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Gallery 3 > Special Feature Galleries > The Ducket, Outchester, Northumberland, UK
Not often do you stumble across a place that has you gazing in awe and amazement. Well, one dark night in February 2019, I found myself doing exactly that, after taking a wrong turn whilst driving in the sticks of Northumberland. The occasion was meant to be an aurora chase, under a clear sky on a freezing cold night, but mother nature failed to put on a show, so I made my way home after yet another wild goose chase. But, not before I had stumbled across The Ducket - an 18th century stone tower, looking out to sea. My wrong turn in the car actually turned out to be the highlight of an otherwise unproductive night. As I took the wrong turn, I stopped to do a U-turn and noticed the mysterious tower, on my right. Curiosity got the better of me, so I parked up and stepped out of the car. It was certainly a sight to behold, as the tower stood under a moonless sky, filled with billions of stars. Wow - that's all I could think of! I stood for a minute or so, taking it all in, almost able to hear a pin drop. This place was definitely one to revisit, so the memory was placed in the bank, so to speak - one for another day...
The very next day I decided to do a bit of research on this 'Hidden Gem' and I found that The Ducket is actually a holiday accomodation and available to rent all year round. You wouldn't have imagined this place has actually been restored to 5 star status. Within an hour of discovering this, I had made a booking, to visit for 3 nights in October 2019, which was 8 months away. It seemed like an age, but it came around quickly enough. I mentioned to my wife, who was equally as excited about our planned weekend away, that it would be brilliant if we managed to get at least one night of clear skies, just like the memorable night in February, when I made that wrong turn in the car. I'd mentioned to her how the sky was amazing that night, so fingers crossed that we would be treated to similar conditions when we headed up there in October. As luck turned out, the moon phase over this particular weekend fell in our favour, as the moon would not be present during the earlier hours of darkness!
On our second night (saturday), the sky was clear and we found ourselves underneath the stars, taking it all in. What an awaesome sight, but very cold at the same time. After a short while we headed back indoors. The Mrs began to watch 'Strictly' - not my cup of Typhoo, so I headed back outside to shoot the stars. I set one camera away to run off a star trail sequence, facing south-east. Shotly afterwards I headed into the nearby lane to point my second camera towards the north. What happened next was surreal. As I checked my first test shot I was amazed to see the Northern Lights, dancing behind The Ducket. I remember... a shiver ran up my spine. This couldn't be happening, surely. Who would have thought this would happen, when I booked The Ducket weekender, 8 months ago!!!! WOW!!! The light show went on for over an hour. I was completely gobsmacked. I rang the Mrs and told her what she was missing, lol. A night that will live in the memory for a very long time.
The Northern Lights experience was the icing on the cake of what was without doubt, one the best weekends we have ever experienced. As for The Ducket itself, well, this building is a complete one off. As quirky and as unusual as it may look on the outside, the inside was as impressive as you could ever imagine. Five floors of complete luxury, set in a peaceful part of Northumberland, that is hard to beat. From first light, the surrounding pastures, covered in a thin layer of mist, made us feel like we were indeed in a very special place. The huge bulls in the next field, sat watching us, with not a care in the world. Crows flew around the tower, which was a sight to see, from the indoor warmth of our surroundings. We never saw a single soul all weekend, apart from the farmer, who arrived on his quad, to check on the cattle. I was flying my drone around the Ducket, at the time.
And that was that - the weekend was over in a flash, but not before we'd enjoyed visits to Holy Island, Alnwick, Seahouses and Bamburgh. An amazing part of the world and a place that we'll be revisiting at some point in the not too distant future. Would I recommend The Ducket? Well after experiencing all we did on a weekend in October 2019, it would be impossible to say no. We had it all and more. Thanks once again to Outchester & Ross Farm Cottages for an amazing weekend in hidden Northumberland. Here's to the next one...
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