Wed. Day 1 – After meeting up at Heathrow we will drive to Salisbury which, from a distance, looks very much it did when painted by Constable. The Cathedral only took 40 years to complete but its crowning glory (literally) is the spire which was added a hundred years later and at 404 feet is the tallest in England. The Close which surrounds the cathedral is the largest and most impressive in the country and the North Gate leads out onto the city’s oldest streets. Here you will find many half-timbered houses and inns which have survived.
From Salisbury we then take the drive into Cornwall and check into your accommodation for the next four nights.
Thurs. Day 2 – To-day starts off with a visit to the small fishing port of Padstow. Padstow is home to the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall. It is sometimes called Padstein after the celebrated chef Rick Stein who lives and works there. While you are there why not take a cruise to Padstow Bay or take the ferry across to Rock.
The afternoon will be spent at Tintagel. Tintagel lays claim to being the birthplace of King Arthur and that the town itself is Camelot. While you are in the town you might like to visit the Old Post Office which is a fascinating 14th century building before buying one of the famous Cornish Pasties and setting off for Tintagel Castle which is set in a fabulous position overlooking the sea.
Fri. Day 3 – This morning we travel through Bodmin Moor to visit the legendary Jamaica Inn the Cornish smugglers inn made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her well known novel of the same name. Bodmin Moor remains one the last great unspoilt areas in the South West and much of its prehistoric and medieval past remains untouched by the passing of the centuries. Historically, Bodmin Moor was a landscape which engendered fear and awe, but which has also provided inspiration for writers, poets and sculptors. It has generated folklore and legend, with fact and fiction merging, as tales were passed down through generations.
We then move on to the Eden Project where you will spend the rest of the day. The Eden Project turned a disused clay pit into a rich global garden. The whole site is stunningly landscaped with an array of crops and flowerbeds, but the “Biomes” take centre stage. One contains groves of olive and citrus trees while the larger group contain plants from the tropics with a waterfall and river running through. Just as impressive are the external grounds where plantations of bamboo, tea, hops, hemp and tobacco share the ground with colourful swathes of flowers.
Sat. Day 4 – its south and west we are heading to-day. First we will explore the unspoilt Lizard Peninsular the most southerly part of Britain, particularly the snug hamlets dotted around the River Helford. We’ll be stopping at Helford, an old smugglers haunt, where you will be able to take the ferry across the river to Helford Passage or, if you are feeling energetic, take the walk to Fisherman’s Creek made famous by Daphne Du Maurier.
This afternoon we head for one of the most amazing theatres you will ever see, The Minack. The Minack theatre was hewn out of the cliff in the 1930’s to a basic Greek-inspired design. It has as its backdrop the spectacular Porthcurno Bay.
Sun. Day 5 – This morning after a leisurely breakfast we start the day in Boscastle. The old port sits in a narrow ravine into which two rivers flow. The riverfront is bordered by thatched and lime-washed houses and if you take the circular walk along the banks of the Valency you will see a collection of 17th and 18th century cottages before you reach the parish church. If you are brave enough you might like to pay a visit to the Witchcraft Museum.
It’s then time to leave Cornwall and stop off at Wells which is technically England’s smallest city. Wells is justly famous however for its spectacular cathedral. On the west front of the cathedral there are over about 300 13th century figures depicting saints and kings. The interior is a supreme example of early English Gothic. Through the cloisters you enter the peaceful gardens of the Bishop’s Palace, while in the north transept there is a 24-hour astronomical clock dating from 1390.
We then move on to your accommodation for the next 2 nights.
Mon Day 6 – to-day is free for you to explore Glastonbury which lies at the centre of the Isle of Avalon, a region rich with mystical associations. It is said that as a young man Christ visited the area and one of the local mines was owned by Joseph of Aramathea who was a well appointed merchant related to Mary Magdalene. You will be able to explore Glastonbury Abbey which became the richest Benedictine Abbey in the country. The abbey also holds the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere. Also look out for the thorn tree which came from the original Glastonbury Thorn that sprouted from Joseph of Aramathea’s staff. While you are here don’t miss the opportunity of visiting Glastonbury Tor. The Tor has outstanding views and Pilgrims once climbed the hill with dried peas in their shoes as penance. We have to say though that it is not obligatory!!
Tues Day 7 – This morning we head northwards to Avebury. The village stands in the midst of a large stone circle that rivals Stonehenge. A massive earthwork 20 feet high encloses the main circle and it is thought that it was constructed around 2500 BC. A wide avenue runs between Avebury and Stonehenge and, unlike Stonehenge, you are free to wander amongst the standing stones. Keep a look-out as we approach the village for Silbury Hill which is the largest prehistoric artificial mound in Europe and was constructed using nothing more than primitive spades.
We then move on to Lacock which is a perfect example of an English feudal village. The village, dating back to the 13th-century, remains largely unchanged over the centuries and has many lime washed, half-timbered and stone houses. During the Middle Ages Lacock became a prosperous and thriving town through its wool industry. The village was well placed for communications, sited as it was on the 'cloth road' from London and the River Avon, which gave access to the sea at Avonmouth near Bristol. Lacock Abbey has unique architectural styles encompassing over 750 years of history. The Grounds and Gardens provide the perfect foil to the house and are managed in the style of a Wiltshire squire who governs his surroundings in partnership with nature. The woodland garden is of the 19th-century style and contains an historic collection of formal and native trees.
This afternoon you spend at Castle Combe which has been called ‘the prettiest village in England’ with good reason. The small street leading down from the Market Cross to the By Brook is as picturesque to-day as it has always been. The village has played host to many filming activities, the most famous of these being ‘Doctor Doolittle’ filmed in and around the village in 1966. The village houses are all of typical Cotswold type, constructed in stone with thick walls and roofs made from split natural stone tiles. The properties are many hundreds of years old and are listed as ancient monuments.
It’s then time to drive to your accommodation for the next 3 nights.
Wed Day 8 -. We start off to-day at Lower Slaughter. The name of the village of Lower Slaughter stems from the Old English name for a muddy place. Don’t be put however as this quaint village sits beside the little Eye stream and is known for its unspoilt limestone cottages in the traditional Cotswold style.
The stream running through the village is crossed by two small bridges and there is a converted mill with original water wheel that includes a cafe. Those of you who are feeling intrepid can take the walk across the fields to Upper Slaughter. The building that dominates Upper Slaughter is the beautiful gabled Manor House which is one of the finest buildings in the area. The oldest part of the house dates from the 15th century but the front is Elizabethan.
From there we move on to Bourton-on-the-Water. Bourton-on-the-Water straddles the river Windrush and with its series of elegant low bridges has been called the ‘Little Venice’ of the Cotswolds. Standing back from the neat tree-shaded greens and tidy stone banks are traditional Cotswolds buildings, Try not to miss the Model Village which is an excellent miniature of Bourton using authentic building materials depicting Bourton-on-the-Water as it was in 1937 at 1/9th scale.
This afternoon you will spend in Blenheim Palace birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Set in 2100 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the magnificent Palace is surrounded by sweeping lawns, award-winning formal garden and the great Lake, offering an unforgettable day out for all.
Blenheim Palace is a unique example of English Baroque architecture. Inside, the scale of the Palace is beautifully balanced by the intricate detail and delicacy of the carvings, the hand painted ceilings and the amazing porcelain collections, tapestries and paintings displayed in each room. On the first floor “Blenheim Palace The untold story” brings to life enticing tales from the last 300 years.
Thurs. Day 9 – This morning it’s off to Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle. The castle was once a favourite country retreat of Tudor and Stuart monarchs. It has particularly strong connections with Catherine Parr the sixth wife of Henry VIII who came to live here after his death. Sudeley’s glorious gardens are amongst the very best in England, from the centrepiece Queens' Garden, billowing with hundreds of varieties of old fashioned roses, to the Herbal Healing Garden.
This afternoon you’ll be let loose to explore and do that last bit of shopping you were meaning to do.
Fri. Day 10 – Unfortunately it’s time to return to Heathrow for your flight home.
Why not bring 9 friends or family members with you and get your holiday completely free.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe England Local Culture Cultural Journey