Experience Northumberland's most beautiful areas on the Orient Express' Northern Belle
PUBLISHED: 16:47 10 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:02 20 February 2013
Rediscover a bygone age and gaze on some of Northumberland's most beautiful areas with a trip on the Orient Express' Northern Belle. Emma Mayoh reports. Photography by Kirsty Thompson
Mention train travel and many peoples thoughts would turn to images of cramped, fast-moving carriages braved during the rush hour. These days, this regular pursuit has become a necessary part of modern day life.
But there was a time when this kind of travel was something to be enjoyed and savoured. You can expect exactly this kind of experience on the Orient Express Northern Belle, a train that takes you back to the elegance and romanticised golden age of rail travel with the British Pullman carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
On our journey to Alnmouth, we travelled in style. Hot buttered crumpets layered with scrambled egg, smoked salmon and caviar were served for breakfast along with delicious pastries and a refreshing peach bellini no carton sandwiches here.
As you might expect from an Orient Express train, the journey is just as good as the destination. In our Glamis cabin each carriage is named after a castle we were surrounded by luxury, expert craftsmanship that could be seen in the decorative marquetry and comfortable, sink-in-to chairs at private tables.
But, even in this outstanding setting, it was the service that really shone. Dont expect a fusty, stuffy approach sometimes associated with the more affluent end of the travel market. On the Northern Belle, the stewards are attentive and friendly and the atmosphere friendly and relaxed.
Our journey took us through some of our regions most beautiful countryside, with views of tiny streams, vast rivers, lush countryside and fantastic panoramas of Newcastle. But the finest view was saved for last the sight of the picture perfect Alnmouth and the stunning Northumberland coast.
We left the Northern Belle for a visit to Alnwick Castle and Gardens, the glorious medieval building that has been home to the Duke of Northumberland and his ancestors for more than 700 years and familiar to millions as Hogwarts School the Harry Potter films.
After touring the State Rooms and some of the areas still used by the family today and a quick visit to Barter Books at nearby Alnwick the best second hand book shop in the world? it was time to return to our glorious transport.
The North East countryside took on a different guise as dusk descended. There was also more of that superb silver-service fine dining with an evening meal consisting of several courses of exquisite food served with champagne.
It was a close call whether the views outside the carriage window or the luxury inside was the star of the show, but either way this is the only way to travel.
Orient-Expresss luxurious Northern Belle train departs throughout the year from stations across the UK, offering journeys to some of Britains most famous historic cities, castles, country houses and sporting events. For more information and reservations call Orient-Express on 0845 077 2222 or go to www.orient-express.com/uktrains