Driving in Northumberland

I'm in the planning stages of a UK Holiday end of August, beging of September. I would like to explore Castles and towns in the NorthUmberland area; Alnwick, Warkworth, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and south to Durham. Will be taking the train from London to Newcastle. From Newcastle would rent car and tour the area How difficult would it be to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road in this area of the UK? Anyone have any tips to help a state sider?

Posted by Olivia
Monroe, NC
18 posts

When in Alnwick, don't miss Barter Books. A former RR station, it has an enormous variety of specialty books and a charming mural of English language authors, which you can see in detail at their website. The owners/couple are British and American. Oh, and they apparently started the "Keep Calm and Carry On" phenomenon. Old books and charming nooks: you could lose track of time!

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1410 posts

I did a driving trip in the same area a couple of years back, and found it much harder to drive on the left than I'd expected. After nearly 50 years of right-side driving I had to remind myself that a car approaching on the right is OK, not a disaster, and to make turns into the left lane of the intersecting road. I tended to give oncoming traffic too much room and leave too little margin on the left (curb) side, which scared my wife and led to a couple of scrapes. It helped when I learned to lean my head toward the right-side window, giving me a better fix on the center line (if any) and oncoming cars. I found that my body positioning had to change to accommodate the left-side driving. Until I got used to it, I would use the right-side mirror instead of the rear-view mirror when backing out of places. I was grateful for the automatic shift so I didn't have to cope with different shifting movements. But the downside of the automatic was a bigger car than I'd have had otherwise. The motorways were easier than two-way streets, which were easier than country lanes designed for horses and with stone walls for shoulders. I learned to SLOW DOWN. Northumberland is no different than anywhere else in UK for driving, except perhaps more of those country lanes. Take it slow, adjust your body position for the new orientation if you need to, and think "left" when you make turns or enter roundabouts. Most drivers on this board don't seem to have the trouble I did, so chances are it will be better for you. Driving is certainly the way to see the places you want to see (and don't forget Hadrian's Wall!) so give it your best shot. Have a great trip!

Posted by MIke
Casa Grande, AZ, USA
11 posts

Thank you for your suggestions and tips, can't wait for the challange. Hurry up September.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4429 posts

I was a bit younger when I rented my first car in the UK, but not that much and I found that I adjusted very well. I had standard shift car, which maybe kept me focused. I found that the troublesome times were initially roundabouts, but I got better with them. However coming out of parking lots were always a challenge. i had to really always chant my mantra of left, left, left, left. You'll find that you actually have a tendency to drive too closely to the left hand curb and will brush the hedges and your tires will scrape the curb in your eagerness to stay left. Get full coverage so that any ding is covered. I loved driving in the UK. I thought that Northumberland was very nice, but that the Highlands were better. ; ) PAm