Beautiful Barnard Castle (dog pic heavy post!)

After buying a house recently we haven’t had a lot of money left over to do much travelling. So instead of flying abroad, we purchased National Trust and English Heritage passes and have been exploring sites a bit closer to home. Our dog Zorro has been thrilled with our decision to go on mini-adventures every weekend, happily exploring ruins and gardens with us.

Last weekend we decided to go to Barnard Castle, a beautiful market town in County Durham. To get there, we had to drive through pleasant English countryside, some of it along the route of an old Roman road. You can always tell when you’re on a Roman road up here because they’re pretty much the only perfectly straight ones.

Barnard Castle takes its name from its 12th century founder, Bernard de Balliol. It was later expanded and built upon by the Beauchamps before being passed to King Richard III. It sits atop a rocky hill overlooking the Tees Gorge, providing amazing views of the surrounding area.

In addition to the ruins of the castle towering over the town, Barnard Castle has quite a lot of literary history associated with it, too. This booknerd can find a way to relate almost everything with books and Barnard was no exception!

During the winter months of 1837-1838, Charles Dickens spent quite a bit of time in Barnard Castle with his illustrator, Hablot Browne, while he was doing research for Nicholas Nickleby. The schoolmaster in the book was based on a real person and Dickens visited the man’s school in nearby Bowes as inspiration for the story.

Legend also has it that while at a local clock-maker’s shop near his hotel, he greatly admired a certain clock on display. When he asked the owner who made it, he was told that his son Humphrey had built it. Supposedly this was the basis for his weekly periodical, Master Humphrey’s Clock.

So now that you know a little bit more about this charming little town and its history, it’s time to show you a few pictures from our fun little day out in Barnard Castle!

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Where are we going, Zorro?!
Driving along the Roman roads to get to Barnard Castle. 

Before rambling around the castle ruins, we decided to go down the rabbit hole to the delightful Alice and Wonderland themed cafe for breakfast. And it was dog friendly!

First stop was the dog friendly Mad Hatter’s Kitchen and Tearoom for breakfast. 
It was hard to keep myself from buying everything in the little gift shop. 

With our bellies full, it was time to head to the castle. Zorro could barely contain himself, bouncing around and sniffing like crazy. The castle grounds are enormous- I had no idea how big the area was! There were various wards divided by walls, some of which still stand, as well as ramparts and massive protective ditches you can explore.

Zorro ready to storm the castle. 
Zorro doing reconnaissance.
The towering ruins of Barnard Castle.
Could there be food stored in here?!
Walking toward the Great Hall.
View of the town from the castle.
After I took this selfie, I looked up and saw…
…Zorro informing me that this was his castle and I needed to leave.

If ever you’re in the County Durham area of England, I definitely recommend visiting Barnard Castle. In addition to the ruins, there is an endless supply of adorable shops, cafes, and pubs. Plus the really impressive Bowes Museum is nearby, displaying the unparalleled collection of art owned by the Bowes family. It’s a fantastic day out!

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