Explore Yorkshire and Northumberland by rail
Scenic rail journeys bring to life the history and wild, natural beauty of Yorkshire and Northumbria on this wonderful 7-day tour. Follow in Viking and Roman footsteps with visits to historic York, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne, and Alnwick Gardens before basking in the verdant beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.
Our holiday begins as you arrive at your hotel in Harrogate, at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. We spend four nights here at the Cedar Court hotel. One of England's most attractive towns, Harrogate retains many Georgian and Victorian features including its original spa buildings. After time to discover your new surroundings, and to perhaps visit the famous Betty's Tea Rooms, this evening we meet for dinner in the hotel.
This morning, we travel by rail to York, which we discover on a guided tour, seeing the incomparable Minster, one of Europe's largest Gothic cathedrals. This stunning sandstone building is covered in wonderful examples of Gothic architecture, and has stood in its current position, as an icon of the York skyline, in one form or another for the past 2,000 years. We also visit the medieval Shambles, which has remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages. The narrow cobbled street is overlooked by a patchwork variety of houses built in the traditional style of the time.
The rest of your day is at leisure to explore more of this ancient Viking city. Perhaps visit the amazing National Railway Museum, which contains an incredible amount of locomotives from all around the world - from a hospital train used in World War I to an ultra-modern Japanese Shinkansen.
Today, board the coach for today's excursion to Whitby, one of the east coast's most popular seaside resorts. On the way to this iconic Yorkshire location, disembark at Goathland, better known as 'Aidensfield' in TV's Heartbeat. Your journey continues through hidden valleys and open moorland as the coach makes its way to the charming fishing port of Whitby. Crowned by its brooding Abbey, the town is famous as the inspiration behind Bram Stoker's Dracula, which incorporated local folklore to heighten the authenticity of this spooky tale. Also known for its beautiful Whitby jet jewellery, there are dozens of shops selling authentic jet accessories.
The older part of the town, located on the East Bank, is a maze of narrow medieval streets with a rich history just waiting to be explored, while the newer town is found on the opposite bank. Enjoy your time and explore the charm of the quaint cobbled streets that lead down to its handsome harbour. If you're feeling adventurous, why not climb the 199 steps up to glorious Whitby Abbey? Here, you can enjoy unimpeded panoramic views of the coastal town. And last but not the least, Whitby is home to some of the UK's finest fish and chip restaurants, which you have free time to sample before you join the nostalgic North Yorkshire Moors Railway for the return journey by steam* railway.
*Steam-hauled where possible.
Leaving Harrogate behind, today we travel on the famous Settle-Carlisle Railway. The 72-mile route is regularly voted one of the world's top railway journeys, and once we set off it is easy to see why. Cross over the wonderful Ribblehead Viaduct that cuts through the Yorkshire Dales and is overlooked by the mighty Whernside. The line also skirts the North Pennines, designated an Area of Natural Beauty for it's breathtaking examples of the glory of nature. Once in Carlisle we transfer by rail to Hexham. On arrival, we continue by coach to our hotel - the historic White Swan Hotel in Alnwick.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour around the beautifully landscaped Alnwick Gardens. The gardens are a vibrant haven where magnificent architecture and lovingly-tended plants and flowers are brought to life alongside a variety of water features. From large fountains that rise in tiers in an elegant display one would expect to see gracing the gardens of Versailles, to tiny little walled gardens that are intimately calm in their beauty. There is also an enormous wooden treehouse, looking to the world like a small castle from a fairy tale, and the Poison Gardens to explore which feature many 'deadly' plants. The huge iron gates bear a stern warning; 'These Plants Can Kill'.
Today we cross the wild Northumberland countryside to Bamburgh, a scenic coastal town dominated by magnificent Bamburgh Castle, which overlooks the gorgeous sandy coast. A fort of some kind has been set on this strategic location since the 5th century, and buildings have been risen and raised numerous times over the generations. The current castle was restored during the 18th and 19th centuries, much to the pleasure of thousands of visitors to the castle since then all those who've visited it.
We enjoy some free time here before continuing the famous island of Lindisfarne. Often known simply as 'Holy Island', this remote spot has been inhabited since the 6th century. As an important centre of Christianity in Celtic Britain, it was invaded and ransacked by the Vikings during the early years of their English invasions. Now the island is home to both ruins and castles and is a truly spectacular place to spend our last afternoon. We are treated to a tasting of local mead before we return to the hotel for a farewell dinner to celebrate the last night of our holiday.
Please note that due to tidal variance, the time of the visit to Lindisfarne is subject to change.
After breakfast in the hotel, we transfer to Alnmouth station where we join the LNER rail service back to York (First Class). From here, you can continue to Harrogate* if you would prefer. You are then free to depart at leisure.
*Please note: You will need to transport your own luggage for these rail journeys, rather than it travelling via our luggage service.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
NEW FOR 2020: Inclusive Luggage Transfers
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 31 verified reviews
Problems with rail travel on several occasions; cancelled and late trains and Great Rail did not book seats on the travel from home to Leeds
Marred by poor food in Harrogate hotel
Very enjoyable well balanced programme. Good hotels
I would have liked more info in the brochure about the very early starts on two of the days. Once I'd done my own research, having got the tour booklet giving times of trains, but not the leaving times of the connecting coach, I realised that we needed to be having breakfast around 6.45 am or 6.30 am. Even though I'm an early riser, I did find this quite difficult.
the tour was interesting and the hotels were good with good food.
Excellent holiday with very good excursions and free time.
Enjoyable break. Could be improved by transport to station on first day and would have benefitted from guide on last day on Holy Island. Some of meals disappointing. This applied to both hotels.
Excellent Tour - linden tree hotel had excellent food but poor service. Pub shut with no draught beer - a long way from civilisation - certainly did not deserve the commendation in the entrance hall given by GRJ. North York Moors Railway had a special event day - train from Whitby was terminated at Grosmont - next train was packed and then had to pick up more passangers at the next station. Did GRJ check that it was a special day - probably not.
Enjoyable tour interesting trips
Very enjoyable even though we did not hear the commentary on the Settle Carlisle journey due to us not having the booked carriage as the trains were delayed
Explore Yorkshire and Northumberland by rail