Five days in Manchester, Liverpool, The Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall and Newcastle.
Football, theatre and the Fab Four
Tour the childhood home of John Lennon or a world renowned football stadium and discover England’s incredible contribution to music and sport.
Arrive in Manchester from Manchester Airport by rail (15 minutes) or by rail from London (2 hours 10 minutes).
Day 1 - Manchester
Manchester and nearby Salford have an excellent choice of attractions, museums and galleries; here are a few to help make your visit memorable:
Arrange a tour of cosmopolitan Manchester, a major city that lies in the Industrial Revolution’s heartland, where old working canals now sparkle with quayside cafés and contemporary museums.
The city is very easy to walk around and as well as numerous shopping o bpportunities from boutique shopping to major department stores and the Trafford Centre, there are also a number of fascinating museums and art galleries to explore including the Whitworth Art Gallery – voted Museum of the Year 2015.
Don’t miss the Science and Industry Museum (MOSI), an impressive museum located on the world’s first passenger railway station that is devoted to the development of science, technology and industry, with emphasis on the city's achievements in these fields.
Elsewhere, art lovers will be won over by the fine art and costumes on display at Manchester Art Gallery and the stunning architecture of Manchester Town Hall, while football fans can admire 140,000 objects at National Football Museum.
There are plenty more world-class attractions to be found in the Salford Quays area. Take Manchester’s Metrolink tram service here and visit the Lowry which is home to two theatres and a gallery featuring paintings by local son LS Lowry.
History buffs can immerse themselves in insightful exhibitions at nearby Imperial War Museum North and football fans can live out their fantasies on the Manchester United Stadium Tour at Old Trafford. Or if cricket is your passion, head to the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Want to do something active? Stop by The National Cycling Centre to ride around a banked velodrome on a one hour taster session.
Spend the evening taking in a show at the Manchester Arena, Royal Exchange Theatre, Bridgewater Hall or the Manchester Opera House, and pay a visit to China Town where you’ll find an excellent selection of restaurants.
Did you know this is the city where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce at the Midland Hotel on Peter Street?
Arriving in Liverpool by rail from Manchester Airport will take 1 hour and 30 minutes or from London by rail, 2 hours and 15 minutes to 3 hours and 20 minutes depending on the rail service.
Liverpool is officially the World Capital of Pop and in 2008 the European Capital of Culture. It is also one of the friendliest cities in England.
Start your day on a coach tour of Liverpool or a Beatles Magical Mystery Tour and explore the many hallowed Fab Four sites in and around the city, including the bright-red Strawberry Hill gates in the charming Woolton Village where John Lennon grew up.
Diehard Beatles fans can go one step further by booking a National Trust tour of John Lennon’s childhood home, Mendips, along with Paul McCartney’s childhood home of 20 Forthlin Road in nearby Allerton. Tours are restricted to 15 people at a time so you’ll need to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Stop for lunch at one of Hope Street’s renowned restaurants before spending the afternoon exploring Albert Dock, home to the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in Britain.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the docks are full of fascinating attractions including the free to enter Merseyside Maritime Museum, where you can discover the untold story of the Titanic. In the same building is the International Slavery Museum, the only national museum in the world dedicated to the history of the transatlantic slave trade.
Alternatively, culture lovers can enjoy a wander through the Tate Liverpool which has a permanent collection featuring Picasso and Matisse, or head to the Museum of Liverpool to explore how the port, its people, and their cultural and sporting significance have shaped the city’s story.
A non-negotiable for Beatles’ fans is The Beatles Story, a brilliant tour through the Beatles’ lives, with fascinating memorabilia and insights from family and friends, also located on Albert Dock.
Cameras at the ready for the magnificent Three Graces buildings at nearby Pier Head which include the Royal Liver Building crowned with mythical Liver Birds, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building – each Grade I or II listed and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Away from the water, make some time for the Walker Art Gallery which houses one of Europe's finest collections of paintings, drawings, sculpture and decorative art from the 13th century to the present day.
A few doors down, you’ll find the Grade I listed St George’s Hall – widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the world. Or for a spot of retail therapy, stop by Liverpool ONE, a huge open-air shopping and leisure district in the heart of the city.
In the evening, take your seat at the Echo Arena – a massive venue that has seen Bob Dylan, Beyonce and Dame Shirley Bassey grace its stage. Alternatively, wear your fanciest clothes and take a seat at the Philharmonic Hall to experience the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – one of the finest orchestras in the country – perform in beautiful art deco surroundings.
Finish up with a ‘twist and shout’ at the world-famous Cavern Club or pull up a pew and make friends with the locals at one of many smaller music venues throughout Liverpool. You’re never too far away from music in this city.
Did you know there are several music festivals staged in the city throughout the year, including Liverpool International Music Festival, Africa Oyé, Sound City and International Beatles Week?
Top tip: Check the music venues’ programmes before travelling.
Depart Liverpool – to the Lake District National Park. By road 1 hour and 30 minutes (M6 Junction 36/A590/A591) to Windermere. It takes 2 hours 20 minutes by rail to Windermere.
Tour the Lake District National Park by car, bus or take a Mountain Goat (mini coach tour) which gives you the chance to see all of the highlights and get off the beaten track.
The glistening lakes and towering mountains of England’s biggest National Park have inspired generations of artists, poets and writers.
Key places to visit include The World of Beatrix Potter, which tells the story of Beatrix Potter, the famous children’s author and illustrator.
Afterwards, hop on a Windermere Lake Cruise and explore England’s longest lake or take the 599 bus from St Martin’s Church to the Rydal Mount and Gardens, where 18th century poet William Wordsworth lived for most of his life.
Wordsworth wrote his most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, at the house and also designed the gardens, which remain very much as he left them.
Top Tip – Make sure you wear sensible footwear for an hour’s walk from Rydal Mount – which starts at the back of the house – to the village of Grasmere.
Once you arrive in Grasmere, take some time to explore the village with its charming shops, tearooms and art galleries as well as the churchyard where William Wordsworth is buried.
Next, take a boat out onto the waters of Grasmere for a panoramic view of sweeping fells and shimmering waters, or as Wordsworth described it, ‘the loveliest spot that man hath found’.
Don’t leave without trying Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread – the 19th-century recipe for this crumbly treat is still top secret.
If hidden gems are more your thing, spend the day exploring Coniston Water instead. Another of the National Park’s beautiful lakes, it is home to Brantwood, an idyllic country house and gardens overlooking Coniston Water. It was the home of John Ruskin, a leading English art critic of the Victorian era, from 1872 to 1900.
You can reach Coniston Water from Windermere by car via B5286 and A591 or by taking the 505 bus and alighting at Waterhead Hotel.
Top Tip: Take the Steam Yacht Gondola to Brantwood from Coniston Pier – just a 10 minute walk away from Waterhead Hotel bus stop. Hungry? Stop by The Bluebird Café first for delicious food and great views of the lake.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, swing from the trees on a forest adventure at Go Ape Grizedale – located between Lake Windermere and Coniston Water in Grizedale Forest.
There are a huge variety of places to stay from country house hotels with gourmet restaurants such as Holbeck Ghyll, to bed and breakfast accommodation such as Buckle Yeat Guest House, which was included in Beatrix Potter’s stories.
Travel north via Ullswater towards Penrith on the A592 – looking back at beautiful views once you’ve climbed up towards Ullswater. Travel from Penrith to Alston on the A686. The AA named the A686 ‘One of the Greatest Drives in Britain’ owing to the dramatic scenery of the Pennines encountered along its route.
Continue from Alston – the highest market town in England – on to the A69 following signs for Vindolanda (close to the village of Bardon Mill). The journey will take 2 hours.
An extensive Roman museum located on a former ancient fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda is a live archaeological site with excavations running in the week from April through to September.
Excavations aside, the museum is packed full of fascinating Roman artefacts, including Vindolanda’s precious writing tablets – the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.
The Roman remains here are also the most extensive of any fort and settlement on Hadrian’s Wall, with the ruins of military buildings, stores, shops, houses and two bath houses all on show.
From here, travel towards Newcastle on the A69 and take the A1 north to Bamburgh Castle which will take about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Overlooking a vast expanse of sandy beach is the dramatic, Bamburgh Castle, the royal seat of the former Kings of Northumbria and one of the most important Anglo Saxon sites in the world.
Did you know that the village of Craster, 30 minutes south of Bamburgh, is world famous for its kippers (smoked herring)? They are cured using the original smokehouses dating back 130 years.
Following your visit travel for just over 1 hour via the A1 to Newcastle for your overnight stay.
Take a City Seeing Hop on - Hop off Tour for an hour to get your bearings in Newcastle and Gateshead (just across the River Tyne). In Newcastle, visit the Laing Art Gallery, and explore the Quayside, a historical part of the city with spectacular views of the Tyne and its bridges, as well as historic timber fronted houses opposite the Guildhall.
More architectural gems can be admired while shopping in Grainger Town with its sweeping neoclassical thoroughfares and grand monuments. And football fans will be in their element on a tour of the Newcastle United stadium.
Did you know the Tyne Bridge was the largest single span bridge in the world until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed four years later?
At the opposite side of the River Tyne is Gateshead. Get there by walking across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world’s first rotating bridge. Once you’re over the water, visit the BALTIC – Centre for Contemporary Art, one of Europe's largest galleries at the renovated Baltic flour mill. Its rooftop restaurant is famed for its superb food and views of the River Tyne.
Follow that with a live performance at The Sage Gateshead. An iconic centre for live music, it hosts world class artists, musicians and bands.
For something more traditional, be whisked away by a ballet or opera performance at Theatre Royal in Grainger Town or the nearby Tyne Theatre and Opera House.
Stay overnight in Newcastle or depart to Newcastle Airport by train, taking around 30 minutes. Alternatively, take the train from Newcastle to London which takes 3 to 3½ hours.