If you happen to be here in April, you will often find the annual Dales Pony Show. The Dales pony, local to Northeast England, is little known outside Britain but very nice. It was used as a pack pony in early days, then nearly died out and is now on its way back again. Even if you are not interested in horses, it is a great day for meeting northern countryfolk and/or find a weatherproof jacket :-)
Bowlees Picnic Area
On our way home from Barnard Castle we decided to detour to Middleton-in-Teesdale. This time we didn't go to High Force, having been on a previous trip.
We parked in a picnic area, Bowlees, in the woods where there was a visitors centre. Being a Bank Holiday, it was busy and we were lucky to get parked. It seemed a popular spot. The centre was a good source of info on the area with various displays and hands on activities.There were alsorts of walking routes marked out from here and we opted for a gentle stroll along the river to Summerhill Force. This turned out to be a lovely walk but we were disappointed with Gibson's Cave mentioned on the map, it was just an overhang in the cliff.
An excellent place for information and fresh air.
Again, unfortunately the castle was closed as we passed, you could not even get in the grounds. It opens selected days in summer only.
The present castle was built by John, 3rd Baron Nevill in about 1360; Sir Henry Vane the Elder, MP, purchased Raby in 1626 and his family still own Raby, now the home of Lord Barnard's family. Raby is one of the finest medieval castles, the grandest medieval kitchen in England which was used 1360-1954, and the magnificent Baron's Hall where 700 knights gathered in 1569; Coach House museum
Adults £9.00 for grounds and castle
Town With A Castle
"A Visit At Last"
Nick's parents and sister live in the north east of England and often, when we travelled to see them, we would drive through Barnard Castle and say, "We must have a look at the castle one day." Eventually, in 2001, we decided to spend a weekend staying in the van around Barnard Castle. From here we visited Raby Castle and Middleton-in-Teesdale, both short hops away.
"Around and About"
We stayed on a CL. near Cleatlam, a few miles north east of Barnard Castle, arriving on the Friday evening and calling in at an Indian takeaway for our evening meal.
On Saturday we had a look round the town and explored the castle, a fine drizzle falling persistently.
On Sunday we toured in the van and went to Raby Castle which was an amazing place.
On Sunday, on our way home, we called in at Middleton and enjoyed a pleasant walk along the river to the waterfalls.
Barnard Castle is an attractive, historical market town situated on the Durham side of the Tees, in County Durham, and is the capital of Teesdale. It's crowning glory is the 12th c. castle, built by Bernard Balliol, on banking overlooking the river Tees.The castle now belongs to English Heritage and is open to the public.
The town's other tourist attraction is the Bowes Museum, on the outskirts of B.C. This is home to a most amazing collection of collectables, clocks, costumes, pictures and textiles, to name but a few.
The town itself straggles uphill, in two distinct parts, with plenty of shops and eating places. It's a pretty easy place to drive through and there are carparks signposted. You have to visit the castle on foot.
We enjoyed our stay in this area but now Nick's parents have both died, we don't travel to the north east so much and we feel we have "done" Barnard Castle and surrounds.
Off the beaten path castle town
Barnard Castle is a nice town and more people would probably know this if it was easier to get to by public transport. It is named after its once huge castle, today in ruins but still kept enough for you to see the size it once had and realise its importance. The scenery around the town is great as it is where the Yorkshire Dales has just given way to the more unknown dales of County Durham.