We arrived in the port of Newcastle Upon Tyne after passing the lighthouses marking the entrance to the River Tyne. A short 20-minute transit through the canal took us to our berth.
We had an early morning tour of Bamburgh Castle, Scenic Drive & Gardens and boarded our bus at 8:30am for our destination. After a 1 hour 15-minute ride through the English countryside we arrived at Bamburgh Castle, the former capital of North Umbria. Then a short 5-minute history presentation and we were left to tour the castle on our own. The castle rooms and memorabilia were well worth the visit. Unfortunately, the Duke of Umbria arrived just the day before our visit so many areas were off limits. We left Bamburg Castle precisely at 11:30am.
After our self-guided tour, we headed to the Alnwick Gardens at the foot of Alnwick Castle. Upon arrival, we had lunch consisting of Cauliflower Soup, Roast Beef and Potatoes. For our drink we had several choices so we chose the local strong ale Old Speckled Hen. The food was good and the beer was very malty.
After lunch we were free to tour the gardens. The first thing we noticed was a lot of families were at the gardens catching sun on probably the sunniest day of 2016. We headed first to the Bamboo Garden which was an overgrowth of Bamboo turned into a small maze. Next we saw the Rose Garden but August proved not the optimum time for blooming roses. Then we were atop the main fountain of the gardens and there were many children playing about in the water. We headed through the 3 arches and into the Ornamental Garden, down the right of the fountain, under an ivy tunnel, and into the serpent garden. This turned out to be a well-made water entertainment area for the very young at heart.
At 2:20pm we had a reservation for the poison garden which is a locked area in the gardens that features naturally poisonous plants. Our tour guide told us many tales about the plants and their uses over the years in murderous schemes. Afterwards we headed to Bowburn Park overlooking Alnwick Castle for some photos. What we were unaware of at the time was that Alnwick Castle was used as the set for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.
On the way back to our coach, we walked through the tree-house restaurant which looked like a good place to eat and rest a bit.
In total, counting the free time we were at the Gardens 3 hours 25 minutes. Upon arrival back at the ship we found 2 ticks had hitched a ride in Leslee’s hair, so be careful!
Footnote: If taking this tour during times when the gardens are not optimal you may wish to skip the lunch and tour Alnwick Castle independently as it takes more than one hour of time to be served the full meal. Alnwick Castle occasionally operates a behind the scenes tour that lasts approximately 45 minutes and details the use of the castle for such noteworthy honors as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ITV’s Downton Abbey. Check the Castle website for dates/times. We also noted a fare of 45 pounds to Alnwick Gardens offered by Blueline Taxis at the port.
Cruise Port: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
Tour Operator: Rowell of Prudhoe
Tour Guide: Kathy
Steps logged: 8,590.