Thursday 27 June 2019

My June Days

This post includes an advertisement feature with Wild Intrigue 

Wow this month has been busy! A very wet holiday in the North East saw us getting spendy and crossing a fair few eateries off our ever growing list which is a pretty great way to spend a very rainy week.  You may have noticed that this month's roundup has gone up a few days earlier than usual as this weekend I'll be enjoying my friend's Hen Weekend in Marbella, what a way to end the month!

Here's what didn't make the blog in June.

Serenades and Sunsets at Wallington

I think my happiest moment of the month had to be lounging on a picnic rug in the walled gardens at Wallington listening to live music and eating our way through a lot of delicious food from our ridiculous picnic basket. Serenades and Sunsets takes place every Friday and Sunday evening in June and it really is the best way to spend an evening. When Simon crashed out on the rug for a nap I took the rare opportunity to explore the gardens during golden hour and it was truly breathtaking.  This is exactly what Summer in Northumberland is all about!

June Days - Serenades and Sunsets at Wallington

Bats and Pizza with Wild Intrigue 

Having had such a great experience last year we were so thrilled to be invited back to Wild Northumbrian for a Bats and Pizza Night hosted by Wild Intrigue. Unlike last Summer the evening was a little soggy but I have to say eating homemade pizza whilst listening to the rain under the shelter of the most beautiful little veranda ended up being pretty idyllic. Our evening finished with a very successful bat safari, chats round the campfire whilst toasting marshmallows and I have finally convinced Simon to book a stay at Wild Northumbrian so watch this space!

June - Bats and Pizza with Wild Intrigue

Bamburgh Castle

Despite having been to Bamburgh so many times and admired the castle from afar this month was our first ever experience of exploring Bamburgh Castle properly. I had absolutely no idea how special it is and now I'm kicking myself that we didn't visit sooner. The views along the Northumberland coastline from the walls are something else, they serve really delicious scran in the tea room and the State Rooms inside the Castle was something else. My jaw dropped to the floor, it was just so beautiful! My favourite moment was reading the book where visitors had shared their hand written personal history and memories of Bamburgh Castle - I had goosebumps!

June Days - Bamburgh Castle

Lakes Distillery

This month we visited the Lakes Distillery in Cumbria and what a lovely spot to spend an afternoon. I have no interest in whisky so was very much there to represent the gin! We managed to bag ourselves a discounted ticket to the tour on Groupon and loved getting an hour long behind the scenes look at how their drinks are created followed by a tasting. Our experience ended with lunch in the Bistro (incredible food but slightly ruined by very poor service) and a little stroll down to meet the Alpacas. Of course I couldn't resist a splurge in the shop and left with a bottle of the Elderflower Gin.

June Days - Lakes Distillery


I am finally using the "your places' feature on Google Maps and have now created my very own map showing all of the eateries in Northumberland that we want to visit. Forever late to the party I'm now telling anyone who will listen about how amazing my map is and I'm sure Simon is getting very fed up of me checking it every time we're in the countryside to tell him how close we are to various coffee shops and restaurants. It is SO useful though! Thanks to my handy map we've ticked Carnabys off the list, a really lovely cafe, ideally located on the A1 a few miles from Bamburgh, it has plenty of seating and some really delicious food. I had a Salmon and Egg Bagel followed by a slice of cake because I just couldn't resist.

June Days - Carnabys


At last! I've visited Omni!  I have heard so many great things about the Asian inspired dishes served at the lovely spot in Monkseaton and it definitely didn't let me down. The menu is just so good! For my first visit I went for "The Rice Bowl" - Jasmine Rice Steamed with Shredded Asian Veg, Soy Sauce and Spring Onions topped with a Fried Egg and Crispy Onions with Chicken - it was absolutely incredible and I can't wait to return and try some of their breakfast dishes. People weren't lying when they said how good this place is.

June Days - Omni

Rievaulx Terrace

Having visited all of the National Trust North East properties multiple times I've decided that we need to start taking our membership cards further afield and with so many great places on our doorstep we're spoilt for choice when it comes to a National Trust Road Trip.  Yorkshire is my favourite place to explore at the moment and this month we popped to Rievaulx Terrace for a mooch round the beautiful temples.  Although the site is very small, what it lacks for in size it more than makes up for in beauty - the views of Rievaulx Abbey were breathtaking! If you ever find yourself in the area you must go for a stroll.

June Days - Rievaulx-Terrace

As always for more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram. I post a new photo every day sharing our latest discoveries across the North East.

Monday 24 June 2019

The Best Afternoon Tea in Northumberland at Walwick Hall

My husband is one of those people who is very loyal to our favourite places. So when I suggested it was about time we booked ourselves an afternoon tea without hesitation he started to list our usual haunts. I said no to them all, I was adamant that I wanted to try somewhere new and, with our endless mission to discover the best afternoon tea in Northumberland in mind, I suggested a place that I've been wanting to try for ages - Walwick Hall.

The Best Afternoon Tea in Northumberland at Walwick Hall Hotel

I can't remember when I first heard about Walwick Hall,  I just know that it's a hotel that I have been wanting to visit for a while now. I have been boring Simon by endlessly hinting how much I want to stay overnight and visit the spa so, as you can imagine, I was over the moon when he agreed that we could head there for afternoon tea.  To say I was excited to finally step inside Walwick Hall would be an understatement.

For those of you that haven't heard about this lovely little place (believe me, part of me doesn't want to tell you about it, because I kind of want to keep it to myself), Walwick Hall is a boutique country hotel nestled in the heart of Hadrian's Wall - with the most incredible views across the Northumberland countryside, a very impressive food menu and the kind of interiors that I could only dream of.  It really is pretty special.

Best Afternoon Tea in Northumberland at Walwick Hall Hotel
Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall is served in the Drawing Room, a very grand looking living room with an open fire and plush sofas - the perfect setting to take tea. I had requested a window seat when I booked and on arrival we were shown directly to an idyllic table right by the window overlooking the beautiful garden with some very impressive views across the Tyne Valley.

Afternoon Tea in Northumberland at Walwick Hall Hotel

Our very friendly server asked us whether we'd like tea or coffee with our afternoon tea and very helpfully ran through my nut allergy with me. I love places that instantly put me at ease with my food intolerance and I felt immediately reassured that they understood my requirements perfectly.

Dining mid week is a bit of a rare treat for us and other than a few people flitting in and out we more or less had the entire lounge to ourselves during our afternoon tea, absolutely ideal when you want to play "yes this is my house", something we love to do when we're eating somewhere incredible that we wish we could call our own. Walwick Hall is certainly the kind of place where you do feel right at home, it may look pretty swish inside but the atmosphere is very warm and everyone we met was so happy and friendly.

Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall Hotel

Our tea arrived first, served in the most beautiful china and, as Simon immediately pointed out, in pots and jugs that didn't pour liquid all over the tables. Such a simple detail but it really was a treat to be able to pour out our tea without spilling half of it. Every great afternoon tea has bottomless drinks on offer and at Walwick Hall we were magically refilled every time we hit empty with the lovely staff getting that great balance between being attentive and leaving us in peace. I honestly have no idea how they did it, but they really did have it spot on.

Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland
In no time at all our stand of treats had arrived and we had the biggest smiles on our faces when the copper stand was placed in front of us, fully loaded with goodies. Each tier was explained to us so we knew exactly what we had to enjoy and then we were left to it - where do you even begin with such a beauty?

Afternoon Tea Review at Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland
Savoury first of course and the afternoon tea at Walwick Hall has a great offering if you love a bit of variety on the bottom tier.  We had four sandwiches each including Salmon & Cucumber and Ham and Piccalilli all served in squishy crustless bread with the ideal amount of filling in. This was then joined with a homemade Sausage Roll and, my absolute favourite, a cheese and onion tart which was encased in the most delicious pastry I have ever tasted.

Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland - Review

At this point we knew we were truly on to a good thing. Simon and I are such afternoon tea eating pros that a huge grin and a nod is all we need to tell each other that this one was going to be a contender for the best afternoon tea we had ever had.

But let's not be too hasty, we still had two tiers to go!

Scones were up next and we loved that we had something a little different. As well as a fruit scone each we also had a lemon scone and we couldn't resist going for one of those first. Served with homemade strawberry and raspberry jam (LOVING the fact that we got two jams to pick from) and a huge pot of cream we dove in. The raspberry jam on the lemon scone was just incredible and the cream was so thick it was like a mini workout just trying to get it out of the pot. Absolutely delicious.

Afternoon Tea Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland - Review
As I've mentioned many times before, scones make or break an afternoon tea for us and these beauties were heaven. A perfect size, easy to cut with a lovely soft middle, slightly warm from the oven - I could probably sit here all day trying to explain exactly how wonderful they were but I think it's actually best you just go and try them for yourselves!

When we had booked our tea we had wanted to go somewhere where we could really take our time and spend the afternoon. Feeling very comfortable and with no pressure to rush we decided to take a little break before tucking into our cakes. I ambled over to the magazine rack and grabbed myself a copy of Living North to flick through and spent a good while enjoying the peace and quiet - believe me,  this is the way to truly enjoy an afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland - Review

Finding room for the big finale, the cake tier was quite a sight. Filled with very impressive looking colourful cakes we set to work on clearing the lot. Rose and Lemon Macarons, a little Chocolate Delice, Lemon Meringue Tart and Strawberry Choux Buns - each treat was perfectly prepared and tasted incredible.  Quite often on an afternoon tea you'll get one cake that I like to describe as "the filler" - it's been created to make the stand look busier but doesn't really add any value to the tea. This definitely isn't the case at Walwick Hall - every single cake was fantastic.

Afternoon Tea at Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland - A Review
As you can imagine we were more than a little full by the end so decided to walk to our car via the back of the Hall to get a bit of fresh air and, of course, have a good nose at the outside of the hotel.

I couldn't believe how incredible the views at the back of the hotel were, next time we have a sunny afternoon there will be no prizes for guessing where I'll be. The outside seating area at Walwick Hall has to have the most impressive views in Northumberland, imagine enjoying an afternoon tea out in the sunshine with that scenery. Heaven!

Walwick Hall Northumberland

I honestly can't say enough how much you all need to go and try this afternoon tea. It was absolutely incredible and has easily shot its way up our list to become our favourite. The whole experience was faultless - lovely staff, beautiful setting and delicious food - it really was the very best kind of treat you could ever experience and I will be spending many many months to come telling anyone who will listen to give it a try.  Please go!

Walwick Hall Hotel Northumberland

What you need to know:

  • There are two Afternoon Tas to choose from at Walwick Hall, Traditional or Northumbrian - you can read more about each one here.
  • Both Afternoon Teas cost £24.95 per person
  • Afternoon Tea bookings must be made in advance by 4:00 pm the day prior with a £5.00 per person deposit required at the time of booking
  • If you don't fancy a full Afternoon Tea, the Drawing Room at Walwick Hall is open to residents and non-residents serving teas, coffees and bakes 
Find Walwick Hall at:

Nr Hexham
NE46 4BJ

01434 620 156

Thursday 20 June 2019

An Affordable Break in the Lake District - Sparkling Sundays at The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

This is an advertisement feature with ukbreakaways

If you've ever attempted to plan an affordable break in the Lake District you will know how difficult it is. I have spent many wasted hours trawling the internet for a good deal and we usually end up having to abandon plans. Finding a great value hotel that offers a comfortable place to stay is pretty much impossible. So when we discovered the Sparkling Sundays break on ukbreakaways with availability at The Windermere Hotel in one of our favourite parts of the Lakes, we were over the moon.

An Affordable Break in the Lake District - Sparkling Sundays at The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

The Sparkling Sundays break is a bit of a treat if you're after a great value escape at a Coast & Country, Country Living or Bay Hotel in some of the most stunning locations across the UK. There are 32 locations to choose from so whether you fancy a potter in Harrogate, adventuring in Loch Lomond or a countryside escape to Northumberland there's bound to be something to suit you. Breaks start from only £75.00 for a double/twin room which includes, now this is the seriously impressive part, a bottle of Prosecco on arrival, a three course dinner and breakfast!

Affordable Break in Lake District - Sparkling Sundays at The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

As you can imagine Simon and I were buzzing to begin our Sparkling Sunday and, taking advantage of the early Summer sunshine, we enjoyed a lovely leisurely drive to the Lake District taking in some of our favourite scenic views along the way. Our home for the night was The Windermere Hotel, a  historic hotel that's been overlooking the lakeside town of Windermere since 1847.

Deciding to check in at 3:00 pm to take full advantage of our hotel stay (there's nothing more relaxing than chilling out in a hotel) we easily parked our car in the carpark at the front of the hotel and made our way into The Windermere Hotel to begin our Lake District adventure.

Affordable Break Lake District - Sparkling Sundays The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

There are three types of bedroom at The Windermere Hotel, The Standard, Superior and Premier with some of the rooms offering views across Lake Windermere. All rooms include ensuite facilities, tea and coffee and, much to my husband's delight, complimentary wifi. Our room for the night was a Premier so we were very chuffed to not only have a four poster bed but also a sofa to relax on and a rather lovely view over the town and lake.

Lake District - Sparkling Sundays The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

Included in our Sparkling Sundays Break was a bottle of Prosecco on arrival which was already chilling in a bucket of ice in our room ready to greet us. Simon immediately fell asleep on the sofa (it's tiring work being married to me!), leaving me with the dilema of "would it be rude to open this Prosecco and drink it all myself?"

Sparkling Sundays The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

Something about the fresh air in the Lakes makes you very hungry so we were more than ready for our inclusive three course dinner when we skipped our way down to the hotel's dining room. Perhaps one of my favourite part of the hotel, the dining room at The Winderemere is in a beautiful wood panelled room offering views across the village.

Of course when you're on holiday dinner has to begin with an order at the bar and I was impressed with their gin selection. I ordered my favourite, Brockmans, which came garnished with a twist of orange and plenty of ice - perfection!

We could pick our three course meal from the Daily Set Menu - there were three to five options to choose from in each course with the option to upgrade to the A La Carte menu at a supplement if you wanted a wider option. We decided to stick to the set menu and I picked the Goats Cheese Crosstini followed by Roast Topside of Beef and Afternoon Tea Cheesecake.

The Windermere Hotel with ukbreakaways

As we were enjoying a sunny evening we decided to follow dinner with a short stroll into Windermere. The hotel is ideally located right next to the train station (a fantastic base if you were wanting to explore some of the Lakes without a car) and is only a few minutes walk down to the main street. Having never really been to Windermere before I couldn't believe how many bars and restaurants there were lining the pretty streets. It's quite a hive of activity and I have to say you'd be able to plan a pretty decent pub crawl close to the hotel.

Feeling pretty tired we didn't manage to stay out too long and instead headed back to our room where we snuggled up on the bed and watched TV. I find it so hard to relax at home and always find myself rushing about doing jobs so enjoying some chill out time with my husband was fantastic.

An Affordable Break in the Lake District - Sparkling Sundays at The Windermere Hotel ukbreakaways

The next morning after a fantastic night's sleep (that bed was seriously comfortable) and breakfast we checked out and decided to end our break with a trip to Ambleside to enjoy the sunshine. A beautiful 12 minute drive from the Windermere Hotel, Ambleside is one of our favourite spots in the Lake District and despite getting pretty busy in the Summer with the boats full of tourists that come in and out it always feels very calm and peaceful.  We couldn't resist getting ourselves a couple of Blueberry Scones fully loaded with cream and enjoyed them sitting by the shore of Lake Windermere.

The perfect end to our Sparkling Sunday in the Lakes!

An Affordable Break in the Lakes - Sparkling Sundays at The Windermere Hotel ukbreakaways
Find The Windermere Hotel at:

Kendal Road
LA23 1AL

01539  442251

Book your own Sparkling Sundays break and see what other hotels are available here

We received a complimentary Sparkling Sundays break in exchange for this review.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

A Proper Geordie Lunch at Hinnies, Whitley Bay

* This is an advertisement feature with Hinnies

Knowing how much I love Whitley Bay I'm constantly being asked for recommendations of where to eat in my favourite seaside town. It really has become the greatest food destination in the North East over the last couple of years and now if you were ask me to choose between eating in the Toon or dining on the North Tyneside coast I would choose Whitley Bay every single time. One place I recommend time and time again is Hinnies, the home of Geordie comfort food and seaside views.

Proper Geordie Lunch at Hinnies, Whitley Bay

If you're a proud North Eastener like me and love locally inspired dishes prepared using really great quality ingredients there really is no better dining spot on the coast. Popping in for lunch on a beautiful sunny Saturday I was thrilled to find the restaurant completely full! If you're planning a visit I'd book a table, Hinnies is popular and there's nothing worse than having to wait for a table when you are hungry.

People who take their planning very seriously (like me!) might like to know that the table by the window is the best if you love indulging in a spot of people watching and are partial to a sea view, although in all honesty Hinnies is so beautifully decked out with recycled furniture and fittings that every table is in a beautiful setting - the whole place is just so welcoming and cosy.

Geordie Lunch at Hinnies, Whitley Bay

If you're looking for a great quality meal at the coast but without the hefty price tag Hinnies really is quite a find. The food is beautiful without being pretentious and the setting is very relaxed - offering that very rare balance of cosy comfort and quality food without making you broke. Their set lunch menu (served Tuesday to Saturday) offers two courses for £13.00 or three for £16.00 and their set dinner (Tuesday to Friday until 7:00 pm) costs only £16.00 for 2 courses, or £19.00 for three. So the menu is only ever individually priced weekday nights after 7:00 pm or Saturday nights.

We opted for a two course lunch for £13.00 an absolute steal and a fantastic way to justify ordering dessert because, if you think about it, it's actually kind of free!

The menu at Hinnies is a great size and stuffed full of the kind of comfort food that has you going "oooooh" and then changing your mind at least four times before changing it again last minute just as you're about to give your order. I struggled to make a choice but in the end opted for a Geordie classic, Pan Haggerty.

Lunch at Hinnies, Whitley Bay
If you're keen to fully embrace the Geordie inspired dishes at Hinnies then the Pan Haggerty is a great place to start. If you're not too familiar with food from the North East then Pan Haggerty is a traditional Northumbrian dish made up of potatoes, onion and cheese usually cooked in a dish and served up as a side or sometimes as breakfast.  Hinnies' version comes with seasonal greens, mustard cream and a poached hens egg.

If you're all about the Geordie comfort food then there are plenty of other North East inspired dishes on the Hinnies menu including a variety of North Sea fish, Northumberland ham terrine and Singin Hinnies with jam and cream.

My friend had the Fish and Chips which is pretty much a requirement if you're going to be dining at the beach (why do they taste so much better by the sea?) which came with mushy peas and tarter sauce. With plenty of places in Whitley Bay to enjoy the traditional British seaside dish you are a little spoilt for choice but Hinnies is definitely up there with the best.

Hinnies, Whitley Bay
After all that any sensible person would have probably said "no thanks" to dessert but with a fantastic choice on the menu we couldn't resist un-popping some buttons whilst eagerly ordering our second course.

There was a clear winner for me, Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake - one of my favourite flavour combinations and believe me when it's packed into a beautiful baked cheesecake it's quite a treat. The portion was so generous and despite feeling very full I polished the whole lot off, it was just too lovely to resist.

Hinnies, Whitley Bay - Lunch Menu
My dining buddy opted for Pear Frangipane Tart which came with vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. It had been my second choice dessert so I was happy that I got to see how it looked - I couldn't quite bring myself to be rude enough to swipe a bit but let's just say I'll definitely be ordering this one on my next visit, it looked incredible.

Hinnies, Whitley Bay - Lunch
As you can imagine, by the time we had finished dessert we were well and truly stuffed and when we were offered coffees to finish our meal we both agreed we couldn't eat another bite and that it would probably be quite sensible to head outside for a nice refreshing walk in the sea air. The beauty of Hinnies is that not only is the food incredible but you have miles of stunning seaside to walk along afterwards and there's nothing quite like a brisk walk in the fresh sea air after lunch.

Hinnies is easily one of my favourite restaurants in the North East and I can't wait to return to try some more of the menu soon!

Lunch at Whitley Bay

Find Hinnies at:

10 East Parade
Whitley Bay
NE26 1AP

We were treated to a complimentary meal in exchange for this honest review. 

Friday 14 June 2019

Avengers Filming Location in Scotland - Exploring St Abbs and New Asgard

Before I take you on a magical journey to Hollywood with this little guide to an amazing Avengers filming location in Scotland (a quick 90 minute drive from Newcastle)  I should probably warn you that if you're yet to watch Avengers Endgame you'd best stop reading right now. Whilst I'm not one for spoiling the end of movies I'm too excited about our discovery to not share this with my fellow Marvel fans - I can't possibly keep it to myself! Anyone fancy a trip to New Asgard?

Avengers Filming Location in Scotland - Exploring St Abbs and New Asgard
Simon and I are both big Marvel fans, we drive about with the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack blaring out of the car stereo, he's well aware of my Ross Gellar style laminated list that allows me to cheat on him with Chris Hemsworth and we spend far too much of our time ranking our favourite super heroes! So when I discovered that the filming location for New Asgard was only an hour and a half away from our home in the North East I couldn't resist arranging a surprise trip for my husband.

I'm sure Avengers Engame fans will all agree with me that some of the very best scenes of the movie involve a drunken layabout Thor eating pizza and playing video games in his harbour side home in New Asgard, the coastal settlement for the Asgardians following the havoc caused by Thanos and that infuriating jewelled glove!

Avengers Filming in Scotland - Exploring St Abbs and New Asgard

New Asgard looked beautiful on screen and when Rocket and Hulk went to visit Thor in his new home Simon and I were debating where it had been filmed on our way home from the movie - both agreeing that it was perhaps somewhere on the beautiful coastline of Norway.  We never would have guessed it was a beautiful fishing village in Scotland, a short drive from Northumberland.

As soon as I discovered the New Asgard location, completely by accident, I decided not to tell Simon and instead arranged a little stop on our way back from a recent trip to Edinburgh. Telling him I had planned a surprise in a mystery location I put him behind the wheel and guided him there keeping my fingers crossed that St Abbs lived up to my expectations. I had nervous butterflies in my tummy on the approach just hoping it was everything I wanted it to be.

Avengers - Exploring St Abbs and New Asgard

Approaching St Abbs Harbour I noticed a sign on the side of the road - "St Abbs twinned with New Asgard" I knew Simon had spotted it too when he turned to me, gave me the biggest grin and swore! I knew immediately that I'd earned myself a good few wife points.

Following the road down the steep hill down to the harbour we found a small carpark with just a couple of parking spots left. As St Abbs is a tiny harbour village with just a few residents there isn't a huge amount of parking places and it certainly wasn't designed for hoards of visitors, however locals have fully embraced their Hollywood fame, which became immediately apparent when we spotted a fair amount of "Welcome to New Asgard" signs dotted around the harbour.  I'm sure as word continues to get out and with the arrival of the Summer this little Scottish village is going to have a serious amount of visitors calling.

Avengers Endgame - Exploring St Abbs and New Asgard
We parked up for an hour which cost us £1.00 and set off for a little potter around the harbour, Simon eagerly skipping about amongst the fishing nets excitedly telling me which bits of dialogue were filmed in which spots. As a huge movie fan he was in his element stepping straight into one of his favourite movies.

Locations are easy to spot with the beautiful white house instantly recognisable as the Cormorant and Tun pub - I'm afraid it isn't really a pub and you definitely won't find Thor propping up the bar but seeing it sitting above the harbour was still pretty amazing.

Avengers Endgame - St Abbs and New Asgard
The real treat of your visit though is getting your photograph taken with the sign - oh so cheesy but yes it really does have to be done! Just behind the carpark you'll find some wooden steps going up to the top of the hill to the St Abbs Visitors Centre and that's where you'll find the second "Twinned with New Asgard" sign - perfectly placed with the views over the harbour below - the perfect photo opportunity.

I love that Scottish Borders Council made the official signs to put up - celebrating that very special time that Hollywood descended on a small village on the coast of Scotland! It's definitely something that everyone in the village and local area is very proud of.

Avengers Endgame - St Abbs Harbour and New Asgard

Don't you worry though, if the thought of a day trip revolving around super heroes isn't your idea of fun, St Abbs is well worth a visit if you enjoy the most spectacular scenery. Not only is the harbour beautiful but the views of the cliffs from the village is truly breathtaking - you can see the whole shape of the coastline perfectly and it's a wonderful place to spend some time.   Although we didn't stop you'll find the super cute Ebbcarrs Cafe on the harbour serving lunches, homemade cakes and coffees with outside seating if you happen to see some sunshine on your visit.

Avengers Endgame - St Abbs Harbour and New Asgard Scotland

We absolutely loved our trip to St Abbs, I'll be using it to my advantage for a while reminding Simon what an awesome wife I am, and it also acted as a very welcome reminder that the Scottish borders are a beautiful area to explore and a very much unvisited place right on our doorstep.

I can't wait to return and explore some more!

Avengers Endgame Filming in Scotland - St Abbs Harbour and New Asgard

Find "the New Asgard" sign at St Abbs:

Coldingham Road
St Abbs
TD14 5PL


Tuesday 11 June 2019

An Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Walking the Water of Leith to Stockbridge and Dean Village

This post features a discounted overnight stay at The Malmaison

We realised a few months ago that we hadn't been to Edinburgh since 2014, it's been so long that digging out my old blog post made me cringe with embarrassment - it was written back in the days when sticking a grainy filter on photographs was the done thing (what was I thinking?!)  That trip was a very fast whistle stop tour of the city centre so when we decided to revisit the beautiful Scottish city we knew that this time we wanted to book a hotel stay and visit for a bit longer.

An Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Walking the Water of Leith to Stockbridge and Dean Village

Staying at the Malmaison Edinburgh 

Wanting a slightly alternative weekend in Edinburgh we decided to base ourselves at The Malmaison which, although a couple of miles outside of the city centre, offers the perfect base if you want a really wonderful experience and fancy exploring a part of Edinburgh that you haven't seen before.

The Malmaison is 2 miles outside of the city, offering easy connections to the centre - there are frequent buses that stop close to the hotel, if you love walking there is a beautiful route into the city (more on that later!) or getting an Uber will cost around £7.00. We chose it for the convenience of being able to drive to Edinburgh and take advantage of the free parking at the back of the hotel and for the perfect stay away from the busy pavements of the city centre.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Hotel

Despite having visited the Malmaison in Newcastle for many lunch dates, afternoon teas and evenings in the Chez Mal bar, this was actually our very first time staying overnight in the hotel so we couldn't wait to finally enjoy a proper Mal experience.

We checked in and made our way up to our room for the night, a comfortable double with plenty of space and a fully loaded mini bar which I gave Simon strict instructions not to touch!  Looking through the photographs on the website it's interesting to see that all of the rooms in the hotel are decorated in a similar style, so even if you book yourself into the standard room you'll be getting the same high quality of furnishing.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison
Taking advantage of the residents dining deal which offered us 20% off we decided to book ourselves into the Chez Brasserie for an evening meal, the perfect way to relax on arrival and save ourselves the hassle of attempting to find somewhere else to go.  Having enjoyed many meals at the Malmaison in Newcastle we knew the food would be decent.

Diving straight into the main course I opted for the Chez Mal Smoked Haddock Fish Cake served with spinach, poached Cotswold egg and hollandaise sauce (£14.50) it was really lovely but definitely left me wanting more so I also helped Simon polish off his fries that had arrived as part of his Chez Mal Burger (£17.00)

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Restaurant

For me the real star of the show was the dessert and with a delicious looking seasonal menu on offer there were plenty of treats to choose from.  I was feeling very Summery when I opted for the Mango and Passionfruit Cheesecake (£6.50) - a really generous slab with plenty of zingy fruit I tried to eat it slowly to make it last but it vanished before I knew it.  If you're going to order anything at The Malmaison this Summer please let it be that!

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Leith

Our room rate included breakfast which was brilliant as we do love getting greedy with a proper hotel breakfast.  What is it about dining in a hotel that makes you gorge on a three (sometimes even four!) course breakfast?

After putting in our Coffee and Toast order we devoured cereals, fruit juices and pastries from the "help yourself" table before tucking into some cooked food. I loved that the Mal offered a few different things on their menu, never a fan of a fry up in the morning I was so chuffed to see that they had Egg and Soldiers on the menu - absolute classic!  It had been so many years since I'd had a boiled egg I was completely transported back to childhood cutting the top off and dunking - delicious!

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Leith

Exploring The Port of Leith

The Port of Leith has had a huge amount of regeneration over the last few years and is a wonderful spot to spend the weekend. With The Malmaison directly on the waterfront it was a great place to start our wander and we only had to take a few steps before we were greeted with the most beautiful views across the water.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Port of Leith

We were lucky that our arrival coincided with some sunshine so we could enjoy a very pleasant stroll along the water admiring the architecture. I was getting serious Scandinavian vibes seeing the colourful buildings reflected in the Water of Leith - for a moment I forgot we were in Edinburgh. I passed so many people out strolling with their cameras, it seems I wasn't the only person enjoying taking a few snaps of the beautiful streets.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Leith

Bars and restaurants (including the Michelin Starred The Kitchin) line the water's edge of Leith and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to fill your tummy.  Being big fans of sugary treats we decided to pop to Mimi's Bakehouse, somewhere I've been wanting to try for a while and with the Malmaison just a few steps away we had to take advantage.

Their cake counter was bursting with treats but having always wanted to try one of their famous cupcakes I opted for the Chocolate Raspberry Brownie - I actually polished off this cake at 9:30 am, perhaps a little early but I think cake for breakfast is a perfectly acceptable way to begin your weekend.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Mimis Bakehouse

Walking the Water of Leith

We decided to take advantage of our location by the Water of Leith and explore the footpath leading from the Port of Leith towards the centre of Edinburgh. The whole path is 12 miles long and runs from Balerno to Leith but it is easily accessible along the whole route so it's easy to just enjoy whichever sections of the walk you fancy.

Being a bit overly organised I'd dedicated a lot time before our trip researching the Water of Leith pathway and the access points but I really didn't need to, it was so easy to follow with plenty of sign posts directing us down the path and telling us how many miles it was to the next location.
Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith

Crossing the bridge from Mimi's Bakehouse at the Port of Leith we turned left and followed the water towards Stockbridge. We loved that it was impossible to get lost, even if we hadn't seen a sign for a while we knew that as long as we could see the water we would end up getting to where we needed to be. We're all about effortless walking routes.

Word of warning if you're planning to do this route yourself, it is very muddy! With a dry forecast I had considered sticking on my sandals but I am so glad that I didn't - parts of the path were thick with mud and I would have had incredibly dirty feet. Although the path is all well made and well trod parts of it wind through woodland with boggy areas and bumpy terrain - sensible shoes are a must.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Walk
We passed so many people along the way - families out on walks, dog walkers and plenty of joggers. Parts of the walk were quite urban passing housing estates and graffiti covered bridges but other parts were so beautiful winding through woodlands and parks - we spotted plenty of wildlife along the way including a heron chilling by the side of the water.

The walk along the water to Stockbridge was around 3 miles and took just over an hour at a leisurely pace. Looking at the route on the map it had seemed like it would be a bit of a walk but it really was effortless, the miles passed easily and it was an absolute joy to make our way there by foot, I'm so glad that we decided to walk.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Path


I had heard that Stockbridge is a beautiful part of Edinburgh to explore, pretty cobbled streets, a wonderful food scene and the style of buildings you associate with Edinburgh but without the footfall.  It's easily found from the Water of Leith footpath and coming up from the quiet of the waterside to the suburbs of Edinburgh was a treat for the senses. So many delicious smells!

Although I had promised Simon that I wouldn't go crazy with the Instagram photographs during our trip to Edinburgh I couldn't resist a visit to Circus Lane in Stockbridge which has to be the most beautiful and therefore the most photographed Edinburgh street. Seeing it with my own eyes having admired it for so long on photographs it did not disappoint.  A beautiful cobbled street filled with vibrant flowers, lovely little cottages and that picture perfect view of the church at the end.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Stockbridge

We danced our way between friends taking snaps, bemused tourists who didn't really understand what the fuss was and people having full on Instagram photo shoots (I'm talking photographers, light reflectors and outfit changes) to find that sweet spot and take a few photographs for our own album.

Even Simon had to admit it was a pretty place and whilst I jumped for joy on the cobbles saying over and over again how gorgeous it was he was off with the camera snapping away at the flower baskets and trying to get the perfect shot. If you're into photography or just love admiring a beautiful street I have to say this is a great place to stop.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Circus Lane
Returning to the main streets of Stockbridge we spent a bit of time mooching about, looking through windows at amazing looking doughnuts, cute bookstores and a cheesemongers. It's definitely the kind of place that I could spend an entire afternoon looking around, however with hungry tummies to feed we were all about finding somewhere great for some lunch.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Circus Lane Stockbridge
There are so many choices of places to head for food in Stockbridge, we were definitely spoilt for choice and it was hard to decide where to go. We eyed up so many dishes of food through windows before deciding on The Pantry, one of Stockbridge's hottest brunch spots. We were very lucky to nab the last table just before noon and settled ourselves down with the menu.

One thing I will say about The Pantry is it's perhaps not the best place to head on a weekend if you want to enjoy a nice peaceful leisurely lunch. The tables were all packed in tightly together, it was so busy that we felt like we were all sitting on top of each other and the service wasn't great. The food however was really good which made up for it.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - The Pantry Stockbridge

Simon had a croissant filled with cheese and ham and I opted for the U.S.A (Ubiquitous Smashed Avocado) (£8.20) - Avocado, Roasted Peppers and a Poached Egg on Sourdough Toast.

Stockbridge is a short 10 minute walk from Edinburgh city centre but we decided to carry on our adventure along the Water of Leith to Dean Village.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Visiting Stockbridge

Dean Village

The walk to Dean Village is just over half a mile from Stockbridge along the Water of Leith path and is well worth the extra few steps.  It is so beautiful!

Originally the home of milling the village was filled with water mills until they fell into disrepair as  industries started to decline.  Dean Village was left untouched for years until it became recognised as a tranquil oasis close to the city centre and restoration works began, turning  the old mills and workers cottages into houses - now Dean Village is one of the most highly sought after residential parts of Edinburgh.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Dean Village
The real beauty of Dean Village is how far removed it feels from city life yet it is only a short 10 minute walk to the bright lights of Edinburgh. The beautiful buildings really do look like something out of a fairytale.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Dean Village Water of Leith
I'm sure Dean Village used to be a real hidden gem in Edinburgh and although is definitely worth a look it is perhaps not as quiet as it used to be. There were a fair few camera happy tourists trudging through when we visited. I don't think it'd be possible to hang your laundry in privacy if you had a house there that's for sure.

Dean Village is very small and easy to explore and from there it's a short stroll into the centre of Edinburgh where our great adventure came to an end (via some of Edinburgh's famous bars of course, but that's a story for another time!)

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Dean Village

I hope you've enjoyed our little alternative tour of Edinburgh and feel inspired to plan your own trip soon.

Everything contained in this blog post was paid for by us, however the Malmaison at Edinburgh did treat us to a discounted rate for an overnight stay. 
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