From Manchester Airport head straight to Honister Slate Mine in the Lake District National Park, approximately 2 hours 20 minutes away by car, to become airborne once more! Via Ferrata Xtreme is an exhilarating experience that will see you undertake a daring ‘Skywalk’. Experience an amazing adrenaline rush when you look down! Then scramble up a huge cargo net to the summit of Fleetwith Pike and take in your beautiful surroundings. The Lake District is one of Britain’s famed beauty spots and has inspired writers, poets and painters – from here, you’ll be able to see why, while feeling a great sense of achievement!
Itinerary: North-West, North-East & Central England
With a wealth of natural beauty, a trip encompassing north-west, north-east and central England offers plenty of exciting, unforgettable travel experiences. Explore three National Parks, cruising serenely in the Lake District, chugging through the North York Moors on a heritage steam railway and soaring to heady heights in a cable car overlooking breathtaking panoramas in the Peak District. Dare to look down as you balance on an exhilarating skywalk between clifftops in the Lakes, take in centuries of history at magnificent castles and stately homes, and discover England’s sweeter side through gingerbread, puddings, ‘fat rascals’ and the capital of cake!
Day 1: Extreme sightseeing and gingerbread!
Grab a bite to eat at the Sky Hi Café on-site before driving through those same landscapes you admired from up above. In approximately 45 minutes you’ll find yourself in the adorable village of Grasmere, where the poet William Wordsworth lived. You can tour his home, Dove Cottage, where he penned many a famous line; it’s a fascinating insight into early 19th-century life left exactly as it was when the Wordsworth family lived there. Don’t leave Grasmere without sampling its famous gingerbread. The recipe hasn’t been changed for 200 years and with good reason – it’s buttery, gingery and delicious!
Continue for 20 minutes south-east towards Ambleside, your home for the night. This lovely village is packed with Bed & Breakfast (B&B) accommodation and has a bustling atmosphere year-round. Ambleside Manor Vegetarian Guest House is a delightful option, and its two restaurants Zeffirellis (also a cinema) and Fellinis are well-loved by locals and guests. Another great dining option is Dodds, which has fantastic food and a lively atmosphere.
Day 2: One day, three National Parks
Get up early to enjoy The Lake District in its morning splendour. This part of Britain was made for walkers so put on your hiking boots, stretch your legs and be prepared for some awesome views. Ambleside to Skelwith Bridge is a classic 5-mile hike that takes 2-3 hours and will see you pass through outstanding natural beauty. Or if you prefer a less strenuous start to the day, head to Lake Windermere for a cruise and enjoy your stunning surroundings from England’s largest natural lake.
From here, drive out of one National Park and along the edge of the next – the Yorkshire Dales – before arriving at the spa town of Harrogate, about 1 hour 45 minutes from Windermere. Plan to arrive in time for tea; Bettys Tea Room is a British institution. It first opened in 1919, serving up an alluring combination of Yorkshire tea and Swiss confectionary to the fashionable folk of Harrogate, and almost a hundred years later it continues to draw in the crowds and delight visitors with its famed ‘Fat Rascals’ (scones with juicy currants and citrus peel), and towers of sandwiches and cakes for afternoon tea.
Press on for approximately 1 hour to Pickering, which sits on the edge of your third National Park of the trip: the North York Moors. Check into one of the many quaint B&Bs in the village: 17 Burgate is a five-star, award-winning option that offers tea and cake on arrival and is just a short stroll from where you’ll be heading tomorrow. Food lovers can splash out with a Michelin-starred dinner plus a stay in luxurious accommodation at The Star at Harome, 25 minutes away. Pickering also offers plenty of lovely eateries: The Black Swan is a cosy pub, and Willowgate Bistro is a classy option.
Day 3: All aboard for a steam railway ride
Today, chug back in time on the world’s most popular heritage railway. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway continues to run steam trains through the heart of the National Park and towards the coast. Head to Pickering station where you can discover the history of the railway at the visitor centre. Then it’s all aboard for the journey in an old-fashioned steam train and many ‘wow’ moments. Perhaps the most breathtaking is reserved for those travelling in late summer/early autumn when England’s largest expanse of heather is a shimmering mass of purple.
Or could it be the journey through the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Newtondale? Harry Potter fans will be thrilled at Goathland Station, which played the part of Hogsmeade Station in the movies, while Levisham Station is home to the railway’s very own artist in residence!
Stay on until Whitby, an atmospheric seaside town at the end of the line, and try fish and chips at the Magpie Café, claimed by many to be some of the best in England! Or you can dine in style aboard the train on the Pullman Dining Train, which also offers an on-board afternoon tea option. Perhaps the most authentic experience is to stop off at one of the quaint tea rooms at the stations on the route, for a brew and a slice of something sweet – you are, after all, in the ‘capital of cake’!
Day 4: History, art and a hot tub
Your ultimate destination today is the Peak District National Park, but there is plenty to divert you along the way. Start by exploring the glorious Castle Howard, approx. 25 minutes south of Pickering. This magnificent stately home has been in the Carlisle family for more than 300 years and has starred on-screen in several films, most famously Brideshead Revisited and Shaandaar featuring actors Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor. The interiors are beautifully ornate, while the surrounding ‘Howardian Hills’ are a specially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a joy to stroll in pretending you’re the lord of the manor. There’s a farm shop on-site that’s great for foodie gifts: think traditional preserves and award-winning English wines.
Next up, head to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open air gallery just under 1 hour’s drive away. After lunch with gorgeous views from the terrace at the restaurant, embark on a cultural treasure hunt through glorious landscapes, dotted with works by established artists including Henry Moore, plus temporary changing exhibitions. There’s also a fabulous gift shop here, for beautifully designed objects and accessories.
From Yorkshire Sculpture Park, continue south towards Matlock Bath and discover your home for the night. The Peak District is home to plenty of accommodation options including B&Bs, hotels, cottages and pubs with rooms; close to Matlock Bath The Cables is a charming B&B where you can also dine, and there’s even a hot tub in the garden! Hodgkinson’s Hotel in central Matlock is in a historic building but boasts modern amenities and a warm welcome, plus a restaurant with a seasonal menu.
Day 5: Panoramic views and a local pudding
Scale a 1,000 foot slope in a cable car, to reach The Heights of Abraham. This attraction first opened in 1780, and back then visitors actually did have to walk up to the top. The experience still packs a punch today: panoramic views unfold as you head higher and higher up, revealing the Peak District and Derwent Valley in all their glory. Once at 169 metres high, disembark from your cable car and explore two underground mining caverns by torchlight to experience what life was like for an 18th-century lead miner. The Heights of Abraham covers a large estate with plenty to see and do, including a film about the creation of the cable car in 1984, an exhibition and the Victoria Prospect Tower for even more vertiginous vistas over the valley. Have light lunch at the Terrace Café before your descent back down.
The reason behind a light meal at lunchtime is because you’ll want to save room for a local delicacy found just 20 minutes’ drive away: the Bakewell Pudding. Invented in the village of the same name, Bakewell Pudding is made of pastry, jam and almond paste. Try yours at The Original Old Bakewell Pudding Shop, where the cakes were first sold back in 1860; there’s a restaurant on-site as well as a bakery for takeaways and gifts.
After your sweet treat, drive 30 minutes to Chatsworth, one of the best-loved Peak District visitor attractions. This stately home was the inspiration for Mr Darcy’s home, Pemberley, in Pride and Prejudice and is as elegant as you would expect. Despite dating back centuries, Chatsworth is thoroughly modern, hosting an annual contemporary sculpture show in its grounds and fantastic exhibitions.
From Matlock Bath it is approximately 1 hour 10 minutes’ drive to Manchester Airport, or approximately 2 hours 45 minutes to London. International airlines fly to Manchester Airport and several London airports.