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Welcome to London. After checking into your hotel, the afternoon is free to enjoy a city that is famous for its pomp and pageantry. Perhaps relax with a walk along the Serpentine in Hyde Park or window shop in the elegant boutiques of Knightsbridge? Alternatively, you may want to stroll along the Thames to the iconic Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
At 08:00, meet your Travel Director at the trip's hotel in London. After a warm welcome, settle into your luxury coach and head westward through the green Chiltern Hills. Stop in Oxford, where your Travel Director will introduce you to the City of Dreaming Spires, home to the world's most famous university. With time at leisure, why not enjoy a visit to the renowned Ashmolean Museum or browse through the local indoor market? Continue via pretty Cotswolds villages to Stratford-upon-Avon. Visit the half-timbered house where William Shakespeare was born, now a museum full of memorabilia relating to his life. Later, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers at a local restaurant for a warm and friendly Welcome Dinner with drinks.
A leisurely drive brings you to the historic city of York; its story going back to the time of the Romans and the Vikings. Inside the ancient city walls, see the York Minster, the largest medieval church in northern Europe. Explore the maze of narrow streets to the topsy-turvy Shambles, where warped, overhanging timber-framed houses lean so far that they almost touch! Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Travel across the Yorkshire Dales and wild Pennines to the picturesque Lake District. A scenic wonderland awaits, with rugged mountains and tranquil waters that inspired a host of English poets, including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson and Shelley. After a visit to Wordsworth’s grave in the village of Grasmere, cross into Scotland and stop briefly at Gretna Green. This is the famous spot where runaway lovers were married over the anvil at the blacksmith's shop. Then it’s on to the majestic Scottish capital.
Join a Local Expert for a trip along Princes Street to see the ornate Victorian Gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott and the elegant 18th century New Town with its classical Adam facades. Over in the Old Town, see the Palace of Holyroodhouse - the official Scottish residence of Her Majesty, the Queen and visit the castle, home of Mons Meg, the Stone of Destiny and the Honours of Scotland - Scotland's glittering Crown Jewels. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps research your family tartan in the Tartan Centre or visit the art treasures in the National Gallery?In the evening, select departures will attend the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - a colourful mix of pipes and drums, dance and display, set against the floodlit backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
Cross the Firth of Forth into Fife. Make your way to St. Andrews, home to the Old Course and birthplace of golf. Enjoy free time to explore. Perhaps stroll to West Sands Beach where the famous 'Chariots of Fire' scene was filmed? Alternately, wander to St. Andrews University where the love story of Kate Middleton meeting her Prince Charming began. Cross the Tay and journey to the charming Victorian resort town of Pitlochry, famous for its salmon run. Continue via Blair Atholl and pass the Grampian Mountains on the way to the sparkling Spey Valley. Stop at Culloden Moor, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army was finally crushed in 1746 and visit the Culloden Visitor Centre. Travel to Inverness, where your centrally located hotel is set on the banks of the River Ness and looks up to Inverness Castle.
Start the day with a journey of discovery on a Loch Ness cruise. Soak up the scenery, historic monuments and intriguing tales of Nessie in the heart of Scotland's great glen. Your travels then follow the rugged coast north to the fishing port of Wick. Visit the Old Pulteney Distillery to taste a wee dram of whisky and learn about the production of the national drink. Don't blink as you drive on to your hotel - you pass Ebenezer Place, which at 2.06 m, is the world's shortest street!
Visit the most northern community on the British mainland, John O’Groats. Board the ferry to the beautiful Orkney Islands, where the hardy locals live 'below the wind and above the water.' Your Local Expert takes you to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, the town of Kirkwall and the small chapel built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II.
Relax and enjoy the stunning landscapes of lochs and mountains on your way to the fishing town of Ullapool. Continue alongside Loch Carron and through Glen Carron, before crossing to the magical Isle of Skye - the largest and most beautiful island of the Inner Hebrides. Hear the story of the song 'Over the Sea to Skye,' which tells of young Flora MacDonald and how she helped to rescue Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fled in disguise after his defeat at Culloden. Admire the scenic splendour on the way to your hotel in Broadford.
Return to the mainland to see the remote Eilean Donan Castle, which under a clear sky offers a perfect reflection in its loch. Move on to the WWII Commando Memorial for a chance to view Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Continue on to the Valley of Glencoe, its dramatic peaks still echoing with the ghastly cries of massacred clansmen. Stop on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, known as the 'Queen of Scottish Lakes' according to Sir Walter Scott, before arriving in Glasgow.
Cross the Irish Sea, enjoying views of the Island of Arran along the way. Once you arrive in Northern Ireland, prepare yourself for miles of breathtaking beauty! The road clings to the coastline at the mouth of the famous Nine Glens of Antrim, alongside sandy beaches beneath towering basalt cliffs. Journey to the iconic Giant's Causeway, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. Learn how the National Trust is enabling farming and biodiversity to work together, supporting both wildlife and quality food production. This geological masterpiece was created by the cooling of lava which burst through the earth's crust millions of years ago. Continue to the ancient walled city of 'Derry'.
In the morning, meet Ronan, one of the nation's great storytellers, as he takes you inside Londonderry's well-preserved walls, still topped with cannons. Walk down steep Shipquay Street, with its elegant Georgian houses, to the Gothic Guildhall, and cross the border to see O’Donnell’s Castle in Donegal. Journey south to the Belleek Pottery & Visitor Centre, nestled on the banks of the River Erne. Meet some of the specialist craftspeople and see artisan techniques in action during your visit. Continue to the churchyard at Drumcliff, the last resting place of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Then it’s on to your country retreat, set on the scenic shores of Sligo Bay.
Experience the beautiful rugged landscape of Connemara, a wonderland of rivers, lakes and silent hills. Continue to Galway, where your Travel Director will show you St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President John F. Kennedy. Move onto your hotel in Limerick, famous for rhymes, lace and Georgian houses.
Start the day with an exploration of Limerick where you will see King John's Castle, St. Mary's Cathedral and the Treaty Stone.Continue your journey through the land of song and legend via the picturesque thatched village of Adare, into County Kerry and onto your Killarney hotel.
In the morning, enjoy a trip around the Ring of Kerry, one of the world’s most scenic journeys. See towering cliffs, lush lakelands, remote villages, Ireland’s highest mountain range and the three peaceful Lakes of Killarney. With time at leisure, perhaps hire a bicycle and take advantage of the many cycle trails that Killarney has to offer around the lake or through the National Park? At night your Dine-Around Evening offers you authentic and intimate dining as you choose from a hand-picked selection of local restaurants, ranging in style and ambiance.
Cross the rugged Derrynasaggart Mountains this morning and head for Blarney. Visit the ruined 15th century castle that is home to the famous Stone of Eloquence. It is said that those whose lips caress the Stone of Eloquence are bestowed with the power to persuade, flatter and coax. Continue on to Cork, Ireland's second most populous city, built on the River Lee. Enjoy a city tour before checking into your hotel.
Travel to the medieval city of Kilkenny, home to the world's fastest field game. The ancient Celtic sport of hurling is over 3,000 years old and Ireland's national sport. Meet a player who will share his passion, as you test your skills during a lesson. Continue to Ireland’s lively capital, Dublin, and spend a leisurely evening relaxing, exploring or perhaps taking in a famous Irish cabaret?
Experience Ireland's national, world-famous drink with a guided visit to the Guinness Storehouse, before it opens to the public. Gain a fascinating insight into the history and traditions behind its production and enjoy a private masterclass where you will learn to pour the perfect pint. Then meet your Local Expert who will show you the sights of the city, including Dublin's elegant Georgian squares, O’Connell Street and the Custom House. The afternoon is at leisure.
Bid farewell to Ireland as you board the ferry to Wales. Cross the Isle of Anglesey, via the village bearing Britain's longest name, and continue over the Menai Straits for a stop in the walled market town of Conwy to see the castle. Travel along the north coast of Wales and cross the English border to arrive at Chester. This fine town still boasts relics of its history as a Roman fortress, as well as the unique black and white shopping arcades, known as the Rows. An exploration with your Travel Director will show you the well-preserved city walls, Jubilee Clock and impressive cathedral.
Head south as you follow the Welsh border to The Hall at Abbey Cwm Hir. Meet the proud owner of the home, Paul Humpherston, as he explains the history and restoration of the stunning building and its surrounds. Enjoy a light lunch of locally sourced delights including Welsh favourites, such as a cheeseboard featuring Welsh cheeses and chutney, artisan breads and bara brith. Continue through the countryside to the Welsh capital and see the Principality Stadium and Cardiff Castle.
Cross the soaring Severn Bridge to reach the elegant Georgian city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in amphitheatre-style on the surrounding hills. An orientation of the city will show you the impressive Pulteney Bridge and gothic Bath Abbey, famous for the sculpture of angels climbing Jacob's Ladder. Visit the well-preserved Roman Baths, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, pioneering new educational investments to benefit the community. Journey on to Somerset, see Wells Cathedral and Cheddar Gorge, as you make your way to the Cornish countryside for the night.
Explore Dartmoor with Insight Choice. Choose to join a walk and foraging experience in Dartmoor. Alternatively, cruise the scenic Plymouth harbour, where 400 years ago the Mayflower set sail for America. Visit a picturesque Cornish fishing village, where contraband was once smuggled in the dead of night. Back in Saltash, enjoy a glass of wine and a delectable Celebration Dinner with your newfound friends as you toast to an inspiring journey.
Travel across Salisbury Plain to visit the prehistoric and mysterious Stonehenge, where the strange and awe-inspiring monoliths are reputed to be up to 5,000 years old. Return to your hotel in London for a final evening at leisure.
Your journey comes to an end after breakfast.
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