A Breath of Fresh Air

How I'm getting back out into the countryside whilst living with MS

Castles by the Sea

We’ve just got back from a few days exploring in Northumberland. It’s been a few days spent outside all day in fresh sunshine, and enjoying fabulous views. We stopped at the Angel of the North on the way up: a beautiful piece of art and engineering.

Angel of the North

Angel of the North

Then it was onward and upward to the very north or England, a land of wide empty fields to the west and miles of long sandy beaches to the east. One day was spent on castle walks. In the morning, on Holy Island, we spotted Lindesfarne Castle from the monastery ruins. It was at the far end of the island but we decided that we could manage the walk there.

distant Lindisfarne Castle

distant Lindisfarne Castle

I had good pushing assistance from Pete and our teenage son (who coped very well with a break away with both parents and no sister for moral support!). It was about a mile from the car park, and the terrain was not very wheelchair-friendly approaching the castle itself – so we simply went round the side and admired it from the outside. There were many, many spots to sit and enjoy the sea views and, although many people were doing exactly that, there was still plenty of space and it still felt wild and empty.

view from Holy Island

view from Holy Island

Later, we headed a little south to Craster with its picturesque harbour. From here we took a footpath to Dunstanburgh Castle, a truly impressive ruin that stood against the skyline about a mile away, tempting us towards it.

Craster harbour

Craster harbour

The path was largely flat and more of a walk (or wheel) over short grass than along a footpath. However, after a time the route started to slope gently up towards the castle, and not always so gently. Also, sometimes the path became very stony and I had to get out of the wheelchair in order to negotiate those sections.

Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance

Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance

My fantastic pushers did a marvellous job, and indeed our son was the most game for pushing me over the last and steepest section so that we could get to the castle itself. It is a huge castle, even as a ruin, spanning right across the ridge, and becomes even more imposing the closer you get.

getting nearer

getting nearer

The wide expanse of grassy hillside with no sign of any road ever having cut across it looked absolutely made for horses to gallop across and up to the castle. You could practically hear their hooves thundering past! Once inside, I sat on a wall watching out to sea happily, whilst the other two had a good wander around, including climbing a (non-ruined!) tower.

below the castle walls

below the castle walls

It was a great walk, though I can’t really call it wheelchair-accessible. A strong mobility scooter would probably be fine. Someone who can get out of a chair to help with tricky bits would be ok, but you also need strong companions to push so … on the edge of accessibility. But if you can do it, do! It is well worth the effort.

view from Dunstanburgh Castle

view from Dunstanburgh Castle

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