The Go Explore Blog

The Ralston Family on Tour: Northeast Coast, England

Posted in General on Friday, 17 February 2023
Team Ralston
As I work for Go Explore SCOTLAND it makes perfect sense that I headed off to explore the Northeast of England!  

I had some help with our Travel Guru aka Allan (the Boss), and I planned this fabulous trip catering for Chloe (11), Emily (7) and of course our chauffeur Sammy.  As we set off, we knew our intended destinations but didn’t have all our campsites booked.  We did have some surprises planned for girls.

Destination: Richmond
Overnight 1: Brompton-on-Swale Holiday Park
Travel time: 2.5-hours

I’m always conscious of journey times when travelling with the girls so we chose to break our journey to York at Richmond 2½ hours from home.  We chose Brompton on Swale Caravan Park as it is within walking distance to Richmond itself.  The campsite was clean although some of the facilities were dated compared to other sites and the shop didn’t carry a lot of fresh produce although there was a takeaway offering a selection of breakfast and dinner options.  We enjoyed a late afternoon walk to Richmond for some drinks and dinner, our walk took us past Easby Abbey and along the banks of the River Swale to get to the town.

Destination: York
Overnight 2 & 3: York Rowntree Park and Motorhome Club Campsite
Travel time: 1.5-hours

The following morning we were keen to move onto York so that we could make the most of our first afternoon and evening there so we arrived at the York campsite for 1pm and got ourselves parked and hooked up.  Somehow Sammy even managed a quick beer whilst Emily and I familiarised ourselves with the site and picked up some Tourist Information leaflets.

This compact campsite is ideally located on the outskirts of York city centre, with local shops and a choice of takeaways within a five-minute walk.  It is sited on the River Ouse and neighbours a large children’s playpark.  It was an easy walk into York City Centre.  We received a friendly welcome and found all of the facilities to be of the usual Caravan and Motorhome Club high standard.

We walked into York and quickly found ourselves on the Shambles, narrow cobbled streets lined with medieval timber framed houses and plenty of quaint shops.  We even stumbled on a wonderful market selling the biggest Candy Floss I had ever seen along with lots of unique gifts and crafts.  Chloe (our Harry Potter fan) initially resisted joining the queue for The Shop That Must Not Be Named but soon gave into temptation.

The following morning we walked into city again this time heading for the Jorvik Viking Centre , Emily was in the middle of Viking project at school, she loved this experience.  The museum itself was interesting with various exhibition pieces and regular talks.   The highlight was the ride experience where you travel around the reconstruction of the city seeing the detail of the Viking people, their lives and work – even some of the smells!

We then headed back to The Shop That Must Not Be Named to purchase a Harry Potter wand having carefully considered the purchase overnight!

Our afternoon activity was a visit to York Minster – what a fabulous building.  The girls enjoyed the children’s backpacks with activities to maintain their interest.  The architecture and history is truly amazing.  It’s worth noting that a day ticket can be reused for 12-months.

Earlier in the day we had passed York City Cruises so decided at the last minute to take a cruise along the River Ouse.  The Captain gave a good tour and pointed out landmarks; although we set off at dusk it wasn’t long before it was dark and tiredness set in for all of us.  

Destination Scarborough
Overnight 3 & 4: Lebberston Touring Park
Travel time: 1-hour

Having had our time in the city we were now heading for the coast and I wanted to visit Scarborough for some traditional seaside fun and fresh sea air.  We had an afternoon in the lovely town of Filey and a wander along the seaside front.

Our campsite was Lebberston Touring Park.  This campsite is in the countryside on the main bus route to Scarborough.  The grounds were well maintained with good facilities and a small shop.

The next day we had a wonderful day out in Scarborough.  We caught the bus into the centre and from there we walked to the front.  I saw some donkeys and that was the day off to a great start with a little bit of donkey riding (not me), a walk along the shore (too cold for paddling) before walking along the promenade, a ride on the Ferris Wheel and some traditional seaside ice-creams and coffees for Sammy and me.

Late afternoon we headed back to the motorhome and then took a short walk to The Bull Inn, Gristhorpe for great pub food.  I would recommend booking because we were surprised at how busy it was for what seemed like a quiet village, we were lucky to get a table.

The following morning before leaving Scarborough we stopped at Peasholm Park.  We enjoyed exploring the gardens with their oriental theme and some family fun on the boating pond in a pedalo, this time Sammy took a back seat - well done Chloe, you certainly pedalled well.

Destination Whitby
Overnight 5: Sandfield House Farm Holiday Park
Travel time: 2-hours

Next stop as we travelled North up the coast was Whitby we headed straight for Sandfield House Caravan Park.  We received a warm welcome and quickly got settled on our pitch with views of the neighbouring Whitby Golf Course and the sea.  The shore is a short walk across the road from the caravan site.

Emily had spied a tennis court, so we borrowed some equipment and had a little knock about until Sammy started with his bad line calls.  It was then time to head into to town along the beach.  The tide was on its way in so at some points we had to stick to the path but whenever possible Emily had her shoes off and even dared to paddle.  Despite having her trousers rolled up Chloe still managed to get soaked.

This was our first visit to Whitby.  It really is a busy seaside town, with the shopping areas sited on hills down into the harbour area.  We stopped off for a quick drink before heading for a fish tea at the famous Magpie Cafe.  This restaurant allows limited reservations and has a good system for walk-in clients.

Destination Beamish 
Overnight 6: Donnewell Farm, Sedgewick
Travel time: 1.5-hours

We felt as though Whitby had more to offer than we had allowed time for.  Emily was desperate for some playtime on the beach so before leaving the campsite we took our bucket and spades for some sandcastle building, it was not long before Emily had stripped down to her underwear to paddle.  We then headed back into the town with the Motorhome to explore the shops.  We parked easily at Whitby Abbey and walked down into the town where we meandered through the streets and shops.

Our stopover en route to Beamish was Donnewell Farm.  It is certified site with limited facilities, it did offer all that we required for an overnight.  We took a walk along a country lane to Sedgefield where the girls got a bag of chips to eat as we headed back to the Motorhome.  I was tempted by the “scraps” – not a thing that we get in Scotland.

The following morning, we set off early for Beamish Living Museum.  My parents often visit here and I really wanted to understand what the attraction is.  As we arrived the queue was already forming to get in, that added to my excitement.  “Beamish is a world famous open air museum, telling the story of life in the North east England during the 1820s, 1900s, 1940s and 1950s.”  It is fascinating, we had a wonderful day exploring.  We all learned something about mining, the schools through the ages and saw artifacts from previous centuries.  Emily is keen to go back again – I’m not sure if that is because of the tram rides, watching her Dad get arrested or perhaps the traditional fairground.

I’ve since learned that my Great Uncle used to be a volunteer worker and drove the trams that circulate throughout.

Destination Alnwick
Overnight 7 & 8: Alnwick Rugby and Football Club
Travel time: 1.5-hours

After an exhausting day at Beamish we headed to Alnwick.  I’d been concerned about this destination because I’d struggled to find a campsite with it being Easter weekend.  I then came across Alnwick Rugby Club, it offers electric hook-up and opens its toilet and shower facilities to campers.  I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to visitors to Alnwick.

The Rugby Club is situated just outside the town centre but an easy walk.  After parking up we headed into the town for obligatory refreshments – it is the driver’s holiday too!  And with Allan’s recommendation we enjoyed a lovely meal in The Market Tavern.

Chloe had no idea what our plans were for this destination, so it was then that we told her that we were going to visit Alnwick Castle most recently famous as a filming location for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two films.  She was both delighted and very excited.

Alnwick Castle did not disappoint.  Having read reviews, on arrival we headed straight to book Broomstick Training and to find out times for the other activities.  In the courtyard we also took the Dragon Quest – and survived!  The courtyard offered other activities for the girls which they took part in throughout the day.

Broomstick Training is a must.  Chloe thoroughly enjoyed it, the trainers are very theatrical and make the experience wonderful for those participating and spectating.  Sammy’s patience and perseverance ensured that we have some great pictures.  (Don’t even ask about Emily she soon realised that you don’t really get to fly and gave up.)

We enjoyed exploring the castle, Chloe tried her hand at archery (unfortunately Emily was too young), the Bird of Prey display gave us a perfect excuse to sit on the lawn and rest our legs.  Emily and I took part in one of the Alnwick on Location Film tours, it was amazing to hear the number of productions that have taken place there (Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Black Adder, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to name but a few (more can be found here)) and especially the lengths that producers will go to make sure the shot is right.

As the day came to an end we walked back through the town centre before heading back to the Motorhome.

The following morning we drove into Alnick to explore some of the shops before heading home via Eyemouth. Eyemouth has been a good midway break for us in the past, a good opportunity to stretch our legs around the harbour and look out for the seals. We then got a last holiday fish tea before the final leg of the journey home.