Highlights include some of England's loveliest villages - Bradford-on-Avon, Lacock, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Leominter, Shrewsbury, Bakewell, Haworth, Ambleside, Grasmere, Reeth and Thirsk along with the venues of Avebury Stone Circle, Bridge Tearooms, Bath and the Roman Baths, Chavenage House, Broadway Tower, Chipping Campden, Chester and the Chester Rows, Bronte Parsonage Museum, Chatsworth House, the Peak District National Park, Sizergh Castle, William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Beatrix Potter's Hill Top, Wensleydale Cheese Factory, Bolton Castle, The World of James Harriot, Swaledale Folk Museum, Harewood House and Ripley Castle.
Day 1: You will be met this morning at London Heathrow Airport, but our adventure begins in the West of England After a visit to the house, we are off to Avebury, 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 Bath. (L,D) 2 nights in Bath at a Lovely City 5 Star Boutique Bed and Breakfast, Grays Boutique.
Day 2: This morning we will explore all the wonders of Bath. 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 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 Bath. (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. You will have some time to find some lunch before a visit to Chavenage 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 Broadway in the Cotswolds. (B,D) 2 nights in Broadway a 4 Star 17th Century Cotswold Stone Country House, Cowley House.
Day 4: This morning we visit the lovely market towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and 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, it is 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 at Broadway in the Cotswolds. (B,L)
Day 5: This morning we way west 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. After some free time to wander around the town we will stop for lunch at the Garden Tearoom before we make our way again across the border and into Wales. Further west we find Llandrindod Wells and just north of there, 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. After a wonderful tour of the house we continue to our home nearby. Dinner and Overnight near Llandrindodd Wells. (B,L,D) 1 night north of Llandrindodd Wells in a Luxury 5 Star Country House, Guidfa House.
Day 6: This morning we make our way north through the beautiful Welsh countryside criss crossing the English border as we go. Through Newtown and Welshpool and then to Shrewsbury, one of England's finest medieval market towns. The town centre is packed with timber-framed black and white buildings, steep narrow streets and alleyways and boasts over 600 listed buildings including the Castle, now a regimental museum and the world-famous Shrewsbury Abbey, home of the fictional Brother Cadfael. After some time to wander the town we will meet up for Lunch at Camellias Tearooms before we make our way further north to Chirk and Chirk Castle. 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 Chester. (B,L,D) 2 nights at Chester at a Lovely 5 Star 19th Century Stone Guest House, Stone Villa Chester.
Day 7: 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 Chester. (B,L)
Day 8: This morning we leave Chester behind as we head to the Peak District and Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, 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 then make 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. We will stop at the Lavender Tearooms, my favourite place to experience a Bakewell Pudding. We then get settled into out accommodation before a dinner outing. Dinner and Overnight Peak District. (B,L,D) 1 night at Castleton in the Peak District's Finest 4 Star Hotel and Spa, Losehill House.
Day 9: 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 continue on to Windermere in the Lake District. Dinner and Overnight Windermere. (B,L,D) 2 nights near Windermere at a Luxury 4 Star Guest House, Hawksmoor Guest House.
Day 10: 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 Near Windermere. (B,L)
Day 11: 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 lovely areas that James Herriot so loved. Dinner and Overnight near Harrogate. (B,L,D) 2 nights in Harrogate at an Elegant 19th Century Yorkshire City Guest House, Ascott House Hotel.
Day 12: 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 near Harrogate. (B,L,D)
Day 13: 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 Halifax Leeds/Bradford. (B,D) 1 night in Halifax at A Grand Jacobean Manor built in 1633, Holdsworth House.
Day 14: This morning we are off to Leeds/Bradford Airport for the journey home. (B) If it is easier for you to fly out of Manchester or return to Heathrow, we are happy to help with those arrangements.
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