Wales and Northumbria
September 8-18, 2020
Northumberland, also known as the Kingdom of Northumbria, is "England's Border Country,” a land of history and heritage set amidst some of the loveliest scenery in Britain. And Yorkshire is known to be a region with a breathtaking countryside, a stunning coastline and amazing history around every corner.
Celtic myth, legend and fantasy have been characteristic of Welsh culture and identity down through the centuries. Many believe Wales was the birthplace of Merlin (the legendary magician to King Arthur) and some scholars agree that the ancient Celtic King held his round table in Wales. You can clearly feel the past surround you, and are transported to another time, perhaps wandering among castle ruins in a sunny meadow or standing totally speechless overlooking the mountains of Snowdonia…
And if you happen to fancy castles, Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the British Isles…
Welcome to another Celtic Journeys spiritual adventure to Wales and Northumbria!
Sept 8: United Flight from Newark (EWR) to Edinburgh leaving in the evening.
Sept 9: Arrive early Edinburgh International Airport. After collection our luggage we’ll be greeted by our coach driver and head directly for Holy Island, driving high along a scenic coastal route above the North Sea.
1st Overnight Holy Island
Sept 10: Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is a tidal island, accessible by car and coach at low tide. But when the tides come in, this tiny island is transformed, enfolded in stillness. Steeped in history going back as far as the Saxon period, many well-known saints were associated with Lindisfarne, the island almost taking on an aura of its own (Aidan, Cuthbert, King Oswald, the Lindisfarne Gospels!). Lindisfarne is internationally famous both for its medieval religious heritage and also its picturesque 16th century castle. Many visitors are also attracted by the peace and tranquility which pervades this very special island. It is often described as "a truly magical place."
2nd Overnight Holy Island
Sept 11: Having the tides with us, we must leave this storybook island this morning. But we should be refreshed and ready to continue on our journey… It is often said that Durham Cathedral is ‘one of the great architectural experiences of Europe". This magnificent cathedral was built as a place of worship, specifically to house the shrine of the North's best-loved saint, Cuthbert. Begun in 1093 and largely completed within 40 years, it is the only cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship, and one of few to preserve the unity and integrity of its original design. It is absolutely awesome.
Sept 12: A slight diversion today will take us to Whitby Abbey, founded in the seventh century on cliffs overlooking the North Sea. Its haunting presence can still be seen from the water, a testament to the Golden Age of Northumbria. Whitby is steeped in history, and known for its famous Abbess, Hilda. She hosted the Council of Whitby in the year 664. Then as we turn inland toward Wales, we shall spend some time in the charming medieval city of York. Its magnificent 13th-century Gothic cathedral York Minster will certainly stay in your memory, with its medieval stained glass windows and 2 functioning bell towers. We hope to attend choral evensong for a lovely finish to the day…
Sept 13: Today we’re off toward Wales! Once we are on the road, we will stop in Chester, a medieval walled city like York. Chester is a truly magical blend of the ancient and the traditional, and its Cathedral has a rich and fascinating heritage, so you might like to spend some quiet reflective time there. Yet again, there’s always the option of doing some shopping! Then on to the town of Holywell and St. Winifred’s sacred shrine. The holy well of St Winifred is an important center of medieval pilgrimage still venerated today. And finally Snowdonia, named Eryri (the place of eagles) in Welsh. It has been said that Snowdonia is the soul of Wales…
1st Overnight Snowdonia
Sept 14: Today we first visit Conwy, another medieval walled town, and Conwy Castle. You will never forget the first glimpse of this magnificent castle! You will truly get the feeling of stepping back in time to the 16th century when you enter this charming town. And the Isle of Anglesey, an island steeped in history from Neolithic times to the present day, awaits us. We shall visit Beaumaris Castle while there. Begun in 1295 by King Edward I, Beaumaris is possibly the most sophisticated example of medieval architecture in Britain, and for some, it is the most beautiful castle in all of Wales. Then out to Penmons Priory, a very tranquil spot on the eastern tip of Anglesey, the site of a monastery dating back to St Seiriol (6th c). A holy well on the grounds is believed to have its origins in this period.
2nd Overnight Snowdonia
Sept 15: Leaving the mountains behind, this morning we will be driving along the Pembrokeshire coast, overlooking the sea. Then turning inland, we shall drive toward Nevern and the Pentre Ifan Dolmen, one of the most impressive Neolithic cromlechs in the United Kingdom. Nevern is a tiny village tucked away in the valley of the River Nyfer. But it is known for St Brynach’s Church and its 13 foot high elaborately designed Great Celtic cross, perhaps the finest in Wales. The site of this sweet church is one of the earliest Christian places of worship and pilgrimage in the country, founded by St Brynach in the 6th century. It is also known for its ancient bleeding yew, still remaining a mystery to scientists. And in the wooded area nearby, hidden from the passerby, are the haunting memories from times before, the footprints of the thousands of pilgrims walking from St Winifred’s Shrine to St Davids.
1st Overnight St Davids
Sept 16: The medieval Kingdom of Dyfed is just another name for St Davids Peninsula. While here we will find the time to linger in and around St Davids Cathedral and the charming village of St Davids. Perhaps as the day wanes we will have the opportunity to be present at Choral Evensong at St Davids. St Davids Cathedral has been the dominant presence in this area since the 12th century. St Davids was a popular pilgrimage destination throughout the Middle Ages and indeed remains so to this day attracting thousands of visitors every year. Adjacent to the cathedral stand the magnificent ruins of the medieval Bishops Palace. Nearby (within walking distance) we can visit St Non’s Holy Well and St. Non’s Chapel, a tiny jewel of a church overlooking St Bride’s Bay.
2nd Overnight St Davids
Sept 17: Cardiff has blossomed into one of the most inviting cities of Britain and known as one of the major scenic beauty spots of South Wales. Having left St. David's behind, this our last morning we we shall head for Cardiff. This lovely city can boast of its charming arcades, castle, with of course it’s well known architecturally beautiful National Museum. And after spending the day here in and around the city, we shall be on our way to our last destination, a lovely quiet setting in the country with landscaped gardens.
Overnight near Heathrow Airport
Sept 18: United flight leaving Heathrow around noon, arriving around 3pm Newark (EWR).
We hope you can join us for our Celtic Journeys to Wales and Northumbria. You won’t regret it!
COST OF TRIP: $2690 including airfare (shared occupancy)
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