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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

Borders & North of England Explorer

Immerse yourself in the finest scenery of Northern England and Southern Scotland on this grand tour.

Immerse yourself in the finest scenery of Northern England and Southern Scotland on this grand tour, taking in the Lake District Fells, the rolling hills of Border Country and the wilds of Northumberland & County Durham, ending in the picturesque city of York. The drives are simply stunning. With a host of fascinating places to see and things to do, you will experience the best of British hospitality and a very warm welcome.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Mar - Nov

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Day One: Arrival in the Lake District

Your first base is a family owned property features simple, comfortable rooms and an acclaimed bistro serving the best local produce amidst stylish surroundings. Set in one of the north lakes’ most picturesque villages, within moments’ walk of Ullswater, this is an ideal spot 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, ideal to take a first look at the majestic surroundings.

Day Two: Exploring the Lake District or Cumbrian Coast

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!

Day Three: Drive north to the Scottish Borders

Meander further north into Scotland – we suggest taking a cross-country route, perhaps stopping off to visit one of the impressive Borders Abbeys on the way.  Your home-from-home for the next two nights is a restaurant-with-rooms, beautifully presented within a grand Edwardian 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 the perfect place to relax and unwind, as well as an ideal base from which to explore the many attractions in this largely undiscovered corner of Scotland.

Day Four: Exploring the Scottish Borders

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.

Day Five: Cross the border into Northumberland 

Your hotel is a small but perfectly-formed guest house with garden in the centre of the ancient coaching village of Belford, situated just inland from Holy Island. Your hosts will be happy to advise you on several walks from the village and will assist with return journeys where necessary!

Day Six: Exploring and Boat Trip to the Farne Islands

After a sumptuous breakfast with home made jams, we recommend a coastal tour today. 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.

Just four miles south of Bamburgh you will find the village of Seahouses and the harbour from where you take the boat to the Farne Islands, one of the UK’s most spectacular wildlife habitats. The Farnes consist of 30 islands and are home to many species including puffin, eider, razorbill, guillemot, shag, kittiwake and fulmar plus a large colony of grey seals. You may also be lucky enough to spot minke whale, dolphins and porpoise which frequent the area.

Day Seven: Drive to Hadrian’s Wall 

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.

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.

Day Eight: Blanchland and the North Pennines 

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 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.

Day Nine: Drive to York

You complete your holiday with a couple of nights in the compact, yet impressive, city of York.

Owned and run by the same family for a number of years, your accommodation in York is an award-winning guest house of rare quality and comfort set around 25 minutes’ walk from the Minster, via a lovely scenic route. Beautifully presented, comfortable rooms, each with modern en-suite bathrooms, present the ideal base to unwind after a long day on the cobbles – perhaps after a refreshment in the licensed lounge – while breakfast is the main event, with local produce front and centre providing the perfect start to your day.

The friendly owners are only too happy to offer advice on how to make best use of your time in this most evocative and historic city, and with the added bonus of a parking space right by the door, we recommend leaving the car and exploring the narrow streets on foot from here.

Day Ten: Exploring York

A good starting point is Clifford’s Tower, a mott & bailey castle built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north. From the wall-walk you will enjoy panoramic views across the city and countryside. No tour of York is complete without a visit to the Minster, situated in the centre of the old city, it is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals. You can even climb the tower, only 275 steps! Medieval York is perfect for wandering, enjoying the multitude of shops and cafes and beautiful architecture. For a more in-depth history you may wish to join a walking tour – there are numerous options available depending on your special interests.

Day Eleven: Depart for 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.


£1125 per person for March & November, £1170 for April & October, £1195 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.

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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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.


Check availability for Borders & North of England Explorer

This holiday can be arranged from March to November.

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