A unique sightseeing experience, this comprehensive journey is tailored to those who want to fully experience British history and culture in a small group tour environment, sharing some of the best-kept secrets of this idyllic land. Celebrate ‘Great British Puddings’ at the world-famous Pudding Club, shop at Chester’s Rows, wind through Wales’ Snowdonia National Park, explore Bronte and Wordsworth country, enjoy a free day in medieval York, see Hadrian’s Wall, try the best fish and chips in Whitby, sample award winning Yorkshire ale and stay overnight in a restored 15th century medieval Scottish Castle.
In general, the small group tours depart every 2nd Thursday, from April 11 - October 24, 2013 (at times more on a weekly basis) and have a maximum of 15 people per trip.
Consider adding additional days to your trip with the services of a private guide and/or driver to see more of the country - your time on either side of your small group tour can be customized to suit your needs (and private guided tours can be added throughout your small group experience as desired).
Meet your driver at Heathrow airport, and take a private transfer to your hotel.
A welcome package with your vouchers, a city map, train tickets (if relevant) and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
There are some great restaurants in the West End of London.Here are a few suggestions: J Sheekey, an incredibly smart seafood restaurant, Mildred's, London's best veggie restaurant, Sketch, the trendiest place in London, specializing in some of the best french food you'll ever taste, or for those looking for something simple and cheerful, enjoy a nice meal out at Zipangu. Or try the amazingly stylish Corrigan’s Mayfair http://www.corrigansmayfair.co.uk
The Millennium Baileys Hotel (4*) is located in the heart of fashionable Kensington, and combines a unique sense of style and charm. A magnificently restored Victorian town house hotel dating back to 1876. As elegant as the era in which it was established, this gem still retains many of its original features, with sweeping staircase, stained-glass windows and intricate stonework. The hotel is close to many of London's major attractions including Hyde Park, Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert Museums, and most exclusive shopping districts. Millennium Bailey's Hotel offers its guests a choice of comfortable accommodation units decorated in warm colours ensuring a relaxed and welcoming feel. With its diverse mix of international restaurants and relaxing bars, the Millennium Bailey's can cater to many tastes by offering the finest of world cuisine. The Fitness Centre located in the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, provides an excellent choice of exercise equipment.
One of the world's great cities, vibrant London manages to shine in the greyest weather and its diversity defies a simple definition. This sprawling city has drawn people for centuries, looking for something and finding the unexpected. It's one of the world's most international cities and its influences blend to create something uniquely wonderful. Let your Guide know your particular interests and he/she will help you discover the city on your half day walking tour of central London. Learn how to take the "tube", explore the cobblestone streets, gardens, and markets, and be a Londoner for a day. Your Guide will meet you at your hotel. Please note that one should wear comfortable shoes and a hat; suitable for children. (No entrance fees included)
There is always plenty happening during the evening in London, regardless of the season or time of year. Consider spending an enjoyable evening at the theatre or watching a broadway musical. Alternatively, a dinner cruise or a medieval banquet dinner in the company of Henry VIII complete with jousting knights, minstrels, troupers and strolling players by flickering torchlight in the vaulted cellars of Ivory House, just a stones throw from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge may catch your fancy. Please speak to your Sales Advisor if any of these options are of interest.
Meet with your small group and driver/guide who you will be in the company of for the next nine days. The Meeting point is the Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London.
After London, there is no better introduction to England than Oxford. The ‘city of dreaming spires’ is beautiful but has more to offer than just looks. Its university has ensured that it is rich in the history. Poets and politicians, artists and scientists – they’ve been coming here for over 800 years. See the grandest of all Oxford’s colleges, Christ Church, once the home of Lewis Carroll, before enjoying a guided walk of the city.
After lunch you`ll drive to a traditional 18th century woollen-mill in the Cotswolds, to learn about the industry that represents the cornerstone of Cotswold heritage. Continue to wind your way through the lovely, honey-coloured villages and little towns of the Cotswold Hills. The small group touring vehicles will allow getting down narrow country lanes as you travel to the selected Cotswold accommodation this evening.
Tonight you will have a welcome dinner at the world famous 'Pudding Club'.
Three Ways House Hotel, a Cotswold village Hotel in Gloucestershire. Home of the world famous Pudding Club®. This hotel offers high levels of hospitality, delicious food and comfortable rooms. There are 48 individually styled bedrooms; the superior rooms are located in the Main House, whilst six of the seven quirky Pudding theme rooms are located in the Garden Wing. There are a number of ground floor rooms; some of these have pretty, private patio gardens. Each morning you can enjoy a selection from the extensive breakfast buffet served in the Restaurant. Randalls Bar Brasserie come and enjoy a pint of Real Ale by the open fire, or in the garden in the summer, coffee and homemade biscuits or Afternoon Tea.
Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
After waking in this idyllic place, leave the Cotswolds to drive across the fruit growing Vale of Evesham to Worcester. Off the tourist trail here, enjoy a visit to one of England’s quietest but most interesting cathedrals, and see the tomb of infamous King John who was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
Continue northwards to the town of Much Wenlock. Impossibly quaint, this little town is home to a big secret, the birthplace of the modern Olympics. Then a short drive brings you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ironbridge to see the first arch bridge in the world to be made ouf of cast iron. The day culminates with a drive across lush dairy country to historic Chester, once the Roman City of Deva, and your comfortable accommodation for the night.
Macdonald New Blossoms Hotel, first opened in 1650, set in the vibrant heart of the city centre of Chester. You'll find its period charm blends effortlessly with modern luxury. Here, you can enjoy bedrooms with original Victorian features or dine on freshly-prepared dishes in their stylish restaurant. Their new Steak and Grill Restaurant is known for its good food and serves only the finest Scottish beef, Scottish lamb and wild white fish, as well as an ever-growing range of organic food and drinks.
Leaving proper exploration of Chester until tomorrow, be prepared to be awe-struck as you travel across the border into Wales to explore Snowdonia National Park, an area of outstanding beauty. This National Park is gathered around the highest mountain in England and Wales, Snowdon. It has narrow mountain passes, gushing streams (or ‘nants’), cascading waterfalls, sheep-covered uplands and verdant, hidden valleys that claim the resting place of the real King Arthur.
This afternoon, continue back to Chester along the North Wales coast, visiting the most complete walled town in Britain, Conwy, in Wales, and its stark 13th century castle.
This morning you'll get to explore charming Chester, a city whose 2000 year-old history is on display like no other. Complete medieval walls surround the city on Roman foundations from which the old Roman amphitheatre, the most complete in Britain, can be seen. Marvel at Chester’s unique Rows, Britain’s first shopping mall, whose rows of medieval, ‘black and white’ buildings with covered walkways, are built upon Roman cellars and accessed from the street.
Hitting the road again, you'll travel east across England’s backbone, the Pennine hills, to proud Yorkshire and the Bronte parsonage at Haworth. Go back in time to the world that inspired the Bronte sisters to write the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. You will then briefly stop at Salts Mill, set in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire. The Grade II Listed historic mill was built in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt along with the village to house his workers. Your final stop today is in the market town of Otley, for an early evening meal, before you continue to York, the historic capital of northern England.
Enjoy another tasty meal this evening.
Set in its own grounds, the luxury Churchill Hotel is one of best situated hotels in York, just a short walk from the York Minster and all of York's major attractions. The building is a superb example of a late Georgian mansion built around 1827. The hotel offers visitors to York a unique experience combining luxury accommodation, fine dining and exceptional service.
York is the historic capital of northern England and home to the largest Gothic structure north of the Alps, the medieval Minster that’s a must-see for anyone visiting The North. This morning your guide will take you through the old city and point out the highlights, including the city walls, York Minster, the York Castle Museum, the Jorvik (Viking) Centre, Clifford’s Tower and the famous Shambles, which gets its name from the bloody medieval butchers’ shops that once lined this narrow, cobbled street.
This afternoon you'll have some free time to revisit some of these places or perhaps visit the National Railways Museum. You may prefer just to wander through the winding pedestrian streets, take tea at the world famous Betty’s Tearooms or something stronger in one of York’s numerous historic pubs.
Today you make your way to Whitby, dipping into the imposing North Yorkshire Moors on the way. First stop is at the Magpie Café to taste their wonderful fish and chips, reputedly the best in Britain. Then visit the museum chronicling a young Captain Cook’s training as a seaman before embarking on his epic voyages of discovery. Continue to travel west, stopping at a traditional Yorkshire brew house to sample award winning ale, before enjoying the wonderful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. Next stop is Lake Windermere, your base for the next two nights.
The Wild Boar Inn is set in the ancient beauty of the Gilpin Valley, and takes its name from the local legend of Sir Richard de Gilpin who bravely fought and killed a particularly ferocious wild boar close by.The bedrooms range from classic to luxury with recently refurbished individually designed rooms, that have features such as log burning stoves and copper baths. Head Chef Marc Sanders proudly continues his commitment to the best locally produced seasonal ingredients in the Grill & Smokehouse where the open kitchen offers more theatre to your overall dining experience.
Today you will enjoy one of Britain’s most beautiful national parks. Crossing Lake Windermere, your first stop is Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, still as she left it and where some of her famous characters were created. Continue on to Hawkshead, home of the Beatrix Potter Gallery and the Old Grammar School attended by William Wordsworth, where the Museum still houses his original desk. Afterwards, wind your way through the beautiful back roads of this striking region, stopping for lunch in one of the countless picturesque villages in the area.
This afternoon, you will drive to Grasmere where you visit Sarah Nelson’s famous Gingerbread Shop, which has been making this delicacy since 1854. Taste gingerbread and learn about its history before you make your way to Dove Cottage, once home to the poet William Wordsworth and inspiration for his Daffodils poem. At the end of the day, enjoy a short cruise on the lake before returning to your accommodation.
Tuck into another hearty dinner this evening after your days exploration.
This morning you will drive to the village of Orton, where you visit a small family homemade chocolate producer. Then travel through the lush, green valley of the River Eden, one of England’s best salmon rivers, to Alston. Located high up in the North Pennies, Alston claims to be the highest market settlement in England. Driving through the lovely scenery of Northumberland, you follow Hadrian’s Wall until you reach Birdoswald Roman Fort, one of the best Roman sites on Hadrian’s Wall. Tonight you will stay in a restored 15th century medieval Scottish castle in Clarencefield.
Enjoy a 3-course Scottish themed farewell banquet dinner this evening together with your fellow travellers.
Comlongon Castle, near Gretna in Scotland, is a restored 15th Century Medieval Scottish Castle Wedding Venue and luxurious Baronial Hotel with 14 individually themed luxury en-suite 4-poster bedrooms and Honeymoon Lodge. It has fantastic displays of Armour, weapons and banners, whilst the opulent bedrooms boast 4-poster beds and luxurious en-suite bathrooms providing a stunning blend of Medieval and modern luxury. The Castle's private 120 acre estate reveals sweeping manicured lawns, secluded gardens, ornamental carp filled ponds, paddocks and woodlands.
As you travel north you will stop briefly at the ruins of Hermitage Castle. This remote and spooky castle was the scene of many bloody battles in the territorial wars between the Scots and the English. Then pass through dramatic moorlands on the way to Scott’s View, loved by Scotland’s most famous novelist Sir Walter Scott. Continue to Melrose, home of the rugby sevens and Melrose Abbey, the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart. In the afternoon visit one of the most mysterious sites in Scotland, Rosslyn Chapel, which was featured in the best-selling film The Da Vinci Code. Drive towards Edinburgh, where your tour comes to an end.
You will be dropped off at The Royal Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh at approximately 5.30pm. Bid you Driver/Guide and fellow passengers farewell as you get ready for your continuing travel plans.
This is a fantastically central hotel, located in the heart of Grassmarket, steps away from Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town. The Apex City (4*) is located next door to its sister hotel, the Apex International. One of the best hotels in Edinburgh, the Yu Spa leisure facilities are based at the Apex International Hotel next door, and are available to residents free of charge and open daily. Facilities include ozone pool, tropicarium, plunge shower and gym with state-of-the-art technogym equipment.
Meet your driver for your private airport transfer today. Please note that this service includes up to 3 hours of service.
Citizens of other countries may require a visa. Please ask your Sales Advisor. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of England for the most up to date visa information.
VISA/PASSPORTThere are no border controls when travelling within the United Kingdom including the land border with England. Scotland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.
HEALTHHealth insurance is recommended. Medical facilities are good quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/united-kingdom.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Edinburgh Language: English & Gaelic in parts of Scotland Religion: Predominantly Christian, with sizeable Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu minorities. Time: GMT (GMT + 1 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October). Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are standard. Telephone: Country code +44. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators. Coverage is mostly good, but can be patchy in rural areas. Internet: There are Internet cafes and centers in most urban areas.
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