PHS-PTA Minibreaks Group†
Organiser: Elaine Roe
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Meeting   SEPTEMBER MINI BREAK - Durham and Kynren - Friday 6th-Monday 9th September 2024

This Mini Break is going to the North East, calling at Ripon and Richmond and visiting Durham, Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, the Bowes Museum, Crook Hall Gardens and the spectacular Kynren Show.

Kynren, an epic tale of England, is the UK's most spectacular open-air live action night show, listed by Rough Guides as one of the world's top 10 must-see tourist attractions.  Taking place on a landscaped open air stage (equivalent to five football pitches with a full-size lake at its centre) against the backdrop of Auckland Castle, you will be immersed in 2,000 years of history, with a movie-like, fast-paced and action-packed journey from Roman times to the Second World War, through the Viking invasions, the splendour of the Tudors, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties.  As the story unfolds you'll be treated to ships and a steam train, mass choreography, hand-to-hand combat, dance, daring stunts, dazzling pyrotechnics and grandiose lighting and water effects.  More than 1,000 volunteers are involved as cast and crew, with an accompanying cast of animals comprising performance horses, sheep, goats, cattle and even ducks.  The volunteers have been professionally trained by top performance experts.  The 90-minute show takes place once darkness has fallen, to create the best possible backdrop for the special effects that will bring the action-packed story to life. NB. This is an open air performance which will go ahead whatever the weather.

We will be staying at the Blackwell Grange Hotel an historic 17th-century mansion set in 15 acres of woodland, a 20-minute walk from Darlington town centre. The hotel has a Leisure Club with a swimming pool, jacuzzi and a gym.

The maximum number of places available on the trip is 49 and we have been allocated 9 single rooms, 6 doubles and 14 twin rooms. Rooms will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Please see below for the Itinerary and let me know if you would like places on this trip. The price includes 3 nights Dinner, Bed and Breakfast, travel by coach, entry to the Auckland Project, entry to the Bowes museum and a De-Luxe ticket for Kynren.

A deposit of £90 per person would be required as we have to pay a deposit to the hotel and coach company and for the Kynren tickets.


We will leave Poynton at 7.45am on Friday and travel to Ripon, the third smallest city in England, noted for its magnificent cathedral, attractive market square, many museums and historic buildings.  We will have time to explore the city and have lunch before moving on to the nearby market town of Richmond, known for its Georgian architecture, ruined medieval castle and considered one of the most attractive towns in the UK.  Late afternoon we will rejoin the coach and travel to the Blackwell Grange Hotel, a historic 17th-century mansion set in 15 acres of woodland, a 20-minute walk from Darlington town centre.

After breakfast on Saturday we will set off to the historic city of Durham, one of the most scenic cities in the UK. The attractions include Durham Castle and the iconic Durham Cathedral, recently named the UK's number one landmark; together, with the buildings around them, they form Durham's incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There are other historic buildings, quaint cobbled streets, an attractive market place, many shops and lovely riverside walks.  Mid-afternoon we will head back to the hotel for an early dinner before making our way to the amazing Kynren show to experience an epic tale of England.

On Sunday morning we will head to the National Trust's Crook Hall Gardens a series of interlinked gardens, each with its own character set against the backdrop of a medieval hall and with views of Durham city and the cathedral.  Discover the maze, the secret walled garden, an orchard and the wildlife-rich moat pool (NT members: free; Non-members: £8.00 payable in cash on the day) Late morning we will make our way to the historic market town of Bishop Auckland.  Here we will visit the Auckland Project, a unique collection of heritage attractions.  Our ticket will include entry to the magnificent Auckland Castle, one of the best-preserved bishop's palaces in Europe, the Castle gardens, the Faith Museum, Auckland tower which gives a bird's eye view of the town and the Deer Park with its 1760 Gothic revival deer house.  There are other attractions in the town including the Gothic revival town hall, now a cultural venue, local shops, the Mining Gallery and the Spanish Gallery.

On Monday we will check out of the hotel and journey to Barnard Castle where we can all check our eyesight after our busy weekend!  There will be time to explore this historic market town which takes its name from the castle around which it grew.  The castle ruins, an English Heritage property, are set high on a rock above the river Tees.  In the town you will find many antique shops and independent retailers selling everything from home décor and second-hand books, to designer clothes, jewellery and local crafts.  Late morning, we will move on to the Bowes Museum, an impressive building which has the appearance of a French Chateau.  It was never a home but was purpose built in the late 19th Century by Josephine and John Bowes to house their art collection.  The museum, considered to be one of the most important outside London, has something for everyone with galleries dedicated to paintings, furniture, fashion & textiles, ceramics, silver & metals.  Perhaps its most famous exhibit is the iconic Silver Swan automaton.  The museum is surrounded by gardens and parkland.  Late afternoon we will leave the museum and make our way home, arriving back in Poynton at around 7 -7.30pm.

Price: £455 based on two people sharing a room (single room supplement £90)

The price includes:
  • Return coach travel
  • Three nights Dinner, Bed and Breakfast accommodation at the Blackwell Grange Hotel
  • A visit to Ripon
  • A visit to Richmond
  • A visit to Durham
  • A ticket for De-Luxe seating at the Kynren show
  • Entry to Bishop Auckland castle, gardens, deer park and the Faith museum
  • A visit to Crook House Gardens (Approx. £8 extra for non-National Trust members)
  • A visit to Barnard Castle
  • Entry to the Bowes Museum
A deposit of £90 per person would be required to secure a place on this trip and the balance would be payable by 1st June 2024.  PLEASE NOTE: Once the monies have been paid over to Kynren, the coach company and the hotel, they would be non-refundable, this is a condition of the booking.  Obviously if someone is unable to go for any reason, we will do our best to find a replacement.  However this is not always possible, particularly at short notice, so you may wish to take out travel insurance to cover any unexpected cancellations.  This is your responsibility.  Many people have insurance which covers them for travel for the whole year.  If you only want to take out insurance for this one trip there are many companies that you can use.  Bullock's Coaches have said that whilst they don't offer insurance themselves or promote particular companies many of their passengers seem to use Age UK or the Post Office.

SPRING MINI BREAK - NORTHERN IRELAND - Sunday 18th May - Friday 23rd May 2025

On Sunday we will leave Poynton High School at 7.30am and head north, breaking our journey at Gretna Green for an early lunch before heading to Cairnryan for the 3.30pm ferry to Belfast. After docking in Belfast we will take the short 20 minute journey to the Dunadry Hotel and Gardens.

On Monday we will travel to Belfast where we will have a guide join us on the coach for a tour of the city taking in the sightseeing attractions, famous landmarks and historical places of interest as we travel between the peace lines and visit both sides of the political divide. We will then visit Titanic Belfast which tells the Titanic story through a series of interactive galleries housed in its iconic building. Learn about the RMS Titanic from its conception to its tragic end more than 100 years ago. The rest of the day is yours to explore Belfast and perhaps visit significant points of interest, including HMS Caroline, SS Nomadic, St George's Market, St Anne's Cathedral and City Hall.

On Tuesday we will head north to the iconic World Heritage Site, the Giant's Causeway with its unique landscape of over 40,000 basalt columns, formed some 60 million years ago. The Visitor Centre, an award-winning sustainable building, has an interactive exhibition and visitor services including a cafe and shop. Audio guides or guided walking tours are available. You can walk to the stones or if you prefer there is a shuttle bus for a small fee (£1 each way). Entrance to the Visitor Centre is free for National Trust members (£13.50 extra to pay in cash on the day for non members). If time allows we will drive along the coast to another National Trust property, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
In the afternoon we will visit the Old Bushmills Distillery, the world's oldest licenced working distillery, where Bushmills Irish Whiskey is made. Here we will have a guided tour to discover how the Whiskey is made. (please note, there are numerous steps and stairs on the tour so whiskey tasting in the bar is available for those who want to opt out).

On Wednesday morning we will visit the Ulster Folk Museum, home to a rich collection of authentic period buildings including a Picture House, Post Office, Corner Shop, Bank, Churches, houses and cottages some of which have been meticulously transported from their original locations around Ulster. There are demonstrations of traditional crafts such as blacksmithing, willow weaving and printmaking. There is a cafe and gift shop.
In the afternoon we will move on to Mount Stewart, a 19th century National Trust property on the east shore of Strangford Lough, home to the Stewart family (Marquesses of Londonderry) for generations. The house and its contents reflect the history of the family's leading role in social and political life in Britain and Ireland. The gardens are spectacular, and universally renowned for their plant collections and the originality of their features. (entrance is free for National Trust members, £13.50 extra to pay in cash on the day for non members)

On Thursday we will head to Derry (officially Londonderry), Northern Ireland's second largest city, the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. We will spend the day here and you can walk the walls and visit some of the other attractions which include the Guildhall, St Columb's Cathedral, St Eugene's Cathedral, the Peace Bridge, the Bogside Artists and other murals, the Bloody Sunday Memorial and many award winning museums.

On Friday we will check out of the hotel and board the 11.30am ferry for our journey to Cairnryan. To break up the journey home we will call in at the National Trust Threave Gardens for a short visit to stretch our legs and then take a comfort break at the famous Tebay services. We expect to be back in Poynton around 8.30pm.

Price: £777 per person based on two people sharing a room (single room supplement £175)

The price includes:
  • Return coach travel
  • Five nights Dinner, Bed and Breakfast accommodation at the Dunadry Hotel, Dunadry, Antrim
  • Return ferry crossing from Cairnryan to Belfas
  • A visit to Belfast, including a guided tour and entry to Titanic Belfast
  • Entry to the tour of the Bushmills distillery
  • A visit to the Giants Causeway (Approx £13.50 extra payable in cash on the day for non-National Trust members)
  • Entry to the Ulster Folk museum
  • A visit to Mount Stewart (Approx £13.50 extra payable in cash on the day for non-National Trust members)
  • A visit to Derry
  • A visit to Threave Gardens (Approx £8 extra payable in cash on the day for non-National Trust members)
A deposit of £100 per person would be required to secure a place on this trip and the balance would be payable by 10th February 2025. The maximum number of places available is 57. There are 13 single rooms, 15 twin rooms and 7 double rooms available at the hotel. Places on the trip will be allocated on a first come first served basis.


There are Minibreaks pictures in the Photo Gallery - Click here

†Organised on behalf of Poynton High School PTA but open to Poynton u3a members.