Best of Northern England Tour

A 7 day trip to England 
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While the south may claim London and Bath, the North offers you a string of cities and a wide swath of natural beauty that is truly unique in England. From the dulcet strains of Evensong filling out of York Minster to the mighty ramparts and stolid forts that mark Emperor Hadrian’s famous Wall, there’s no place like the North.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Manchester, Chester, the Lakes District, Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda, Durham, York 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Touching Down in Magnificent Manchester

This morning, you land in one of north England’s mightiest cities, the former industrial hub of Manchester that has since become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the area, known for its high culture and, of course, for the famous football team that calls the city home. A private car will be waiting for you at the airport, ready to take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the north until arriving at the charming village of Chester near the border of Wales. 

This historic town has stood since the Romans laid the four main roads nearly two millennia ago, and the town’s storied history is reflected in the astounding architecture that can be found throughout, from the black-and-white Tudor-styled buildings that fill the city center to the Victorian grandeur of Chester Town Hall to the medieval city walls that nearly completely surround the town. Chester is, in fact, one of the best preserved wall cities in the entire country. You can walk past the unique Chester Rows, which force you to take steps below street level to enter the first-floor shops and gaze upon the Eastgate Clock (said to be the most photographed clock in the country after Big Ben) before visiting the fascinating Chester Cathedral, a structure that has stood since the 16th century and which contains examples of all major styles of English medieval architecture. Check out the beautiful ceiling of the nave and ogle at the meticulously restored sandstone exterior before exploring the verdant serenity of the Cloister Garth and the elegant Cheshire Regiment Memorial Garden. The evening features a welcome reception and a delicious dinner at your area hotel.

Day 2: Exploring England’s Famous Lake District

Today takes you north, up the fantastic English coast of the Irish Sea to the famous Lake District, renowned the world over for its breathtaking beauty and its associations with some of the finest Romantic poets the English language has known, from William Wordsworth to Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. You’ll be dazzled by the incredible colors that fill the landscape, from the rich blues of England’s largest lakes to the sapphire fields and Kelly green trees that surround them to the ochre of the sunlight hitting the face of the tallest mountains in the country. 

This is an area of extremes: England’s deepest lake, Wast Water, can be found here, as can its longest lake, its highest mountain, and all the land in the country higher than 3,000 feet above sea level. It is also an area of extreme beauty, best observed at a slow pace. Take a gentle stroll through the fecund fields, or enjoy a leisurely hike up to the crowning peaks that overlook the landscape, or simply sip on a cup of tea at a delightful spot in Keswick, Derwent Water or any of the other delightful towns that fill the area. 

Visit charming Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth and the site where he wrote some of his famous verses, before exploring the Wordsworth Museum and the nearby Jerwood Center, both of which are excellent facilities filled with manuscripts, landscapes, portraits and artifacts from the life of the great poet. You can also visit Hill Top, the former home of beloved children’s writer Beatrix Potter, which has been lovingly restored and kept in much the same way that Potter herself would have known it in the early-20th century.

Day 3: The Edge of Rome and a Breathtaking Cathedral

Make your way west to encounter the remains of the ancient Roman defensive fortification from the second century, during the reign of the emperor who gave the structure its contemporary name: Hadrian’s Wall. This fascinating remnant of Rome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, has baffled historians as to its purpose for decades, with theories ranging from keeping out the Pictish and Celtic barbarians from what is now northern England and southern Scotland to helping the capital collect taxes in its hinterlands to simply being a physical incarnation of the irresistible power of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. 

There are still the ruins of the garrisons dotting the wall, and you can walk along a portion of the newly created Hadrian’s Wall Path to get a sense of the structure’s span before visiting the fantastic Chesterholm Museum near the ruined auxiliary fort of Vindolanda. Here, you can walk the beautiful gardens that house reconstructions of a Roman temple, a Roman shop, a Roman house and a Northumbrian tomb, while learning about the past of the area from excellent audio displays. You can see pieces of the famed Vindolanda tablets, the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain and the best source of information about the life of the soldiers and civilians who manned Hadrian’s Wall. 

Then it’s on to Durham, a delightful north England village that is home to the spectacular Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture still in existence. You can witness the unadorned yet sensational interior, with a nave featuring intricately carved columns and a buttressed ceiling, or simply walk the outside and marvel at its sandstone construction. Fans of the Harry Potter series might find the building familiar, and with good reason, as the building was a set for Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (albeit with a CGI spire added to the top of its iconic towers).

Day 4: Day and Night in Old York

Today, turn south to discover one of the grandest country houses in the entire country as you make your way to the elegant façade and gorgeous grounds of Castle Howard, a simply stunning home that is perhaps best known as the setting of the fictional Brideshead of TV and movie fame. The main house is built in a resplendent Baroque style, crowned by a soaring, gilded dome, and dotted everywhere with delicate and ornate ornaments, from coronets to cherubs to cyphers, and Doric and Corinthian pilasters flanking the north and south fronts.

The gardens of Castle Howard are also truly astounding, filled with a wide variety of plant and animal life and some of the more beautiful, smaller instances of architecture and landscaping on the grounds. You’ll ogle at the splendid Atlas Fountain leading up to the house itself, delight in the peacocks that strut proudly through the grounds, and marvel at the magnificent mausoleum and the impressive Temple of the Four Winds that can be found further out from the house.

The mid-afternoon sees you making your way into the former Viking and Roman city of York, one of the most important northern towns throughout England’s illustrious history and the site of some scintillating attractions and awe-inspiring architecture. You can see the remains of ancient York while enjoying food and drink at the Eboracum Roman Bathhouse, visit the Yorkshire Museum filled with exhibits on the Roman, Viking and Medieval history of York, or walk the York snickelways, the famous medieval alleys and winding streets that thread the city center. In the evening, after a delicious dinner, you can go on one of the city’s famous ghost tours, revealing the sometimes ignoble and bloody history of this ageless city.

Day 5: Discovering the Mysteries of Venerable York

A fuller exploration of York awaits you today, as you have plenty of time to explore the many fascinating museums and locations of this august city. Stop by the JORVIK Viking Center, an incredible museum that invites visitors to perambulate the reconstructed Viking Age streets that look much as they would have a millennium ago and which sees upwards of 16 million visitors each year. You can also explore the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, built in the middle of the 14th century and representing one of the finest examples of a European medieval Guildhall known to exist, filled with gorgeous woodworking and an architecture that is truly reflective of the period. If you’re visiting York in the summer months, you would do well to walk the York maze, a sprawling labyrinth of corn that is reputed to be the largest in the world.

Of course, no visit to York would be complete without a visit to the inimitable York Minster, one of the largest and most sensational cathedrals of its kind in Europe. You’ll be awed at the intricately carved and painted ceiling of the chapter house, the fantastic carvings of kings, knights and bishops that make up the Kings Screen, and the incomparable stained-glass windows that fill the church, from the Five Sisters Window of the north transept to the marvelous rose window in the south transept, to the panes and hues of the West Window containing a heart-shaped design that has come to be known as the Heart of Yorkshire.

York is also a city of excellent shopping, from the independent bookstores that fill Walmgate and Fossgate to art galleries and smaller boutiques in Gillygate and Low Petergate.

Day 6: Beautiful Homes and Grand Gardens in Northern England

You return to the west of England today, making your way past the most impressive country estates and manor houses in the country. Your first stop is at the ruins of Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best preserved structures of its kind in England and a truly unforgettable site. You can walk through the arches and down what was once the nave of this impressive abbey, explore the former cellarium and take in the exhibits at The Porter’s Lodge, the former gatehouse to the abbey. You’ll also want to stop by the nearby Studley Water Garden. Created in the 18th century, it's now one of the best surviving examples of Georgian water gardens in England, as well as the numerous other structures that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the soaring spire of St. Mary’s Church to the Romanesque Temple of Piety.

Your final stop before arriving in Manchester is at the palatial Harewood House, built in the late-18th century and now one of the Treasure Houses of England, a consortium of the ten most historic homes in the nation. The house is available to tour with a private guide, where you’ll be led through the sumptuous dining room, the gallery filled with a number of admirable works of art, the shelves and stacks of valuable books in the Spanish Library and the captivating pictures in the Watercolor Rooms. The award-winning gardens of Harewood House are also worth visiting, with a Himalayan garden complete with ornamental stupa, an adventure playground designed for the enjoyment of kids, and a truly amazing bird garden where you’ll find more than 30 species of birds that are listed as vulnerable or endangered.

This evening sees you back in Manchester, with one final night to enjoy the bustling life of this marvelous city.

Day 7: Returning Home

After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, a private driver will take you to the airport in Manchester with plenty of time to board the flight that will take you home. You’ll be sure to never forget this truly one-of-a-kind vacation to a corner of the world that is in a class by itself, from the mighty York Minster to the gardens at Harewood House to the incredible history at Hadrian’s Wall.

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!