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The Ancient Kingdom


Saturday 22 June 2019

Taking full advantage of a long midsummer day we venture north to the Kingdom on Northumbria. Our journey takes us through York, past Durham Castle and Cathedral and we glimpse Antony Gormley’s extraordinary ‘Angel of the North’ as we approach Newcastle. After pausing at Alnmouth we reach Berwick-upon-Tweed, the border town still redolent of centuries of conflict between the English and the Scots. We have three very different off-train options to choose from.

ALNWICK AT LEISURE


The town of Alnwick dates back to AD600 and retains much of its original character. Alnwick Castle, the second largest inhabited castle after Windsor and is popular with film makers; Blackadder, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Harry Potter were all made here.

The Alnwick Garden is a complex of formal gardens adjacent to the castle, featuring various themed plantings designed around a central water cascade. It is the most ambitious new garden created in the UK post war. The former railway station is now home to Barter Books, one of England’s largest and most famous secondhand bookshops.

This option includes a transfer coach between Alnmouth Station and Alnwick, taking about twelve minutes. Because there is such a choice of things to do here we have not included any admission charges. You will have around four hours to explore.

THE HOLY ISLAND OF LINDISFARNE


Perched tantalisingly just off the Northumberland coast and cut off by the tide twice a day, Hold Island and its Priory are considered one of the holiest sites in Britain and has always held a special fascination for visitors.

We leave the train at Berwick where coaches will be waiting for the fourteen mile journey which includes the narrow causeway that connects the island with the mainline. We can assure potential participants that we have checked the tide tables! We have some two and a half hours here, time to take a walk to the castle or just explore this extraordinary place. Don’t forget to purchase a bottle of the local produce, Lindisfarne Mead.

THE HEATHERSLAW LIGHT RAILWAY


One of England’s lesser known minor railways, this fifteen inch gauge line runs for two miles, closely following the River Till through an area rich in wildlife, set between the Cheviot Hills and the border with Scotland.

Coaches will meet the train at Berwick for the twelve mile run to Heatherslaw Mill. From here the steam train runs to Etal, close to Etal Castle (English Heritage, admission not included). You will have time to explore the attractive little village with its thatched cottage and pub ; there is also a tearoom available. An uphill walk (not steep!) is involved as you leave Etal station.

All timings are provisional and intended only as a guide.

StationDepartArrive
London King's Cross07.1022.05
Potters Bar (for M25)07.3021.50
Stevenage07.5021.30
Peterborough08.3020.40