Rachel Cochrane is writer who runs listenupnorth.com, a spoken word entertainment website featuring her own and other North East writers’ recorded radio plays, monologues, short stories, poetry and interviews available for everyone to listen online or download. She has also written a series of short films, with the first pilot episode of Celia filmed in Northumberland. This can be viewed from the blog of her Character, Celiatime.com. Rachel will now be writing a new column on www.thisisnorthumberland.com called Northern Arts, where she will write about writes, new talent, places and ideas that inspire, and Northern culture. In this Q&A she shares some of Northumberland’s best kept secrets.
How long have you lived/worked/visited in Northumberland or The Scottish Borders?: I have lived in the North East for almost 30 years and in Northumberland for 16 years.
What is it about the area that appeals to you?: It’s unique space, landscape, history & beauty
What’s your favourite Northumberland/Borders beauty spot?: Sewing Shields Crag on Hadrian’s Wall with its amazing wilderness, panorama and a wind that will blow all your stress away!
Tell us about your favourite view/walk/cycle route/town/nightspot?: I recently enjoyed cycling along the coast near Warkworth: along the Coquet estuary looking across to Amble Marina and then above the dunes looking over to Coquet Island. An easy route with fantastic views.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland/the Borders wouldn’t be complete without . . .: A visit to a castle – highly recommended is Dunstanburgh, and approaching its enigmatic shape from Craster, walking by the rock pools.
Why is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: It’s made with care and pride and it tastes delicious!
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: I recommend a walk from Beadnell across the beach & dunes to Low Newton by the Sea, working up an appetite for crab sandwiches at The Ship Inn with a pint of real ale brewed on the premises. For afternoon tea I enjoy the delicious scones at The Jiggery Pokery at Mickley in Tynedale.
Northumbrians and people from The Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: Living in such a lovely place makes people happy and that reflects in the welcome they give.
Coast or country, and specifically which part?: I love both and spending time in the coast or country of Northumberland, its nature and timelessness always helps to put your own life into perspective
Your favourite market town and why?: Hexham is my nearest market town and I have grown to love it – the ancient buildings & walkways, Sele Park, the Abbey with Roman foundations, its history, art deco cinema and sense of community.
Your favourite historical site?: I always enjoy a visit to Wallington. In the courtyard of the house I especially love the pre-Raphaelite paintings by William Bell Scott which chart the history of Northumberland. A stroll through the woods and around the ponds are an absolute delight especially if you can manage to spot a red squirrel (there is also a hide). My favourite spot is the walled garden especially the herbaceous borders in Summer but all the year round I love the vibrant colours, warmth & sheer intoxication of the greenhouse.
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: I recently discovered the road from Harwood Gate to Elsdon past Harwood forest. As you go down the hill into theCoquet Valley, you will see one of the most breathtaking views in England from the Simonside Hills to The Cheviot and beyond.
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland and The Scottish Borders?: To stay on Lindisfarne when the tide is out, to walk around this tranquil island exploring the vast empty beach and historical sites then to stay over at one of the hotels or B&Bs.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets