A Day Trip to Barnard Castle?
Lifestyle Print Editor Georgia Shepherd discusses the top spots to visit in Twitter-trending Barnard Castle
If you haven’t been living under a rock you may have heard that the Prime Ministers Chief Advisor Mr Dominic Cummings went on a 30 mile trip to the quintessential town of Barnard Castle to ‘test his eye-sight’.
Personally I quite fancy following my instinct to drive 260 miles to Barnard Castle. With opticians only open for emergencies, this poses as a truly fantastic opportunity for me to carry out my routine eye check up (providing I can read the road signs of course). But before we all jump on the Day Trip to Barnard Castle bandwagon, thought it would be best to illustrate the town’s touristic highlights. So you can decide if it’s really worth the drive.
Back in 2016 Barnard Castle was listed in the Guardians Top 10 UK small towns, I didn’t think Dominic would be a Guardian reader but we are in unprecedented times. The historic market towns name is of course devised from it’s iconic castle, which is also an English Heritage property.
The castle was named after it’s 12th Century founder Bernard de Balliol, then later developed by Richard 3rd whose boar emblem is carved above an inner ward window. The church of St Mary which sits just outside the castle, benefitted from King Richards patronage which much of the work carried out including the founding of a chantry. Fascinating stuff.
However the top attraction in Barnard Castle (according to Trip Advisor) is in fact The Bowes Museum. Offering an eclectic history, stunning galleries, and a thriving toddler group (another reason for Cummings scouting out the area?), this fabulous listed building has it all. Surrounded by stunning parkland, woodland walks, and formal gardens, it’s beautiful place for a walk. However the grounds are currently closed due to the covid-19 crisis, so maybe save this one for after lockdown. This quiet spot is situated outside the hustle and bustle of Barnard Castles well visited riverside.
Don’t miss out on a visit to Eggleston Hall Gardens, also known as the ‘Secret Garden of the North’ (note to Dominic: less chance of getting spotted here next time). Sitting on the banks of the River Tees the Victorian nursery garden is a timeless treasure.
Once things are back up and running again, Barnard Castle is a shopping haven and home to many independent retailers. You can be sure to pick up a rare find in their renowned antique shops. There’s also a vast array of locally produced food which you can be sure to find at the monthly farmers market which is held on Market Place Cobbles. Should you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, The Chocolate Fayre has been providing the people of Teesdale with the finest chocolates for over 30 years. Maybe Dominic got confused with all things lockdown and went to Barnard Castle to pick up some luxury chocolates for his wife on her Birthday?
But if you aren’t feeling up to a 520 mile round trip, you can attempt to replicate the Barnard Castle experience in a picturesque town near you!
Wetherby, North Yorkshire
This North Yorkshire town was listed in the 2018 Sunday Times report as one of the best places to live in Northern England. Therefore it’s no surprise that it hosts one of Daniel Craigs many ‘second homes’. The banks of the River Wharfe are the perfect spot for a 15-minute rest by the riverside. If this isn’t enough, why not pop into Morrisons for a picnic and wash it down with a Brewdog Barnard Castle Eye Test beer (no joke this actually exists). Unfortunately they only come in packs of 12, so perhaps don’t coincide this with a drive to test your eye-sight.
This charming town is one of England’s few remaining Saxon-walled towns. Perching on the Riverside, the quay is the starting point for many riverside walks and cycling routes. Alternatively just relax on the quayside and watch the world go by (let me know what you think of this new spot Dom). If you did fancy a bit of socially distanced shopping, many of the retailers are independent and Wareham is also Fairtrade town too, so you can do your bit for the community.
If none of these are floating your boat, I think sitting in your garden listening to River Sounds: The Essence of Wetness with your feet swinging above a paddling pool/puddle will mimic a similar effect. All jokes aside, please don’t drive to test your eyesight. Stay safe.