Touring Group Goggles and Gauntlets in Northumberland
Goggles and Gauntlets in Northumberland was a great success and everyone enjoyed themselves. Over the 6 days we had 20 Three Wheelers together with a 4 wheeler and a Porsche. The 3 Wheelers included 2 Super3s, one of which “Lilac Pete” Lawrence had only picked up 2 days before setting off. It was particularly good to see Raphy and Odile Mouran who had trailered their SuperDry from the Cote D ’Azure to be with us.
En route to Bellingham a group stopped off at the British Car Journey in Ambergate. A fascinating collection of cars, many of which had formed part of each of our early motoring careers. We then overnighted in Doncaster before heading to Bellingham with a lunch stop at Barnard Castle to check out our eyesight 😊
Arriving at Riverdale Hall we checked in and assembled in the bar. Then to dinner and the hotel had given us our own separate dining room for the duration of our visit. This was a great gesture and helped keep the group together. At dinner, Donald Reid ran a raffle as part of his fundraising for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. This proved popular and raised nearly £500 for the charity.
Throughout the week we had a series of planned routes and suggestions so people could join for some, all or none of the destinations. This proved popular as people could spend the time they wanted and saved us waiting to get the large group together. This worked out pretty much everyone went to the first stop and then split up into smaller groups as the day went on.
Day 1 kicked off with a trip to Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle, The Grace Darling Museum and Craster. The weather was kind so the causeway to Holy Island was nice and dry. Some of the group walked out to the Priory whilst others headed for the Café and Tearooms. Smaller groups then moved on to Bamburgh for the castle and Grace Darling Museum and returned with an ice cream stop in Craster.
For the second day we headed to Kielder Forest Drive, Kielder Castle and onto Hadrian’s Wall. As the Forest Drive is a 12 mile unmade up road a few skipped this but for those of us who didn’t, it provided a wonderful route through the forest and out onto a plateau viewpoint at 1,500 ft. The road had been recently regraded so was in pretty good shape although the centre was a continuous row of loose chipping. There were a bunch of very dusty cars at the end but everyone was smiling at the mini adventure. It was then onto Hadrian’s Wall, specifically the forts at Housestead and Vindolanda.
The next day we visited Cragside House and Gardens then onto Alnwick Castle. Cragside is described as the UK’s first Smart House and led the way in the use of electric lighting, hydroelectric and hydraulic power. It’s extensive lakes and gardens are encircled by a carriage drive which is open to the public and the Mogs made quite a stir as we did a lap.
Many of the group found Cragside so interesting we skipped Alnwick but those who went on thoroughly enjoys the historic castle now famous from Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.
15 of the group had booked an evening visit to Kielder Observatory, a public observatory situated in the Northumberland Dark Skys area. After a detailed talk they enjoyed close up images of the craters on the moon and a star field including an active Supernova. To see this is quite a rare event as it only lasts for a few days.
For the Friday we followed a good portion of the “Northumberland 250” driving route to Berwick on Tweed. The route even took in a bit of Scotland and offered a mix of open, sweeping roads and narrow farm lanes. Berwick wasn’t as picturesque as we hoped but the fish n Chips for lunch were welcome. Back along more of the 250 to Riverdale for a final dinner which was rounded off by an excellent G&G cake backed by Lyndsey Davis.
After breakfast on Saturday, we said our goodbyes and several of the group headed off along the A68 “Roller coaster” road to the Angel of the North then onto the Aviator Hotel in Northampton.
A special mention to the Riverdale Hall Hotel who this year have faced a major kitchen fire which closed them down for 2 month and only a few weeks ago they were flooded. Despite this the ever friendly and helpful staff provided us with a superb stay, especially the food which was some of the best of any of the G&Gs. They are finishing refurbishment of a few of the rooms but it’s definitely worth considering if you are planning to visit Northumberland.
Chris Golding Touring Group Organiser