Britain is magical. There is no other destination like it. Most of our own histories can be traced to Britain. Many of the most world-altering events involved the British. Some of the greatest literary figures and statesmen come from the United Kingdom.
This UNIQUE and COMPLETELY CUSTOM ITINERARY explores famous people and events in Great Britain. And it just so happens that they unfolded in the most beautiful parts of this glorious island. This is NOT a CITY TOUR. THIS IS A COUNTRYSIDE TOUR. We’ll see a bit of London and Edinburgh, but we will be focused on the majestic countryside and the figures that lived here – like Dickens, CS Lewis, Shakespeare, Churchill, Jane Austen and more. It is an enriching, entertaining and enjoyable journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Follow in their footsteps. Listen to their words. See and feel what motivated their genius. Educate. Entertain. Inspire. Celebrate!
We’ll stay in nice hotels, enjoy some delicious meals and include admissions to all the places we’ll see.
And look at the price! 14 days in Britain including almost everything for under $2,950 + air. You’ll want to get in on this one quickly as advance interest has been heavy and spaces will go fast. Group is limited to 42 passengers.
June 29/30: Depart USA
Today we meet at the airport to board our flight through the east coast to Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the “Athens of the North” (dinner and breakfast are included on the flight). Our aim today is twofold. Help you fall in love with Scotland, and keep you awake to adjust to the time change. We begin our afternoon adventure with a visit to Carlton Hill. We see impressive monuments and important government buildings, learn of fire festivals, “Edinburgh’s shame”, and Old Observatories, but best of all we gain a great outlook over Edinburgh, Leith & Firth of Forth. We venture out on foot to take our first trip into the Old Town. Weaving in and out of the Royal Mile we get our first taste of Britain’s literary greatness with a brief visit to the Writer’s Museum to view artefacts belonging to the great Scottish writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. In this area, we also find the humble beginnings of the Harry Potter phenomena. It’s in interesting place to start our journey. B
July 1: Today we leave the city for the countryside to visit St. Andrews. St. Andrews is known as the birthplace of golf, but it’s much more than that. We’ll walk the beach made famous in Charriots of Fire. We’ll wander along the coast of the North Sea past the castle ruins and ancient cathedral which was once the largest building in Scotland, built in 1160. But “words, sweet words brought it tumbling down.” We’ll discover Robert Kirk’s fairy folklore and throw in some stories about Star Wars, smallpox, martyrs and of course William & Kate. We then return back to Edinburgh for a lovely dinner together this evening. For those that are interested, we’ll descend with our costumed guide UNDERNEATH the streets of Edinburgh to find a collection of hidden streets frozen in time since the 17th Century. It is fascinating! B, D
July 2: Our day trip today takes us north to visit Stirling Castle. Its striking location was the constant battle ground between England and Scotland for centuries. Learn of the exploits of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in the Battle of Stirling Bridge and the Battle of Bannockburn. This is the stuff of legends. Witness how James V changed the Royal Palace into a public relations masterpiece with carvings and the Stirling Heads showing his divine right to rule. Next we visit Roslyn Chapel - a “medieval treasure in stone”. Founded in 1446 this quaint little church, with intricate carvings and intriguing legends, came to the mass public’s attention due to Dan Brown’s book – The Da Vinci Code. The mystery of what is in those sealed crypts continues to create speculation, but the pure skill of these master masons is what keeps people coming back. For dinner this evening we will enjoy a Taste of Scotland - an unmissable evening of Scottish music, costume, bagpipes, fiddles and dance in the magically historic setting of Prestonfield House. Enjoy exceptional entertainment with a gourmet dinner served by kilted waiters. Try some Angus beef or Orkney Salmon or even a wee taste of Haggis, neeps and tatties. B, D
July 3: Before we leave Scotland we briefly stop at the infamous Gretna Green - used in many novels as the place to elope and get married by the blacksmith. Then we are welcomed to England with a day of scenery and inspiration driving through the famous Lake District. Our first English stop is Dove Cottage where Britain’s best loved poet William Wordsworth began his married life, where three of his children were born, and where some of his best poetry was written. We stroll into Grasmere and sample some famous gingerbread. After lunch, our next stop is Hawkshead, a charming village with links to Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. We then worm our way through narrow lanes to Hill Top Farm – the home of Beatrix Potter. This tiny farm house (with its splendid location and views) is a delightful time capsule particularly when you start to match the drawings from her stories with actual locations. Fall in love with Peter Rabbit and his friends all over again. We stay in the charming town of Skipton tonight. B
July 4: Today, we drive through the moors of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to explore a few northern towns and villages and discover where beauty and grit combine. We arrive in style on a steam train aboard the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Ten movies have used this railway line to capture a bygone age, most famously in The Railway Children (1970), then North and South (2004), and many more. One of today’s main highlights will be our visit to Haworth - the home and inspiration to the Bronte sisters. The ascent from the train station along the cobbled street to the parish church and parsonage is a delightful flashback. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were conceived here and the home and countryside home now hosts thousands of visitors to celebrate their masterpieces of literature. We stay in Bakewell tonight. B, D
July 5: Bakewell hosted the very famous Jane Austen who captured these areas so perfectly in her books. We’ll visit the Chatsworth House which is a wonderful introduction to the stately homes of her era. This was also the setting of her most famous book – Pride and Prejudice. This afternoon we visit nearby Haddon Hall - described as “the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages”. Set in the heart of the beautiful Peak District National Park, parts of the house date from the 12th Century, sitting like a jewel in its Elizabethan terraced gardens, and overlooking the River Wye. The house and grounds have played host to no less than three versions of “Jane Eyre”. Screen credits also include "Elizabeth”, "Pride & Prejudice”, “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “The Princess Bride”. It is an idyllic place in England that will delight you! We then continue 92 miles to Stratford Upon Avon where we will spend 2 nights. B
July 6: You can’t appreciate England if you don’t explore the beautiful Midlands, starting with Stratford upon Avon, birth place of the bard himself, William Shakespeare. We start with a meander through the town which is still thriving because of his contribution. We stroll along the River Avon, find two statues of him and visit the parish church where he was both christened and buried. We see his daughter’s home, his birthplace, his school, and New Place, where he died. We then drive out to Ann Hathaway’s Cottage to walk in the gardens and thatched cottage where his heart was captured. Those who wish can take in a dinner and play this evening. B
July 7: Today is our day to explore the Cotswolds, my favorite part of England. We’ll start with some time in nearby Evesham on the River Avon. We then enjoy a day of “Cotswold hopping” as we go from town to town to show you some of these GEMS. We’ll visit Bourton on the Water, Chippen Camden and Broadway spending time in each. These are tidy, well preserved villages made of the famous Cotswold stone giving them their iconic look and feel. This is England as you’ve pictured it and it is some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. You’ll have time for a delightful lunch in Bourton on the Water. On route to Wales we pass near Gloucester where we find trolls in the bathroom, mice sewing waistcoats, a stingy old man, a touch of fairy dust, a formidable pirate, and an American tune which turns out to be not so American! A delightful mixture of literary connections that we’ll explore in route. We cross over the border into Wales taking in the beautiful Wye Valley making a brief stop at the Tintern Abbey immortalized by Wordsworth. We stay in Swansea tonight and enjoy an included dinner. B, D
July 8: Today we experience beautiful Welsh valleys, silent coal mines and a walk through centuries of Welsh history. Blackened faces, powerful singing voices, non conformist chapels, hardy miners and tough rugby players have all inspired pen to paper. This was the backdrop for the classic book “How Green Was my Valley”. And you’ll see how green they are! Famous author, Roald Dahl (James & the Giant Peach, Matilda) was from here. We have lunch today at an old Norwegian church with a long maritime history, a great view of Cardiff Bay. We continue on to St Fagans National History Museum and visit the whole of Welsh history in one spot! Over 40 original buildings from throughout the nation have been carefully reconstructed and preserved allowing us to walk through the wide spectrum of Welsh history. One of Europe’s leading open-air museums and Wale’s most popular heritage attraction. A must see! We stay near Bath, England tonight. B, L
July 9: Bath has some of the country’s best preserved Georgian architecture which means we get to see the city landscape seen by notable authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The period dramas we enjoy often use the same street scenes where these authors conjured up their characters. We then visit Lacock - another charming village which you have seen in film many times before as it is the village backdrop to many movies including Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, the Hollow Crown, Wolf Hall, Robin Hood, and more. We then journey to Downton Abbey to visit Highclere Castle - and walk through the film set where so many engaging story lines kept us wanting more. These stately homes experienced dramatic overhauls as society shifted. We have interesting stories to tell here. We continue to our hotel in the Oxford area tonight. B, D
July 10: This morning we visit Blenheim Palace. This home is the absolute pinnacle of an English stately home and includes an exhibition on Winston Churchill who was born here, and helps us understand the roots of this prolific writer who galvanized a nation in its time of need. Our visit includes a stroll in their magnificent gardens to see where Winston proposed to Clementine. In the Afternoon we stop in Oxford where we wind our way through the narrow streets, stately colleges and grassy meadows, to discover some of the Noble and Great Ones. We track the history back to the beginnings of Oxford, to the time of the miraculous Frideswide, and then build layer upon layer of famous name after famous names including Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, C.S. Lewis, John Ruskin, J.R. Tolkien, Thomas More, Samuel Johnson and many more. We discover the influential John Wycliffe and his nemesis Richard Fleming, the tragic ending of the Oxford Martyrs, and the founding of Wesley’s Holy Club. Throw in some Hobbits and Orcs, Lions and Wardrobes, Green Eggs and Ham, and tons of pilchard; mix in a plethora of Prime Ministers, a remarkable balloon flight, a penicillin breakthrough, a four minute mile, the King James Bible, Halley’s Comet, My Fair Lady and you have the beginnings of a splendid stroll through this city! Harry Potter fans will delight in discovering parts of Hogwarts in different parts of the city. It is an incredible journey in a very special place. We stay in the town of Rochester tonight, near London. We are here for two nights. B, D
July 11: Few authors have created so many universally loved characters as those penned by Charles Dickens. We start with a walking tour of the streets of Rochester to find streets, buildings and characters who were given eternal stardom in his novels. He loved this town with its ancient castle and cathedral overlooking the River Medway. This is where he wished to be buried (didn’t work out that way). On route to Canterbury we drive by charming Chatham, where he had fond childhood memories, and then by his last home at Gads Hill, where he died. Canterbury is most famous for its fabulous cathedral, which we visit, but there is lots more to discover in the surrounding streets such as the Kings School, St Augustine, Queen Bertha, the Mayflower and a little bear. This is truly a Dickens day as we find a number of his characters walking these charming streets. We also pay tribute to Geoffrey Chaucer. His Canterbury Tales collection is revered as one of the most important stepping stones for English Literature. Farewell dinner together (we’ve still got another day together, but tomorrow eve the group will be scattered all over London). B, D
July 12: We’re 30 miles from London and we’ll spend our last day here. Of course, it can’t be done in a day (or in two weeks, really), but our focus has been the countryside away from the masses. But we’ll see some important things starting with a late morning visit to Westminster Abbey where the Noble and Great ones of all aspects of British society are remembered. A local guide will take us on a stroll through St. James Park by Buckingham Palace and a few other gems. You’ll have some free time in the evening to do what’s most important to you. B
July 13: After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flights home. B