Rail itineraries – Northern Heritage and Countryside 9 day trip

The Lake District - Edinburgh - Newcastle and Durham - York

9 days

England has been charming visitors with its rich Northern Heritage and captivating countryside for centuries. With its enticing mix of Roman ruins, ancient castles and distinctive cities it has been the backdrop for dozens of blockbuster movies.

For shorter trips, individual rail tickets can be booked in advance through the Trainline. For longer journeys, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass, which allows unlimited journeys and the freedom to explore.

Start your journey

Only two hours from London and with rail links to all major cities, Manchester is a natural starting point for a tour of Northern England. Adventures begin at either Manchester Airport or Manchester Piccadilly station, taking a train for Windermere (1 hr 40 mins) via Oxenholme.

Day 1-3

The Lake District

After 1 hour 40 minutes hours rolling through the Cumbrian countryside, the train from Manchester arrives into the traditional grey stone station of Windermere. Set on the shores of England’s longest lake and sitting under the watchful gaze of Orrest Head, the small market town is the perfect base for exploring the Lake District. A place of superlatives, the Lake District’s shimmering lakes and rugged hills have been attracting (and inspiring) artists, writers and nature lovers for hundreds of years. Home to England's tallest mountain, Scafell Pike, it’s a favourite location for walkers and hikers while literary fans will enjoy the area’s connection with Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. It’s easy to idle away a week leisurely touring the pretty villages and lakes but we recommend 2 -3 days to cover the highlights.

Check out Windermere Lake Cruises for more details on ferry times.

For more information on bus timetables, visit the Traveline website.

Windermere Lake Cruises

One of the best ways to take in the beauty of the lake is from the water; Windermere Lake Cruises offers a scenic circular cruise around the islands as well as a regular shuttle service from Lakeside, Bowness and Ambleside.

Website: Windermere Lake Cruises

Supplier Information

Name Windermere Lake Cruises
Category Attraction
Profile A cruise on Windermere is the quintessential way for visitors to experience the stunning scenery surrounding England’s largest lake, including the famous Lakeland fells, wooded shoreline and rolling countryside. Located in the English Lake District the newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Phone 015394 43360
Email j.cormack@winander-leisure.co.uk
Website https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk
Min - Max capacity: 0 - 500
Frequency: Every 20 minutes
Private tours: Private tours are available
FIT or Groups: Both Groups and FIT
Extra information: We operate 364 days of the year

Dove Cottage and Grasmere

In the pretty village of Grasmere, Dove Cottage is the former home of William Wordsworth and the place where he penned many of his famous works. Almost exactly as it was when he lived here, the popular museum can be reached by the 599 or 555 bus from Windermere train station – Traveline has the latest bus information.

Website: Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum

Supplier Information

Name Dove Cottage
Category Attraction
Profile A must-see attraction for all Lake District visitors – this traditional Lakeland cottage, in the heart of Britain’s newest World Heritage Site, was the place where William Wordsworth produced the most famous and best-loved of his poems and his sister Dorothy wrote her fascinating Grasmere journals.
Phone 01539435544
Email enquiries@wordsworth.org.uk
Website https://wordsworth.org.uk/home.html
Min - Max capacity: Minimum 10 people.
Frequency: Tours can begin every 10 minutes. A tour of Dove Cottage usually takes 25 minutes, as it is a small Lakeland cottage we can only allow 15 people per tour so multiple tours may be necessary for larger groups. We recommend allowing at least 1 hour for your visit - but you are welcome to stay longer and enjoy the exhibitions and gardens at your leisure.
Private tours: Yes.
FIT or Groups: Suitable for Fully Independent Travellers and Groups.
Translation: We offer audio tours of Dove Cottage in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German and French. Translated information sheets for Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum are available in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian.

Hill Top

Hill Top is the country escape where Beatrix Potter was inspired to create many of her famous characters. Now a time capsule of her life, the 17th century farmhouse is a must for all fans of the Peter Rabbit series. The route includes the Stagecoach 596 bus to Bowness-on-Windermere, a boat to Ferry House, and then a Mountain Goat bus. It runs from March to October; for further information refer to the Windermere Lake Cruises website.

Website: Hill Top

Supplier Information

Name Hill Top
Category Attraction
Profile Enjoy the tale of Beatrix Potter by visiting Hill Top. Full of her favourite things, this house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. See if you can spot real life objects which feature in her famous 'little white books' - every room contains a reference to a picture in a tale.
Email lucy.tickle@nationaltrust.org.uk
Website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top
Day 4 & 5

Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s rich heritage is evident from the moment of arrival. From the many medieval charms of the Old Town to the elegant Georgian facades of Princes Street and the New Town, there’s a wonderful array of history, culture, art and Scottish eccentricities to discover.

For those wishing to spend some time exploring Scotland, an Explorer Pass will give them great-value access to 77 historic sites.

Edinburgh Castle

Presiding over the city from its lofty seat atop a rocky cliff, Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most iconic attraction, wowing visitors with its impressive views, legendary 1 o’clock gun salute and dazzling display of Scottish Crown Jewels.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

Supplier Information

Name Edinburgh Castle
Category Food, beverage & Entertainment Venues
Profile A Mighty fortress, the defender of the nation and a world-famous visitor attraction - Edinburgh Castle has dominated the skyline for centuries. And the high volcanic rock on which it stands has been occupied for thousands of years.
Phone +44 (0)131 225 9846
Email lisa.motion@hes.scot
Website http://www.edinburghcastle.scot
Frequency: There are daily guided tours available. It is best to ask on the day the times of the tours.
FIT or Groups: FIT and Groups
Translation: Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese - Mandarin, Japanese and Russian

Royal Yacht Britannia

Used by The Queen and the Royal family for state visits and holidays for more than 40 years, the Royal Yacht Britannia is now berthed in the harbour of Leith. The no 22 bus from Princes Street stops here.

Website: the Royal Yacht Britannia

Supplier Information

Name The Royal Yacht Britannia
Category Attraction
Profile The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed at Leith in Edinburgh has been rated Scotland's Best Visitor Attraction for 11 years running and TripAdvisor's UK Top 10 for the last five years. The Queen's former floating palace for over 40 years, Britannia is now a five-star visitor attraction and exclusive evening venue. Step aboard and explore the ship's 5 decks. From the gleaming Engine Room to the State Apartments, where The Queen hosted glittering state banquets and receptions, as Britannia sailed a million nautical miles around the world on more than a thousand official visits. See where Prince William and Prince Harry spent their summer holidays every year. Where world leaders and celebrities were wined and dined. From Frank Sinatra and Liz Taylor to Presidents Mandela and Clinton. Visit the Royal Deck Tea Room for lunch or a cream tea, where everything is made on board in the original Royal Galleys. There's also a fantastic selection of gifts in the beautiful shop in Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. Britannia's five decks are fully accessible and there is a FREE audio tour in 30 languages. Groups welcome, rates for groups of 15 or more. Please call for more information.
Phone +44 (0) 131 555 5566
Email enquiries@tryb.co.uk
Website http://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

Edinburgh Historic Vaults Walking Tour

This fascinating guided tour explores the vaults hidden beneath Edinburgh’s South Bridge and the darker side of the 18th Century boom years.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

The Edinburgh Dungeon

Edinburgh Dungeon is a thrilling attraction that offers 11 live action shows and 2 underground rides! It displays the city’s terrifying past for all to see, hear and smell, using chillingly amusing characters to bring stories to life.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

DAY 6 & 7

Newcastle and Durham

Time to leave Edinburgh and take the train (approx. 1hr 30 mins direct) to the bright lights of Newcastle. Once known only as an industrial centre, the city has bloomed into a modern metropolis, renowned for its vibrant nightlife and top-class galleries, restaurants and shopping. Alongside the shiny new buildings, the area’s history and heritage shines through in the elegant Victorian facades of its central district and the cultural marvels of the surrounding countryside.

Find the X18 bus timetable here and the Waggonway bus timetable here.

Newcastle

Beamish Museum

A living, working museum spread over 300 acres, Beamish gives a real sense of what life was like in Northern England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Complete with farm animals, authentic restaurants and costumed guides, this uniquely English attraction makes a great family day out. If visitors take Waggonway bus 28/28A from Newcastle they will save 25% on their entrance fee.

Website: Beamish Museum

Alnwick Castle

A magnificent medieval castle set in manicured gardens, Alnwick is one of the most impressive heritage estates in the country. History lovers will appreciate the castle’s dramatic history while those on the Harry Potter trail will relish the chance to get a selfie at the real-life incarnation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The train from Newcastle to Alnmouth takes just 45 minutes, followed by the X18 bus (10 mins).

Website: Alnwick Castle

Supplier Information

Name Alnwick Castle
Category Attraction
Profile Alnwick Castle is the one of the largest inhabited castles in England; home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for over 700 years. Combining magnificent medieval architecture with spectacular Italianate State Rooms, it is one of the UK’s most significant heritage destinations.
Phone +44 1665 511100
Email info@alnwickcastle.com
Website https://www.alnwickcastle.com
Frequency: daily
Private tours: Yes - on request please contact caroline.robinson@alnwickcastle.com
FIT or Groups: Both
Translation: French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Italian
Extra information: Alnwick Castle hosts and exciting daily and seasonal events programme. Daily activities include Artisans Courtyard, a vibrant medieval themed area where adults and children can dress in medieval costume and set forth to train in swordplay, play medieval games or become a craft-making artisan. In Dragon Quest join Harry Hotspur and the Dragon Catcher to battel mystical forces, conquer challenging obstacles and come face to face with a terrifying Dragon. Alnwick Castle famously featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films. Visitors to Alnwick Castle can recreate some of the magic with a tour of filming locations or take part in a Broomstick Training * lesson. Broomstick Training is suitable for all ages and the whole family can take part, it teaches the basics of broomstick mounting, manoeuvring and manipulation – with plenty of photo opportunities! In addition to the above daily activities, a range of tours and talks are available each day. During the season, the castle grounds host a range of special events and performances and we are joined by special guest jesters, falconers, musicians, knights and alchemists. *please note that this activity is not associated or endorsed by Warner Bros or JK Rowling.

Durham

Durham Cathedral

Raised up above the city on a rocky promontory, the Norman church is a sight to behold. Founded in 1093, the building has seen hundreds of years of political, social and religious intrigue, and more recently found fame when the cloisters doubled as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Tours of the cathedral are available.

Website: Durham Cathedral.

Durham Castle

Standing side by side with the cathedral, the ancient castle forms the other part of this unique and fascinating World Heritage site. Now home to University of Durham students, the grand site is best explored on a guided tour.

Website: Durham Castle

DAY 8 & 9

York

A place of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth, York is a must-visit. Seemingly unchanged for centuries, the modestly sized city is packed with attractions: from the narrow cobbles of The Shambles, to the dramatic architecture of York Minster and the rolling countryside that surrounds Castle Howard.

York Minster

Truly awe-inspiring, York Minster is one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in the world and one of the largest examples of medieval architecture in Northern Europe. The stunning stained glass on display is a true highlight, as is climbing the steps of the central tower for a bird’s eye view of the city.

Website: York Minster

Supplier Information

Name York Minster
Category Attraction
Profile The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England. It's time to explore over 2000 years of history in stunning surroundings.
Phone YO1 7HH
Email info@yorkminster.org
Website https://yorkminster.org/home.html
FIT or Groups: N/A

Castle Howard

A gem amongst English stately homes, Castle Howard is a majestic house surrounded by lush gardens. Splendidly maintained, the house’s ornate rooms are filled with antiques and offer stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside. A bus runs direct from York city to Castle Howard.

Website: Castle Howard

Supplier Information

Name Castle Howard
Category Attraction
Profile Built in the 18th century and taking over 100 years to complete, Castle Howard commands views across sweeping countryside. In the house visitors can discover inspiring architecture and interiors. The grounds provide a great place to relax; enjoy walks through woodlands, formal gardens and parkland.
Phone 01653 648621
Email jscurr@castlehoward.co.uk
Website https://www.castlehoward.co.uk
Min - Max capacity: 12 or more people travelling together to qualify for group rates
Frequency: Free flow
Private tours: Yes
FIT or Groups: Groups and FIT

York – City Sightseeing Bus Tour

An open-top bus tour gives a great insight into the sights and attractions that tell the story of York’s 2,000 years of history. There are 22 stops across the city and there is an audio guide in 9 languages. The bus stops at all of the key attractions, including: York Minster, York Dungeon, Clifford’s Tower and the city walls.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

York Pass

The York Pass includes entry to over 30 top attractions in Yorkshire, such as museums, castles, galleries, dining out or entertainment.

Attractions include Castle Howard, York Minster, Clifford’s Tower, Yorkshire Air Museum and many more.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

Britrail Pass

For those exploring Britain by train, a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, pass holders can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of their choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so they will need to buy their ticket before they arrive in the UK.

Book on the Visit Britain shop