Explore even more! Book a second 2022 holiday and save 20% if your second holiday is a river, yacht or ocean cruise of 8 days or more.
Book either two new holidays or a second holiday between 1 April and 31 May 2022 and save 20% on your second holiday if it is a river, yacht or ocean cruise departing in 2022. Savings will be applied to your final balance post-booking. Find out more
Nestled in the Northumbrian countryside, stay in the stunning surroundings of a 19th-century country house, embracing the best of this equally beautiful and historic area each day. From iconic castles to intriguing remote islands and award-winning gardens to afternoon tea, see the likes of Alnwick, Durham and Bamburgh, with verdant countryside, breathtaking coastal views and ancient sites at every turn.
Make your own way to charming Doxford in Northumberland, a remote and beautiful county famous for its breathtaking sandy beaches, historic castles and pleasant market towns. We will have time to enjoy the hotel’s facilities this afternoon, or perhaps just explore the stunning grounds before dinner is served. Originally built in 1818, Doxford Hall is truly characterful with its old stone fireplaces, classic leather armchairs and comfortable sitting rooms. (D)
After one of many inviting breakfasts at the hotel, we head to Alnwick this morning. A pretty market town dating back to about AD 600, Alnwick has retained its character, with its cobbled streets and stone Georgian buildings. But its crowning glory is Alnwick Castle, which some people refer to as the ‘Windsor of the North’ thanks to its grand and imposing appearance.
One of the highlights of Northumberland, widely believed to be one of the finest in the country, we head to the castle for a visit and guided tour. Home to the Percys, the Duke of Northumberland’s family since 1309, the castle’s origins date back to Norman times. From the medieval exterior to the extravagant Italianate state rooms, this imposing castle has a lot to offer, including an incredible display of paintings, with several by Canaletto. You might recognise some parts of the castle from the screen too – as it has appeared in the likes of Downton Abbey and Harry Potter. TV and film aside, it has also served as a military outpost, a teaching college and a refuge for evacuees. This morning we will get to explore it and find out more about its history, full of drama and intrigue, before enjoying some free time in Alnwick for lunch.
This afternoon is for budding horticulturists, as we head to the award-winning Alnwick Garden. Home to over 4000 plant varieties, water sculptures, the world’s largest Japanese cherry orchard, a Grand Cascade of water jets and even a “Poison Garden”, the modern and established garden was created by the Duchess of Northumberland just over 20 years ago. (B, D)
This morning. we enjoy the scenic route through the Northumberland countryside, with coastal views emerging from the green surroundings – we’re heading to the small island of Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. Northumberland truly is one of the most tranquil and unspoilt parts of the country, and as we drive through the countryside, we can enjoy bucolic scenes typical of this impossibly green and refreshingly remote area.
Holy Island is reached by a tidal causeway and it is cut off from the mainland twice a day – this sense of peaceful isolation attracted Irish monks, starting from St Aidan, who settled here in AD 635 in order to the convert Northumbrian people to Christianity. Thanks to this mission, the island is considered the cradle of British Christianity and has become a place of pilgrimage from all over the world. We include a visit to the priory where we can find out more about the Viking raid in 793, when the Monks had to leave the island carrying St Cuthbert's coffin and treasures. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking coastal views just as the monks did, hundreds of years ago.
This afternoon, we head back to the mainland with free time to explore delightful Bamburgh, where we include entrance to Bamburgh Castle. This is Northumberland’s most impressively located castle, built by Henry II around an 11th-century Norman keep. The castle played a key role in the border wars of the 13th and 14th centuries, before being restored in the 19th century by inventor and industrialist Lord Armstrong – we’ll learn more about him on our visit to Cragside later in the tour. TV and film buffs might recognise this castle too, as it has starred in countless films and TV programmes, including Transformers and The Last Kingdom. Make sure you bring your camera too, as from here there are sweeping views towards the Farne Islands, Holy Island and Bamburgh village.
We round off today with some free time to explore the village, whether you’d prefer to potter the streets or perhaps enjoy a walk along the beach. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon after a day exploring some of the very best that the Northumberland coast has to offer. (B, D)
Today we head to Durham, a famous university town where the River Wear weaves around the cobbled streets, leafy parks and historic sites at every turn. Just south of Newcastle, Durham is renowned for its wonderful 11th century Norman cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, described by author Bill Bryson as ‘The best cathedral on Planet Earth’.
Seen on our Cathedral tour with a local guide, it’s a truly exceptional example of Norman-Romanesque style, which is also the final resting place of Saint Cuthbert and Saint Bede the Venerable. After visiting this magnificent cathedral, we also have free time in Durham itself to explore, perhaps catch a glimpse of Durham Castle – another stop for the Harry Potter fans - or just enjoy some free time in the compact city centre.
We round off the afternoon in quintessential Durham with afternoon tea, before returning to the hotel. (B, D)
Before our return home this afternoon, there’s still a little more to see. We enjoy a short morning drive through more unspoilt countryside as we head to a nearby National Trust property, Cragside. Described as ‘Britain’s original smart home’, Cragside is a truly impressive and unique Victorian country house. The original owner, William Armstrong, was an inventor and arms manufacturer who used his skills to build a house illuminated by hydroelectricity and powered by hydraulics, filled with pioneering Victorian gadgets for modern living.
The grounds are complete with man-made lakes and waterfalls, creating the fantasy mountain landscape which Lord and Lady Armstrong desired. There really is something for everyone here, from the towering trees in the Pinetum, to the pleasant paths of the Rock Garden and the beautiful Formal Gardens.
This afternoon, we’ll head back to the hotel where you can make your own way home as you wish, or even stay in the neighbouring areas of this wonderful North Eastern county. (B)
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Just like our classic tours, with 25 or fewer people in your group.
On a range of tours we are delighted to offer the option to travel in a small group of up to 25 people.
You’ll enjoy the same sociable atmosphere of a typical Riviera Travel holiday - but with a smaller number of travellers and a touch more exclusivity. Just look out for the icon on holiday pages.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.