Castles, Romans & Shakespeare: Special Excursions

As part of this year’s Northumbria Masters, we are organising 3 special excursions to some of North East England’s most attractive tourist destinations. 

These trips will be led by myself and my good friend Paul Robson, whom many of you will know well from various chess events. Between us, we know plenty of interesting stories about these historic attractions!

If you would like to join us on these trips, please let me know by email to: which trips you would like to make, and for which rounds you require a half point bye.


  1. Half point byes should be booked with me before the end of the previous round. Once pairings are published, we are not allowed to change them, according to FIDE rules.
  2. You are responsible for booking your own tickets to Bamburgh Castle, The Tempest theatre tickets, Vindolanda Fort & Roman Army Museum and Durham Castle.
  3. The Northumbria Masters takes no responsibility for these tickets, but we will take you free of charge by car from the venue, Novotel Newcastle Airport, to these destinations (and get you back in good time for the next round). If you prefer to take your own car, you are also welcome to join us on the excursions.

Here are the details of the trips:

Excursion 1: Bamburgh Castle & ‘The Tempest’

Saturday 24th August, 2:00pm-9:00pm

(Bye required for Round 3)

Visit to Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, & Performance of ‘The Tempest’

Including: Tour of Bamburgh Castle, the home of Uhtred of Bebbanburgh in ‘The Last Kingdom’.


Cars depart from Novotel to Bamburgh Castle (55 mins, 47 miles): 2:00pm

Bamburgh Castle visit: 3:00pm-5:00pm

The Tempest performance: 5:30pm

Arrive back at Novotel: About 9:00pm

Castle tickets: Adults £11, children £5.50 (family and other discounts available)

PLUS: Highly entertaining performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ by The Handle Bards, an acclaimed all-female cycling theatrical troupe, at Bamburgh Castle, Saturday August 24, 5:30pm

Poster for The Handlebards’ production of ‘The Tempest’ (image courtesy of The Handlebards)

Buy tickets here:

Prices: Adults: £16.00, Children (10-18 years) £10.00  

The Handelbards on tour (Image courtesy of The Handlebards)

Excursion 2: Vindolanda Roman Fort & Roman Army Museum

Sunday 25th August: 9:15am-2:00pm

(Bye required for Round 4)

Vindolanda Roman Fort, part of the Hadrian’s Wall fortifications (Wikicommons)


Cars depart from Novotel: 9:15am

Return to Novotel by 2:00pm

32 miles from Novotel Newcastle Airport, travel time 40 minutes

Please note: You can buy joint tickets to see both Vindolanda Fort and the Roman Army Museum: Adult £11.60, Child £6.85 (family & other discounts available)

Excursion 3: Durham Castle & Cathedral

Monday 26th August, 9:00am-2:00pm

(Bye required for Round 6)

The Gatehouse to Durham Castle, the traditional home of the Bishops of Durham since the Norman Conquest (Wikicommons)


Cars depart Novotel: 9:15am

Travel time 35 minutes, 22 miles

Guided Tour of Durham Castle: 10:15am-11:15am

Walk around Durham Cathedral (200 metres from Durham Castle) & Durham’s historic city centre 11:15am-1:00pm

Return to Novotel by 2:00pm

Tickets to Durham Castle can be booked in advance by calling: +44 (0)191 334 2932 or email:

The magnificent interior of Durham Cathedral (Wikicommons)

I look forward to welcoming you to the Northumbria Masters tournament and invite you to join us on an excursion or two – if you are either taking a break from the chess, or are accompanying players at the tournament.

I am sure you will enjoy your stay in the beautiful and historic North East of England!

To book your place on any of the excursions, please contact Tournament Director Tim Wall at:

Mobile (also SMS and What’sApp): +44 (0) 750 3722366