Day 1: Cotswold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Bristol, Bath
Highlights:Walking and driving tour to the charming scenery of the Cotswold, visit to glorious Blenheim Palace. Visit to Bourton-on-the-Water (the “Venice of Cotswolds) and old market town Stow-on-the-Wold, Blenheim Palace – the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, visit to Bristol Cathedral, dinner at traditional English Pub, free time to shop and explore Georgian Bath and walking tour of the old Roman town, visit the gift shop in the Roman Bath, optional tour to the place where Charles Dickens lived, walking tour along Bristol and visit the Bristol Cathedral and Blaise Castle, cream tea in an old inn).
After Traditional English Breakfast in the hotel we will drive to Cotswolds – the region of picturesque market town. You will visit the place that is forever England, unchanged by the modern world and famous for its beautiful villages. We can also visit quaint villages of Bourton and Stow-on-the-World. Then we will depart to Bristol. This town has been through a wardrobe of outfits down the centuries – river village, shipbuilding centre, industrial powerhouse. We will take you to the old town city centre and will pass 18th century Georgian House. This 6-storeyed mansion belonged to the West India merchant John Pinney along with his slave Pero (after whom Pero’s bridge across the harbor is named). The house survived the centuries, with period bedrooms, book-lined library and basement kitchen. We will be visiting Bristol Cathedral, a Grade I listed ‘Hall Church’ and then will head to the Blaise Castle. Built for banker John Harford between 1796-1798 which now owned by the city council. It will take you to the city’s past with costume gallery, vintage toy collection, etc. We will have a dinner on our way to Bath.
Our final stop for this day will be Bath, another heritage site. This is a beautiful Georgian city with delightful crescents and terraces. Following our panoramic tour of the city we will visit Bath Abbey . You will love walking around Bath looking at the buildings and walking along the river pass the weir onto the Pultney Bridge overlooking the river Avon. The gift shop in the Roman Bath is wonderful. The Bath Aqua Glass stock the gift shop , they blow their glass just the same way the Romans did, they use copper oxide which reflects the waters of Bath. You will have the optional walking tour to show you where the Charles Dickens lived and worked when he was young and you wil have a chance to sample some delicious cheeses fresh from the local dairy farms. After that we will enter the magnificent Roman Baths, where over one million liters of boiling water still burst free from the hot springs every day. Then we will visit the Sally Lunn’s – one of the oldest houses in Bath and the Home of original Bath bun . We will have a dinner (Regional English Food) in truly authentic eating house. Then we will move to Oxford where we will stay for the night at the hotel.
Highlights:Visit to Cotswold, free time to shop and explore Georgian Bath, visit Barton and Stow on the World, walking tour along Bristol and visit the Bristol Cathedral and Blaise Castle.
Day 2: Wiltshire Lackock, Somerset Glastonbury
Highlights:Walking tour of Lackock, visit places where Harry Porter was filmed and Lackock Abbey, guided tour to place where Charles Dickens lived, dinner at 14th century pub, walking and driving tour to Glastonbury with visit Haynes International Motor Museum and Lake Village Museum).
After breakfast in the hotel we will leave to our next trip to Lackock – the most beautiful village in England, it was given to the National Trust by Matilda Talbot in 1994. There are few narrow street s there that lead off or around the High Street forming a square which will take you to the Church set in the beautiful corner of the village. Most building there were built between the 14th and 18th century. So picturesque are the tiny cobbled street and ancient cottages that the village has been the setting for numbers of period dramas and dramas, including Harry Porter and the Philosopher’s stone, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice . We will enjoy a short walk in the village and see the Lackock Abbey which was established and founded as a nunnery by Ela Countess of Salisbury in 1232. Remaining are medieval cloisters, and nuns’ warning room. The 15th century monastery buildings were converted into private house in 1539. From that time many features remained like octagonal corner tower and courtyard with half-timbered gables and clock tower. Our guide will take you to the place where Charles Dickens lived and worked when he was young and you will have a chance to sample some delicious cheeses fresh from the local diaries. We will enjoy delicious lunch in the 14th century pub, after which we will depart to beautiful Glastonbury. We will have a short walk around the town and visit Haynes International Motor Museum, the largest exhibition of great cars from around the world. A living and working museum with over 400 amazing cars and bikes from nostalgic 50’ and 60’, Bentleys and Rolls Royces to the super cars of today, like Jaguar XJ220. Sit in museum café or visit gift shop before going to the Shoe museum which displays shoes from Roman times to present days: buckles, fashion plates, show cards, hand tools and photographs showing the history of the Clark family. Visit the Lake Village Museum which present an insight into everyday life to an Iron-Age settlement, dating from around 2000 years ago, when much of the Somerset’s landscape was covered by the sea. Glastonbury also famous for its annual musical mudfest held on Michael Eavis’ farm in nearby Pilton, Glastonbury was a centre for New Age culture long before the traveller buses rolled in. The town famous for important pagan site and is rumoured by some to be the mythological Isle of Avalon, where King Arthur was entombed after his death. If you need to knock your chakras into shape this is definitely the right place.
You can visit on request The Fleet Air Art Museum. This is where Museum meets theatre. You can “fly” by helicopter to the replica of the aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL . You will have a chance to experience the sounds of the working flight deck and even see the nuclear bomb, go onboard of the first British made Concorde and see the largest collection of Naval aircraft anywhere in Europe.
Day 3: Exmoor, Devon Exeter with visit of “Beer Engine”, Dartmoor
Highlights:Driving and walking tour of Exmoor, visit to Exeter’s Cathedral, trip to “Beer Engine” Pub with beer tasting, dinner at floating café, tour to Buckland Abbey, trip to antique market, driving and walking tour to Dartmoor).
We will cross the Exmoor – the quintessential slice of the English countryside with bottle green fields and dry stone walls. Curly horned sheep, red deer and Exmoor ponies can often be spotted wandering across the hilltops in the way to Exeter- spiritual and administrative heart of Devon. Explore the Exeter’s magnificent Cathedral which has been a religious one since at least the 5th century. The Normans started the current building in 1114 and the towels visible today date from that period. In 1270 Bishop Bronescombe remodelled the whole building, a 90 year process that introduced Early English and decorated Gothic styles. We will take you along historic Exeter and you will be able to feel the Exeter’s past in its architecture. The Romans marched in around AD55 and put up a 17th hectare fortress, complete with a 2-mile red city wall. A surprising 70 % of it still standing and springs up besides shops. We will pass thatched villages such as Bickleigh snuggle in a hilly pastoral landscape where vivid green and yellow fields are interspersed with flashes of bright red soil. We will pass the superb stately homes at Powderham Castle and Knightshayes Court as well as microbrewery , a vineyard and horsedrawn canal trip. We will stop (take a trip to “Beer Engine”) a dream-come true pub which brews its own beer. You will be able to see fermenting process in gleaming stainless-steel tubs. The building’s past as a railway hotel inspires the brew names: the fruity “Rail Ale”, sharp and sweet “Piston Bitter” and “Sleeper Heavy”. We will pass great Western Canal and glide along on the west country’s last horse drawn barge which provides an insight into life of man-made inland waterways. According to your wishes we can have a dinner at floating café-bar and hire a row boat or Canadian canoe or settle back and travel along on brightly painted horse-dawn barge. We will hunt out in the morning shabby-chic gems in Tavistock’s antique packed market . The centre is graced by turreted constructions built in 1800s during the town’s copper-mining boom. After shopping we will take a tour to Buckland Abbey , dates back to the 14th century when it was a Cistercian monastery and abbey church.
Dartmoor is full of myth and tales about evil forces which form a big part of its heritage. Often inspired by the moor’s shifting mists and stark, other-worldly nature, many revolve around the Dewer (the Devil). According to legend, he led his pack of phantom Wisht Hounds across the moor at night, rounding up sinners before driving them off a 100m granite outcrop called the Dewerstone. Dartmoor is ripe for archaeological explorations. There are an estimated 11 000 monuments on the moor and it has the largest concentration of Bronze Age (c 2300-700 BC) remains in the country, features include around 75 stone rows (half the national total), 18 stone circles and 5000 huts.
Day 4: Cornwall St Ives, Land’s End
Highlights:Visit of Tintagel – birthplace of King Arthur, walk to St Materiana Church, visit the Old Post Office, walking tour to Tate Art Gallery – the shortest art gallery, Barbara Hepworth Museum ,Men -an-Tol -Cornish for Stone-of-the-hole, see Land’s End, dinner with traditional Cornish meal.
Cornwall has by far the most King Arthur connections, including Tintagel and Slaughterbridge near Camelford, asserted to be the site of Arthur’s last battle at Camlann. Meanwhile Dozmary Pool and Loe Pool both claim to be home of the Lady of the Lake, who gave Arthur his legendary sword, Excalibur.
Travelling along the Atlantic Hwy will carry you through some of the county’s most inspiring vistas. Every turn in the road unfurls a fresh panorama of postcard views. We will pass the Boscastle , where there is a “Witches Museum”. Then we will visit Tintagel –King’s Arthur’s fabled birthplace. Legendary Home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table – were they all equal around that table or was King Arthur using early C6th spin? The Legend of King Arthur continues to fascinate and attract people from over the world. At Tintagel ladies wearing floor length dresses and pointed hats with a colourful swatch hanging from the top.
The spectre of King Arthur looms large over Tintagel and its cliff top castle. The ruins mostly date from the 13th century, but archaeological digs have revealed the foundation of a much earlier fortess, fuelling speculation that the legendary king may have been born at the castle as local legends claims. Fables aside, the site has been occupied since Roman times and served as a seasonal residence for Cornwall’s Celtic Kings. Much of the castle has long since crumbed, it’s still possible to make out the footprint of the Great Hall and several other key rooms. A short walk inland leads to the tiny Norman Church of St Materiana, in a windblown spot above Glebe Cliff. We will also stop in the Old Post Office , a 16th –century Cornish longhouse that once served as the village post office. After having a lunch at traditional Cornwall café we will depart to St Eves. St Eves historically is one of Cornwall important pilchard harbours and also a heaven for the arts after a stream of influential painters and sculptors set up studios along the town’s streets during the 1920s and 30s. We will explore the Tate- the shortest of Art Galleries in St Eves and the Barbara Hepworth Museum - one of the leading abstract sculptors of the 20th century and key figure in the St Ives art scene. Experience Men-an-Tol (Cornish for Stone-of-the-hole), a weird formation consisting of two menhirs flaking a hollow stone. Squeezing through the stone was said to be a cure for infertility and rickets. Then we will pass the Iron Age Village of Chysauster which was built between 400 BC and AD 100. Consisting of eight stone-walled houses it gives you a real sense of daily life during the Iron Age. We will visit Land’s End – Last Stop Kernow, Next Stop America. The scenery doesn’t get much more dramatic – black granite cliffs and heather-covered headland teeter above the booming Atlantic surf.
Small fishing villages inhabit sheltered inlets all along this rugged, inhospitable coastline, with spectacular views everywhere including Port Isaak.
Day 5: Plymouth, Torquay
Highlights:Walking and driving tour to Plymouth, trip to Royal Citadel fort, visit to Gin Distillery, dinner at the Atlantic seaside café, trip to Torquay – the English Riviera and birth of Agatha Christie and her holiday home Greenway.
If parts of Devon are nature programmes or costume dramas, Plymouth is a centre of reality TV. This is the city of huge spirit and great assets, it’s one of the country’s best aquariums and playful 1930lido, and you have a place to reconnect with the real before another foray into Devon’s chocolate box pretty moors and shores. The Royal Naval Vessels are Plymouth based , you can spot them in Plymouth Sound, the local newspaper. You will see the Royal Citadel, the huge 17th century fort at the east end of the Hoe is home to some of them. Clamber up an old lighthouse – Sweaton’s Tower. We will also visit the Gin Distillery – the oldest producer of Gin in the world, they’ve been making it here since 1793. The Royal Navy was responsible for taking it round the world in countless officers messes, while in the 1930s Plymouth Gin featured in the first recorded recipe for a Dry Martini. Distillery tours thread past stills and huge copper vats, while guides get you sniffing the sometimes surprising raw ingredients and you will have testing. After dinner we will move to Torquay’s – the English Riviera, with palm trees, piers and russet-red cliffs. This is also the birthplace of Agatha Christie (1890-1976). In terms of book sales the detective writer is beaten only by the Bible and William Shakespeare. And her characters are world famous: Hercule Poirot, Belgian detective and Miss Marple. . Her holiday home Greenway . Hunt for clues in Agatha’s Christie’s holiday home. Agatha Christie owned the property between 1938 and 1959. You will wonder between rooms where the furnishing and knick-knacks are much as she left them.
Day 6: Stonehenge, Salisbury, Winchester
Highlights:Visit ancient Stonehenge and take picture, walking and driving tour in Salisbury, visit of spectacle Salisbury Cathedral, visit of heritage town of Winchester, the former capital of England, visit the famous Cathedral, dinner in old English Pub.
Stonehenge - is a world heritage site. Its origins date back to 5000 years. No one knows what was this vast collection of stones intended for. Was it observatory of the moon, a temple to the sun and who were the people who carried and carved these 40 tons of rock? You will have a chance to unlock the secrets for yourself and marvel at this mysterious feat of ancient design. There will be time to enjoy the peace away from the crowds as and experience Stonehenge at its most mystical and atmospheric best. After dinner we will depart to Salisbury.
We will have a walking tour around Salisbury. Salisbury has been important provincial city for more than 1000 years. Its street form an architectural timeline ranging from medieval walls and half-timbered Tudor town houses to Georgian mansions and Victorian villas. We will visit spectacle Salisbury Cathedral. Built between 1220 and 1258, the Cathedral bears all the hallmarks of the early English Gothic style . Also the Cathedral is home to one of only four surviving original copies of Magna Carta, the historic agreement.
Our journey will continue to Winchester, the former capital of England. You will visit the heritage town and see the magnificent Cathedral, one of the famous and largest Cathedral in Europe with the distinction of having the longest nave and overall length of all Gothic cathedrals in Europe. The ton is also famous for public school, Winchester College and famous for its pubs. The city’s historic interest and fast links to other towns made Winchester one of the most desirable and expensive areas of the country. After dinner in one of the famous pub we will depart to Brighton where will stay for the nightt made between King Gohn and his barons in 1215 that acknowledged the fundamental principle that the monarch was not above the law.
Day 7: Kent, Brighton, Hastings, Battle
Highlights:Visit Kent-the garden of England including: free thinking Brighton, walking tour along old Brighton Pier, Hastings – walking and driving tour with visit of the famous Pier, dinner at Hastings with traditional English Fish and Chips, trip to ancient village of Battle, visit to Bodiam Castle.
In the morning will start our journey to Kent is the Garden of England. Inside its sea-lined borders you will find a beautiful landscape of gentle hills, farms and fruitful orchards. It also serves as the booze garden of England, producing the famous Kent hops, country’s finest ales and award winning wines. There are beautiful coastal stretches dotted with beach small towns and villages.
In the morning we will start our journey to Kent and the first place we will visit is Brighton. Raves on the beach, Rockers in bank holiday fisticuffs, hens and stags on naughty weekends, classic car runs from London, the UK’s biggest gay scene and the Channel’s best clubbing – this city by the sea evokes many images among the British, but one thing is for certain: is where England’s seaside experience goes from cold to cool.
With it’s bohemian atmosphere and reputation for free thinking, lesbian and gay Brighton has long been considered the UK’s Gay Capital. Brighton has one of the most popular Pride Festival in the UK and is one of the top destinations for Civil partnership ceremonies.
Brighton rocks all year round , but really comes to life during the summer months, when tourists, language students keen to explore the city’s legendary nightlife, summer festivals and multitude of trendy restaurants, boutique hotels and shops , pour into the city.
Walk along Brighton Pier (www. Brightonpier.co.uk). This grand old centenarian pier, full of glorious gaudiness, is the place to experience the tackier side of Brighton. There are plenty of fairground rides and amusements arcades to keep you amused.
Look west and you will see the sad remains of the West Pier, a skeletal iron hulk that attracts flocks of birds at sunset. It’s sad end for a Victorian marvel upon which the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel once performed.
Our next stop is Hastings. Forever associated with the Norman invasion of 1066 even though the crucial events took place 6 miles away. Hastings thrived as a Cinque Port, and in its Victorian heyday was one of the country’s most fashionable seaside resorts. Hastings last hit the news in October 2010 when the Victorian pier burnt down following an alleged arson attack. The ballroom at the end of the pier, where groups like the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones once performed, was completely destroyed.
After traditional English dinner we will take you to Battle. This small village grew up around the spot where invading French Duke William of Normandy, aka William the Conqueror, scored a decisive victory over local King Harold in 1066, so beginning Norman rule and changing the face of the country forever. If there'd been no battle, there'd be no Battle, as local people sometimes say.
On this spot raged the pivotal battle in the last successful invasion of England in 1066. Four years later the Normans began constructing an abbey in the middle of the battlefield, a penance ordered by the Pope for the loss of life incurred here. Only the foundations of the original church remain, the altar’s position marked by plague – also supposedly the spot England’s King Harold famously took an arrow in his eye. Other impressive monastic buildings survive and make for atmospheric explorations.
Take a trip to Bodiam Castle . It makes you half expect to see a fire breathing dragon appear or a golden-haired princess lean over its walls. It is the legacy of the 14th –century soldier of fortune (the polite term for knights who slaughtered and pillaged their way around France) Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who married the local heiress and set about building a castle to make sure everybody knew who was boss. We will stay for the night in Battle and in the morning will depart to Rye.
Day 8: Rye, Dover, Canterbury
Highlights:Visit to Rye, the most beautiful little town in England, walking tour along the ancient town, shopping, lunch in Rye, trip to Dover with visit to Dover Castle, driving tour to Canterbury - the primary seat for the Church of England, visit to Canterbury Cathedral.
If you are looking for the best example of a medieval settlement, look no further than Rye, described by many as the most attractive little town in England. Even the most hardened cynic can’t fail to be bewitched by Rye’s cobbled lanes, mysterious passageways and crooked Tudor buildings. Romantics can lap up the townsfolk’s tales of resident smuggles, ghosts, writers and artists.
A short walk from the Rye Heritage Centre and you will see the famous Mermaid Street, bristling with 15th century timber-framed houses with quirky house names like “The House with Two Front Doors”. You will see the famous Mermaid Inn dating from 1420. If you will stay for a night at this place you are likely to spot a celebrity or a royal as the resident ghost. We will have dinner in one of the ancient cafes.
Our next stop Is Dover. Dover ‘s port vital strategic position so close to mainland Europe gave rise to a sprawling hilltop Dover castle, with some 2000 years of history to its credit. This multilayered castle has played many roles in the defence of the British Isles since 1198 when the first keep was built by Henry II on the site of an Anglo-Saxon fortress. We will visit the Dover Castle - one of the most impressive in England, was built to bolster the country’s weakest point at this, the shortest sea-crossing to mainland Europe. It sprawls across the city’s hilltop, commanding a tremendous view of the English Channel as far as the French coastline.
After visiting the Dover Castle we will depart to Canterbury. Canterbury is one of southern England’s top attractions. Canterbury Cathedral dominates its centre and considered by many to be one of the Europe’s finest and the town’s narrow medieval alleyways, riverside gardens and ancient city walls are greatest to explore. But also the Canterbury is a spirited place with the huge student population and a great choice of bars, restaurants and art.
Canterbury’s past is very rich. From AD 200 there was a Roman town, which later became the capital of the Saxon kingdom of Kent. When St Augustine arrived to England in 597 to carry the Christian message to the pagan hordes , he choose Canterbury as his primary seat and set about building an abbey . Following the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Canterbury became most important centre of piligrimage. The city of Canterbury still remains the primary seat for the Church of England.
Day 9: Leeds Castle, Chartwell and Hever Castle, Сhiddingstone Castle
Highlights:Visit to Leeds Castle-the favourite retreat of queens of England, trip to Chartwell, driving and walking tour to Chiddingstone and visit of Chiddingstone Castle, traditional English dinner.
The Leeds Castle , serene on its island in the middle of a lake where black swans glide, was made for romance – the favourite retreat of medieval queens of England, including Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edwards I. The picturesque setting is completed by an aviary crammed with brilliant parakeets and cockatoos, and a maze with an underground grotto.
Within the castle walls, the state rooms are still furnished as they were in the days of medieval royalty. The gatehouse has a collection of dog collars from the past 400 years. They include fearsome 16th century German collars of chains and spikes to protect against bears. An Italian collar of intricately pierced brass made about 1630, and the Austrian 18th century leather collar covered in red velvet.
The area around Westerham is well endowed with historic houses, including Chartwell – home of statesman and writer Sir Winston Churchill. Now owned by the National Trust, the house is in the area of great natural beauty. Winston and Clementine Churchill bought the property in 1922 and had it modernized and popularized by Lutyens. Open from Wendsday to Sunday (Tuesday in July and August). Furter down just after the village is Hever Castle. Billed as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife did spend time here, though she was sent abroad to complete her education. After the Boleyns fell from favour (Anne and brother George losing their heads in the process), Hever Castle passed through many hands over time. It now offers a range of attractions that will easily fill the rest of the day. This romantic Castle is furnished much as Tudors would have known it, with artefacts that include Books of Hours signed by Anne Boleyn. Outside, excellent gardens include two mazes – one of traditional yew, the other a splashy water maze. Then we will depart to the Chiddingstone village and visit Chiddingstone Castle . Originally built as defensive building was converted from a manor house . The original building was a timber-framed Tudor dwelling which was first transformed into High Street House in the 1670s, then rebuilt as a medieval-style castle by William Atkinson. The castle was a base for the military forces during the World War II and then as a home for the Long Dene school until 1954 when the school was closed. Between 1955 and 1977 the castle was occupied by collector of arts and artefacts Denys Bower and his collection have been preserved and it’s possible to see it in the Castle. After this we will finish our trip around Britain, but additional trips are available on request.