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Northern England

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In addition to the Lake District, I have been to some other very interesting places in Northern England, such as Hadrian's Wall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Durham, and York.

Durham Cathedral

Durham really stands out as one of my favorite places for its beauty and serenity. It boasts the third oldest university in England, and is built on an ideal U-shaped river peninsula, in the Wear River, that dates back to Norman times. In the middle of the peninsula stands Durham Cathedral, one of Europe's finest examples of Norman architecture, and an old Norman castle beside it, is well-integrated into the campus setting, giving Durham a uniquely "Old World" and academic atmosphere. Pedestrian bridges crossing the Wear River offer tranquil walks to nearby shops and neighborhoods. I've been to Durham twice, and I hated to leave...Just like the Roger Whittaker song says, "I've got to leave old Durham town, and leaving's going to get me down..."

Carved tree trunks This is one of the most interesting sights I have ever seen. From the side it looks like an unordered arrangement of tree trunks...

...But when you stand inside of these 13 trunks that died of Dutch Elms disease, you see that they are carved with detailed craftsmanship. They depict the "Upper Room" where Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper. The trees blend together to make an almost flat scene, but they are spaced apart. The artist who did these carvings is Colin Wilbourn, in 1988, and it is located below Durham Cathedral near the river. The upper room

Grey Towers of Durham
"Yet will I love thy mixed and massive piles
Half church of God half castle 'gainst the Scot
And long to roam these venerable aisles
With records stored of deeds long since forgot."
Sir Walter Scott, 1816

Update: Sadly, I found out that the carving by Wilbourn, mentioned above, was removed in February, 2001, because of deterioration of the tree trunks.


Newcastle-on-Tyne is a big city located in Northeast England, toward the coast, and is a major industrial area of Northern England. Outside of London, I have not really spent a lot of time in any other large cities in England, except to travel through, or near, but in October of 1992, I spent the better part of a week in Newcastle. Newcastle is where Gordon Matthew Sumner was born in 1951, the son of a milkman. He grew up in Newcastle and later became known as Sting. However, I went there to visit an old friend from London named Leary Bacchus, who had moved up there to pursue a job offer. Traveling with me at the time, were two young Canadian guys, one of whom was a cousin of my wife Linda, who were just visiting England for the first time, and didn't have a lot of money to go places. We drove to Newcastle in my car, which took almost a whole day, only stopping in York, which has to be one of the most historic and haunted cities in Britain, to do a little sightseeing.

We stayed in a typical council flat, that Leary rented, in a large apartment block, located just about a half-mile from downtown. It was in an area that made me more than a little concerned about the safety of my car being parked outside at night, but fortunately, nothing happened to it. Since the flat only had one bedroom, the two Canadian guys and I slept on the floor in sleeping bags. Newcastler's have a distinctly northern accent, and a bit of an urban grittiness that I was not used to, which actually made for an interesting contrast from London. I enjoyed exploring Newcastle, and though I didn't get to see much of Leary (he worked all the time), and even though it was cold and rainy much of the time, I had a good experience there. This trip to the north exposed me to an environment that I was not hitherto familiar with, and I got my car and the Canadian guys back in one piece, so it was quite a success!

Remains of Roman barracks near 
Hadrian's Wall

During my stay in Newcastle I took a daytrip to Durham (mentioned above) by train, which is about 15 miles south of Newcastle. (All together, I have been to Durham twice, because I returned there in 1993 with my Dad, sister, and her boy friend.) Also, I drove my car a few miles NW of Newcastle to Hadrian's Wall. This was my first visit to Hadrian's Wall (I went there again in 1993) and it was an unforgettable sight. I'd seen plenty of Roman ruins before, but this was the one I'd been holding out on, just hoping to see one day, if I ever got near it. It was the Roman Empire's answer to the pesky Scots, which would not submit themselves to Roman rule. During the wall's heyday it stretched about 80 miles across the neck of Northumberland. I visited Fort Chesters, one of the larger mile-forts, along Hadrian's Wall, which is a very good archaeological site, where one can walk through the foundations of the Roman barracks and bathhouse. It rained a lot that day, and I wished that I could have spent more time exploring more of the wall, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate. I did manage to go to the Wall Museum at Housesteads during a downpour, and saw a lot of good historical memorabilia about Hadrian's Wall. All-in-all, there is still plenty more to see in Northern England, if I ever get a chance to go back!

"I couldn't believe that not once in twenty years had anyone said to me, 'You've never been to Durham? Good God, man, you must go at once! Please -- take my car.' ...So let me say it now: if you have never been to Durham, go at once. Take my car. It's wonderful" --Bill Bryson, Notes From A Small Island

Durham Cathedral
Durham University
Hadrian's Wall
York Minster
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