14 June 2012
After spending the last few days in Scotland the Torch is ready to head back down south into the north east of England on Day 27, starting the day in the World Heritage city of Edinburgh. With so many heritage sites to visit in this beautiful city by the sea, such as the famous Edinburgh Castle, walking trails are a great way to see the key sights in a short space of time and unlock the surprising links between places. Our free self-guided Walk the World walks will help you reveal the international ideas that turned Edinburgh’s New Town into a centre of philosophy and invention in the 17th century, and the global links that have shaped the city’s world-famous street, the Royal Mile.
Later in the day the Torch crosses the border into England, skirting the Moorfoot Hills in the Scottish border region and passing through beautiful wild landscapes on its way towards the North East coast. Towards the evening, the Olympic Torch will reach the pretty coastal town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, which has alternated between English and Scottish control more than a dozen times over the course of its history. The town has a wealth of heritage sites, including Berwick’s town walls, the only intact Elizabethan town walls in England. For those taking a break from the Torch Relay route, it is possible to walk the length of the walls in 45 minutes and take in the stunning views of the town and the North Sea.
Travelling away from Berwick the Torch will reach the village of Bamburgh, famous not only for the imposing Bamburgh Castle but also for the Victorian heroine Grace Darling. Darling was 22 when she risked her life to help survivors from the shipwrecked SS Forfarshire in 1838. RNLI Grace Darling Museum now celebrates her short life through personal letters, dresses and belongings.
By the evening, the Torch reaches its final destination for the day, Alnwick. This picturesque North Eastern market town was once home to Earl Grey, the British Prime Minister from 1830-1834. The gardens of his former residence, Howick Hall, are open to visitors and feature delightful woodland walks, including the ‘long walk’ which runs from the gardens to the sea.
From Alnwick, the Torch and its bearers continue their journey through the North East. One of the Torch’s first stops is Warkworth, home to the impressive Warkworth Castle which occupies a prominent hilltop above the River Coquet. Not far from the castle is the Warkworth Hermitage. This isolated cave and chapel is only accessible by boat and was once home to a solitary holy man. Take in the peaceful surroundings before the Torch continues along the North East coast. At Blyth, the Torch will pause briefly for an afternoon break. For those in the area, head towards the sea where you will be able to admire St Mary’s Lighthouse. The lighthouse offers some beautiful costal views for those who brave climbing the 137 steps to the top!
From Blyth the Torch heads towards its final destination for the day, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The town, historically famous for its coal and wool trade, has roots dating back to the Roman period. Only 15 minutes drive from the centre is Segedunum Roman Fort situated at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall. A visit to the fort will include a trip to the interactive museum as well as the 35 metre-high viewing tower to take in the best features of this Romano-British landscape. Of course, the heart of town has much to offer, not least the historic centre of Newcastle, Grainger Town. Within this area is Grey Street, described by historian Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘one of the finest streets in England’. After taking part in the London 2012 evening celebrations or enjoying the famous Newcastle nightlife, what better way to wind down the evening than to go for a walk along this elegant street.
On Day 29 the Torch makes its way from Newcastle to Gateshead. Gateshead is increasingly becoming well-known for its iconic architecture. The Millennium Bridge is one such example. The bridge, one of many across the River Tyne that links Gateshead to Newcastle, serves both a functional purpose as well as an aesthetic one. Along the River Tyne stands another landmark structure, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, a former flour mill now showcasing some of the world’s best contemporary artists and exhibitions. It is the perfect stopover for those interested in art, industrial heritage and daring architecture. Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North sculpture is also within easy reach of Gateshead, allowing art lovers to spend the morning of Day 29 of the Torch Relay uncovering icons of contemporary art.
From Gateshead the Torch meanders through Tyne and Wear until it reaches Sunderland. Situated at the mouth of the River Wear, the city has a historic background as a port trading predominantly salt and coal. If you happen to be in the area, you can learn more about the history of the city at the Sunderland Museum. Through a series of multimedia displays, interactive games and permanent exhibitions (such as the collection of Lowry paintings) the museum will give you an insight into the history of the city. After enjoying the beautiful objects and artworks on display at the museum, visitors can also take in the natural beauty and wildlife of the museum’s Winter Gardens.
Towards late afternoon, the Torch will reach the town of Hexham and pay a visit to a section of Hadrian’s Wall – a must-see for visitors to the north east of England. However, if you are more interested in medieval heritage than Roman fortifications, a visit to the Old Gaol at Hexham will give you the chance to explore England’s oldest purpose-built prison and provide you with a unique insight into medieval prison life.
On Day 30, the Torch leaves Tyne and Wear and heads towards the Cathedral city of Durham. For Torch Relay followers who enjoy medieval history, the ruins of Barnard Castle provide an additional place of interest to visit in addition to the Cathedral. From Durham the Torch will then move towards the coast and pass through Hartlepool in the afternoon. Hartlepool is famed for its maritime heritage and historic quay, which has been reconstructed as an eighteenth century seaport and is the centerpiece of the town’s attractions. The Quay is home to the HMS Trincomalee, an 1817 frigate that holds the title as the oldest British warship still afloat. As the day draws to a close, the Torch reaches the industrial town of Middlesbrough. Continuing the maritime theme, the town is known as the birthplace of explorer Captain Cook and is home to a museum dedicated to his life story.
We hope you enjoy exploring the Scottish Borders and the North East over the next few days of the Torch Relay route. We will be back on Monday with more tips for things to do in Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Post by Katy, Discovering Places team.
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