I spotted a point on my map* that said “Blackadder” near the Whiteadder river, so I went on another adventure in my car because I had to see this for myself. It was 2012 and I was on my way back from Edinburgh heading south.
Being, of course, a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson’s comedy show “Blackadder” I had to take a detour and see for myself that this was a real place. I wanted a photo of the sign that said “Welcome to Blackadder.”
I followed the route on the map (see also, my article on how to buy a good road atlas) until I reached the Whiteadder River, along with a signpost for the village of Whiteadder.
After driving around the open farmland of Northumberland for an hour, I spotted this handwritten signpost that said Blackadder Mains is this way (in Scots English, “Mains” isn’t part of the town/village name, it’s a short way of saying “town center” or “village center”). I was hopeful that there’d be some shops or whatnot that I could photograph, along with the “Welcome To Blackadder” sign I wanted to see.
I turned down the road thinking it must be past the two farm buildings I could see. Wrong. Turns out, despite what the mapmakers must have found hilariously funny, Blackadder isn’t really a village. It’s a hamlet at best, but probably actually a farm. There were a couple of buildings side by side and that was it. One of the buildings was a barn. The best part? When I stopped to take a picture, I discovered that visitors to Blackadder are so rare that the people here came out of their buildings to demand to know what I was doing. And asked me to leave before I could get a photo. There was definitely not a sign saying “Welcome to Blackadder.”
So the moral of the story is that maps are not better than Sat-Nav, despite what techno-luddites (usually trying to look good in front of old people) might tell you, they have their flaws. One of them being that generally the cartographers haven’t visited every place on the map and can’t always guarantee that the information is correct. I would imagine that Blackadder is only marked on the map because otherwise there would have been a big empty space, and mapmakers detest empty spaces on maps, they don’t want people thinking they didn’t do their job properly. Google maps, on the other hand, offers you a satellite view of your destination so you can check that you’re really going where you think you are going, and if you’ve got half a brain you’re not going to mindlessly follow the “turn left” instructions on a sat-nav any more than you would with a paper map. Maps can be useful, but sat-nav is more helpful.
I also don’t think places should have signs saying “Mains” if they don’t have at least one shop (or, y’know, three houses) because it’s misleading. Maybe that’s why the sign was written in marker pen. What it probably should have said was “Blackadder Farm.” At the end of the day, however, it’s sort of funny that this is the place that bears the same name as the scheming weasel of a man from the popular comedy series.
If you want to visit a nice place in this area, go to Berwick Upon Tweed. They have petrol stations and other modern conveniences such as shops that are closed on a Sunday and closed after 5 on a weekday, and they also have car parking. There is a nice river and they’re not too far from Lindisfarne (which I will write about soon) which is a great day out in and of itself.
*A map is a piece of paper that behaves like the screen of a Sat-Nav. For advice on choosing sheet maps, check out this article