The problem I find with my resolutions is they tend to be a bit wishy-washy and, therefore, I struggle to achieve them, or at the very least feel like I’ve achieved them! So, this year I’ve changed a few things around…and this year I am challenging us to visit each of the Northumberland Castles!

Northumberland Castles - 2015 Castles Challenge. Reuben crawling for the first time at alnwick castle

Reuben crawled for the first time at Alnwick Castle!

My non-specific Resolution: I want to spend better quality time with Reuben and make some new friends.

On a Tuesday and Friday I have Reuben and I feel like I don’t make the best use of this time. Unless I have booked in a session at the creche (after which we’ll go for a swim) or we’ve got books due back at the library, I’ll often decide that morning what we are going to do with the day. This often results in poor choices and feeling like I’ve not made best use of our time! This year I want to shake it up and so I’ve set us a challenge that will ensure we will do something with our day that is fun, educational and gets us out the house!

The challenge: To visit every castle in Northumberland

I stopped doing any form of History before the GCSE years, so I know little about little when it comes to this fair land of ours. The day of Gabby’s Nativity, driving home from Alnwick the scenic route, Mike informed me that there are more castles in Northumberland than any other county. I had no idea. But I had a lightbulb moment. I’d been reading a number of books, namely “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” (as recommended by Helen in my 2014 Reading List – I loved it and sobbed when it ended but I did have the flu) and Mother’s Meeting, and had been mulling over how to do my own sort of pilgrimage to meet new people and pepper our lives with more experiences and community.

It immediately became clear that we should visit every fantastic historic site of this huge county and combine it with new friendship, motherhood, learning and just getting out! The idea is that once I have my itinerary for each month mapped out, I will publish which castles we’ll be visiting on this here blog and extend the invite to anyone who fancies joining us for a picnic and spot of history.

Now, there are 45 (or more – at one point there was over 100!!) castles in Northumberland, so by my reckoning that’s about 1 a week with a couple of weeks off for holidays/sickness/good behaviour!

Having had a look through the Castles there is such an eclectic mix of uses of these historic landmarks! From ruins and national destinations to homes, hotel and wedding venues, to holiday cottages or within a Haven Caravan Park. One is even an integral part of a working farm! Some will even require permission just to get near them, so it should be quite an interesting challenge.

Northumberland Castles - a mum and son challenge!

In alphabetical order, here are all the castles we’re going to visit:

  1. Alnwick Castle – visited on 16th October
  2. Aydon Castle – visited on 10th April
  3. Bamburgh Castle – visited on 29th October
  4. Belford Castle – no castle remains but the farmhouse is castelleated!
  5. Bellingham Castle – no castle remains (but a lovely village!)
  6. Bellister Castle – visited on 20th November
  7. Belsay Castle – visited on 1st April
  8. Berwick Castle – visited 20th July
  9. Blenkinsopp Castle – visited on 20th November
  10. Bothal Castle – visited on 9th October
  11. Bywell Castle – 4th December
  12. Callaly Castle – no castle remains
  13. Cartington Castle – visited on 6th February
  14. Chillingham Castle – visited on 5th June
  15. Chipchase Castle – 13th December
  16. Cocklepark Tower – couldn’t gain access
  17. Coupland Castle – not a castle!
  18. Cresswell Castle – 27th November
  19. Dally Castle – visited on 27th March
  20. Dilston Castle – 4th December
  21. Dunstanburgh Castle – visited on 14th November
  22. Edlingham Castle – visited on 23rd January
  23. Elsdon Castle – visited on 27th Feburary
  24. Etal Castle – visited on 19th July
  25. Featherstone Castle – visited on 11th September
  26. Ford Castle – visited on 19th July
  27. Halton Castle – visited on 21st June
  28. Haltwhistle Castle – see Blenkinsopp Castle
  29. Harbottle Castle – visited on 20th November
  30. Haughton Castle – 13th December
  31. Kielder Castle – visited on 25th September
  32. Langley Castle – visited on 10th July
  33. Lindisfarne Castle – visited on 29th October
  34. Mitford Castle – visited on 9th January
  35. Morpeth Castle – stayed in from 18th-20th December
  36. Norham Castle – visited on 19th July
  37. *Newcastle Castle Keep – visited on 21st March
  38. Ponteland Castle – visited on 8th May
  39. Preston Tower – visited on 6th November
  40. Prudhoe Castle – visited on 2nd April
  41. Rothley Castle – visited on 24th April
  42. Tarset Castle –  visited 27th March
  43. Thirlwall Castle – visited on 12th June
  44. Twizell Castle – visited on 18th July
  45. *Tynemouth Priory – visited on 17th April
  46. Wark Castle – visited 6th March
  47. Warkworth Castle – visited on 17th July
  48. Widdrington Castle – visited on 16th Jan and it’s not there anymore so we went to Druridge Bay instead!

I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow Reuben and I will be starting with Mitford Castle, a ruin near Morpeth. It’s just the two of us this time but hopefully soon there will be more joining us.

What do you think of my 2015 Castle Challenge? Would you like to join us? And, have I missed any Northumberland Castles?!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or availability (!) in the comments below!

* This post has been edited to include the starred Castles – not in Northumberland but integral castles to the area!