Yorkshire and the Lake District are home to many of the best-known and most-loved gardens in England. This 15-day tour takes you through some of the most dramatically beautiful countryside in England as these gardens – from great estates to those on a more intimate scale – burst into full bloom. Join garden historian and classicist, Michael Turner, and get to know both the gardens and the world of passionate men and women: the garden designers, artists and poets, such as Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll, Wordsworth and Ruskin, who have created some of England’s most enduring cultural heritage.
Key gardens visited
Exclusive, behind-the-scenes tours of two of the most spectacular houses and gardens in England: Castle Howard and Chatsworth House
Bodnant Garden, with its impressive 55-metre scented floral arch of golden Laburnum
Biddulph Grange Garden, a masterpiece of Victorian garden design
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne with its tiny but celebrated garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll
Alnwick Garden: the largest, most controversial and most expensive garden created in England since WWII
Levens Hall and its unique and celebrated collection topiary
Days 1–3: Explore Chester, its cathedral and famous medieval walls. Take a private tour of Bodnant’s extensive grounds and of Biddulph Grange.
Days 4–6: From York, visit Chatsworth House, Castle Howard, Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal Water Garden and Scampston Walled Garden, with its designs by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Piet Oudolf.
Days 7–9: Travel to Doxford Hall and visit Alnwick Castle; cross the sea to Gertrude Jekyll’s tiny garden on Lindisfarne.
Days 10–15: From Grasmere, in the Lake District, survey Roman heritage at Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads Roman fort. Admire stately Dalemain House and Brantwood’s views; enjoy the colour of Gresgarth and Levens Hall.
Emirates has flights into and out of Manchester which coincide with the tour. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Friday June 10: Arrive Chester
If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel we will organise a transfer from Manchester Airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet Michael Turner at the hotel bar for welcome drinks and canapés. Overnight Chester (C)
Saturday June 11: Chester and Bodnant Garden
Following an introductory talk, we take a walking tour of Chester, a prominent city since the late 1st century when the Roman Empire expanded north to the banks of the River Dee. We walk along the famous Roman walls that provide splendid views of the city. After our welcome lunch, we travel by coach to Bodnant Garden. Created over 150 years, with plants collected and brought to Britain from far afield, and the incredible vision of generations of the McLaren family and Puddle head gardeners, this haven of rarity and beauty with a stunning backdrop of the Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia is a delight for the senses. In 1949, it was the second garden, after Hidcote, to be given to the National Trust. Overnight Chester (B, L)
Sunday June 12: Biddulph Grange Garden
This morning is at leisure to explore Chester at your own pace, perhaps to visit the stunning cathedral. In the afternoon we visit Biddulph Grange Garden, created in the 19th century by James Bateman with his collection of plants from around the world. Our visit takes us on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. This impressive garden features collections of rhododendrons, summer bedding displays, a stunning Dahlia Walk and the oldest surviving golden larch in Britain, brought from China in the 1850s. Overnight Chester (B)
Monday June 13: Chatsworth House
Today we leave Chester heading up and across the Pennine Hills to the ancient Roman city of York. On the way we stop in Derbyshire for one of the highlights of the tour, a visit to the house and gardens of Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. Following an exclusive tour of the house and a private group luncheon, we head out to explore the delights of its 105-acre gardens created over the past 450 years by garden giants such as Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Joseph ‘Crystal Palace’ Paxton. The house featured prominently in the 1995 BBC series Pride & Prejudice as Darcy’s home, and many think Jane Austen was thinking of Chatsworth when she described Pemberley. Overnight York (B, L)
Tuesday June 14: York and Scampston Hall
Much of York’s medieval and 18th-century architecture has survived, making it a joy to explore. The crowning achievement of the city is its cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. The morning is at leisure for you to explore York at your own pace. In the afternoon we visit Scampston Hall and its stunning contemporary walled garden created in 2004 by the renowned Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. Its series of interconnecting ‘rooms’ are a fascinating mix of modern and traditional planting. From modern great to historical giant we then wander the grounds of the Hall designed by Capability Brown in 1782. Overnight York (B)
Wednesday June 15: Castle Howard
And so to Brideshead! Who could forget Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte in the iconic 1981 TV series Brideshead Revisited? And who could forget magnificent Castle Howard the model for Brideshead Castle? We take a private tour of the house, where we will see many important paintings on display, including a portrait of Henry VIII by Holbein and works by Rubens, Reynolds, and Gainsborough. Outside, we see the magnificent walled garden with its 2000 roses, just coming into bloom, before wandering the grounds to admire the 18th century statues and buildings – including the magnificent Temple of the Four Winds – that make this one of the most romantic and beautiful landscapes in England. Overnight York (B)
Thursday June 16: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
Today we head north, to the wild beauty of Northumberland. On the way we stop at Fountains Abbey, the most idyllic Gothic ruin in England. For centuries people have been drawn to this inspiring place. From humble beginnings the magnificent abbey was established by devout monks seeking a simpler existence. The atmospheric ruins that remain are a window into a way of life which shaped the medieval world. A fitting backdrop to the picturesque masterpiece that shares its valley, Studley Royal Water Garden with its 18th century elegant water garden of mirror-like ponds, statues and follies, incorporating the romantic ruins into the design. This evening we have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Alnwick (B, D)
Friday June 17: Holy Island of Lindisfarne
And so across the causeway to Holy Island we go to see the dramatically situated Lindisfarne Castle, that appears to grow out of the rocky pinnacle on which it was built 400 years ago. Across several fields from the castle is the garden Gertrude Jekyll created, one of her loveliest and smallest, in a walled compound once the vegetable garden of the castle’s garrison. It is an absolute delight. Overnight Alnwick (B)
Saturday June 18: Alnwick Gardens and Alnwick Castle
This morning we visit Alnwick Garden, the largest, most controversial and most expensive garden created in England since WWII. Designed by acclaimed Belgian landscape artists Jacques and Pieter Wirtz, it includes spectacular water features and cascades, topiary, a traditional walled garden, as well as a limited access Poison Garden. A short walk through the grounds brings us to Alnwick Castle, where we take a private tour of the ancestral home of the Dukes of Northumberland, stopping to admire the surrounding landscape park designed by Capability Brown. Overnight Alnwick (B)
Sunday June 19: Housesteads on Hadrian’s Wall
This morning we leave Northumberland to drive across country to the Lake District, an area of outstanding natural beauty and home to England’s tallest mountains and largest lakes. On the way we stop at Housesteads Roman Fort, set high on a dramatic escarpment on Hadrian’s Wall, offering spectacular views north and south. On arrival in Grasmere, the afternoon is at leisure. This evening we have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Grasmere (B, D)
Monday June 20: Brantwood
Today we take the 19th century steam yacht Gondola across Coniston Water to Brantwood, home of the great Victorian artist, writer and art critic, John Ruskin. Following a visit to the 18th century house, we wander through its gardens which include Ruskin’s Hortus Inclusus, an enclosed garden of over 200 British native herbs laid out in the form of a Medieval manuscript. Overnight Grasmere (B)
Tuesday June 21: Dalemain House and Lowther Castle
This morning we travel over Dunmail Raise to Castlerigg Stone Circle, a Neolithic monument of standing stones in a hollow ringed by peaks, that is a reminder of the region’s ancient history. We continue on to Dalemain House, famous for its Himalayan blue poppies (meconopsis dalemain), which will be in bloom when we visit, and for its marmalade. In 2013, Dalemain was voted the Historic Houses Association and Christie’s Garden of the Year. In the afternoon we head to Lowther Castle, a romantic ruin that has belonged to the Earls of Lonsdale since the Middle Ages. The castle and gardens fell into ruin following the excesses of the 5th Earl and were closed to the public in 1935. They are now the site of one of the largest landscape restoration projects in Europe. Overnight Grasmere (B)
Wednesday June 22: Gresgarth Hall and Levens Hall
Today we see the work of one of the great figures of contemporary English garden design, Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd for an exclusive tour of her home Gresgarth Hall. There are many different plants, shrubs and trees to see including many moisture loving plants, ferns, acers, lilacs as well azaleas and magnolias. Modern and classical sculpture is displayed throughout the Gresgarth Hall garden. In the afternoon we head to Levens Hall, a manor house in the Kent valley, and ‘the gateway to the Lake District’, with its world-renowned and large topiary garden, which was first created by the French gardener Guillaume Beaumont. The park and gardens laid out by Beaumont between 1689 and 1712 have survived remarkably intact. Overnight Grasmere (B)
Thursday June 23: Ullswater Lake Cruise & Sharrow Bay
This morning we travel by coach up and over the dramatic Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater. From here we travel down the lake by steamer for our farewell lunch at Sharrow Bay, the iconic Lakeland country house on the shores of the lake. We return to Grasmere in the late afternoon. Overnight Grasmere (B, D)
Friday June 24: Departure
This morning we travel by coach to Manchester airport, where the tour ends. (B)
A garden and art historian, formerly the Senior Curator of the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.
Michael Turner is a cultural and garden historian. He has a strong personal and academic interest in the art, history, literature, and mythology of the Classical past and how these have shaped the gardens and landscapes of Britain and Italy – from the Renaissance, to the Grand Tour, to the present day.
Michael holds a BA (1st class Honours with University Medal) from the University of Sydney. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London and in 2018, a Fellow of the Linnean Society, the world’s oldest active biological society.
In the early 1990s, following a high-profile career in women’s fashion in London, Michael returned to Australia to pursue his long-held passion for all things Classical. In 2004, he was appointed Senior Curator of the Nicholson Museum, home to the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern hemisphere. On his arrival, the museum had less than 10,000 visitors a year; when he left in 2016, annual attendance figures were in excess of 100,000. Michael, now a regular on radio and television, curated over twenty exhibitions on everything from Sigmund Freud’s collection of antiquities, to the Grand Tour, to the hugely successful series of Lego creations: the Colosseum, the Acropolis and Pompeii.
Michael returned to England the better to pursue his interest in garden history. He now lectures in London for the Garden Historians, is researching the collection of Roman sculpture at Hever Castle in Kent, and working on his next book on the most delightful and largest of all English gardens, the humble hedgerow.
Michael lives in Sussex from where he is ideally based to design and develop new garden tours for Academy Travel. To date, these include ‘Gardens of a Passionate Mind: The Great Gardens of Southern England’ (2016 and 2018); From Yorkshire to the Lake District: The Gardens of the North (2017 and 2019); ‘The Great Gardens of Italy’ (2018); ‘The Gardens and Castles of Scotland (2018); and ‘From Bath to Land’s End: The Gardens of the South West’ (2019).
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity