it was the main focus of the weekend and I could think of little besides galloping across the vast expanse of sandy beach.

We journeyed up the motorway on a Saturday morning and by 10am we were at the riding centre where I signed the obligatory safety disclaimer and got directions to the start point of the ride.

Arriving at the causeway, which connects the mainland to the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne, I felt butterflies in my stomach. It had been a few months since I had been horse riding and here I was booked on to a two hour action packed adventure across the beautiful sands which appear at low tide. My boyfriend had arranged this all with the helpful staff at Kimmerston Riding School (www.kimmerston.com).

Mounting up, my nerves disappeared as excitement pulsed through my veins as the ride was ready to venture onto the sands and across to the sea.

I was blessed with a beautiful day granting me the privilege of being able to gaze at the views of both the mainland and Lindisfarne Island. The pace of the ride increased right through the gears and there is nothing in my life that has made me feel so alive as galloping in the spray! The horses seemed to enjoy things just as much as the riders and as we slowed down and caught our breath the horses made their way deeper into the sea to cool off. Confident in the water and unconcerned with the crashing waves they strode onward as I was able to chat with the other riders and the leader of our group.

Despite the adrenaline rush of the canters and gallops a slower pace enabled us to spot seals playing in the sea, inquisitively watching us as we inquisitively watched them.

More breathtaking canters and gallops enabled us to cover the distance back to our meeting point and two hours had passed in a flash. Dismounting and loading the horses back into the van I was still bursting with adrenaline and already planning my return.

Kimmerston offer a variety of rides for all abilities and of differing lengths, so all equestrian types can be catered for! I have ridden when many different establishments over the years and I would have to rate Kimmerston as top notch.

From this point we headed to our bed and breakfast, we had chosen to stay in Alnwick at a great B&B called Bondgate House. The interior and exterior are both immaculate and the owners are dream hosts. As a regular camper it was great to be confronted with the luxury and comfort that Bondgate House offers. However this was reflected in the price. (Now £90 for a double room). Breakfast was intriguing as we had to choose a fifteen minute slot into which we were meant to arrive. In the owners defence this is because everything is freshly made and the alternatives to the fry ups are well worth waiting for! I opted for the cinnamon toast, which was a refreshing change to the obligatory fry up whilst my partner had homemade spiced porridge with raisins soaked in Cointreau which he gobbled up without sharing.

As this was a fleeting visit to Alnwick we felt that we didn't get the chance to truly get a feel for what appeared to be a very charming market town.

Hungry from all the excitement we followed the wonderful recommendation of our hosts at the B&B and booked a meal at Louis Steak House (www.louis-steakhouse.com). The steakhouse is owned by the local butcher, which is evident in the beautiful meals which were served. The steakhouse has a welcoming, contemporary feel and knowledgeable staff who seemed to really care about making our night enjoyable. A refreshing change from many places where I have eaten recently! We enjoyed Chateau Briand which was craved at our table by the chef and I can honestly say that this was the best steak that either of us has ever had.

Following a long stroll along Bamburgh beach the following morning we headed home, already skimming through the diary to find our next free weekend.