Wales and England's North
September 3-12, 2024
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…
Sept 3: Evening flight from Newark (EWR) International Airport to Edinburgh.
Sept 4: An early arrival into Edinburgh International Airport. After going through customs and collecting our luggage we’ll be greeted by our coach driver. Once we get settled onto the coach, we're off toward the island of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island. We'll be driving high along a scenic coastal route looking down on the North Sea.
1st Overnight Holy Island
Sept 5: Lindisfarne is a tidal island, accessible by car or coach at low tide. But when the tides come in, this tiny island is transformed, enfolded in stillness. Steeped in history going farther back than the Saxon period, many revered saints were associated with Lindisfarne, the island almost taking on an aura of its own (Aidan, Cuthbert, Hilda, King Oswald, the Lindisfarne Gospels.) Lindisfarne is internationally known for its religious heritage and also its picturesque 16th century castle. Visitors are attracted by the peace and tranquility which pervades this special island. It is often described as "a truly magical place."
2nd Overnight Holy Island
Sept 6: Having the tides with us, we must leave this storybook island this morning. But we should feel refreshed and ready to continue on our journey... It is often said that Durham Cathedral is "one fo the great architectural experiences of Europe." We shall take the time to visit this formidable place. Then a slight diversion will take us to Whitby Abbey, founded in the seventh century on cliffs overlooking the North Sea. Whitby is known for its famous Abbess, Hilda. She hosted the Council of Whitby in the year 664. We shall then drive through the Yorkshire moors toward the charming medieval city of York. Its magnificent 13th-century Gothic cathedral York Minster will certainly stay in your memory, with its beautiful stained-glass windows and 2 functioning bell towers. We hope to attend choral evensong for a lovely finish to the day.
Sept 7: Back on the road again, we’ll be getting closer to the River Wye that separates England and Wales. We can stop in Chester, another medieval walled city that is a truly magical blend of the ancient and the traditional. Chester 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 8: Allowing a leisurely morning, we shall take a moderate drive to 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. Then on to the Isle of Anglesey, an island steeped in history from Neolithic times to the present day. 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 9: Following an early departure this morning we will drive through beautiful Snowdonia National Park. We can stop at the seaside town of Aberystwyth for a refreshing break. Then turning inland, we shall head toward Nevern, 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. And before we leave this magical area, we won’t miss th Pentre Ifan Dolmen, one of the most impressive Neolithic cromlechs in the United Kingdom.
1st Overnight St Davids
Sept 10: 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. Adjacent to the cathedral stand the magnificent ruins of the medieval Bishops Palace. St Davids Cathedral has been the dominant presence in this area since the 12th century and was a popular pilgrimage destination throughout the Middle Ages. And just above the town (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. The view is breathtaking.
2nd Overnight St Davids
Sept 11: Having left charming St. David's behind, this our last morning we shall head toward the capitol of Wales. 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. This lovely city can boast of its charming arcades, castle, and of course its well-known architecturally beautiful National Museum. And although we have a long journey back toward Heathrow Airport, we hope to take the time to visit the well-known Llandaff cathedral, standing on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain.
Overnight near Heathrow Airport
Sept 12: Return flight to the states. We hope you can join us another Celtic Journeys to Wales and the Kingdom of Northumbria. You won’t regret it…