It may only be day one of our tour, but by nightfall we’ll have visited walled towns, isolated islands and magnificent castles. Depart Edinburgh, travelling south, we cross the border into England providing the weather is on our side, weÂ take the causeway at low tide to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and discover the dramatic ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. When we arrive at Alnwick (pronounced annick) Castle, we’ll be welcomed into the majestic home of the Duke of Northumberland, where we see inside the state rooms, spot the sets used in episodes of Downton Abbey and hear tales of crusades and chivalry. The gardens at Alnwick have some spectacular displays, and feature a magnificent treehouse. (D)
The Normans made their mark on this part of England, and possibly the finest example ofthis is in Durham. Today we’ll step inside the Cathedral, a magnificent achitectural monument now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our route carries us to the water, with a stop-off at Staithes once the north east’s largest fishingport. But our destination is Whitby. This pretty-as-a-picture harbour town is where we find colourful cottages and boat sails nodding in the breeze. Looking up at the shadowy abbey, you’ll see what inspired the first chapters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But he’s not the only famous name to have a history entwined in Whitby. Our final port of call is the museum that chronicles Captain Cook’s training as a novice seaman, before he embarked on his epic voyages of discovery. After all that sea air, arriving at a warm and welcoming country house on the fringes of the dramatic North York Moors is wonderful. (B, D)
Driving through the Peak District, with some of England’s finest scenery rippling outaround us, is a real joy. We stretch our legs on a morning stroll at Chatsworth House, infused with Elizabethan history and contemporary culture. See the stunning architecture said to have inspired Jane Austen and the rooms that featured in the film Pride and Pejudice. Afterwards we head to Blue John Cavern, an enchanting network of caves.(B)
We have a date with royalty today as we pay a visit to the Sandringham Estate. The private residence of Her Majesty The Queen is a magnificent statelyhouse with picturesque gardens and even a museum. No less majestic is Ely Cathedral, which is our final stop toda. Marvel at the serenity of the light-filled Lady Chapel, admie the kaleidoscopic stained glass windows or take a deep breath and climb to the top of one of the Cathedral’s towers for staggering views. (B)
Admire the beautiful 'Backs' of Cambridge University, spotting world-famous buildings such as The Wren Library and the Bridge of Sighs, as we drift along the River Cam on a traditional punt (boat). Your afternoon in the city is all yours until we meet again for our final evening dinner. Step inside colleges and chapels, museums and galleries. (B, D)
There’s time for one more behind-the-scenes tour so we delve into England’s sporting heritage at Newmarket National Stud. At this working thoroughbred stud farm we may see stallions in the paddocks and, occasionally, foals in the nursery. We’ll see in the end of our tour at Lavenham, a medieval village in rural Suffolk where streets of timber-framed buildings have us feeling as though we’ve stepped back in time. (B)
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne causeway is only accessible at low tide. So please be aware that the time we visit and spend here will depend on the daily tidal variations.
Bakewell is both an exciting place to visit and relaxing market town to explore, and it is full of history and sits in a stunning countryside setting. The Breathtaking scenery is magnificent, a true walkers paradise.
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