At half term we headed north, staying just outside of Alnwick. As Historic Houses Association members we get free entry to several properties across the UK over set periods during the year. Alnwick Castle was open, and was our destination!
Alnwick Castle is difficult to miss. It dates back to the early 1000’s, and has been (one of the many) residence of the Duke of Northumberland for many years too. When the Duke is away, us mere muggles can visit.
I didn’t tell H about the Harry Potter connection until the morning we went – I wasn’t sure how big a deal it would be. She’s a bit obsessed so I wanted to make sure I was careful. So instead we watched the first two Harry Potter films before leaving London – as all outdoor scenes were filmed at Alnwick Castle.
It meant when we got there we could say “ooh, remember this bit?” “this is where Harry learned to fly” and thanks to a mistake on my part have to walk all the way over to the ticket office which is inside the castle to get our HHA tickets. Fortunately this was next to the area you get a ticket for a timeslot to do broomstick training.
We wandered around the grounds and learned about the history of Harry Hotspur, a gentleman whose name inspired our football team of choice. Add to that there was a Halloween Trail and actually, there was loads to do. Falconry displays were on all day, and you could pay an additional amount to do some archery.
H also helped the Alnwick Castle Alchemist make some Dragon’s Blood.
I found the most fascinating part of being there was being allowed to enter some of the State Rooms. The actual living quarters of the current Duke of Northumberland and his family. Their main library area and living area was several times the size of my house. Wealthy people have space…
It wasn’t like walking around somewhere like, say, Hampton Court where there are artefacts from significant people who lived there or visited in the past. It’s someone’s actual front room! (with lots of other things because of this wealthiness and space)
However, the thing we enjoyed the most had to be Broomstick Training. Get over to the area to book a slot – at 10.30 we got a 2pm one. For the Potter-mad fan it’s fun. H saw it initially and declared it was “too babyish” for her which is utter nonsense. By the time she was doing it her face was like this – pure joy!
The broomstick training session lasts 20 minutes, then you get 10 minutes to take some great flying pictures. Let’s just say, people I thought would get it don’t at all (which is quite amusing). It’s cleverly done and tons of fun.
Alnwick Castle is a great day out – plenty of walking to be done and things to learn and discover. If you have the time (and energy) then a trip to Barter Books up the road is worth your time too – even just to sit down and take in the amount of books there!
The website is here. Alnwick Castle is currently closed until next year.