A Travellerspoint blog



The North Sea Coast

Greetings! Our next adventure was requested by none other than Penny herself. She wanted to go to the beach as she had never been to one before. After a little research, we came upon the Suffolk coast which includes the Dunwich area and is less than a two hour drive away.

And now time for a little history on the Dunwich area. In the 11th century, Dunwich was apparently the 10th largest city in England. Storms in the 13th and 14th centuries swept the city into the sea. An few articles on the research in finding the city and its history:

Someone impatiently waiting to leave.

We stayed in the charming little town on Westleton, just a mile or so away from the coast. It was a very dog friendly town. The White Horse, a cute little pub, was right across the street from our AirBnb and came highly recommended. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn't make it there, but it was on our list.

Our first day we went to the National Trust Dunwich Heath site. Dunwich Heath is an example of coastal lowland heath. Heath is a shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile, acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation.The heath is mostly covered with heather, both Common Heather and Bell Heather, and European and Western Gorse but there is also some woodland and grassland included in the reserve. Dunwich Heath has been owned by the National Trust since 1968 when it purchased the area with the help of a donation from the Heinz company as part of the Trust's goal of acquiring various coastlines to prevent them from being developed. We just missed the most colorful period of the heath a few weeks prior.

National Trust Dunwich Heath: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwich-heath-and-beach

Pictures from Dunwich Heath:

We ate at the highly recommended, The Ship, which is also a quaint inn near Dunwich Beach. We had excellent food there.

After dinner, we checked out Dunwich Beach.

The next day, we took Penny for her first beach experience at Dunwich Beach. She wasn't sure about the water and preferred to walk parallel to it, so she could keep an eye on it. She also enjoyed leaving her footprints in what little bit of sand she came across. Most of the beach was rocks, but she didn't seem to mind.

Just a bit west of the beach we came across, Greyfriars, the ruins of a Franciscan friary.


We had a great time in the Dunwich area and would absolutely return to explore some of the surrounding villages and towns.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 23:14 Archived in England Tagged coast beach national suffolk trust heath dunwich westleton Comments (2)


On the River Welland in Lincolnshire

Greetings! Our next adventure took us on a walking tour of Stamford. Stamford is about 90 miles north of London, next to the A1. Stamford is probably most famous for Burghley House, home of William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. It is a cute little town with gorgeous Georgian architecture. Stamford even had its own castle, built by the Normans around 1075 and unfortunately demolished in 1484. A small bit of ruins remains today.

Stamford has been hosting an annual fair, mid-Lent, since the Middle Ages and it is even mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (Act 3, Scene 2). The fair is the largest street fair in Lincolnshire and among the largest in the country. For over 600 years, Stamford was the site of the Stamford Bull Run, a festival held annually on 13 November, St Brice's day, until 1839. Not quite Pamplona, but I'm sure just as entertaining. Stamford is a the perfect place for filming and was the site of Meryton in Pride & Prejudice and was also a filming location for The Da Vinci Code and a few other notable movies and TV shows.

Our tour guide Ruth was fantastic. She had a great sense of humor, was very knowledgeable, and had wonderful recommendations.

Stamford Sights & Secrets Tour: https://www.stamfordsightsandsecretstours.com

We started our tour in St. George's Square.

Of course, St. George's Church

Some of the very small roads and wonderful architecture around Stamford.

Yes, this is exactly what you think it is; it was a place where one could pay to take a bath...but now it's a house!

One of the famous hotels, Crown Hotel, and a Bentley parked out front with a parking ticket...I couldn't resist taking a picture!

The cute little shop next door to the hotel.

One of the oldest tea rooms in the town.

We loved Stamford. It is a cute and charming English town. It has very narrow streets and can be very interesting to maneuver around in. Stamford was a bit crowded the day we visited, but that certainly wouldn't deter me from returning to the town. I bet the town is gorgeous at Christmastime!

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 00:27 Archived in England Tagged and tour sights secrets stamford burghley Comments (1)

Warden Abbey Vineyard

Exploring English Wines!

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Bedfordshire to Warden Abbey Vineyard. Now, I know what you are thinking, I was thinking the same, the English are known for their beer, not so much their wines, but I have discovered they excel at both! The Vineyard is tucked away near the quintessential English village of Old Warden. We opted for the guided tour which was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it. It includes two tastings at the end. Our tour guide, Gerry, was absolutely fantastic! He gave us a brief overview of the Abbey and then we went onto the grounds and learned about the various grape varieties and a little history about wine making and caring for the vines. Warden Abbey Vineyard is cared for by volunteers and the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC). They do extensive outreach in the community with the vineyards, specifically working with schools in the area.

Warden Abbey Vineyards: https://www.wardenvineyard.org.uk

Now for a little history lesson...Warden Abbey was founded in 1135 and was home to a community of Cistercian monks who planted the two original vineyards, "Great Vineyard" and "Little Vineyard." Production was said to have peaked in the 12th century but natural disasters took a toll on the manpower in the 13th century. Henry VIII shut the Abbey down in 1537. The land came into the Whitbread family in 1786 and Lady Jane Whitbread successfully revived the tradition of winemaking on the land in 1986 following a trip to France. The land has been leased by BRCC since 2010.

The Abbey would have been just beyond the building the background with the tall chimney.

I learned there are about 650 registered vineyards in the United Kingdom, including four in Scotland. The soil here is similar to soil in Germany and best suited for white wines. The vines at Warden Abbey are about 35 years old and produce about 5,000 bottles of wine a year. In the vines' younger days, they could produce over 20,000 bottles of wine a year. Harvesting usually takes place in October. Gerry told us they don't have to water the vines much, except for the new vines. He also mentioned that muntjacs, rabbits and birds enjoy eating the vines. There are four varieties of grapes at Warden Abbey Vineyard: Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau.

Various stages of growth of the vines:


There is also a medieval herb garden in the vineyard which grows herbs that would have been used by the monks.

We also learned about the Warden Pear. Apparently it's a pretty hard pear; it takes four hours of cooking to be edible. It also stays good for several months!
And of course I couldn't help myself, I bought the book.

We also saw some beautiful roses and wild blueberries around the property. Gerry mentioned to us that winemakers in France would place roses at the end of the vine rows. The thought was that if mildew was going to attack the vines, it would start on the ends, rather than the vines, so the workers could hopefully see the mildew on the roses and take preventative action to prohibit mildew from growing on vines. Not so much the case any more.

At the end of the tour, we tasted two wines: The Novicemaster 2018 and the Warden Abbey Brut 2015. Both were phenomenal! I am not a fan of white wines, usually only sweet wines or sparkling wines, but I really enjoyed both. The Novicemaster was named for the vineyard's master of wine of which there are only 350 in the world. The Queen was served the Warden Abbey Brut 2015 when she visited Dunstable for an event a few years ago. No one knows what she thought of it.

We had a wonderful time at Warden Abbey Vineyards. The volunteers were absolutely wonderful and extremely knowledgable. The wines were fantastic, too! I'd love to return! On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 00:07 Archived in England Tagged england white vineyard grapes monks wine abbey historic warden Comments (1)

Hitchin Lavender Fields

Masking up and venturing out...a little

Greetings! It has been quite a while since we were allowed to venture out, four months to be exact, since the quarantine began here. Pubs and restaurants just opened on 4 July and you can imagine just how crazy that got. We aren't quite comfortable to make any overnight stays yet; everyone and their brother is doing that now. We figure we'll wait to see how things pan out over the next few months. Hopefully, a second lockdown will not be needed.

Our first adventure out took us to Hitchin Lavender Fields, a short drive south along the A1. It is a lavender farm; I didn't know such a thing existed. The farm has 35 miles of lavender rows which you can walk through. As well as the lavender fields, the farm also grow sunflowers that bloom from mid- August onwards, which we were a bit early for. They also have a large wildflower area. The farm has some spectacular views of rural Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.


A little history lesson on lavender. The origin of lavender is thought to be from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India and can be dated back to over 2500 years ago. Lavender was first thought to be introduced to the UK by the Romans thousands of years ago. Lavender has natural anti-sceptic properties and was used to treat battle wounds. As early as the 1500's the small market town of Hitchin was becoming more of an established grower and was one of only two major lavender growing areas in the country. The Hitchin Lavender Fields are part of Cadwell Farm which has been in the same family for more than one hundred years and for five generations. Lavender was introduced to the farm in 2000.

Hitchin Lavender: https://www.hitchinlavender.com

Some of the pictures from the fields

Some of the wildflower area:

There was a little shop on the property that sold some of the products made with the lavender that is harvested at the farm. The shop also had some delicious lavender shortbread and lavender ice cream as well as many other baked goods and sandwiches.

Hitchin Lavender Field was such a beautiful area and I'm glad this was our first foray post-quarantine.

On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 04:20 Archived in England Tagged fields england lavender hitchin Comments (1)

Blenheim Palace

Alice in the Palace

For the last stop on our way back from our staycation in the Newbury area, we decided to stop and tour Blenheim Palace. This is also a must see in my opinion...it definitely has palatial characteristics. The palace is named for the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, (also known as Blindheim) in Bavaria. Blenheim was originally intended to be a reward for John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession which culminated in the Battle of Blenheim. The land was given as a gift by Queen Anne and construction began in 1705. The project soon became the subject of political infighting, with the Crown cancelling further financial support in 1712. It is the primary residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. These days the palace is mostly known for as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.

Blenheim Palace: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/

During our visit the house was decorated for Christmas in a wonderful Alice in Wonderland theme. The decorations were wonderful, but I was really there for the history of this magnificent home. The house was also extremely crowded, not as much as our Highclere experience, but still very busy inside of the house. We converted our tickets to year passes, so we can go back anytime within the next year and tour Blenheim.


Pictures from inside Blenheim:


The Chapel:

That rounds our Newbury adventure. We had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back!

Until the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 00:27 Archived in England Tagged palace churchill blenheim oxfordshire Comments (0)

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