Blog of Justin Cheuk, home to writing on London, Hong Kong, Studying Abroad, Trains and Travels.

Alnwick I: Market History and Treehouse Mystery

Justin Cheuk: When HK Meets UK
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Market Cross, Alnwick

Warmer weather and the post-exam lack of stress make a magic combination for day trips. As a southerner but keen on exploring the North East further, I’ve teams up with friends to the historic Northumberland town of Alnwick, and what a lovely day out it was. (I wasn’t soaked in the rain. So better than Lindisfarne.)

As I am a bit of a Potterhead I know Alnwick Castle was used as a set for the earlier Potter films, but that’s as much as I know. Fortunately, I am in safe(?) hands this time as our resident Geordie(?) was a regular visitor to the town. And I can see why.

Alnwick’s railway station was axed by Beeching (an important fact for later) in the 60s; so to get there the closest station is the curiously-named (as it’s actually located somewhere else) ‘Alnmouth for Alnwick’, and complete the remaining 3 miles on the bus. The rail and bus schedule do not correlate, thus as we stepped off the train there’s a 40-minute gap for the next bus. The idea to walk it was short-lived, and we aptly spend the time playing Poohsticks, and a game of ‘will-the-bus-appear-or-not’ instead.

As it is in character for rural buses, it arrived fashionably late and took us over a stretch of hills (that I’m so glad I didn’t have to climb) into Alnwick.

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Living under the castle’s shadow in touristic terms (actually, literally too), the town is worthy of a mention in its own right. It has retained much of the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways of the medieval times, completed with stone gates and buildings. Most buildings in the centre date from at least the Victorian era and the cafes at the market squares are certainly a nice place to spend a leisurely summer afternoon.

We then headed to the castle, however, what we’re here to see is not the structure built in rocks; but in wood. The gardens surrounding the castle boasts an enormous Treehouse that would not look out of place in any fantasy movies.

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I mean, look at it

The treehouse is a restaurant-lookout-exhibition room complex connected by rope bridges of all things. Imagine this place when it’s covered with snow, it’s basically Hogsmeade. Apparently, they do Christmas Dinner here too *reminder set*

Not to mention, the view out the countryside with Alnwick castle in the background was amazing. It was as if some childhood dreams were mashed up and realised: standing atop of a gigantic treehouse, looking out to my ‘kingdom’ completed with a medieval castle.

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Much of the next hour was then spent exploring the small paths along the riverside, with a dose of spontaneous tree-lifting and admiring random pieces of art scattering in the woods.

You might be surprised that I didn’t actually mention the Castle itself. Being students (read: broke/cheap/disinterested?), we were deterred by the entrance fee.

Because, well, the Castle wasn’t the crown jewel of the day anyway. That honour is reserved for the Barter Books, a place where books, trains and flapjacks (*these are a few of my favourite things*) collide. That’s for tomorrow!

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