MotorBike Tours Northumberland
Castles, Battlesites & Ghosts
Alnwick has been quoted as being the best place to live in Britain and on entering the town through the ‘archway’ it conjures up a time gone by.
The history of Alnwick is the history of the castle and its lords, starting with Gilbert Tyson, written variously as “Tison”, “Tisson”, and “De Tesson”, one of William the Conqueror’s standard bearers, upon whom this northern estate was bestowed. It was held by the De Vesci family (now spelt “Vasey” – a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over 200 years, and then passed into the hands of the house of Percy in 1309.
At various points in the town are memorials to the constant wars between Percys and Scots, in which so many Percys spent the greater part of their lives. A cross near Broomhouse Hill across the river from the castle marks the spot where Malcolm III of Scotland was killed during the first Battle of Alnwick. At the side of the broad shady road called Ratten Row, leading from the West Lodge to Bailiffgate, a stone tablet marks the spot where William the Lion of Scotland was captured during the second Battle of Alnwick (1174) by a party of about 400 mounted knights, led by Ranulf de Glanvill.
Hulne Priory, outside the town walls in Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland’s walled estate, was a monastery founded in the 13th century by the Carmelites; it is said that the site was chosen for some slight resemblance to Mount Carmel where the order originated. Substantial ruins remain.
In 1314, Sir John Felton was governor of Alnwick. In winter 1424, much of the town was burnt by a Scottish raiding party. Again in 1448, the town was burnt by a Scottish army led by William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas and George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus.
However, the town and it’s Castle in today’s world is more famous for a little wizard called Harry Potter as a lot of the filming took place at the castle. One scene in particular springs to mind when they got the chance to ride their ‘broomsticks’ as this was filmed at the castle.
We leave Alnwick behind because it is now our aim to ride through the countryside to make your cheeks hurt from smiling too much. We ride up the hill out of Alnwick on the road to Rothbury (we are not going to Rothbury) for a sight that is a visual feast.
Not only that but you are now looking at the countryside we are to ride through for quite some distance as we head to our battle site.
After the view we continue along the road until you reach a crossroads, at which point turn right onto the A697 to Coldstream, passing through Wooler along the way.
As we ride through this countryside it is hard to imagine wanting to ride along any other roads because these are simply splendid and just about devoid of any traffic allowing you time to cruise along soaking it all in whilst enjoying the many fabulous views.
Eventually you will see some brown tourist attraction direction signs for Ford & Etal estates which will alert you to the fact it is not much further to ride to our destination. Shortly afterward there is a small sign on the right of the road pointing to Branxton (DO NOT take the first sign you see to Flodden as it is the second sign after Ford & Etal you must take).
We are now heading towards one of the most famous battle sites in the world and strangely enough, I was just days away from filming on exactly 500 years from the day of the battle.
A little further on (approximately 200yds) from the site of this photograph there is a designated parking area.