We visit the handsome university city of Durham. Bill Bryson called it ‘a perfect little city’ and Conde Nast readers voted it ‘Best city in the UK’. After a recent familiarisation by some of the Leisuretime team, we entirely agree – Durham is a very special place, and just had to be included in our 2019 programme. The first sight of the city alone is breath-taking. Inside the city we find an abundance of impressive historical buildings and sight include the 11th-century castle, the university’s Botanic Garden and the highlight of the city’s skyline, the magnificent Norman cathedral.
Holy Island & Bamburgh Castle (admission included)
We take a drive along the scenic heritage coastline and cross the tidal causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, home to Lindisfarne Castle. There will be some leisure time to explore before our afternoon visit to Bamburgh Castle. Perched on rocks at the edge of the sea, this castle boasts magnificent views of the Farne Islands (tide times permitting).
Once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings. The Bamburgh castle we see today is a relatively recent structure, built by famed industrialist the first Lord Armstrong at vast cost in late Victorian times. But the castle boasts a much longer history. There have been settlements on the site since prehistoric times and the regular archaeological digs that take place on the site have unearthed some spectacular finds. During its more recent history, Bamburgh Castle feted royal guests and English kings, one of whom - Edward IV - destroyed it in the Wars of the Roses. Bamburgh Castle has 14 public rooms and more than 2,000 artefacts, including arms and armour, porcelain, furniture and artwork.
Free time in Newcastle
Newcastle and Gateshead face each other across the River Tyne, coming together at the dazzling Quayside. The area is awash with restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels and must-see attractions. Rich in culture, architecture and history, with a great reputation for style and shopping, the breadth and scope of things to see and do in Newcastle surprises even the most well-travelled visitor. Enjoy wonderful food, and relax in pavement cafes, traditional pubs and contemporary bars.