I've been to a few castles in my time. Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh in particular are stunning, holding out against the sea. But for the real afficionado, you need a tour of castles.
Cross to Wales at Chepstow and see the castle looming above the valley; stay at a Youth Hostel in the rather French-looking castle at St Briavels, stay just in England for the splendid half-red half-ruin of Goodrich in its lush landscape. Then work your way into the increasingly hilly, fortified, historically contended country of South Wales, like an unwelcome Norman. A castle every half hour or so. Picturesque Grosmont; a neighbourhood of them in White, Skenfrith, Raglan; a relic of the Welsh princes at Carreg Cennen, black, shattered and startlingly grim with a subterranean tunnel; wonderful reinventions of the idea (Cardiff, Castell Coch); grand fortresses like Caerphilly; and plenty more. Stunning country around and in between. A very high standard of food and beer in pubs in the Brecon Beacons.
Or do something similar in the Cathar country in France. Most of the castles in the Cathar conflicts are long destroyed, but many were replaced. Montsegur, Peyrepeteuse, Queribus and Lastours are all jawdropping and very atmospheric. Food also ace, cheap sparkling Blanquette de Limoux wine, and cassoulet. Go look for a grail.
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