The Explorer’s Road touring route snakes its way down the East of England, from the Scottish border right the way to Hertfordshire, with plenty of interesting and intriguing stops along the way. Whether you take a day to cover part of the route or a week-long staycation to explore the full distance, by yourself or with the family, by car or by train, the route will uncover some of England’s finest attractions, experiences and accommodation. Here’s a sneak peek into what you can expect on a journey down (or up) The Explorer’s Road.
Explore a poisonous garden in Northumberland
The Alnwick Garden plays host to the small but deadly Poison Garden — filled exclusively with around 100 toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants. The boundaries of the Poison Garden are kept behind black iron gates and are only open on guided tours. And while it may be tempting, visitors are strictly prohibited from smelling, touching, or tasting any plants.
The Victoria Tunnel is a subterranean historic marvel, hidden beneath Newcastle’s city streets. The tunnel was originally built to transport coal from Spital Tongues Colliery to the River Tyne and was later converted into a World War 2 air-raid shelter which provided protection to over 8,000 locals. Today, the tunnel (crowned TripAdvisor’s top ‘things to do in Newcastle’ for a number of years) gives visitors the opportunity to head underground and learn curious local histories!
Experience amazing sights, sounds, smells and delicious tastes as the past comes to life at Beamish, the Living Museum of the North. Step into the past and explore the 350 acre site, as Beamish tells the story of the people of North East England in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.
Taste traditional food from a coal-fired range, hop on board a tram or steam train, play schoolyard games together and pop into the local Beamish Co-op shops. A real opportunity to immerse yourself in a time gone by.
Hop inside your dinghy and an expert white water rafting guide will help you conquer the wild waters ahead. Navigating a network of twists and turns, the adrenaline-pumping course takes you on a water rollercoaster of sudden drops, crashing waves and sharp turns. Your aim? To reach the finishing line without getting soaked! You might even get the chance to take on the centre’s extreme course and tackle the biggest artificial drop in the UK.
Set in iconic Grade II-listed former railway headquarters, The Grand York Hotel was originally built in 1906 as a ‘Palace Of Business’ for one of the most powerful railway companies in Edwardian England. With no expense spared in the pursuit of luxury, the five-star Hotel & Spa offers stylish rooms and a luxury vaulted spa.
The Grand is also home to a state-of-the-art cookery school, which opened back in 2019, which hosts over 40 different classes, from Italian masterclasses to tips on how to make a show-stopping chocolate soufflé. With 16 workstations, a connecting meeting space, a dining area and an outside terrace, it’s perfect all year round. Sharpen up your cookery skills then sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens offers a tranquil get-away from the hustle and bustle of life. A family garden that has been lovingly planted up over 40 years, it offers an oasis of calm, where you can sit by the pond and listen to birdsong and bees buzzing, wander through the wild flower meadow and enjoy the herbaceous border. Every June the gardens host a family-friendly wildlife day, where you’ll learn to identify some of the wildlife in the garden, meet local wildlife experts and find out how to encourage more wild visitors to your own garden.
Explore where kings and convicts have walked in Lincoln
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Lincoln Castle has stood for hundreds of years as a symbol of power and seat of justice. Discover 1,000 years of history by scaling the heights of the Medieval Wall Walk, following in the footsteps of inmates in the Victorian Prison, and immersing yourself in the story of the Magna Carta.
With a history dating back to 1881 and the longest-retained Michelin star in the country, experience the epitome of quintessential English country-house hotel at Hambleton Hall. Overlooking the picturesque Rutland Water, the hotel is renowned for its food and beautiful gardens that cover some 17 acres.
A network of tracks leading from close-by Egleton Visitor Centre allows visitors to explore many hides opening onto the water margins. You may be lucky enough to spot ospreys (in the summer), ducks, geese, waders, kingfishers, sand martins and a host of other species that make birdwatching a year-round pursuit.
Explore the truth behind Nottingham’s most famous legend
Join Ezekial Bone for an adventure amidst the ancient oaks of the world-famous Sherwood Forest. From wildwood to Royal Hunting Forest, to threatened fragments of ancient woodland, Sherwood Forest is both a natural wonder and national treasure. Who better to tell the story than its own son, Robin Hood?! Learn about the history and folklore of the forest that built the foundations of England. Discover the truth behind the Robin Hood legend and chart its evolution over centuries from simple ballads into one of the greatest stories ever told.
Burghley House is one of the largest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan age. The house was built and mostly designed by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587. The main part of the House has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors. The gardens and parkland at Burghley were largely designed by world-famous Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century.
Today, sweeping vistas down to the spires of Stamford in the parkland, splashing in the Garden of Surprises or tranquil walks next to the lake in the Sculpture Garden can all be enjoyed.
Explore where the dinosaurs still roam in Hertfordshire
Sat within Knebworth House’s Wilderness Garden is the Dinosaur Trail, a route that’s very popular with younger visitors. Seventy-two life-sized dinosaurs and pre-historic creatures can be found grazing amongst the shrubbery alongside the woodland paths. Children can learn about the T-Rex, the Woolly Mammoth and other fascinating pre-historic creatures with information boards throughout the trail. You’ll also stumble across a huge chalk board for creating your own ‘cave-man drawings’. Look out for the wind-up sound box and make some dinosaur roars.