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Wherever you’re travelling from, we’ll make sure you have a personalised route to carry you to your first base. Whether you’d prefer direct or meandering, we’ll tailor-make something to get you to Ullswater.
Your Accommodation in Pooley Bridge
Your first base is at the heart of the community in this ancient lakeside village. This family-owned restaurant-with-rooms features spacious, beautifully presented accommodation and an acclaimed fine-dining restaurant serving the best local produce amidst stylish surroundings. Set in one of the north lakes’ most picturesque spots, within a moments’ walk of Ullswater, this is an ideal location from which to discover this wonderful corner of England. There are a variety of walks direct from the door: a gentle stroll or a full day out, whatever the weather. You are also handily placed for a round-the-lake steamer trip, delivering a genuinely awe-inspiring perspective on the majestic surroundings.
For a scenic drive take the Honister Pass up and over to Buttermere and Crummock Water and on to Loweswater in the Vale of Lorton. Only a mile long and half a mile wide, this often bypassed lake offers a delightful circular walk. Take the road through Whinlatter Forest on your way to Keswick and back to Borrowdale to complete the circuit. A lengthier drive takes in three rugged mountain passes and will take much of the day but the reward is breath-taking views, reaching places that most visitors fail to find.
The nearby Honister Slate Mine offers an insight into industrial heritage as well as a challenging Via Ferrata experience for those of an adventurous spirit, climbing to some of the best views in the Lake District. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations of pretty places to stop for refreshments along the way.
Maybe due to its remoteness or perhaps because the Lake District draws the crowds, Cumbria’s coastline offers peace and tranquillity far away from high season hoards. Explore the Georgian port of Whitehaven, the pretty beach resort of St Bees with its important cliff top nature reserve and Ravenglass – from here you could let the train take the strain on a round trip on the little narrow-gauge railway through magnificent scenery, pulled by a heritage steam engine.
Find out how your favourite tipple is made – visit the Jennings Brewery near Cockermouth or Keswick Brewery, or the brand new Lakes Distillery, the largest whisky distillery in England!
Meander further north into Scotland – we suggest taking a cross-country route, perhaps stopping off to discover the captivating Solway Firth, or to visit one of the impressive Borders Abbeys on your way to the riverside village of Walkerburn.
Your Accommodation in Walkerburn
Your home-from-home for the next two nights is a restaurant-with-rooms, beautifully presented within a grand Edwardian manor house and featuring lovely views over the Tweed and Tweed Valley. With just six very comfortable rooms, each appointed with the highest-quality furniture and fittings, this is a cossetting place in which to relax and unwind, as well as an ideal base from which to explore the many attractions in this largely undiscovered corner of Scotland.
The surrounding area is filled with great natural beauty, sites of significant historical and geological interest and, off the beaten track, some spectacular driving roads that are sure to delight the keen driver. Nearby Abbotsford House offers an ideal introduction to the life of the area’s most famous son, Sir Walter Scott. This splendid house, formal gardens and visitor centre contain a treasure trove of intriguing objects and unusual artefacts which inspired Scott’s greatest poems and novels – you could easily spend half a day here, visiting the house and gardens and dallying over lunch in the modern restaurant.
There’s no hurry today on en-route to your next base. We’d encourage you to head east and immediately for the coast at Berwick-Upon Tweed, England’s northernmost town, rich in its own fascinating history. Then, simply wend your way along the coast, Lindisfarne and Holy Island beckoning, into the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on your way to the charming coastal village of Alnmouth.
Your Accommodation in Alnmouth
Set on the colourful main street of Alnmouth, your accommodation here is a family-owned guest house of rare quality. Every detail of its design, decoration and presentation has been pored over seemingly by an expert as there’s barely a thread out of place. Sumptuous bedrooms offer the most comfortable beds and linens, while modern en-suites feature designer treats to make your stay just that little bit more comfortable. Downstairs, the swish guest lounge features an extensive honesty bar, so pour yourself a cold one perhaps to enjoy on the peaceful terrace in the garden. On selected evenings, a light supper is served, so you may not even have to go out for dinner.
After breakfast, take a short drive back up the coast to the ancient fishing village of Seahouses. This is where you will meet your expert skipper for a memorable trip to the Farne Islands as part of a small group. Alongside hearing of the legends of this magical location, you may be lucky enough to see some of the enchanting birdlife that calls the islands home at certain times of the year. Keep an eye out for puffin, eider, razorbill, guillemot, shag, kittiwake and fulmar, plus a large colony of grey seals. You may also spot the minke whale, dolphins and porpoises that frequent the area.
No trip to Northumberland is complete without a visit to Bamburgh Castle, one of the most magnificent sites in the whole of England. It is frequently the star of major TV and film dramas, most recently welcoming Michael Fassbender as Macbeth. Standing proud on the edge of the Whin Sill (the very same volcanic rock that Hadrian’s Wall sits upon), Bamburgh Castle dominates the skyline for miles around. The small village beneath it is quintessentially English with a cricket pitch just below the castle walls and a path through the dunes to one of Northumberland’s finest beaches. Find mile upon mile of fine white sand and usually only a few dog walkers for company.
Head inland today to sample life in the Cheviot Hills. It’s a stunning area simply to drive around and enjoy the view but there is so much to see and do. You could seek out the Chillingham Wild Cattle: rarer than the giant panda, this herd of about 100 cattle have lived on the estate for 800 years and are said to be the only survivors of the wild herds which once roamed Britain’s forests. You may also choose to visit Chillingham Castle, reputed to be one of England’s most haunted. This remote part of Northumberland was a prehistoric stronghold with a high concentration of standing stones and hill forts: look out for Bronze Age cup and ring markings on stones and boulders.
You will then come to Hadrian’s Wall. The north-west Roman Frontier for 300 years, the Wall stretches 80 Roman miles (73 modern miles) from the Solway Firth to the North Sea. Completed in AD128 to defend the Roman Empire against the Picts, it consists of a continuous line of defence with vallum ditch, mile castles, turrets, forts, temples and civilian settlements from the cities of Carlisle in the west to Newcastle in the east. Along its length, you can choose to visit the Roman settlements, of which there are many, or simply enjoy the views and imagine what life must have been like for the Roman foot soldiers standing guard in the bleak mid-winter. The main visitor attractions on the Wall are the Roman Army Museum, Vindolanda, where live excavations take place, and Housesteads Fort.
Why not ask us to arrange a local guide to help you discover the secrets of this remarkable part of the history of these islands?
At the end of the afternoon, a little further south in County Durham and the remarkable hamlet of Blanchland, your base for the next two nights is a most impressive former 12th-century priory, now an award-winning hotel.
Your accommodation in Blanchland
Rightly described by its owners as ‘a storybook bolthole,’ your accommodation in Blanchland almost defines this historic Northumbrian village. With a history stretching back to the 12th century, the honey stone of the structure seemingly throbs with stories of English abbeys, lead-mining and centuries of hospitality. Just 21 rooms feature here, each as comfortable as the next, while the cosy bar and terrific restaurant are manned largely by cheerful locals, each of whom exudes an infectious pride for this wonderful place.
Blanchland is in the middle of nowhere but at the same time in the middle of everywhere! You can stay local and enjoy the scenery and wildlife in the valley or a few minutes up the road you’ll come across Derwent Reservoir, a haven of wildlife and an easy circuit walk, with fishing and watersports for enthusiasts. Nearby Allenheads and Nenthead both vie for the accolade of England’s highest village. This is a remote lead mining country and no visitor should miss the wonderful Killhope Museum, complete with accessible mine – here you can even pan for galena or quartz.
You complete your holiday with a couple of nights in the compact, yet impressive, city of York.
Your Accommodation in York
Owned and run by the same family for a number of years, your accommodation in York is the very friendliest of guest houses. Set on a quiet residential street, here you’ll enjoy a peaceful haven away from the city bustle, yet the unmissable Minster is just a 12-minute walk away. Your hosts are genuine enthusiasts for their home city and aim to assist guests in uncovering some of its secrets, always ready with a restaurant recommendation or a lesser-trodden walking route, for example.
Of course, you’ll want to experience the jaw-dropping Minster, one of the finest medieval cathedrals in the world, with roots as far back as the 7th century. We’d recommend getting there as early as you can to beat the crowds. Aside from the Minster, York positively groans with fascinating detail, from Clifford’s Tower, a mott and bailey castle built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north, to the medieval city walls offering panoramic views across the city, the multitude of quirky shops, cafes and beautiful architecture and the staggering National Railway Museum. For a more in-depth history, you may wish to join a walking tour – there are numerous options available depending on your special interests.
A final day on the road, following our tailormade route to get you home.
Start in the Lake District, then head to the Scottish Borders. Return to the Northumbrian Coast, head inland to Hadrian’s Wall and Durham, before finishing up in the city of York.
£1265 per person for March & November, £1325 for April & October, £1375 for May to September.
Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for 10 nights on a bed & breakfast basis in our hand-picked selection of small guest houses and four star hotels and includes a boat trip to the Farne Islands.
We can also include a private guided tour of the key sites of Hadrian’s Wall for £125 per person. Car rental is not included, but can be arranged for a range of vehicles – do just let us know.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from March to November.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
We loved the country drives…lovely long viewsJane & Mary, Ontario