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Alnwick & Edinburgh in Winter

(Tour code: NEW17)A winter tour through Northumberland and Edinburgh

Enjoy a winter tour through Northumberland and Edinburgh, taking in lovely Alnwick and its famous gardens, a night sky safari at Kielder Observatory, and a tour aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh.

Tour Highlights
  • Alnwick and its gardens
  • Night sky safari at the Kielder Observatory
  • Melrose Abbey
  • The Borders Railway
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Edinburgh Christmas Markets & Great Scots dinner
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Standard Class Rail
  • 4 nights’ hotel accommodation
  • Night sky safari at Kielder Observatory
    Guided talk at Melrose Abbey
    Private visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

On many of our UK & Ireland tours, 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.

Alnwick Castle
Day 1

Arrive in Alnwick

You meet your Tour Manager at your hotel today, situated in lovely Alnwick, Northumberland. This historic market town is famous for its magnificent castle and gardens. Our hotel for the next two nights is the 3-Star White Swan. As a 300 year old coaching inn, the hotel is steeped in tradition and history. Housed in a Grade II listed building, the hotel boasts one particularly famous suite, the Olympic Suite. This room is home to panelling, mirrors and stained-glass windows which were removed from the Olympic Class ocean liner the RMS Olympic when it was being broken up for scrap in 1936. This former sea-faring lounge was identical to that of her sister ship's - the RMS Titanic - having both been designed and fitted by the same craftsmen. We enjoy dinner together in the hotel this evening.

  • Dinner
Alnwick Gardens
Day 2

Alnwick Gardens & the Kielder Observatory

We visit famous Alnwick Gardens this morning, set around the magnificent Alnwick Castle. The attractive gardens were crafted by revered gardener Capability Brown in 1750. Over the years many resident Dukes added to the gardens, so that by the end of the 19th century they were home to a number of exotic fruits and plants, including avenues of limes and greenhouses filled with pineapples. During the Second World War, the gardens were used as part of the nationwide 'Dig for Victory' campaign, helping to provide food for many local residents. Unfortunately during the austerity that followed in the post-war years, the gardens fell into disrepair, until the current Duchess of Northumberland began their redevelopment in the 1990s. Since then both the Castle and Alnwick gardens have been a popular attraction for visitors. Following our visit, we enjoy an early dinner in Kielder. This evening we enjoy a truly marvellous experience at the Kielder Observatory, a public outreach astronomical facility located in Kielder Forest. The forest benefits from some of the darkest skies in Europe; free from any light pollution, it is the third largest protected dark sky preserve on earth. There is no better place in the UK to enjoy astronomy. These star gazing events are designed to bring members of the public of all ages to engage in discussion and observation of the universe, and the observatory provides demonstrations and talks on the night sky, also offering visitors access to professional telescopes. We enjoy a private night sky safari, which allows us plenty of time to observe the heavens with telescopes, returning to the hotel in the early hours of the morning.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Melrose Abbey
Day 3

Melrose Abbey & Borders Railway

This morning we visit Melrose Abbey, a partly ruined Cistercian monastery in the Scottish Borders region that was the head house of its order prior to the Scottish Reformation. The first phase of the abbey's construction was completed in 1136, and it was further developed until its disestablishment in 1609. Built in the shape of St John's cross, the abbey displays all the hallmarks of Gothic architecture in its outer-works, and is the burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart, which is marked with a carved stone plaque. We enjoy a guided talk at the abbey, learning about the history and architecture of this popular ruined landmark. Later this afternoon we take a scenic train ride on the newly opened Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Edinburgh. This attractive 55 minute journey, opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 9th of September 2015, takes us through the rolling hills and open farmland of the Borders region and past the flowing River Tweed to Scotland's capital. On arrival in Edinburgh we transfer to our hotel, the Radisson Blu, for two nights.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4

Royal Yacht Britannia & Christmas Markets

This morning we embark upon a private tour of the Queen's former private yacht, the HM Royal Yacht Britannia. As our tour takes place before the yacht opens to the public, we can enjoy exclusive access to the vessel. This ship was in service from 1954 to 1997, and during her working lifetime the Britannia travelled over a million nautical miles. Today she is one of Edinburgh's most popular attractions. We are shown firstly to the Captain's Bridge before being led on to the lavish State Apartments. The crew's quarters are next before we visit the engine room which produces 8,900 kW of power, taking the ship to a maximum speed of 21.5 knots. With some free time on board you might like to indulge in a bite to eat at the Royal Deck Tea Rooms. Alongside the Britannia is the racing yacht Bloodhound, also owned by the Queen and the ship on which Prince Charles and Princess Anne both learned how to sail. This afternoon we enjoy time at leisure to visit Edinburgh's Christmas Markets. Emanating from the city's centre, the Markets spiral outwards across an array of different stalls and attractions. The Scottish Market in St Andrews Square provides traditional food and drink. Or, if you are feeling daring, you could don a pair of skates at the Ice Rink in Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh's city centre is home to a host of department stores and a range of shops, which stand side-by-side with all the Christmas stalls to offer a comprehensive shopping experience. This evening we enjoy a lavish four-course dinner in the Great Scots Hall of our hotel in Edinburgh. The festivities begin with the entrance of the piper who begins the night by performing a traditional address to the haggis, with a poem written by Robert Burns. We then experience a decadent Scottish meal, during which we are regaled with stories of the notable Scottish descendants, whose pictures adorn the walls of the hall. Following dinner, we are entertained by a local dancer, who demonstrates examples of this traditional art form.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5

Return home

Following breakfast this morning , we take the train to Alnmouth, transferring back to Alnwick where our tour concludes. Alternatively, perhaps you'd like to stay a little longer here to explore further, or to re-visit Alnwick Castle's grounds.

  • Breakfast

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.


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