I like to make the most of the non-orienteering time by visiting places. With only a short time available each day, it's not worth paying lots of money for a fleeting visit to somewhere which deserves a full day.
Being members of both English Heritage and the National Trust, we can drop into places for a quick taster, without feeling the need to get 'value for money'. I look out for free attractions too - visitor centres, churches, that sort of thing - but I do have a tendancy to blow the cheap visit with a visit to the tea room for a coffee and a cake!!
If I was travelling to the North East for JK2009, my list of 'to dos' would be rather long!!
Starting on Friday, I would certainly divert off the A1 to go and
stand at the foot of the 'Angel of the North',
to marvel at this immense sculpture.
The Gateshead Quayside would be another certainty - there's The Sage, a fantastic music centre, but the building is worth a wander around on it's own - I think it is absolutely fabulous. Next to it is The Baltic (contemporary art), located in a former grain warehouse, and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (known as the 'winking eye' because of the way it tilts on it's axis to allow ships underneath) spans the Tyne at this point. Upstream you can see the Tyne Bridge (the model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge), the Swing Bridge, the High Level Bridge and the new Redheaugh Bridge. In the city centre, there is the Laing Art Gallery with the Blue Carpet artwork in the square outside.
If the weather is good, there will be views across to Lindisfarne (or Holy Island) from one of the individual days' car parks. Lindisfarne is an island linked to the mailand by a causeway, which is covered by the tide twice a day. Tides permitting, a drive across to this smashing island is a must!
When you are there, park up near the village and walk around. There is the Priory (EH) and the Castle (NT) and the Lindisfarne Mead factory shop and the upturned boats used as sheds and little St Cuthbert's Island and the dunes and....... Whatever you do, watch the tide tables!! The best thing to do is to leave it quite late, then park up on the mainland and watch the tide rush over the sands and up and over the causeway. Then watch the people who have left it just too late, and see them drive through the sea!
One walk worth doing is along the shore to Dunstanborough Castle - parking is a couple of miles away - followed by fish and chips in Seahouses! Or get down onto the vast empty beaches by Bamburgh Castle. Or go to Berwick-Upon-Tweed and explore the vast fortifications.
Heading south for the relays near Hexham, and you are in Hadrian's Wall country. A walk along the wall is a must - try and find the 'gap' with the tree, which featured heavily in 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves' starring Kevin Costner.
The more I think about it, the less time there would be for the orienteering!!