9 amazing experiences on the east coast route

Craving a wow moment? Keen to try something new?  Well there are oodles of amazing things to see and do along our route that might just do the trick.

Image ©National Maritime Museum, London.

1. Untangle your limbs at a rural retreat

Where: The Orange Tree, Pickering, near York  

Why: Work, home, cooking, cleaning, bed. Life can be one big schlep. Why not treat yo’ self to some well-deserved chill time?  

The rub: The Orange Tree was named among the World’s 50 great retreats by The Times. It’s deep relaxation with dramatic views. Set among the remote heather-topped North York Moors, this hippy-ish haven has hot-stone and Indian head massage and stacks more. Add to that home-cooked vegetarian grub and you’ve got bohemian bliss.

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2. Learn to bake at Bettys

Where: Bettys Cookery School, Harrogate (check our trains to Harrogate)

Why: Baking is bang on-trend and quite relaxing – if you can avoid soggy bottom-style disasters.

The rub: Bettys is famous around the world for its quintessentially English tearooms and get-in-belly afternoon teas.Learn some tricks from the experts at Bettys Cookery School. Take courses in chocolate cakes and bakes, build some serious biscuit making skills, or get the lowdown on creating the perfect Christmas cake. Day-long courses are held throughout the year. Come out feeling like star baker.

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3. Hit the (indoor) ski slopes

Where: Snozone, Castleford (near Leeds)

Why: Because it’s a much cheaper way of trying skiing and everyone loves snow.

The rub: Hit the slopes just 20-minutes’ drive from Leeds at Snozone. This giant indoor ski slope 5 minutes from the motorway may be manmade but it looks like a mountain slope thanks to its real snow. You can learn to ski or snowboard by taking courses, or simply enjoy a one-off day out with the kids. Just don’t start throwing snowballs.

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4. Eat dinner in a treehouse

Where: The Alnwick Garden, Alnwick, Northumberland

Why: It’s posh nosh served in a treehouse. Enough said.

The rub: Tuck-in treetops-style at this magical, fairytale treehouse restaurant. Trees growing through the floor, twinkling white lights hung from their twisting branches - no one could question its originality. The food is fabulous too, with inventive, seasonal dishes using ingredients reared, fished and grown in Northumberland. Spellbinding really. Your date will swoon.

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5. Reach for the stars at the Planetarium

Where: The Royal Observatory, London

Why: Because everyone loves stargazing – from curious kids to swooning couples.  

The rub: Step off a London street andinto space at the Peter Harrison Planetarium. Feel tiny as the vast night sky unfolds across the huge domed ceiling. Squirm in your seat as you careen closer and closer to the sun. Let the planets, stars and sky wrap around you and come out feeling like you’ve really learned something (as well as being captivated). Got kids? They’ll love watching the teddy bears journey through the solar system at the special pre-school show.

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6. Watch wild dolphins swim in their natural habitat

Where: The Moray Firth, Chanonry Point, near Inverness

Why: Because watching a dolphin leap from the water is an amazing thing.

The Rub: Clever, playful andfriendly, dolphins are box-office viewing. Sadly, they’re not a common sight on our shores, but the Moray Firth is one of the few places in Britain where you can see frolicking bottlenose dolphins making a splash. There’s no guarantees they’ll come out to play, but even if you don’t spot one, there’s oodles more wonderful wildlife bound to catch your eye.

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7. Go rock climbing in a disused quarry

Where: EICA, Edinburgh

Why:  It’s not every day you can pretend to be Spider-Man without raising a few eyebrows.

The rub: Craving anadrenaline rush? Experience the thrill of taking on one of the mighty walls at the largest indoor climbing arena in the world – yes, this is climbing on an epic scale. Reach heights of up to 30 metres. Want to go rope-free? No problem. Bouldering is a challenge with a difference. The whole family can enjoy a good cardio workout and build up some muscles. Just don’t look down.

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8. Visit the Shetland and shire horses

Where: Bransby Horses, near Lincoln

Why: Getting up close to these majestic animals will warm your heart.
The rub: Being nuzzled by a horse is an unforgettable experience. Here you can say hi to some of the 360 rescued horses, ponies and donkeys cared for at this equine welfare centre, set in the lush Lincolnshire countryside. You can even adopt one of them too.

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9. Gallop on horseback across Northumberland

Where: Kimmerston Riding Centre, Northumberland 

Why: Unleash your inner Poldark with an exhilarating ride in the windswept wilds.

The Rub: With your horse’s mane flowing and the wind whistling through your hair, you’ll feel like a maiden or lord from a bygone age.

Seriously, riding a horse over the Northumberland hills is worthy of your bucket list – alongside swooning at the Northern Lights in Norway or trekking to Machu Picchu.

Come and meet Poo Bear and Ty – just two of the 30 horses and ponies champing at the bit to take you back to the wild for an hour or so.

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