This exciting tour explores Holy Island, scene of the first Viking invasion of Britain, and Alnwick Castle (filming location for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey) before returning north to Edinburgh via the beautiful Borders.
Our scenic drive towards the historic border town of Berwick-on-Tweed follows the sweeping coastline of the North Sea. Soon we cross the ancient Scotland/England border into Northumberland. Lindisfarne or Holy Island is a tidal island settled by Irish monks from Scotland circa AD 635. From here the Christian message spread throughout the north of England. In 793 a fierce Viking invasion heralded the beginning of the Viking Age.
Located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you will have plenty of time to enjoy a short walk to 16th century Lindisfarne Castle, visit the Priory where the famous Lindisfarne Gospels were created and to enjoy the spectacular views to Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands.
You may also wish to buy some delicious souvenir Lindisfarne Mead from St Aidan’s Winery * see note below regarding tidal access to Holy Island.*
The Wee Red Bus on the Holy Island causeway
After a short drive we arrive at Alnwick Castle at lunchtime. This magical place (the 'Windsor of the North') is one of Europe’s finest castles and has been at the centre of many historical events – from bloodthirsty battles between the Scots and the English to the intrigues of the Guy Fawkes plot.
Its sumptuous setting and exquisite architecture has famously been used as a filming location for ‘Downton Abbey’, 'Harry Potter' (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves', 'Elizabeth' and 'Blackadder'.
Visit the brand new Downton Abbey exhibition featuring costumes, photography and props from the series and enjoy ‘Harry Spotter Tours’, revisiting some of your favourite scenes.
Costumed guides take you on tours both historical and magical, with lots to do and see, and a choice of lunch options. Check the events board on entry to make the most of your time here.
There are numerous fun and interactive activities for children and we will stop here for a minimum of 2.5 hours so you can fully appreciate and enjoy this amazing castle.
Next door to the castle is the world-renowned Alnwick Garden, several acres of beautiful parks and woodland walks (including the Poison Garden).
Alnwick Castle State Rooms
Although a separate attraction, we have an agreement whereby customers can enjoy a combined ticket to both attractions with a Heart of Scotland Tours discount. Our special 25% discount prices are Castle adults £10.50 (5-16s £5.30), Garden adults £9.00 (5-16s £3.50), Castle and Garden adults £18.00 (5-16s £8.45)
The tour returns north via the beautiful Border country and, subject to timing, may also visit the East Lothian coast to the south of Edinburgh.
* Please note the crossing to Holy Island and Lindisfarne is dependent on tidal conditions and is always at driver discretion. Your driver will ensure that crossing times allow for a healthy safety margin. If the tour is unable to cross in the morning then we will endeavour to visit in the afternoon or visit Bamburgh beach and the impressive castle instead.