Hey guys! Thanks for sticking with me through this series. This is my final post from my 2016 trip to England and Scotland and will cover my day tour to the Northumbria region of the English/Scottish borders, which includes seeing 3 castles in 1 day! Be sure to check out my posts about London, the surrounding cities, and Edinburgh, Scotland if you missed them! I would have loved to spend a full day at each of the sites we visited on the tour, but we were on time constraints and had only 1 day away from Edinburgh-perfect for a long day tour! I know a lot of people don’t like scheduled day tours (not always my first choice either), but this was the best way for me & my best friend to see some sites without renting a car.
We found this great tour for about $75/person through Timberbush Tours, a long-running Scottish tour company based out of Edinburgh and Glasgow. They had excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and featured Alnwick Castle (seen in Harry Potter and Downton Abbey) as the highlight of the tour, which was a huge deal to us! Northumberland is technically part of England, but is close to Edinburgh, Scotland, and this was the departure point for the tour. Kinda ironic how we spent a week and a half in England, then left for Edinburgh, Scotland, and then ended up on a day tour that took us back to England! By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I’m obsessed with castles?? This was by far one of my favorite days during our two week trip!
Throughout history, the Northumbria region has changed hands between England and Scotland too many times to count, and a lot of people will still argue over who the land should belong to (like our tour guide who was a true Scot!). It is the northernmost and least populated county in England, but also the county with the most castles! Our first stop on the tour was the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the coast of England with a monastery dating back to 635 AD. It has deep roots to the beginning of Christianity and a known location of Viking invasion-definitely a lot of rich history! The small town also features a castle that was built on the actual island in 1550. Here’s some pictures of the town and the Holy Island Castle…shout-out to the sheep for making this photo perfect!!!
These beautiful dry stone walls, characterized by their interlocking stones, are super common in England and Scotland and are constructed completely without mortar.
You can only get out to the island during low tide, and the tide was acting funky that day, so we weren’t able to walk all the way out to the castle (or we would have been stuck there all day!). The town is also known for it’s mead, which was originally produced by the medieval monks. We were only able to get a quick look around the town and then headed off to Alnwick Castle. The tour usually spent longer at the Holy Island, so the tour guide was cool enough to stop us by another castle on the way to Alnwick. Below is beautiful Bamburgh Castle on the shores of the North Sea.
Ya’ll… How gorgeous is this castle! We were in a small van, so the tour guide drove us to this cool spot in the dunes, and I got this amazing shot that most probably don’t see. Below is Bamburgh Castle from a different view.
Finally, we made it to our main stop on the tour-Alnwick Castle (pronounded Ann-ick)! The castle is housed within a visitors complex that includes the castle and gardens, and you walk up to the castle seeing this phenomenal shot with the blooming daffodils! Ahh…this is what castle dreams are made of!
We wandered around the castle for a couple of hours and caught a movie tour that introduced us to the specific locations on the property included in films/TV, like the first broom lessons in Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and the scenes in Downton Abbey season 6 where the castle is featured as “Brancaster Castle.”
The inside of the castle was gorgeous, but no pictures were allowed because it’s an actual residence. The Percy family has called Alnwick Castle home for over 700 years, and the current Duke of Northumberland and his family still live on the property. Super bummed I can’t share pictures because there were sets of Downton Abbey all around the house, and they even had a huge dining room set (right down to the china and name cards on the table!) featured in Downton.
The castle courtyards are so green and the buildings are beautiful! Here are some more pics around the castle.
Our last stop on the tour before heading back to Edinburgh was Flodden Field. The Battle of Flodden in 1513 was the a major turning point for the Kingdoms of England and Scotland and the largest battle fought between them. Perfect way to wrap up our tour of the borders! There is a memorial on the hilltop that looks out over the supposed battle field.
So WOW what a great way to wrap up 2 weeks abroad! Like I said before, I would have loved to spend more time at each castle, but we were so excited about everything we got to see that day! Lindisfarne Castle and Bamburgh Castle are a must-see if you’re in Northumberland, and I hope to visit the insides of both some day! Alnwick is freakin castle perfection and blew away all expectations we had! I was bummed that we didn’t have time to see the Highlands while staying in Edinburgh, but it’s also on my list of things to do when I return. The Scottish Highlands have their own beauty that is different from the coastal regions we visited and feature several castles as well. Sometimes I catch myself getting caught up in all the things I didn’t get to see (that were on my radar) while in the UK, but look at all the things we DID see!
TRAVEL TIP: You can’t do it all, so don’t try! You can ruin a good vacation with planning too much to do. Pick what is really important, and plan everything else around that, leaving you reasons to return to the destination later.
Traveling and experiencing so much history is like nothing else, and now I have places to look forward to when I come back. I’m so thankful I was able to go on another European trip and share it with my best friend. I’m doing some updating on my blog, so be looking for updated posts and new posts including my Jamaican honeymoon from 2013 and Rome, Italy from 2014.