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 eight day tour. Follow in Viking and Roman footsteps, visiting historic York, Chester's Roman Fort, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne and the glorious Alnwick Gardens.
Our tour 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 or the Old Swan 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.
Departures YNS1901 and YNS1905 you will stay in The Old Swan Hotel.
Departures YNS1902 and YNS1908 you will stay in The Cedar Court 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 we take a nostalgic journey on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to the popular seaside town of Whitby. We board our heritage steam-hauled train in Pickering and make a wonderful return journey through the stunning North York Moors National Park. This heritage line is the most visited in the United Kingdom, offering journeys to tens of thousands of tourists per year. There is an undoubtedly good reason for this, thanks to the incredible moorland scenery that stretches over the hills of the North Yorkshire Moors.
Pass through quaint villages, including Goathland, which is famous for its part in the Harry Potter films, as well as being part of Yorkshire-based soap opera Heartbeat, before exploring wonderful Whitby, the town that inspired Bram Stoker to write his famous novel 'Dracula'.
Today your entire day is at leisure in this alluring spa town. There is plenty to do here in this Georgian spa town - including perhaps a visit to the iconic Bettys Tea Rooms. This institution of Harrogate offers a myriad of delicious food and pastries, and it is incredibly easy to while away an afternoon in the elegant café with a cup of specially-blended tea.
Alternatively, there are a plethora of beautiful green spaces around the town, from the 200 acres of the Stray and the Victorian Valley Gardens, to the lush verdant greenery of RHS Harlow Carr Gardens, easily accessible by a short bus journey from the town centre. Alternatively, you may like to visit one of the many art galleries and museums dotted around Harrogate, including the Harrogate Pump Rooms where the brave may try a sample of Harrogate's famous sulphurous spring water.
Leaving Harrogate behind, today we travel on the famous Settle & Carlisle Line. 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 onto the Hadrian's Wall Line, so named because it runs almost adjacent to the eponymous Hadrian's Wall, built thousands of years ago to keep out the Picts from Britannia, 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 place where magnificent architecture and lovingly-tended plants and flowers are brought to life with a variety of water features. From large fountains that appear to rise in tiers into the distance 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 here, looking to the world like a small castle from a fairy tale. The varieties of flora here are all perfect for enticing any horticulturist into the myriad paths of this enchanting place.
Today we cross the wild Northumberland countryside to Bamburgh, a scenic coastal town dominated by the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, which overlooks the gorgeous sandy coast of Northumberland. A fort of some kind has been set on the fantastic strategic location of Bamburgh Castle since the 5th century, and buildings have been built and destroyed and re-bulit numerous times through the years. The current iteration of the castle was restored during the 18th and 19th centuries, much to the pleasure of thousands of visitors to the castle since then. We enjoy some free time here before visiting 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. Tonight,we enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel to celebrate our last night of the tour.
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 East Coast Mainline route back to York (First Class), a fitting place to end our adventure.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to and from Manchester Airport (MAN), which is approximately 70 miles from your base in Harrogate.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; your Tour Manager will be available between 16:00 and 18:00. However, if you are arriving later, you can meet your Tour Manager before dinner from 19:00.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
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 program. 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 tour 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