Until this weekend I had never been to Gibside (outrageous I know!)
I’d heard lots of lovely things about it, but never gotten round to going until this weekend when my visit was pretty much perfect…
My day started with a walk with my dogs Miffy and Daisy along the grassy lane past St Mary’s Lighthouse.
The walk along the causeway overlooking the sea toward Old Hartley cove is one of my favourite secret beauty spots in the North East. As Miffy and Daisy lifted their little button noses in the air to smell the sea salt that sat heavy in the air, their fur gently blowing in the breeze, we sat down for five to take a few selfies (naturally).
(If you’re not a dog lover I suggest scrolling down and skipping to the part where I get to Gibside…)
After our walk, I just wasn’t ready to cocoon myself back in the house for the rest of the day, I had a taste for the countryside so jumped in my car in search of somewhere to explore. After a quick scan on twitter for some inspiration, I spotted fellow NE blogger Samantha’s blog about Gibside, so decided it was finally time to go!
The drive from my house at the coast to Gibside took around 30 minutes and once you’re over the other side of the water the drive to Rowlands Gill is pretty much a straight route. Pulling up in the car park ready for an adventure I was gutted to see everyone else had brought their dogs on their day out! Nevermind, I would just have to wander along and tell them all about it later.
Sticking to my map, I started with a wander around the old Walled Garden where buzzing bumblebees and butterflies jostled for space around this pretty manicured garden. After nosing around the greenhouses and marvelling their incredibly scented sweet peas (something I’ve tried and spectacularly failed to grow this year), I spotted an ancient old ruin in the background I had to go check out.
Now, there’s no other way to put this without sounding super cheesy, but the views from the crumbling old ruins of a former boilerhouse over the Derwent Valley took my breath away. Sprigs of heather intertwined with remnants of red brick, while long grasses blew gently in the breeze…
Truthfully I didn’t think the rest of these landscaped gardens, rescued from ruin by the National Trust would be able to top that view but I was wrong! As I took a gentle stroll under a canopy of trees, I turned around to find myself in the middle of a tree-lined avenue leading to the incredible Palladian Chapel. The simple, symmetrical beauty was so peaceful and pretty, and I do love Georgian architecture.
Peeking above the treetops in the distance I could see the tip of The Column to Liberty and set off to explore a little more. Built in the 1700s, by George Bowes’ in support of the Whig Party, the column depicts a young woman holding a Staff of Maintenance and a Cap of Liberty. Apparently it can be seen from as far as the River Tyne!
Sure, the column was impressive, but the VIEW behind me was even more so. Would you look at that…
In an attempt to sum up Gibside’s charm, I would describe how other-worldly it is. As a writer, I wanted to sit beneath the trees and write from dawn till dusk about Georgian politics, architecture, romance and the Renaissance. It’s a place of imagination and best of all, gives you a taste of the countryside just minutes away from the city centre. I will definitely come again, if not for a peaceful wander beneath the trees, but for a coffee and slice of cake in the farm shop courtyard or a night in one of their yurts before winter falls.
Thank you for inspiring me, Gibside.