11 Day Elegance of Great Britain – Insight Vacations
Insight Vacations Country Roads Tour starting in London and finishing in London
While you might not meet Mr Darcy on this tour, it certainly evokes a bygone age, imbued with archetypal villages, stately homes, historic castles and beautiful gardens. This tour features two-night stays throughout. In each overnight destination there are expertly planned day excursions, or city tours, with fabulous visits designed to showcase each region in depth. An engaging, yet balanced itinerary. Enjoy both modern and traditional hotels – from the contemporary Botley Park to the historic grand Victorian Marriott Hollins Hall, set in 200 acres of Brontë Country.
Day By Day
Day 1 From London To Chartwell, Hever And Winchester
Leave London and make your way into the Kent countryside. At the pretty village of Westerham, Winston Churchill watches over the neat village green and you visit his nearby residence of Chartwell next. Continue through brilliant yellow and green pastures to Hever Castle, home to the tragic tale of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Cross the moat to explore the fortified manor house and stroll in the delightful gardens. Move on to your hotel in the cathedral town of Winchester, where King Alfred stands guard in the High Street. Later, join your Tour Director for a warm and friendly Welcome Reception, with drinks and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine. (WR/D) Stay: Winchester Royal/Norton Park, Winchester
Day 2 Excursion Through The New Forest To Beaulieu
After a good night’s rest, take a scenic drive through the woods and glades of the New Forest to Beaulieu Abbey, once a Cistercian Abbey, now the stately home of Lord Montagu. Tour the Palace House, Abbey ruins and visit his lordship’s collection of cars in the National Motor Museum. Return to your hotel, where the rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps walk down to the Norman cathedral containing Jane Austen’s grave or visit the Great Hall with King Arthur’s legendary Round Table? (FB) Stay: Winchester Royal/Norton Park, Winchester
Day 3 Scenic Drive To Avebury, Sudely And Shakespeare’s Stratford
Travel to Salisbury to see the tallest spire in the land atop the 13th century cathedral. The country roads of Wiltshire lead you past pretty villages to Avebury, which is partially situated in a huge prehistoric henge monument of several stone circles. Wander among the stones of the inner circles and the great outer circle and witness the immense bank and ditch. Next, visit the gardens of Sudeley Castle, former home to one of King Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Parr. The award-winning gardens have been lovingly restored to complement the tranquility of the castle and its ruins. Continue on to pretty Stratford, beautifully situated on the River Avon. Your hotel is set in its own grounds just a short walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the town’s wealth of black and white timber framed buildings. (FB) Stay: Alveston Manor/Swan’s Nest, Stratford-upon-Avon
Day 4 Blenheim And The Villages Of The Cotswolds Experience
An enchanting day awaits in the morning! Cross the beautiful Cotswold hills, a chocolate box scene of golden stone villages with roses round the doors. Tour the magnificent house and gardens of Blenheim Palace, the greatest building of the English Baroque. Return to Stratford for a look through the birthplace of William Shakespeare, full of interesting memorabilia and artefacts relating to his life. This evening, you are offered a fine selection of restaurants for your dining pleasure, each with its own special ambience and cuisine. (BB/ DA) Stay: Alveston Manor, Stratford
Day 5 To Ludlow And Across The Welsh Marches To The Lake District
Travel through the orchards of Worcestershire to elegant Ludlow, where 18C mansions rub shoulders with half-timbered Tudor buildings. The town is dominated by its castle, rich in tragic royal history. Explore the lanes, local market and hidden courtyards, before continuing through the remote Shropshire hills. Pass by Wenlock Edge, as celebrated in the poetry of AE Housman, to reach Ironbridge Gorge, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. From the eponymous 200-year-old bridge, the smooth motorway carries you north to the English Lake District. Your traditional country style hotel is set in the pretty village of Bowness-on-Windermere, right on England’s largest lake. (BB/D) Stay: Old England Hotel & Spa, Windermere
Day 6 English Poets And The Lake District Experience
The next day is devoted to this scenic wonderland of rugged mountains and tranquil waters – an inspiration to a host of English poets. Visit Wordsworth’s grave in the small churchyard at Grasmere, then free time to relax and admire the vast expanse of Windermere. Perhaps even consider a cruise on its limpid waters? Across the road from your hotel is St. Martin’s Church built in 1483, well worth a look and don’t miss the area behind the church, the oldest part of Bowness, a delightful web of narrow streets known as Lowside. (FB) Stay: Old England Hotel & Spa, Windermere
Day 7 Over The Border To Edinburgh
Cross the Scottish border at Gretna – for years the destination of eloping English lovers, before continuing through the Southern Uplands to Edinburgh. This afternoon, a local expert guides you through Edinburgh Castle containing the Honours of Scotland, the oldest Royal regalia in the British Isles. Follow the Royal Mile to Holyroodhouse Palace where Mary Queen of Scots lived. Drive along Princes Street, past the ornate Scott Memorial, to the 18th century ‘New Town’ with its classical Adam facades. (FB) Stay: Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh
Day 8 Edinburgh, Athens Of The North
Free time today. Why not choose to discover the Botanical Gardens, visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art or just spend the day browsing the shops and getting a feel for this vibrant city. Tonight, selected departures attend the spectacular Edinburgh Military Tattoo. (FB) Stay: Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh
Day 9 Through The Borders To Abbotsford And Brontë Country
Travel through the Borders region to Abbotsford House, the 19th century estate of Sir Walter Scott, which now serves as a museum for the Scottish memorabilia and artifacts collected throughout his lifetime. Head south past ruined Jedburgh Abbey and over the border to visit Hadrian’s Wall, boundary of the civilized world in Roman times! Stay for the next two nights in a grand Victorian hotel, set amidst a landscape that fueled the imagination of the Brontë sisters in writing their classic novels. (BB/D) Stay: Marriott Hollins Hall, Shipley
Day 10 Excursion To York & Harewood House
After breakfast, drive to York, one of Britain’s most historic cities. Walk within the town walls to see the huge Minster, Britain’s largest medieval cathedral, and explore the maze of narrow streets, including the Shambles. Head out now through rich farmland to Harewood House, one of Britain’s finest stately homes, magnificently set in the Yorkshire countryside. Built in the 18th century, Harewood boasts outstanding art collections, splendid State Rooms and a fascinating ‘Below Stairs’ exhibition. Later this evening, raise your glasses with friends and enjoy traditional Yorkshire hospitality at your finalé Celebration Dinner. (BB/CD) Stay: Marriott Hollins Hall, Shipley
Day 11 Past Robin Hood Country To Cambridge And On To London
Hear legendary tales as you journey towards ‘Robin Hood Country’ even though little remains of his beloved Sherwood Forest. Now a glimpse of Britain’s ancient tradition of learning as you visit Cambridge. Enjoy free time to explore the tranquil quadrangles of the colleges, stroll beside the River Cam for superb views of King’s College Chapel or spend time in the colourful and historic open-air market. Your journey concludes on return to London’s Thistle Marble Arch Hotel. (FB)
Additional Included Highlights
- Westerham: See Winston Churchill’s statue on the village green.
- Winchester: Visit the cathedral town.
- Salisbury: See the highest spire in England.
- Avebury: Visit the famous stone circle
- Ludlow: See the ruined castle and Jacobean timbered buildings
- Ironbridge: Enjoy an introduction to the engineering miracle that spawned the Industrial Revolution
- Lake District: Learn about the life of the poet William Wordsworth and visit his grave in Grasmere
- Edinburgh: See Holyroodhouse Palace and the 18th century ‘New Town’
- Borders: See Jedburgh Abbey and stop at Hadrian’s Wall
- York: See York Minster, city walls and medieval ‘Shambles”
- Cambridge: Walk among the historic colleges
- Scenic drives: Cotswolds, New Forest, Lake District
Highlight Hotels And Locations
- Bowness-on-Windermere: Nestled on the shore of England’s largest lake, experience traditional country house charm at The Old England Hotel.
- Brontë Country: With scenic views and tranquil surroundings, the historic grand Victorian Marriott Hollins Hall is set in 200 acres of beautiful countryside.
- Winchester: Housed in a 16th Century building, the charming Winchester Royal Hotel is a hidden gem in the heart of the city, complete with a secret garden.
- Stratford: You are offered a selection of restaurants to choose from on your Dine-Around evening.
- Brontë Country: For the real taste of Yorkshire, enjoy your Celebration Dinner with an included pint of bitter of local beer!
- Welcome Reception (WD), 10 full Breakfasts (FB), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 2 three-course Evening Meals with choice, or buffets, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).
- Chartwell: It’s still 1939 inside the home of Sir Winston Churchill, laid out with his many possessions.
- Hever: Enjoy the lovely gardens and cross the drawbridge at the castle where Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn.
- Beaulieu: Visit the 14C Palace House and gardens, and tour the incredible collection of cars at the National Motor Museum.
- Sudeley: Nestled in the Cotswold Hills, Sudeley Castle’s unique gardens are amongst the finest in England.
- Blenheim Palace: Witness a masterpiece of the English Baroque, brimming with priceless art and tapestries.
- Stratford: Venture inside the timber-framed building where William Shakespeare was born and grew up.
- Edinburgh: Walk with an expert within the walls of the Castle to view the Scottish Crown Jewels.
- Edinburgh: For a limited time in August, you are witness to the breathtaking spectacle of the Military Tattoo.
- Abbotsford: Visit the historic country estate where novelist, Sir Walter Scott, produced his literary classics.
- Harewood House: Renowned for its stunning architecture, exquisite Adam interiors, furnished by Chippendale and landscaped by Capability Brown.
- An expert Insight Tour Director – at the pinnacles of their careers, will smooth your way throughout your journey. They are your ‘travelling concierges’, expert guides, consummate organisers and friends in a foreign land.
- Insight motorcoach – Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight’s luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It’s business class comfort.
- Personal radio headsets – gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights without missing any of your local expert’s fascinating insights and commentaries.
- Baggage handling everywhere – with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
- Hotel and restaurant tips included – you’ll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
- Complimentary WiFi – the majority of Insight hotels have free WiFi access in lobby or bedroom areas. You will also find that WiFi is generally available on most touring coaches.
- Insight Flourishes – from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
- London Airport transfer service available