Return to The Bells of Hemscott, Northumberland
Summer is almost at an end, leaves are already turning brown and floating down from the treetops, the hedgerows are bursting with rosehips, sloes and blackberries whilst the evenings are dark well before 9pm. That's fine by me for those slow autumn days are my favourite ones of all and I'm so looking forward to getting cosy with blankets, candles and a good book. Harry doesn't return to school until next week but these last few days of the holidays have been taken up with the drudgery of uniform shopping and getting organised for the forthcoming term.
Last week it still felt properly like Summer and we found ourselves back in glorious Northumberland enjoying long days on the beach and reading in front of the campfire. This year we've ended up doing a re-tour of some of our favourite spots. Having stayed at both Ling's Meadow and the Bells of Hemscott before, I knew these campsites made us very happy and that's where I wanted to spend our slow summer days. I like that we know what we are going to get - great site, good facilities and ultimately a chilled out camping holiday. Last year at The Bells of Hemscott we stayed in a bell tent in the sand dunes, the sea lapping the shore only a few steps away. It's probably been my favourite camping experience, ever. This time the glamping site has relocated on to the farmland and I was a little apprehensive that I wasn't going to enjoy staying there as much. But I was so wrong and I surprised myself by liking it even more.
A little drive down the farm track and you are greeted with the glamping site. All around are the signs of a busy working farm - cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, alpacas and an old Collie dog called Missy who liked to greet everyone with a gentle wag of her tail (and a hopeful glint in her eye for a barbecue!). Tractors and combine harvesters go about their daily business but it's not obtrusive, more of a quiet hum in the background. The bell tents are pitched in a couple of locations with stunning views across ponds and fields. Rabbits and hares dart across the landscape and at dusk the sky came alive with hundreds of swallows feasting on the insects flying above the pond. Sitting on a hay bale in front of the fire pit with a glass of red wine, it was a pretty great way to spend an evening.
Whilst we were staying there work was being completed on the new pub 'The Old Dog and Duck' upcycled from a vintage horsebox. It was going to have it's opening event over the Bank Holiday Weekend but sadly we were leaving before that. It looks great and I'll be first at the bar next time we're up! The bunk barn is also new for this season and it looks incredible inside, lots of comfy sofas, tables and chairs and a full kitchen. It's perfect for walkers, cyclists and families and it's worth checking out if you are not a camper/glamper.
Truthfully I didn't take many photographs on this holiday as we spent so much time down on the beach and I didn't want to take my camera down there. Instead I paddled, read my book whilst enjoying the warm sunshine, collected tons of shells and simply enjoyed every moment. Isn't that what holidays are for?
I could happily have stayed at The Bells of Hemscott for a lot longer and I like that the campsite now offers the best of both worlds - countryside and coastline right on the doorstep. If we'd stayed in the dunes we'd never have seen all the wildlife that we were treated to on the farm. Again we were lucky enough to get gorgeous weather the entire time we were there and I can't wait to go back again (probably next summer!).
Several people asked over on Instagram for some recommendations of places to visit in Northumberland. You can read my post from last year here but this time we chose to remain closer to the campsite and spend the majority of our time on the beach. However, I've listed a couple of new places we went to that are worth mentioning:
The Running Fox at Felton - about 7 miles away from the campsite. Bustling cafe and bakery. Artisan bread, open early for breakfasts, nice interior with botanical details, cute outdoor area which overlooks the gorgeous village and river. Good food, cakes and bread were delicious!
The Old School Gallery at Alnmouth - print gallery/workshop/cafe and gift shop. Lots of nice artwork to peruse, a pretty outdoor area to sit and enjoy a cuppa in and a nice selection of ceramics/jewellery etc. Very family friendly too.
The Corbridge Larder - really nice deli and grocery store. Rustic cafe upstairs offering breakfasts, lunch and cakes. Coffee was prepared in a Chemex maker and from local roaster, Tynemouth. We bought some ground to take home with us too as it was so good. Harry had cinnamon toast with maple syrup and creme fraiche which he raved about. Super friendly staff too.