Alnwick may appear a small and quiet market town nestled midway between the coast and the hills of Northumberland, but in reality there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Alnwick in the spotlight
Take the iconic Castle. Fans of Hogwarts and Quidditch will recognise the walls Harry nearly crashed into, before broomstick flying became the norm. DCI Vera Stanhope has even trampled the cobbles for the TV version of the Ann Cleeves books. Good to put books on the Northumberland map. Especially when reading into the Alnwick area unearthed another literary landmark.
In too deep
In Too Deep, by Bea Davenport was published back in 2013 and features Alnwick town, renamed ‘Dowerby’, for a tale of tragedy and new beginnings.
It’s easy to find Dowerby, and lots of tourists do, every summer. Dowerby like lots of other towns in England, has its castle, its haunted pub and its gift shops.
In the book, Maura leaves Alnwick/Dowerby following a tragedy and starts a new life elsewhere before events catch up with her. The event involves the ancient market town’s annual fair which used to involve volunteers in medieval costumes being dunked in huge vats of water. Sadly this no longer takes place, but the medieval essence of the town highlighted in the book is still there.
Head to the town square with its cobbled streets and quaint shops under the arches. The Tourist Information Centre is nestled here – the perfect place to start your journey and acquaint yourself with the town.
Sit in the market square and have a coffee as Maura and Rosie do whilst they await the arrival of the London reporter. If there’s medieval dressing up to be done, The Knight’s Quest at Alnwick Castle allows you to dress up and act out your favourite historical scenes – a fun way to learn about history and not just for kids!
Now talking of haunted pubs, there’s a gem to be found in Alnwick – just round the corner from the square in Narrowgate sits a pub called Ye Olde Cross. Known locally as The Dirty Bottles, the window holds several bottles which, if moved, will cause the person who moved them to die. Best to keep them sealed up in local folklore then!
There’s one more literary location we have to mention – Barter Books. Book lovers beware! Save this until last otherwise you’ll never see any other Alnwick gems.
Set in the old, converted railway station, this is not just a book shop, but an experience. It is full of second-hand treasures waiting to be discovered. Whilst you browse on the platform, look up to read the lines of poetry linking the bookcases, and see a miniature train whizzing along tracks overhead for the full immersive experience.
If you prefer to curl up with your tome of choice in a cosy corner, there are plenty to choose from. Have a coffee in the renovated first-class Waiting Room, warm yourself at the fire in the ticket office, refuel in the Station Buffet.
Most importantly, choose another book and you can travel anywhere your imagination takes you.
If you have been inspired by this blog, try our Lights, Camera, Action itinerary.
If you’re already a fan of Northumberland, please vote for us to win Best UK Holiday County/Destination at the British Travel Awards