Family Road Trip!
Last week we took a family road trip. We were lucky enough to win a stay in a castle from Celtic Castles so we decided to combine that with another nights stay on the way and take a family road trip to Scotland!
On the way to our first overnight stop we visited Mother Shiptons Cave. If you have never heard of Mother Shiptons Cave, it’s Englands Oldest Tourist Attraction. Mother Shipton was a Yorkshire witch who prophesied about the future, she was born in 1488 in a cave in Knaresborough. Near the cave is a ‘magic’ well that turns things to stone! We loved walking round the park and seeing the petrified items. Things like ice skates, boxing gloves, hats and teddy bears all turned to stone!
We took a picnic, there were loads of picnic benches, two childrens playgrounds, places to sit near the river and lots of fun to be had. We really enjoyed ourselves and felt it would be great for all ages! We all made a wish in Mother Shiptons Well too so who knows!
That first night we stayed in a Premier Inn in North Shields. It was the first time ever for us as a family to stay in one hotel room and our first time at a Premier Inn. We were greeted by the most friendly, welcoming receptionist we have ever been served by and were immediately made to feel relaxed and at home. All the staff we were fortunate enough to meet were friendly, helpful and the customer service was brilliant, better than any hotel we have ever stayed in actually. For a budget hotel we felt this Premier Inn was fantastic, I won’t even look at the other budget hotel chains in the future because the standards at Premier Inn were just so high.
The location of this particular Premier Inn was great, it had a Brewers Fayre with indoor and outdoor play areas for the children and was located right next to an Outlet Shopping Centre, so great for bagging a shopping bargain too! Just down the road we visited the local harbour and took a look at the yachts, C loved this! We paid for the buffet breakfast, it cost £8.25 for adults but the kids go free. The breakfast was lovely, great choice of hot items, pastries, toast, cereals and fruit, juice, tea and coffee etc. We were impressed and the children loved having a bit of everything!
We called into the Metro centre for a little look round the shops and a trip to the arcades, we all enjoyed collecting the tickets to win some little prizes, only some sweeties and a bouncy ball and a glider for C but we had a blast and the glider became a great addition to our toy collection for the holiday!
Then on to the castle.We were lucky enough to win an over night stay at Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh through Roger the Castle Man. As we arrived we were confronted with the driveway to the castle undergoing resurfacing which proved a little problematic but will greatly improve the entrance for the future. The exterior of the castle is stunning, it has gorgeous grounds and you are free to explore which was fantastic for C and LissyLou, the enjoyed running around and visiting the Falconry Centre to look at the beautiful birds. You can pay to have special walks and talks about the falcons but guests are free to wander around the centre which was more than enough for me.
Inside the castle is lovely, a bit tired maybe but it definitely has some gorgeous features. We were a bit underwhelmed by the reception staff, particularly after the amazing service at the Premier Inn. The highlight of our stay was meeting the incredible bagpiper. He was so friendly, gladly posed for a photo with C and shared his Scottish Shortbread with both children which made them very happy. He was a true gentleman and a real asset to the Castle. We ate in the Orangery that afternoon and enjoyed delicious sandwiches with homemade crisps!
We stayed in the India room, which had a huge four poster bed and had been set up with a travel cot for Lissy Lou and a fold out bed for C. The room was a bit dated and shabby round the edges but was clean and comfortable. We liked the addition of the elephant rocker, the children loved having a ride on him! The cafetiere with real coffee and homemade biscuits made us feel welcome and were very tasty! The view from our window was lovely and we were lucky enough to watch some hot air balloons passing by that evening!
On the drive home we were looking for somewhere to stop to stretch our legs and grab a drink and we happened upon Heighley Gate Nursery & Garden Centre and were drawn to the outdoor children’s playground and promise of a cafe. We were truly amazed by this garden centre which was a day out in it’s own right. With a large adventure playground, two indoor soft play areas, all the usual garden centre stuff like plants and garden furniture, a lovely cafe and a great deli and green grocers! Seriously if you happen to be anywhere near Morpeth then you need to add this place to your list. I wish we had a garden centre anything like this near us!
We had a lovely little family road trip, really looking forward to the next one now!