The Anchor Hotel, Haydon Bridge, United Kingdom
On a wander over to the United Kingdom to visit some of the ruins and former forts along Hadrian's Wall - a 79-mile long defensive fortification of the Roman province of Britannia built between AD 122 - AD 128 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian - research showed that most of the sites that we were going to want to see were located nearby the village of Haydon Bridge in Hexham. Deciding that would be the ideal spot to spend several nights, I looked for accommodations in the area and chose the Anchor Hotel which is an easy drive from the parts of the Roman Wall that we wanted to visit.
Situated on the bridge of Haydon Bridge which crosses the River South Tyne and originally dates back to the 1300's, the Anchor Hotel is a Grade 11-listed hotel, pub and restaurant that is steeped in its own history and has been a hotel in various guises for many years. Though its history dates back much further, in 1442 the Anchor served as a court house complete with hanging facilities outside in what is now the car park and garden.
According to the plaque below: "The first reference to an inn on the site was in 1422 when a certain John Parker was hanged for a felony in the courtyard. In a letter from the Earl of Northumberland to Cardinal Wolsey in 1528, there is a reference to the hanging of Jamys Noble - "He hadde commited dyverse and sundry, horrible and cruell crymes and was hanged up in cheynes upon a pair of gallows."
Confession time: As you can see, I took a lovely photo of the exterior of the hotel but I did an outright crap job of taking photos of the interior of the Anchor except for a few that I took of our room which was located on the 2nd floor - or is that the 1st floor in UK terms? Well, either way we were up a flight and a half of stairs!
Now there's a room key you aren't going to have trouble finding in your purse and/or backpack!
. . . Or are you, Claire?
Our twin room was nothing fancy but was comfortable and gets extra points for having a socket located between the beds! There was an electric kettle with tea (of course!) but I must have been way off of my game as I didn't take a photo of that or the bathroom either! Not that the bathroom was anything special though it did have an electric shower which was something new to me and took me a few minutes to figure out.
After checking in and dropping off our luggage, we had some time to kill before our reservation for Sunday Roast at the hotel so we took a drive up to Housesteads Roman Fort which was just a little over six miles away. While there we got to see some very interesting ruins dating back to AD 132 as well as some very cute lambs who posed nicely for me!
As Housesteads is located a half mile walk up a rather high escarpment on Hadrian's Wall, we had worked up a pretty good appetite and were looking forward to what I had heard was a very popular Sunday Roast at the Anchor. We had a choice of Roasted Chicken, Sirloin of Beef or Roasted Pork (all for less than £10 each!) so my son, Mike, got the beef while Claire and I opted for the pork. I figured I could get chicken at home so why not go with something I don't normally get?
Our meal came with two kinds of potatoes - mashed and roasted. They must have known I love potatoes!
In addition to the potatoes there was a bowl full of vegetables and another side of cauliflower with cheese. Yum!
My plate of Roasted Pork which wasn't just huge in portion size but also in taste! It rather dwarfs the Yorkshire Pudding next to it but I sure wasn't complaining!
Mike's plate of Sirloin of Beef looked awfully darned good, too. As a big fan of the stuff, I was a bit bummed that I couldn't order half beef and half pork roast! In retrospect I probably should have asked Mike if he wanted to swap half and half but I just wasn't that on the ball!
Did I mention that there was also dessert? Lord knows that none of us had room for it but we didn't want to disappoint our fantastic chef and insult him by not ordering anything so we decided that we'd split a Sticky Toffee Pudding between the three of us. Good thing, too, as it was huge also and came with two types of cream to top it with! Oh my!
Needless to say, no one went to bed hungry our first night at the Anchor Hotel especially after lingering in the dining room over a few pints after we had finished stuffing our faces!
Big meals weren't just a specialty of the Anchor Hotel during the evenings but also in the mornings as we found out the next day when Paul prepared our made-to-order Full English breakfasts for us. Clearly he subscribed to my father's theory that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" as there was no way that we were venturing out hungry with the bounty that he fed us!
Paul took great pride in the Northumberland Sausages that he served and well he should have as they were massive! He told us that he ordered the sausages in a roll and then cut them down to size himself so that he would be serving a proper sausage and not some sorry excuse for one. I'm pretty sure I have never had a breakfast sausage that big before or since our breakfasts at the Anchor Hotel. They were indeed sausages to remember!
Even though we had some lovely Full English breakfasts during our week exploring the northwest of England, I have to give the award for "Best Breakfast" to the Anchor Hotel! We had more than we could possibly eat (as my grandmother liked to say) as well as an endless supply of coffee or tea. Included with the cost of your room, you can't beat that deal with a stick!
On our second night in Haydon Bridge we took a walk across the River South Tyne to check out the other side of town as well as take some photos of the bridge. The original medieval bridge at Haydon Bridge was built around 1309 but had to be rebuilt following the Great Flood of 1771 which destroyed or badly damaged all of the bridges in the Tyne Valley with the exception of the bridge in Corbridge.
A new bridge was built and opened in 1776 but one of the arches collapsed in 1806 then eventually three of the bridge's six arches needed to be repaired. Following structural surveys it ceased to be used by cars and in 1970 was converted to pedestrian use only. Still very picturesque, the 18th-century bridge is one of the most iconic sights in Haydon Bridge.
Being a history nut, I love places that have interpretive signs so I know what I'm looking at!
Above, a view of the Anchor Hotel from the middle of the bridge and below, a local resident poses for a photo!
Following our walk we sat down for a nice hot cup of coffee and enjoyed the view of the bridge from inside the hotel.
In summation, the Anchor Hotel was a great place to stay for the first two nights of our wanderings to northern England and I would highly recommend it to anyone heading in that direction to explore Hadrian's Wall, the Sycamore Gap tree, Vindolanda or any of the other great places in that part of the country. The price was a great value as the food was excellent, the accommodations were comfortable and the staff was friendly, helpful and efficient. What more could a wanderer ask for?
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