Our Traveler of the Week, Red Mezz, is U.S.-born but now spends her days in the British Isles. During a search for adventures to have in her new home, she found a tiny town in England that shares her last name. Checking out where her family came from was always on her list, and the resulting journey through County Durham was part exploration, part history lesson, part tracking down ancestors.
The area she drove through itself is “full of great little towns and villages, many of them very distinct and picturesque, something that is really surprisingly hard to find in a country steeped in so much history.” In a visit to Barnard Castle, Red Mezz found the England she always wished existed but had not yet experienced, the one full of country roads twisting among castle ruins and old forts overlooking fields of grazing sheep. Her eponymous town turned out to be "one of those great rare little villages where the history seems very much alive and relevant." Visiting the Bowes Museum gave her the chance to “wander through the stately grace and enormous grandeur of a museum that also happens to have your name engraved all over it's opulent walls,” while Bowes Castle afforded a visit to a beautiful and interesting castle ruin without the imposition of other tourists and restrictions on exploring.
Hadrian’s Wall was part of the trip, too, and while it's easily dismissed as an old pile of stones, for Red Mezz it was a profound visual reminder of England and Scotland's history and the separation of those two nations. She recommends that you “stop off at one of these smaller viewing points and make the wander down the wall a way through the rolling North England fields and breathe in the air and really get a feel for where you stand and what all has taken place there.”
Overall, the trip that started as weekend amusement became one “about discovery and boundaries - about names that were half Scottish and half English - battles fought between sides and castles ruined in their wake.” Red Mezz writes that “walking the roads your ancestors walked before they set out for new worlds is a very impressive thing to do,” and after reading about this trip, we certainly agree.
More on IgoUgo
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Things to do in Durham, England
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Posted by eyesoftheworld (Anna Welch)