Day One - London, Oxford and the Cotswolds
Arriving in London, you'll meet your fellow travellers, before heading for the 'dreaming spires' of the ancient university city of Oxford, where you'll enjoy a guided walking tour, discovering its history and admiring its beautiful college buildings. Your next stop will be the charmingly rural Cotswolds, characterised by rolling hills and grassland, dotted with thatched medieval villages, churches, and even stately homes, crafted from the distinctive local yellow limestone. Here, you'll visit an 18th century woollen mill to learn more about an industry steeped in regional heritage, before finishing your day on a sweet note with dinner at the world-famous Pudding Club.
Included meals: Dinner
Day Two - Stratford-Upon-Avon *NEW! For 2018!*
Start your day with a relaxing morning at leisure before a visit to the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, which has become synonymous with arguably the most famous writer in the English language as it was the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. His legacy still lives on in Stratford-upon-Avon, with performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company still held in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the adjacent Swan Theatre on the banks of the River Avon, which meanders its way through the town.
Included meals: Breakfast
Day Three - Worcester, Ironbridge and Denbighsire
Situated on a bank overlooking the River Severn and known as Worcester Priory before the Reformation, Worcester Cathedral (the seat of the Bishop of Worcester) was built between 1084 and 1504, and showcases every style of English architecture of the period from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic, with its Norman crypt and unique chapter house, fine woodwork, and unusual Transitional Gothic bays particularly notable. The cathedral holds the tomb of King John, buried between the shrines of St Wulstan and St Oswald (the latter has since been destroyed), as well as a memorial and tomb to the young Arthur Tudor, the ill-fated first-born son of Henry VII and elder brother to Henry VIII. Despite suffering badly from iconoclasm during the Reformation, the Cathedral was spared total destruction by Henry VIII because of his brother's chantry in the cathedral. You'll have the chance to admire the cathedral's architecture and history during a tour, before continuing on your journey, heading west towards the rugged, ancient landscapes of Wales, pausing to explore the UNESCO-listed Ironbridge Gorge, a rich source of coal, iron ore, limestone and fireclay which enabled the rapid economic development of the area during the early Industrial Revolution. The Gorge was formerly called the Severn Gorge, but was renamed after its famous Iron Bridge built in 1779, the first of its kind in the world, and a lasting monument to the industry that began there. Afterwards, you'll continue to Denbighshire for a two-night stay and dinner tonight.
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Day Four - Denbighshire and Snowdonia National Park
Outstanding natural beauty awaits today as you soak up the splendour of North Wales' Snowdonia National Park, which features mountains (including Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales), glacial landforms, over a hundred lakes, and craggy peaks. You'll also enjoy a Welsh cooking demonstration, before returning to your hotel to indulge in a delicious dinner tonight.
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Days Five and Five - Chester, Haworth and York
Founded in the 1st century A.D. originally as a Roman fortress and renowned for its extensive local red sandstone Roman walls, Chester is a charming historic city, which you'll discover during a walking tour this morning, strolling along its streets lined with striking black-and-white half-timber Tudor buildings. From Chester, your next stop is to pay homage to some of Britain's literary greats with a visit to the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, before continuing to the ancient city of York for a two-night stay. Your tour leader will introduce you to York's Old Town in the morning on day six, giving you the freedom to explore the city at your own pace for the rest of the day, and there's plenty of history to discover, which can be traced back to the ancient Romans. Its imposing Gothic cathedral, the 13th-century York Minster, is a must-see, whilst the City Walls form a walkway on both sides of the River Ouse. For those interested in the history of the Plantagenet kings, the Wars of the Roses, or medieval kings - particularly the last Plantagenet king, Richard III - the Monk Bar Gate houses an exhibition tracing the life of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle.
Included meals: Two breakfasts
Days Seven and Eight - Lake District
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the glory days of the English country estate, and one of the shining examples if the magnificently stately Castle Howard, which has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for over three centuries, and once the home of the Earl of Sandwich. Building began in 1696 by Sir John Vanbrugh for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, and took over 100 years to complete. You may well recognise it from Granada Television's 1981 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited and the later 2008 cinema remake. Afterwards, your journey will take you through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, passing rivers, tiny but charming villages and traditional centuries-old stone walls, before spectacularly concluding in the Lake District, where you'll enjoy a two-night stay, exploring more on day eight. Your first stop on day eight will take you to the shores of Lake Windermere to explore Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm, where she wrote many of her beloved children's stories, as well as a visit to Hawkshead Grammar School, where William Wordsworth was once a pupil. Having visited his former school, you'll then visit Wordsworth's former home, Dove Cottage, before enjoying an afternoon on the water with a lake cruise, followed by a relaxing evening.
Included meals: Two breakfasts, one dinner (on day seven)
Days Nine and Ten - Scottish Borders and Edinburgh
Head back in time to discover Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria towards the western end of Hadrian's Wall. Once one of 16 forts along Hadrian's Wall, it's one of the best preserved and is situated in a commanding position on a triangular patch of land bounded by cliffs to the south and east overlooking a broad meander of the River Irthing; its Roman name, Banna, for 'spur' or 'tongue' reflected the geography of the site. Afterwards, you'll arrive at the Scottish Borders, and your final night will be celebrated in spectacular Scottish style with a traditional dinner of Haggis, and a piper demonstration! On day ten, there's still a couple of treats in store before your tour concludes, starting with a trip to Abbotsford House, a country house near Melrose on the south bank of the River Tweed, which was once the residence of the historical novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, before visiting the 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin. Your journey will then take you to Edinburgh, where your tour will end.
Included meals: Two breakfasts, one dinner (on day nine)
Various Dates Available!
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