Discover acres of open moorland and rugged coasts as we explore Northumberland, delving into a past that shaped Britain many centuries ago. Numerous castles that once guarded the county’s dramatic coastline still command a sense of awe; while along the once notorious northern frontier, the remains of four Roman forts give away secrets of life along Hadrian’s Wall. We spend time along both borders, visiting the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, and Vindolanda, a Roman fort that pre-dates Hadrian’s Wall and played an important role in its creation. We also visit historical Hexham, and Wallington, home of Sir Charles Trevelyan and his remarkable family, set in glorious grounds where red squirrels still play.
4 nights in Gateshead (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to Gateshead, where we stay at Jurys Inn Newcastle Gateshead Quays (3T). We aim for you to arrive at the hotel between 4pm and 5pm. There will be free time to settle in before dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day 2 Bamburgh Castle
Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, and we start our holiday with a visit to one of the most impressive - Bamburgh Castle. It was the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria during the 8th century, and its position, sitting 150ft above the sea, adds to the mighty awe befitting this honour. The castle’s past includes royal rebellion, bloody battles including the devastating War of the Roses, and time as a leading surgery and dispensary. It is also associated with many myths and legends; tales of St Oswald, a fire-breathing dragon named Laidley Wyrme, and Sir Lancelot, said to have come here after being banished from King Arthur’s court. Inside the thick stone walls, find grand rooms such as the King’s Hall, where noble Edwardians paraded latest fashions at great balls, and The Keep, full of arms and armour. We return to our coach to follow the coastal route back, stopping to wander around the fishing village of Seahouses, and Alnmouth, set on a coast with vast expanses of golden sand.
Day 3 Hexham - Vindolanda
The beautiful market town of Hexham holds several remarkable reminders of its medieval past, including our first stop today, Hexham Abbey. As one of the earliest seats of Christianity, you can trace layers of history that go back to AD 674, when St Wilfred, then the first native Saxon to serve as Bishop of York, founded the Benedictine abbey, evident in the carved stones on view, although some of them were reused from Roman buildings created some years previously. We delve further into the area’s rich Roman past with a visit to the Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda, at Hadrian’s Wall. The fort of Vindolanda was actually built before the great wall, and became an important garrison base during the construction of the north frontier. After the Romans retreated, it continued to be occupied for over 400 years before being left to ruin. Today you can see the remains of a large bath house, commanding officer’s residences and barrack buildings, and evidence of village houses, workshops and a Roman Celtic temple. The museum sheds light on Roman military and domestic life with excavation finds that include textiles, pottery, writing tablets and the finest collection of Roman footwear. From the museum, a sight of the wall itself is also possible.
Day 4 Wallington
The National Trust property of Wallington was the home of generations of an unconventional family. On inheriting the estate, Sir Charles Trevelyan had grand plans for the badly neglected house, installing bathrooms and electric lighting. You can get a real feel of family life as you wander through many of the 43 rooms, decorated with William Morris wallpaper and paintings by Turner and William Bell Scott, and filled with wonderful china, a Cabinet of Curiosities, or toys including 3,000 lead soldiers and the magnificently detailed Hammond dolls house, with individually lit rooms. Afterwards, there is time to relax in the Walled Garden or beside a pool or pond, or explore the miles of footpaths across the huge estate, through woodland, farmland and open moorland. The Wansbeck valley is full of wildlife including red squirrels, and otters along the river bank.
Day 5 Gateshead
You will be collected at 10am by your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.