Pre Tour - Arrive into London Heathrow International Airport and make your way to our airport accommodation where you can get adjusted to the time change, rested up and get ready for the tour starting the following morning.
Day 1 - You will be met this morning at London Heathrow Airport, but our adventure begins in the West of England with a first stop at Avebury Stone Circle, the largest known stone ring in the world. Older than the more famous Stonehenge, and for many visitors far more spectacular, the multiple rings of Avebury are cloaked with mysteries which archaeologists have only begun to unravel. Then we are off to Marlborough and Lunch at The Polly Tearooms. The High Street in Marlborough is one of the widest in Europe and lined on both sides with characterful old buildings housing an array of high quality shops. The Merchant's House is one of the finest 17th century middle-class homes in England and contains a wealth of period features, paintings and artifacts. We then continue to the lovely spa town of Bath. Welcoming Dinner and Overnight near Bradford-on-Avon. (L,D)
Day 2 - This morning we take the train to Bath to explore all the wonders of this delightful spa town. Nourished by natural hot springs, Bath offers a unique experience with stunning architecture. While here, you will have tickets to visit the Roman Baths, a magnificent temple and bathing complex that still flows with natural hot water. You may also want to visit the Jane Austen Centre. We then take a short train journey back to Bradford-on-Avon for Afternoon Tea at the Bridge Tearooms. After tea you will have some time to wander around this lovely town. Its magical position on the banks of the River Avon gives visitors a wonderful setting for leisure, cultural and tourist activities. Bradford-on-Avon has delightful shops, restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfasts lining the narrow streets of the town centre. The surrounding hillside is covered with Cotswold Stone Houses and Cottages of every shape and size. Dinner on your own this evening. Overnight near Bradford-on-Avon. (B,L)
Day 3 - This morning we make our way further north into the Cotswolds with a stop at Lacock. Often in listings for Britain's loveliest villages, the village dates from the 13th century and has many limewashed half-timbered and stone houses and was used as a location in the TV and film productions of Pride and Prejudice, Moll Flanders and Emma. Our next stop is Tetbury with over 1300 years of recorded history and was an important market town for the Cotswolds wool trade and the town centre is still dominated by the splendid pillared Market House built in 1655. This afternoon we visit Chavenage House where will have lunch before a tour of the house. Originally built in 1383, there have been additions and renovations to the property over the centuries. Since Tudor times, only two families have owned Chavenage. The house has been used for filming on many projects including BBC's 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. Dinner and Overnight Cotswolds. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - This morning we visit the lovely market towns of Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water, perhaps the best known of the small Cotswolds towns. Stow is an important shopping centre and has many fine Antique shops, Art galleries and Gifts and Crafts Shops. Moreton has been a traveller's town for at least 1700 years and the high street has many elegant eighteenth-century inns and houses and Bourton-on-the-Water has been described as the 'Little Venice' of the Cotswolds. Next, we spend some time in the beautiful Old Cotswolds Market Town of Chipping Campden. Chipping Campden was the centre for wool trade during the 14th and 15th centuries and has retained its feel of a place stepped back in time and is quite a lovely town to explore. Before exploring, first things first, so we stop in at Badger's Tearoom for Afternoon Tea. Dinner on your own and Overnight Cotswolds. (B,L)
Day 5 - Overnight Cotswolds.
Day 6 -This morning we head west to Tewkesbury and Tewkesbury Abbey. Although the Abbey was founded in 1087 by nobleman Robert FitzHamon, building of the present Abbey did not start until 1102 and was built to house Benedictine Monks. It has probably the largest and finest Romanesque Tower in England! Then we are off to the lovely town of Leominster, "The Town in the Marches". This delightful town is located in the heart of the beautiful border countryside where England and Wales nudge each other back and forth along Offa's Dyke. This historic wool town dates back to the 7th century. We will Stop for Lunch at the Garden Tearoom before taking some time to take in all the delights of Leominster. We make our way across the border and into Wales and to Mid Wales to get checked into our accommodation where we find a wee bar and dinner waiting for us. Dinner and Overnight Mid Wales. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Just a short drive away this morning we find the Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir, mid Wales most unique and beautiful stately home and historic house. This 52 Room Victorian Revival Gothic Mansion sits in 12 acres of gardens overlooking the ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian Abbey which is the final resting place of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales. After a wonderful tour of the house we will have lunch and then you will have time to explore the Walled Garden, Lake, Boathouse, Waterfall along with woodland walks, lawns, courtyards and terraces, a gypsy caravan, shepherds hut, a row of beach huts and a vintage caravan. All overlooking the ruins of the “Abbey of the Long Valley". We then take the lovely drive through Newtown and Welshpool and then to Chirk Castle. Completed in 1310, Chirk is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Features from its 700 years, include the medieval tower and dungeon, 17th-century Long Gallery, grand 18th-century state apartments, servants' hall and historic laundry. We then continue our countryside drive and eventually winding up just outside of Chester. Dinner and Overnight near Chester. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Today will be spent in Chester and in particular, the Chester Rows. The Rows are continuous half-timbered galleries, reached by steps, which form a second row of shops above those at street level along Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street. The Rows are unique in the world and some are the original 13th century buildings, including the Three Old Arches in Bridge Street which have survived the ravages of time and are still magnificent and greatly contribute to the beauty and character of Chester. Afternoon Tea at the Mad Hatter Tearoom before a visit to Chester Cathedral. There has been a church on this site for over 1,000 years. Originally a Saxon Minster, then rebuilt as a Benedictine Abbey, this magnificent building is a national treasure in the heart of the city and has been the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Chester since 1541. From Norman arches to Gothic columns, spectacular fourteenth century woodcarvings, the medieval shrine of St. Werburgh and spectacular stained glass. The Cloisters and Church form one of the most complete medieval monastic complexes in the country. Dinner on your own and Overnight near Chester. (B,L)
Day 9 - This morning we leave Chester behind as we head toward the Peak District. We will stop at the Lewis Carroll Centre at All Saints Church in Daresbury. The author of Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass spent the first 11 years of his life in Daresbury growing up in the Parsonage with has father as the Vicar. After our visit we head to Northwich and Davenport Farm Shop and Tearooms for their special Mad Hatters Tea Party! The tearoom is themed around Alice in Wonderland with murals on the walls, Alice in Wonderland Collectables, Alice Chess Sets and Playing Cards. We then make our way to Congleton to visit Little Moreton Hall, an iconic Tudor Manor House that logically should not still be standing up! Fortunately this timber-framed building, curled around with a scenic moat, has defied logic for over 500 years and remains standing! Dinner and Overnight in the Peak District. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - This morning we visit Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Chatsworth and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish Family. The house architecture and collection have been evolving for five centuries. The house has over 30 rooms to explore, from the magnificent Painted Hall, regal State Rooms, newly restored Sketch Galleries and beautiful Sculpture Gallery. In the Guest Bedrooms, meet an Edwardian Lady's Maid who will be revealing the secrets of her mistress's suitcase of clothes, or dress up in one of our period costumes. We will have Afternoon Tea at Chatsworth before our way to Bakewell, the only market town in the Peak District National Park. Set in an enviable location on the banks of the Wye, with the river meandering gently through the centre, this beautiful old market town is in the heart of the Peak District, surrounded by stunning countryside views. Famous for its Puddings, Annual events and for receiving royal charter as a market town in 1330. Overnight Peak District. (B,L)
Day 11 - Our first stop this morning is Haworth, situated at the edge of the Pennine Moors in West Yorkshire. Haworth is most famous for the Bronte Sisters who wrote most of their famous works while living at the Haworth Parsonage which is now the Bronte Parsonage Museum, home from 1820-1861 to novelists Charlotte, Emily and Anne. This is a lovely town with many shops to take in and you can wander about getting acquainted with lovely spot in Yorkshire. After wandering up and down the streets of the village enjoying all the wee shoppes, we will stop for Afternoon Tea at Ashmount House before we journey to Sizergh Castle and Gardens. Home of the Strickland family for over 750 years, Sizergh is a romantic fortified mansion that contains some of the finest Elizabethan Carved Overmantels in the country. We then make our way into the beautiful Lake District. Dinner and Overnight Lake District. (B,L,D)
Day 12 - This morning we visit Rydal Mount and Gardens, the famous home of William Wordsworth. With the breathtaking views of the lakes you can understand why he loved to write here. This was Wordsworth's best loved family home for the greater part of his life from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80. We then take a lovely drive through the district on our way to have Lunch at the Minstrels Tearoom in Hawkshead before we visit Beatrix Potters most beloved home of Hill Top. It is kept exactly as she left and complete with treasured furniture and china. You will feel as if you stepped into her books! Full of her favourite things, the house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a 'tale'. The lovely cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. We then return by Ferry across Lake Windermere to have some time to enjoy Ambleside, a lovely village nestled alongside the shore of Lake Windermere. Dinner on your own and Overnight Lake District. (B,L)
Day 13 - This morning before we leave the area behind, we visit Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, the years of his supreme work as a poet. We then make our way to the Yorkshire Dales over the winding roads and hills that make up James Herriot's Yorkshire Dales. Our next stop is Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The creamery incorporates a museum, viewing gallery, specialist cheese shop and fully licensed restaurant. This afternoon we visit Bolton Castle, a spectacular mediaeval fortress, situated in the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, on the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Built in 1399, the castle is famous for having been the prison of Mary Queen of Scots for 6 months. We will have. We then make our way toward the spa town of Harrogate through Middleham, Masham and Ripon enjoying the areas that James Herriot so loved. Dinner and Overnight Yorkshire. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - This morning we visit Thirsk, one of the inspirations for James Herriot's Darrowby. We will explore Thirsk for a bit before a stop at Skeldale House at 23 Kirkgate, the actual residence and surgery in James Herriot's Darrowby which now houses The World of James Herriot Museum. The museum encompasses the very essence of the world renowned vet James Herriot. It offers visitors an unforgettable interactive experience of the life and times of a man, who became a national celebrity after the airing of the BBC drama "All Creatures Great and Small". We then make our way to Ripon and one of my very favourite tearooms, Madisons where we enjoy a lovely Luncheon Tea before a visit to Ripon Cathedral. Ripon is a lovely Cathedral City with its 800 year old cathedral built over a 7th century Saxon crypt. The cathedral was founded by St Wilfrid (c. 634-709), who brought craftsmen from the continent to build a new stone church dedicated to St Peter, in 672. The only part of Wilfrid’s church to survive, however, is the ancient Saxon crypt. Dinner and Overnight Yorkshire. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - Overnight Yorkshire.
Day 16 - This morning we visit Harewood House. Harewood sits at the heart of Yorkshire, one of the treasure houses of England, the house was built in the 18th century and has art collections to rival the finest in the land in the setting of Yorkshire’s most beautiful landscape. The house is furnished by master cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale, with interiors by the much celebrated Robert Adam, all the in the setting of 'Capability' Brown's finest landscape. This afternoon we visit the Castle and Gardens of Ripley. In 2009 the Ingilby family celebrated 700 years at Ripley Castle. For any family to occupy the same house for 700 years is truly remarkable. All those letters, deeds and documents that tend to get lost, damaged or thrown away when you move from one house to another have survived, and give a unique record of the family's history, their births, marriages and deaths, their trials and their tribulations, during the course of the last seven centuries. Farewell Dinner and Overnight near Manchester. (B,D)
Day 17 - This morning we are off to the Manchester International Airport.