The magic of nostalgic travel
When it comes to travelling, new isn’t always better. While exploring new, undiscovered places is undoubtedly exciting, there is comfort to be found in the rhythmic beauty of revisiting the same spot, of watching it change and evolve with the passing seasons and years, and in the delicious joy of sharing it with those you love.
This mode of travel – nostalgic travel, as we like to call it – can be defined as a trip down memory lane whereby you gather your nearest and dearest and embrace the simple pleasures of a good old-fashioned holiday. It is as much about packing your bucket, spades and surfboards and recreating treasured moments from past trips as it is about finding joy in the familiar.
Whether your favourite place is somewhere you holidayed as a child, discovered in your teens, or stumbled across as an adult, there is a certain magic to returning to retrace your steps, to embarking on epic walks, to making sandcastles on beaches where you once played as a child, to rediscovering hidden picnic spots, to going to that café for a hot chocolate and to building on happy memories already established.
As any seasoned repeat traveller will know, returning to a well-loved destination not only gives you the opportunity to enjoy it afresh but it also allows for a more relaxed holiday. There is freedom in not having to plot a new itinerary and in knowing where to stay, what to see and what to do that permits you to explore more widely and get to know the area more intimately.
Here at Crabtree & Crabtree we are firm advocates of nostalgic travel. Our raison d'être is to seek out, revisit and to share our favourite spots and properties with our loved ones – and with you. So, in the spirit of sharing, several members of Team Crabtree have revisited their favourite trips of yore. From beach holidays to river walks, their trips capture the magic of experiencing the best of the Northumberland, Yorkshire, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders throughout the ages.
Angie | The River Tweed, Scottish Borders
The River Tweed has always been one of my favourite spots. It formed the backdrop to many of my childhood adventures and is somewhere I have returned to regularly over the years.
Some of my fondest memories are of the walks that I would go on with my dad and the dogs. We always had a large pack of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels – my parents still have six Cocker Spaniels so nothing much has changed! – and would stroll along the banks of the Scottish side of the river, looking across to The Boathouse at Norham, before crossing the bridge and looping around to walk on the English side. It always felt like an adventure hopping over to another country on our walks! Along the way we would throw sticks for the dogs and Dad would teach us about different types of trees showing us how to tell them apart by their leaf shape or bark. We’d look out for fish jumping in the river, and, in the Spring, we would collect frog spawn, take it home and rear our own tadpoles and frogs before setting them free again.
Nowadays I go back to the river with my son for a wander and to watch my dad ghillie outside The Boathouse. It’s so beautiful and peaceful. And, it’s still exciting to watch him catch a fish all these years later!
Sue | Cheswick Beach, Northumberland
I loved the coast as a child and anywhere near a beach was just heaven for me. I would spend hours running along the sand pulling my kite – my favourites were a butterfly pocket kite and a big blue stunt kite – watching it bob and soar. We’d often go to Cocklawburn beach near Berwick-upon-Tweed to explore the miles of golden sands that stretch all the way from Cheswick beach up to Holy Island. There are amazing rock formations and rock pools that I loved to dip into with my fishing net and jelly sandals on looking for shells, pebbles and tiny beach crabs – that I would cart home in my red bucket at the end of the day. Beach stones with their smooth surfaces offered a flat surface to paint puffins and boats on when it rained. Days were full of simple activities, which we carried on as a tradition with our own children – along with the addition of beachball, volleyball and frisbee – when we went back to visit later in life.
Today, I still love to walk on the Northumberland coast with my golden retrievers picking up pebbles and bits of driftwood on weekend wanders – there is something oddly calming about finding a smooth stone in a pocket weeks after a beach walk. Cheswick beach is now a favoured spot. It’s always blissfully quiet. Sometimes I will go to the beach at 5:30am to watch the sunrise while sitting on the dunes with my morning coffee. It really is quite a special place.
Olivia | Longniddry Bents Beach, East Lothian
When I was young, we spent our holidays going to Longniddry Bents beach in East Lothian. It wasn’t too far from where I grew up in Edinburgh but the 10-mile car journey to the beach was always exciting. My parents would regularly bundle me, my siblings and our Yorkshire Terrier into the car with our buckets, spades, hats, coats and kite to let off some steam on the blustery beach. We would patter across the sands and splash through puddles with the dog, and when it was windy enough – it normally was! – we would fly our kite or watch the windsurfers cut through the waves.
I now enjoy coming back to Longniddry with my husband to take our Labrador for a good run along the very same beach. While the windswept landscape hasn’t changed much there is now an excellent fish and chips hut called Alandas perched right on the seafront. After a walk we often pick up some freshly caught fish and enjoy it while sitting on the beach.
Emma | The River Tweed near Norham, Northumberland
My childhood was full of trips to Northumberland and the River Tweed. Come rain or shine we would be out with the dogs exploring rocky riverbanks and the surrounding fields. We’d be kept busy with games of Pooh Sticks along the way, trying to spot otters, ticking off different types of birds and inventing characters that lived in the fishing shiels that we passed on route. It’s also where I learned to fish a little later in life. Thursday evenings were always a holiday highlight as we were allowed to stay up late for the fish and chip van. Nothing beats eating fish and chips on a summer’s evening overlooking the river - something that I still do for a treat to this day.
These days I revisit the Tweed with my daughter and Mrs Brown, our Spaniel. We explore the same stretch of river and play many of the games that I enjoyed when I was young. There is something so special about reliving your happy memories with your child and seeing them relish in the same activities that you enjoyed. There is a fabulous walk from Horncliffe to Norham Castle along the river that we love – you are rewarded by a fabulous view of the castle at the last bend. Every time we come here it’s special, the scenery and sunsets are incredibly beautiful and it’s always peaceful.
Lauraine | Filey beach, Yorkshire
When I lived abroad it was the Yorkshire coast that I yearned for. I missed the fabulous wide beaches and the stunning sea views from the clifftops. Over the 20 years that I was away I’d often make the trip back to Yorkshire to visit family, to walk along the beach and to enjoy the wonderful surroundings. The coastal walk from Hunmanby Gap to Filey is my favourite spot and holds many memories. Canoeing with my parents and sister in my early teens, seal spotting from the cliffs, watching the family greyhound and lurcher race across the sand on sunny holidays and shell collecting and crab hunting with my nieces all happened along this sandy stretch. I also used to love watching the trawlermen come in with their catch at Coble Landing. And of course, no holiday was complete without fish & chips and ice cream!
I recently moved back to Yorkshire, and I now often return with my other half to walk the same path. No matter the weather, the scenery is always wonderful and there is always fish & chips or a Yorkshire Bitter to be found at the end of the walk! Part of the appeal is that it’s hardly changed over the years, the beaches are busier in the summer but it’s still quiet and enjoyable out of season.
Explore and discover together
If you're looking for even more inspiration to fill your nostalgic trips with fun and adventure, we have lots of nifty ideas to keep tots to teens entertained during your stay. Whether it’s a seaside stroll beside fairy tale castles, exploring glorious gardens with enchanting fairy trails or recreating Harry Potter's broomstick lessons, our region offers lots of fun for all.