This opportunity to see the Northumberland area—very rural and distant— did not seem possible except through the ship. Distance and time required would have been a major concern on our own.
There are several restaurant choices at the Stanhope stop. Most people will go to the tea shop which serves full lunches and they were good, but if you want extra time to look around town try to find a less-crowded place. Very hilly; winding roads!
This tour began in Newcastle and wound through the North Pennines. This was a disappointing tour in some respects, but nothing that couldn't be ironed out with some fine-tuning and pre-tour rehearsal. Our experience, it turns out, was similar to the other busload that did this tour: driving by key exhibits so fast that nothing could be seen (sometimes not even located) even though the guide had specifically discussed them. As a result we arrived so early at the lunch stop that extra time was allowed there. Our driver had clearly never had a chance to try out the route; between his speed and the guide's trying to deliver a travelogue and direct the bus driver, the bus missed the turn-offs four times. Two of these resulted in his having to roll the bus backward on a public highway to make the turn. On another occasion he missed the turn a second time and ended up on a small residential street where two residents frantically made "NO!" gestures as he drove down their cul-de-sac street.
The steepness of the hilly roads was problematic for the bus; the smell of overworked gears was noted several times.
Still, the scenery was magnificent and this isn't an area that could easily be done on one's own. Even though the guide was a bit vague about locating some of the highlights, he did a good job of explaining the history of the area and describing those who live (and have previously lived) in this remote region.
Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde