(mailed to you once you get back home)
per person* (Discounts for 3+ persons)
(based upon 2 persons room sharing and subject to dates,
extras and changes E&OE)
After arriving at your London Airport you spend some days exploring magnificent London, the UK’s capital, at your leisure. When ready you will be met at your hotel by your Guide for your awesome trip. After introducing himself to you he will drive you to Her Majesty the Queen’s favourite Palace, Windsor Castle, for an extensive tour. Then we continue through the leafy Hampshire countryside to one of the wonders of the world – Stonehenge. This ancient monument is 4000+ years old and is a mystical place and attracts visitors from all over the world. We stop at the new visitor centre before walking around the actual stones. Onwards to the elegant city of Bath where the Romans built baths in AD60. The spring water that is supposed to have curative properties made Bath the ‘go to’ resort for the fashionable in the 17/18th Centuries. It still stands today, and you will visit it, (and ‘take the waters’ if you are brave enough). Bath is also famous for it’s magnificent stock of Georgian properties. A most elegant place with charming restaurants and pubs for you to enjoy.
Today we head north towards the town of the ‘dreamy spires’ – Oxford. Home to the oldest University in the English speaking world. The University of Oxford with it’s unique Collegiate system is an must see gem, and the site where numerous famous Nobel Prize winners, leading academics and world leaders were educated. You will visit the impressive Christ Church College, used as a location for the Harry Potter movies and absolutely awesome. We continue our lovely trip north towards the home of William Shakespeare, to the picturesque town of Stratford-upon-Avon. The ‘Bard’ wrote some of the most prominent works in the English language here and you will get a tour to see his birthplace, his marital home and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre, where productions take place throughout the year. There will be time to stroll about the town as this is your night stop.
Leaving Stratford-Upon-Avon we continue north through countrysides of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire towards the City of Liverpool. This major port on the River Mersey is home to The Beatles. The world renowned pop group that changed the face of Western culture were born and bred here, and also where played their first gig, in the city’s Cavern Club. This impressive city has a recently renovated and beautiful waterfront area with museums, pubs, art galleries, and the Beatles Museum (which you will visit). After a tour of the city including the two cathedrals, we escape back to the country and head for the peaceful Lake District, and your comfortable hotel on the mighty Lake Windermere.
(Overnight Lake Windermere)
Today we spend the whole day exploring this magnificent National Park. The Lakes District is arguably the most picturesque part of England, and will not disappoint. We will see the following lakes: Windermere, Coniston Water, Thirlmere, and Derwent Water. Coniston Water was the venue of the world water speed records in the 1960’s. This is where Sir Donald Campbell (an English eccentric) spent years continually chasing the world water speed record. The lake was chosen as it can be like glass, absolutely still-beautiful! You will take a trip on the lake on a Rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht. This is a gentle and nostalgic step back in time, to the days of Victorian tourism, and really very special. We will then continue to Derwent Water where you can take lunch overlooking the lake, in the traditional Lodore Falls Hotel. A magical day around the lakes, in the finest of English countryside.
(Overnight Lake Windermere)
This morning we go to the place where traditionally eloping couples made a bee-line for to get married. They escaped just over the Scottish Border to the now world famous Gretna Green. For centuries young lovers could get married in Scotland at the tender age of 16 (as opposed to 18 in England) and young couples desperate to ‘tie the knot’ came to Gretna Green and achieve their heart’s desire. It really put this place on the map! To this day couples from literally all over the world come her to take their wedding vows at the famous Blacksmith’s Anvil, making it one of the top places in the world to get married, and especially popular with the Japanese!
Onwards through the Scottish Borders and our next stop being the ancient Melrose Abbey. This magnificent 12th. century partly ruined monastery is where King Alexander 2nd and other Scottish Kings are buried, and houses some remains of Robert the Bruce. On the route to Edinburgh you will visit the 15th Century Roslin Chapel, made famous by the Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code. Still a place of worship, it has mystical associations with the Knights Templars. Freemasons from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Roslin Chapel, as it is held to be a place of great significance. Then we continue to your overnight stop, Edinburgh, Scotland’s Capital!
Now a whole day to explore our ancient capital. First a city tour by car visiting the Old and New Towns (together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and then to the Royal Yacht Britannia. This was Her Majesty the Queen’s private yacht, and was where Charles and Diana had there honeymoon! Then your Driver/Guide will drop you off at Edinburgh Castle, which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny plus St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh’s oldest building. The castle sits on an ancient volcano (long dormant) and the road down the hill to Holyrood Palace (one of Her Majesty’s Scottish Palaces) is known as the ‘Royal Mile’. We advise you walk down the Royal Mile, stop for lunch at one of the many interesting pubs and then visit the Palace. As all your trip tickets are pre-booked and paid for, you comfortably skip the queues at both attractions. Then back to the hotel to get ready for your exciting evening at the Taste of Scottish Show and dinner. This evening of Scottish tradition is held at the historic Prestonfield House and you will love it!
The trip to the Scottish Highlands starts today when you drive north leaving Edinburgh and crossing the iconic Forth Bridges (a third being added in 2016). North side of the Bridges one enters into the county of Fife and on towards the home of Golf – St Andrews. Home of the first ever golf club, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. It remains today the holy grail for golf lovers everywhere, and is also has the British Golfing Museum, Cathedral and Castle. St Andrews is also the oldest University in Scotland founded in 1413, and today regarded as one of the finest seats of learning in the UK. It’s popularity is in part due to their famous alumni, Prince William and Catherine, who fell in love here (If you want to, you can visit the cafe where they first dated!). After lunch at one of the various charming cafe/ pubs you will cross the River Tay past Dundee to Scone Palace, where for 1000 years Scots Kings were crowned. The coronation ceremonies during that time included the monarch sitting on Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny. Sadly this important relic was stolen by the English King Edward 1st in 1296, and taken to London and placed under the English monarch’s throne. Thankfully it has been returned and can be seen in Edinburgh Castle. You will stay overnight in the picturesque town of Pitlochry, which grew out of the it’s popularity with Victorian tourists after the railway opened in 1863.
Leaving Pitlochry we get our first glimpse of Scotland’s Highland Mountains, The Grampians. We continue north and follow the River Spey to ‘Speyside’, an area where the majority of the famous Scotch whisky brands are produced. A distillery visit awaits, the choice is yours and is vast: Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Cardhu…(let us know). Whisky products produced here are found in virtually every hotel bar around the world! The distillery tours are first class and very informative, plus you get to sample the results of this ancient process too!
North now to Cawdor Castle, made famous by William Shakespeare in his play Macbeth. Still a family home it has one of the loveliest gardens in the country with a maze and fascinating display of paintings and antiques. Then it’s on to Culloden battlefield. This was in 1746 the last land battle to be fought in Britain, and saw the end to the Jacobite Rebellion. The Duke of Cumberland saw off ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie and his assorted clansmen, and heralded a change to the highland way of life. He banned the Clans and also the wearing of Tartan, and constructed a large military garrison, Fort George, just north on Culloden. The wearing of tartan was only resurrected by way of the ‘Romanticism’ of the early 19th Century. Encouraged by the novels of Sir Walter Scott and Victoria and Albert’s love of Scotland tartan regained it’s poularity. After the award winning Culloden Visitor Centre we head to your hotel in Inverness, the Capital of The Highlands.
This morning you will be toured around Inverness and then along the Great Glen towards Loch Ness. It has been said that deep in it’s dark deep waters lives a monster! ‘Nessie’, as she is known, has been sighted on occasions over the years (If you should spot her please take a photo, the National Enquirer will pay big bucks to get the ‘exclusive’!!). Who knows you might be that lucky visitor! If not, just take in the magnificent scenery surrounding this very deep loch. The Great Glen is a geological fault line from Inverness to Fort William and has a series of lochs or lakes along it’s length. The famous early 19th century Scots engineer Thomas Telford constructed a series of canals linking these lochs. This is known as the Caledonian Canal, and an impressive series of canal locks are found at the next destination, Fort Augustus. Here you will also take a trip over the loch in the hope of spotting ‘Nessie’. Now the scenery gets intense: Glen Garry, Loch Loyne, Loch Claunie, the 5 Sisters and the famous Eilean Donan Castle. Stunning Highland views to enjoy. You then cross the Skye Bridge to the Isle of Skye and to the home of the Clan McLeod. Dunvegan Castle. You overnight in the charming town of Portree.
(Overnight Portree Skye )
Skye is one of the most pristine areas in the British Isles with terrific mountain scenery, and surprisingly little housing development, with the waters surrounding the Island being home to some of the finest seafood to be found in Europe. This partially Gaelic-speaking island was only joined to the mainland in 1995 when the Skye Bridge was constructed. Your day starts from Porteree north to see the awesome ‘Old Man of Storr’ and tour the island including a trip along single-track roads (where the sheep roam freely and get up close and personal) to a viewing point of the mighty Cuillin Hills. You wind your way to the ferry terminal for the crossing to Mallaig. There you board the ‘Jacobite Express’ train, on your trip to Fort William. This world famous train journey crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct made famous in the Harry Potter film. It was at Glenfinnan where the Jacobite army gathered in 1745. The 42 mile trip takes you past the deepest loch (Loch Morar) and the highest mountain (Ben Nevis) in the UK, finally arriving at your night stop Fort William.
(Overnight Fort William)
After breakfast your driver/guide takes you south past the Ballahulish Bridge to Glencoe. This imposing and dramatic valley, (or glen), is where in 1692 the ‘Massacre of Glencoe’ took place. A slaying of 38 members of the Clan MacDonald, brutally massacred by government backed Campbells, a result of the ill feelings during the first Jacobite rebellion of the late 17th century. After Glencoe you will traverse the windswept Rannoch Moor, an unspoilt wilderness of beautiful mountains, lochs and moorland towards Rob Roy country, the Trossachs, and the town of Callander. You must take the opportunity in this charming victorian tourist town to take afternoon tea in one of the many charming tea rooms. So British! Then to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most visited attractions, and the place where Mary Queen of Scot’s held her Court. This award winning venue has actors in costume (and character) throughout the castle helping to bring to life this ancient palace and fortress. You can see the ‘Stirling Heids’ and fine tapestries that adorn the rooms of the castle, making it a must for those interested in Scottish history. From Stirling you head into the Loch Lomond National Park and the loch itself. At the southern tip of the loch you will join a boat trip over the calm waters of this large loch. Once finished, your driver will take you to your hotel, on the ‘Bonne bonnie banks of Loch lomond’.
(Overnight Loch Lomond)
Today you cross back from the Highlands to the Lowlands and head for the largest of Scotland’s cities – Glasgow. As it grew rapidly in the 19th century, it became known as the Victorian City, with extensive selections of Victorian architecture. During the early years of the 20th century this ‘second city of the Empire’ was by far the foremost shipbuilding centre in the world. In the early 1860’s ships commissioned by the Confederate States and built in Glasgow, known as ‘Blockade Runners’ helped the South temporarily survive the Union blockade and extend the American Civil War for two years. You can visit the Riverside Transport Museum that tells the story of the Blockade Runners and the rich history of Glasgow’s shipbuilding and transport past. Additionally, your driver/guide will give you a very informative and full city tour. We recommend the Kelvingrove Museum and Art gallery and also Glasgow Cathedral as must do visits. Late afternoon you will have time to get in some shopping in Glasgow city centre, and then back to your comfortable hotel.
Today your Driver/Guide will take you to Glasgow Airport for your flight home.