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Steam trains, historic cathedrals and Dracula

Millennium Bridge Newcastle. © VisitEngland

A Five Day Experience in Yorkshire, Newcastle, Durham and Northumberland 

Uncover colourful tales from countless ancient castles and cathedrals, board a steam train and admire dramatic vistas and escape to Whitby, a spellbinding seaside town with Dracula connections.

Arrive in the City of York – by rail from London or from Manchester Airport (both journeys take 2 hours). By road from London (4 hours) and from Manchester Airport (1 hour 45 minutes).

Day 1 - York

Jorvik Viking Centre, York.Jorvik Viking Centre, York. © Visit York

Consider pre-arranging a York Pass which offers discounts from VisitYork via their website. There are over 30 attractions to choose from – for some guidance, here are some ideas…

Head to the magnificent York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, to admire its tennis court-sized stained glass window and discover 2000 years of history at the Undercroft – a state-of-the-art attraction housed in chambers beneath the Minster. For unbeatable views, stroll along the ancient city walls and stop off at the 14th century Monk Bar – the tallest of four gatehouses along the walls and home to the Richard lll Experience.

Vikings invaded the city more than 1000 years ago and you can experience what life was like back then at Jorvik Viking Centre, discovering the sights, sounds and smells on a journey through a Viking village.

Refuel with afternoon tea at the immensely popular Bettys tearoom and don’t forget to try a Yorkshire Fat Rascal – a plump, fruity scone hand-decorated with a glacé cherry and almond face.

For a unique shopping experience, head to The Shambles, an impeccably preserved street in the centre of York lined with authentic 14th- and 15th-century architecture, which today houses an array of shops and boutiques. Close by is Barley Hall, a medieval townhouse once home to the Priors of Nostell and Mayor of York.

Want to fit even more in? The National Railway Museum offers free entry and is home to the UK's national rail collection. Other attractions include York Castle Museum, which tells the story of York’s social and military past and York’s Chocolate Story – where you can sample traditional confectionary and get a taste of York’s chocolate-making history.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire Museum houses Roman and Viking artefacts and the elegant Treasurer’s House is filled with an extensive array of antique furniture, ceramics, art and textiles.

Come sundown, admire the city’s landmarks from the water on a relaxing boat trip along the River Ouse or get goosebumps as you wander through a maze of cobbled streets on a Ghost Walk which starts from the Kings Arms pub by the river.

Did you know York is said to be the most haunted city in Europe?

Top Tip: If you would like to take a cycle tour of the city for 2 hours, you can pre-arrange with Scoot Cycling Holidays.

Castle Howard Mausoleum and New River Bridge.Castle Howard Mausoleum and New River Bridge. © Mike Kipling

Depart York and travel north east towards Malton via A64 and visit magnificent Castle Howard, which is well signed.

Home to the Howard family for over 300 years, Castle Howard is one of England’s finest stately homes. Be wowed by baroque interiors and discover a number of lakes and exquisite gardens set in 1,000 acres of parkland.

Following your visit continue onto Pickering, 8 miles north of Malton via B1257/A169.

At Pickering Station, hop on a traditional steam train run by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Whitby, one of the most charming seaside towns you’ll come across.

It was once a holiday destination for Lewis Carroll, as well as home to Captain Cook for nine years while he trained as a seaman’s apprentice. You can read the explorer’s letters detailing his exotic adventures at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

New world discoveries and Alice in Wonderland aside, Whitby is most famous for its 13th century Whitby Abbey. Thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it sits high up on windswept headlands overlooking the North Sea.

Don’t leave without trying fish and chips from the Magpie Café.

Did you know Whitby is world famous for its Jet? It’s sold in jewellers across the town.

Return on the steam train to Pickering and head to York for your overnight stay.

 

Autumn at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal.Autumn at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal. © National Trust/ Chris Lacey

Head west towards Knaresborough via A590/B6165 and onto the fascinating Ripley Castle. Home to the Ingilby family for over 700 years, it has a fascinating history to uncover.

Later, travel north on the A61 towards Ripon where you’ll find Ripon Cathedral. The Norman and Gothic styles reflect its history which dates back to the 7th century.

A few miles west of Ripon is Fountains Abbey, a Cistercian abbey and UNESCO Heritage Site founded in 1132. While you’re there, be sure to check out the glass-like ponds, statues and follies of Studley Royal Water Garden and the medieval deer park.

Did you know Fountains Abbey is the UK's largest monastic ruin?

Travel on the A1/A1M for  1 hour and 15 minutes to Durham City.

Enjoy an evening stroll by the River Wear or take  a walk along the cobbled streets of the city centre before enjoying fine dining in historical surroundings at Restaurant DH1.

 

The Beamish Museum, Durham City. The Beamish Museum, Durham City. © Visit County Durham

In the morning, head to Durham Cathedral and Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in the 11th-century. Dominating the city’s skyline, it starred in the Harry Potter films and is one of Europe’s most impressive examples of Romanesque architecture.  Grab a late breakfast at the Undercroft Restaurant beneath the cathedral before exploring the city’s winding medieval lanes, admiring ancient architecture as you stroll.

Travel 15 minutes north on the A167 to Chester-le-Street.

Here you’ll be able to experience Beamish – The Living Museum of the North, a vast  open air museum which tells the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.

In the afternoon travel into Newcastle via the A1 followed by the A184.

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 and historic timber fronted houses opposite the Guildhall.

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 across 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.

As evening approaches, settle down for a pint brewed on site at The Bridge Tavern’s own micro-brewery, and if you are feeling hungry, there’s plenty of top local produce on the menu too.  

Follow that with a live performance at The Sage Gateshead. An iconic centre for live music, it hosts world class artists, musicians and bands. Check what’s on before you travel.

Did you know The Tyne was the largest single span bridge in the world until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed four years later?

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. © Alnwick Castle

Travel to the village of Alnwick, about 40 minutes north of Newcastle via the A1.

Explore Alnwick Castle, built following the Norman Conquest. Set in wonderful grounds, this is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and has been in their family for over 700 years.

In 2014, the Downton Abbey Christmas Special was filmed here and prior to that two Harry Potter films used Alnwick Castle as Hogwarts. The lavish State Rooms are home to one of the country’s finest private art collections as well as ceramics, furniture and a library containing 14,000 books.

Following your visit to Alnwick Castle, take a 5 minute walk to Alnwick Garden. The grand water cascade is the focal point of the garden but make some time too for the vibrant flowers and plant displays and contemporary water features dotted around the garden.

Did you know The Alnwick Garden is home to a poison garden and a restaurant housed in one of the largest treehouses in the world?

Journey 40 minutes south to Newcastle (A1). Stay overnight in Newcastle or return by rail to London, Manchester Airport or fly from Newcastle Airport.

 

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