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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.
Explore Tour Leader
5 nights comfortable hotel
Leisurely and Moderate
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
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. We advise pre-booking a taxi if you plan to use one.
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.
The Hogs Head Inn (or similar)
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 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. Please note that we may need to move this day according to tides, the tour leader will advise on tour.
Today's 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. Upon return, time permitting, we recommend an optional additional walk around Alnwick visiting Barter Books, housed in the grand Victorian former rail station.
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 for an optional 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.
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 leisurely 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.
Total distance : 60 kilometres
The UK has a temperate but very variable climate. In general the summers are warm with July and August being the warmest. The winters are cool and the lowest temperatures are recorded during January and February. Whatever the season it is advisable to be prepared for rain!
3 Pin Flat
We recommend visits to the following sites. It is worth considering becoming a member of English Heritage and or the National Trust. Discuss the need, if any, to pre-book your entrance tickets with the Tour Leader at the start of the trip. The days of each visit may be changed around according to tide and conditions. Approximate costs are: Alnwick Castle and Gardens - £31 (in free time pre- or post-trip) Lindisfarne Castle - (National Trust) - £9 Lindisfarne Priory - (English Heritage) - £7.90 (actual day we visit is dependent on tides so please do not pre-book until spoken with the Tour Leader) Dunstanburgh Castle - (English Heritage) - £5.90 Bamburgh Castle - £11 Housesteads Roman Hill Fort - (National Trust) - £9 Vindolanda - £14
A warm jacket or fleece and long trousers are advisable, especially in early and late season when the weather tends to be cooler. Come prepared for all weather - rain jacket, fleece, warm layers, hat, gloves as well T-shirts, sunhat, good sun cream and sunglasses.
We recommend you bring walking boots - leather or fabric are both fine. Waterproof boots are advisable. Some of the paths are rocky or can be muddy underfoot and you could twist an ankle if not wearing boots. Trainers are not recommended. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Comfortable footwear to change into after the walk.
One main piece of baggage and a waterproof rucksack large enough to carry what you need for the day - waterproofs, warm layer, water, picnic, sun-cream, phone etc. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water.
Bring a rucksack for the walks and a water bottle. You may like to bring trekking poles. If your rucksack doesn't have a waterproof cover then consider plastic bags to keep things dry should it rain. Tap water is fine to drink but there won't always be places to refill on the walks. We encourage our clients not to buy mineral water because of the negative environmental impact with plastic bottles.
Bus, On Foot
The Hog's Head Inn in Alnwick has comfortable en-suite rooms, a bar/lounge and free parking and Wi-Fi for guests. Located about 1.5 miles from the town centre. Our Tour Leader will help arrange some group meals in town for those interested.
Check in is available from 3pm. If arriving by train, Alnmouth Station is about 5 miles from the Alnwick by taxi. We advise pre-booking a taxi if you plan to use one. Call the hotel reception for advice on local taxi companies if you want to reserve a taxi or research on line. You will be able to park your car at the hotel. If you are arriving from overseas the closest airport is Newcastle International Airport, which is a 40-minute taxi ride from the joining hotel. You can also get a train from London Kings Cross to Alnmouth Station which takes just under four hours. A train from Edinburgh to Alnmouth Station takes approximately one hour.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
UK: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
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You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.