Occupying a strategic location in England’s far north, Northumberland has an enthralling frontier feel. We’ll start in the modern day at BBC Studios Newcastle, before visiting National Trust Wallington, an intriguing country house packed with curiosities. We’ll explore Hexham and its spellbinding abbey, where a church has stood since AD 674. Amongst some fantastically preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall, we explore Vindolanda - an important Roman fort. Finally, we’ll delve into centuries of myths and legends at Bamburgh Castle.
4 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to Newcastle, where we stay at Malmaison Newcastle (4T). 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.
BBC Studios Newcastle - Wallington
BBC Studios Newcastle is home to Look North, Sunday Politics and Inside Out as well as the radio station BBC Newcastle. A tour takes you into the exciting world of broadcasting as studios are being prepared for the next show, to learn industry secrets. We then travel to the National Trust property of Wallington, 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, and 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.
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.
Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, and we visit 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 5 Newcastle
You’ll be collected at 10am by your Titan vehicle for the journey home.
• 2018 departures stay in Gateshead and don’t include the excursion to BBC Studios Newcastle - please call for details.
• When visiting BBC Studios on day 2, photographic I.D will be required and only small bags are permitted