Road Trip: Roker Beach, Sunderland and Alnwick Castle
We enjoyed a three-day road trip from Glasgow to Medieval York in September 2021. Two nights’ accommodation was at the Best Western – Roker Beach, Sunderland. On day one, we stopped in at Vindolanda and Housesteads Roman Fort along Hadrian’s Wall. On day two, we had a brilliant day out in York. On day three, we drove back to Glasgow up the East Coast, stopping in at Alnwick Castle and Lindisfarne.
We stayed at the Roker Hotel in Sunderland in a superior room with a sea view, including the Sunderland Pier and Lighthouse. It’s actually a Premier Best Western property, so if you sign up for their newsletter, you can usually get alerts for specials.
The Roker Hotel has a handy restaurant and bars downstairs – Poetic License – with an amazing gin distillery. I recommend the Yorkshire Forager Gin with aromatic or rhubarb bitters and Old Tom Gin with Mediterranean tonic or similar. We bought a bottle of each gin before checking out.
The sandy beach has seashells, hag stones, white chalk and charcoal-type stones. We grabbed some hot chips with salt and vinegar while watching the paddleboarders.
We watched the sunrise from our room – the pictures below were taken through our room window at the Roker Hotel.
One of Britain’s most iconic castles – pronounced “An-nick”. Alnwick Castle was most recently featured in Transformers: The Last Knight and as the magnificent Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey’s 2015 and 2016 Christmas specials. It also featured as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films and in Elizabeth and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Alnwick Castle and Harry Potter
Alnwick Castle starred as the magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during the 2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the 2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The Outer Bailey is recognisable as the area where Harry and his fellow students learned to fly broomsticks with Madam Hooch (Zoe Wanamaker). Harry also learned the rules of the wizarding sport Quidditch in the Outer Bailey. The courtyards and baileys of Alnwick Castle were used to film Hogwarts students and staff going about their daily activities. Harry and Ron crash-landed the Weasley family’s flying car in the Inner Bailey. The Lion Arch was a way in and out of Hogwarts, heading towards Hagrid’s cabin and the Forbidden Forest.
Lindisfarne – Holy Island
On the way home, we considered driving across to Lindisfarne. However, the tide was coming in and crossing the causeway is not possible – unless you want to risk an emergency rescue and donate your car to the ocean spirits. Check the tides and plan your trip to Lindisfarne before visiting. Watch this video to see disaster in action.
You can see the water rising in the photo above – 10 minutes difference between left and right (seen from the top rear of our car).
Driving through Berwick-Upon-Tweed, we saw the 28 arches of the Royal Border Bridge that spans the River Tweed. We also catch sight of some pheasants.