Today we planned to go up to Holy Island – it’s Good Friday and it would be a nice place to be today. However, the rain was tipping down, it’s a bank holiday so the already meagre bus services are significantly reduced and there’s also lots of engineering works on the railway! The more we considered various travel options the more unlikely it seemed that we’d get to Holy Island in time to cross the causeway and back at low tide and be able to return to Alnmouth in a day! We needed to make alternative plans. Zoly doesn’t like going out in the rain, which is odd because he’ll jump into the bath, the shower, ponds, water troughs – you name it! Apart of pubs, many dog-friendly indoor venues were not likley to be open today so we thought that we’d struggle.
By 1:00 the rain had eased to a fine drizzle (mizzle?!), so we thought we’d risk a local walk. We set off to Alnmouth – the river and the beach. The tide was coming in and we saw some beautiful big herons in the estuary.
The beach had a couple of other dog walkers although their dogs didn’t seem that interested in playing with Zoly. There were some children trying to skim stones and Zoly thought that this was a fantastic game – he went charging into the water after the stones and seemed to be quite disappointed when he couldn’t retrieve them from under the water. Unfortunately, he was wearing his coat – so that was absolutely soaked and covered in sand in no time. Once he was wet through we decided to let him play and run about – he adores the beach – digs in the sand, runs in wide circles, picks up pieces of seaweed or driftwood and rushes about and tosses them into the air then tries to catch them again. If there are other dogs about on the beach then he loves chasing games. He’s had a fantastic holiday and it’s sad that it’s coming to an end. We wondered if we’d have trouble persuading him to sleep back in his own bed when we get back to Bristol!
It was still raining and feeling cold, so we went into Alnmouth village to see if somewhere might be open and get some tea. There was a nice-looking café open next to the golf links by the beach – called Dandelion I went in to ask if they would let dogs in and they said no – even though their promotional material reads: “We chose Dandelion as the name for our new café bars to reflect the warmth of the welcome and the informal environment.” Well we weren’t going to leave Zoly outside, so we continued on and saw that the Red Lion Inn did welcome dogs, so we settled in there and had peppermint tea and chips! Zoly was well-behaved and was universally admired – they don’t know what they’re missing in Dandelion!
By about three in the afternoon the rain had stopped, although it was still grey, so we decided to continue our walk and head into the next village, Lesbury and walk up the Aln to the Lesbury railway viaduct that we can see from our cottage and cross the river by some stepping stones over towards Alnwick then complete the loop back to the house.
Lesbury is pretty – lots of honey-coloured stone cottages, a small church and even the new development looked attractive. The railway viaduct is about half a mile out of the village but it’s really spectacular with 18 arches – the viaduct carries the main east coast railway line from London to Edinburgh across the river valley, it was built in 1849 to a design by Robert Stephenson. The footpath by the river passes right under the viaduct although with all the rain the ground was very boggy.
We crossed the river further upstream by Bilton Mill using the stepping stones. We encouraged Zoly to get into the water there to get rid of some of the sand and mud on him before heading home.