A walking and sightseeing tour that explores the hidden gems and varied beauty of unspoilt Northumberland. Centre-based in Alnwick we walk the rugged coast to ancient castles; discover Roman Britannia on Hadrian's Wall and scenic beauty in the Simonside Hills. Holy Island - Walk the Pilgrim's Path to Lindisfarne Rich Cultural Heritage - Cragside House, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles Hike Hadrian's Wall - Housesteads Fort and Vindolanda Settlement
Arrive in the small town of Alnwick, located on the south bank of the River Aln. Alnwick Castle and Gardens was home to one of the most powerful, medieval, northern baronial families - the Earls of Northumberland - and we highly recommend a visit today or the day you leave. Check in is available from 3pm and the hotel has free car parking for guests. If arriving by train, Alnmouth Station is about 5 miles away by taxi. The Tour Leader plans to meet you in reception at 6pm for the introductory briefing, followed by the option to enjoy a group meal (not included) to meet your fellow guests. NB - Please note that during covid restrictions it is advisable to pre-book entrance tickets for most suggested site visits on this trip. Go to the optional activities listed in the trip information section for more details on pre-booking the visit (with timings and prices).
We drive after breakfast to the mainland overlooking Holy Island. The island is cut off by the tide twice a day and there is a causeway that allows vehicle access. We plan to follow the Pilgrim's Path and walk to Holy Island (sometimes best to remove shoes and socks for part of this route!) following the route of St Aiden who walked this route to found the Priory in 635AD. Part of the first section may be alongside the causeway depending on the tides before taking its own course across the sands. Back on firm ground, we walk around the island followed by a recommended visit to the Priory (English Heritage, entrance not included), Lindisfarne Castle (National Trust, entrance not included) and you can visit the Lindisfarne Mead Shop to sample the local meads. Later this afternoon we drive back to Alnwick. Today's easy-moderate graded walk will take approximately 4 hours and will cover a distance of 12 kilometres mostly on the flat.
This morning we drive the short distance to Howick and the start point of our circular walk exploring the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The route takes us up the rocky coastline to Craster, watching out for the Kittiwakes and Fulmers that nest on the rocks at Cullernose Point. Craster is a fishing village famous for its Kippers that are still smoked in the village today. Next we reach the magnificent ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle (English Heritage, entrance not included) standing proudly on a remote headland. Turning inland we start our return walking through the tracks and fields back to Howick Hall (entrance not included) for possible visit depending on timings. Later this afternoon we drive back to Alnwick with a stop at Bamburgh Castle (entrance not included). The castle's impressive ramparts have stood guard over the spectacular Northumberland coastline for over 1,400 years. Today's moderately-graded walk will take approximately 5 hours and will cover a distance of 14 kilometres with a total ascent and descent of 140m.
We drive (1.5hrs) inland today to Hadrian's Wall at The Sill Visitor Centre. This is one of the best-preserved sections of the wall, with Milecastles and Turrets, and part of our circular route walks alongside it with breathtaking views. Along the way we will pass the photogenic Sycamore Gap and Housesteads Roman Hill Fort for an optional visit (National Trust, entrance not included). After completing the walk, we drive a short distance to visit the ruins of the Roman archaeological site of Vindolanda, a Roman auxiliary fort just south of the Wall that originally pre-dated it. Around 25% of Vindolanda has been excavated, archaeologists are still hard at work here and it may be possible to learn about that process and any recent finds. Entrance to Vindolanda is included. Today's moderately-graded walk will take approximately 4-5 hours and will cover a distance of 13-15 kilometres with a total ascent and descent of 400m.
This morning's walk in Northumberland National Park explores the Simonside Hills. We drive to the trailhead near Rothbury. The walk itself is short but there are some very steep gradients and we reach the summit on Simonside. The 360-degree views are magnificent and on a clear day it is possible to see the Cheviot Hills and the North Sea coastline. There is the chance to see wild Cheviot goats if we are lucky. This afternoon we have included a visit to Cragside House and Gardens. If you want to do more walking there are a number of self-guided routes ranging from 3 to 10 kilometres around Cragside woods that the Tour Leader can explain. Cragside is a remarkable Victorian house, a wonder of its age and the work of Lord Armstrong - inventor, innovator and landscape genius. It was the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity. Entrance into Cragside House and Gardens is included. Today's easy graded walk will take approximately 2 hours and will cover a distance of 7 kilometres with a total ascent and descent of 240m. Additional optional walks range from 3 to 10 kilometres.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel. You may choose to explore more of the local area under your own steam. Beyond Alnwick House and Gardens you can take a walk around Hulne Park, a former hunting park for the Duke of Northumberland, to Brizlee Tower and the ruins of Hulne Abbey.
5 Break Fast(s)
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