Day 1: London
Your tour commences this evening with a welcome drink and dinner in your central London hotel. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Your London Hotel – Hilton London Metropole
Day 2: Bath
Travelling west we reach Salisbury Plain where we visit the remarkable megaliths of Stonehenge. After time at leisure in nearby Salisbury, we continue to Bath and visit the famous Roman Baths and Pump room. Our hotel for the next three nights is in the centre of town.
Your Bath Hotel – Francis Hotel Bath.
Day 3: Bath
This morning we take a scenic drive beside the winding, picturesque River Wye through the delightful Welsh borderlands. Highlight of your day will be a visit to the ancient ruins of Tintern’s Cistercian Abbey, romantically set in a peaceful forest and providing inspiration to poets through the centuries. We will also visit Monmouth and enjoy a photo stop at Chepstow Castle. Set high above the River Wye, this Norman Castle dates back nearly 1,000 years. Dinner tonight is included in a local restaurant.
Day 4: Bath
Driving into Somerset we spend the morning visiting Britain’s earliest Christian sanctuary – the famous ruins of Glastonbury. Legendary burial place of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere, Glastonbury was once the grandest and richest abbey in England. Later we continue to Wiltshire and visit magnificent Stourhead - the celebrated 18th century landscape garden and Palladian mansion. Returning to Bath the remainder of your afternoon and evening is at leisure to explore Bath’s picturesque cathedral, the Georgian crescents, sights and shops.
Day 5: Bowness-on-Winderemere in the Lake District
Travelling north we reach Liverpool for lunchtime. After a brief orientation tour including Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and other sights made famous by the Beatles, we stop at the Albert Docklands to visit the Beatles Story Museum. Later we continue north to the picturesque Lake District where we stay two nights in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Your Lake District Hotel – Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa.
Standing directly on the shore of Lake Windermere, the historic Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa is set in the heart of the Lake District National Park. See www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/oldengland
Day 6: Bowness-on-Winderemere in the Lake District
We will spend a delightful day touring the famous Lake District. This morning we visit Ambleside and Grasmere where we have included entrance to the Wordsworth Museum and a guided visit through Dove Cottage, once home to the poet William Wordsworth. In the afternoon we enjoy a cruise to Lakeside. Here we board a beautifully preserved steam train for a short 6 kilometre ride through the glorious countryside of Beatrix Potter to Newby Bridge and Haverthwaite.
Day 7: Fort William in the Scottish Highlands
Crossing into Scotland we enjoy a morning tea stop in Gretna Green before visiting the revitalised city of Glasgow. Mid afternoon we stop at Dumgoyne to sample a ‘wee tipple’ in the Glengoyne Distillery. Sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery as we travel along the shores of Loch Lomond and on into the Scottish Highlands to Fort William, where we stay two nights.
Your Fort Willaim Hotel - Nevis Bank Inn*
*26 July & 20 September departures stay at the Winnock Hotel in Drymen and alternative touring arrangements will be made.
Day 8: Fort William in the Scottish Highlands
There is nothing quite like a day in the Highlands! Driving west we pass the Glenfinnan viaduct on our way to Mallaig, where we cross by ferry ‘over sea to Skye’. Arriving on the Isle of Skye we visit the magnificent 20,000 acre estate, historic gardens and woodlands around Armadale Castle. Here we also visit the Museum of the Isles, showing a history of the Scottish Highlands and Islands through the story of Clan Donald, one of the most powerful Scottish clans. Later we take the bridge back to the mainland at the Kyle of Lochalsh and make a photo stop at the dramatic Eilean Donan Castle. Passing Loch Cluanie we reach Invermoriston beside that most famous Loch of all – Loch Ness. Following the shore south we enjoy an afternoon break at Fort Augusta on the Loch’s southern tip.
Day 9: Edinburgh
This morning we travel over forested hills to the Trossachs and the town of Callander, in the heart of Rob Roy country. Set dramatically beneath high, wooded crags, this delightful town with its tearooms, craft and woollen shops makes the ideal morning tea stop. Continuing on we visit Stirling, the ancient capital of Scotland, that lies at the heart of the nation's history. The streets of the Old Town wind upwards towards the castle, 250 feet up on a craggy rock. Our local guide takes us through this grand fortification, with its splendid views across the countryside to the Wallace Monument – built in commemoration of this legendary Scottish hero, William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace. Later we arrive in Edinburgh, where we stay for the next two nights.
Your Edinburgh Hotel - Crowne Plaza Edinburgh – The Roxburghe*
*26 July & 20 September departures stay at the Winnock Hotel in Drymen.
Day 10: Edinburgh
After a hearty Scottish breakfast, we are joined by a local guide to discover this city’s rich history. The highlight of your morning will be crossing the drawbridge to visit Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the city’s skyline. Your afternoon and evening are at leisure in this grand city.
Day 11: York
Driving south we reach the New Lanark World Heritage Site, a sensitively restored 18th century cotton mill village in South Lanarkshire. The giant mill wheels still sit over the torrential river and the 200 year old terraced houses have been restored offering an intriguing look at the workers family life two centuries ago. Later we continue to the city of York where we spend the next three nights.
Your Yorkshire Hotel – Royal York Hotel.
This ‘grand style’ 4 star hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is superbly located in the heart of the beautiful historic city of York, only 400 metres from the main sights and shopping streets of the old town.
Day 12: York
After a city orientation tour the rest of your day will be entirely at leisure in this magnificent city. The superb location of your hotel makes visiting all the sights so easy. Make sure you visit the Minster, the largest gothic church in England, go shopping in narrow streets around the historic ‘Shambles’ (the preserved medieval street) or maybe walk along the Roman built city walls.
Day 13: York
Driving east, we stop at Pickering where we board a heritage train of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for the ride to Goathland. With its charming 1930 village atmosphere, this station is known to many as Aidensfield in the television series Heartbeat, and also as the bewitching Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film. From here we drive to the coastal town of Whitby, once home to the famous explorer Captain Cook, where we enjoy lunchtime at leisure. This afternoon we follow the Yorkshire coast, past Scarborough to visit Castle Howard, the setting for the famous TV drama ‘Brideshead Revisited’.
Day 14: Stratford-upon-Avon
A leisurely start as we drive south into Derbyshire to reach Chatsworth mid morning. Here we visit Chatsworth House with its glorious interior, treasure rooms and gardens complete with an ornate maze and the 300 year old water ‘Cascade’. Later we continue to Stratford-upon-Avon and visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage before settling into our central hotel, where we stay for the next three nights.
Your Stratford Hotel – Mercure Shakespeare.
This delightful half-timbered Elizabethan style hotel exudes all the character and style you would expect of a hotel set in the very heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. This 4 star hotel boasts an excellent location, within easy walking distance of all the main sights, making the ‘Shakespeare’ a wonderful base for you to come and go at leisure.
Day 15: Stratford-upon-Avon
This morning we visit nearby Warwick and its medieval castle. Over a thousand years of secrets hide in the shadows of the castle – tales of murder, mystery, intrigue and scandal. After visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace the rest of the day and evening will be free to relax and wander the streets of Elizabethan Stratford-upon-Avon.
Day 16: Stratford-upon-Avon
We will spend the entire morning in Oxford, home to one of Europe’s oldest and most famous universities. A local guide takes us on a walking tour around the city and its colleges. In the afternoon we will wander leisurely through one of the most beautiful and unique regions in England – the Cotswolds. We make stops in the famous villages of Broadway and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Day 17: Magnificent Leeds Castle
Travelling south we skirt London and enjoy a morning stop in Windsor.
Later we continue into the heart of Kent and arrive at Leeds Castle where we stay our last, and most memorable night! Set romantically on an island surrounded by a broad moat, the Castle, Gatehouse and Maidens tower comprise one of the world’s greatest sights. Tonight the entire castle becomes ours to enjoy! We have included a private tour through the grand staterooms, halls, library, chapel and the 13th century section of the castle. Later, in the Library, we will enjoy a pre-dinner drink before our final farewell dinner in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall.
BDYour home for the night - Leeds Castle. You have a choice of two categories of accommodation - State rooms or Battlement (Servants) rooms. The tour price shown is based on Battlement (Servants) rooms, upgrades to State rooms are available. Click here to view your Leeds Castle Room Options
It is important to stress that Leeds Castle is NOT a hotel. It is, as its name suggests, a genuine castle. Albatross Tours have chartered the entire castle for our own use for the evening and overnight. There is no hotel room service and nor are there any other guests. There is no hotel bar, there is a drinks trolley. There are no hotel porters, the Footmen will ensure your bags are taken to your rooms. The Butler acts as the major-domo to a team of white gloved wait staff ensuring service is always entirely correct.
The following extract is taken from the official web site of Leeds Castle
“Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.
The first stone castle was built by a Norman baron during the reign of William the Conqueror’s son Henry I, on an island in the River Len. In 1278, a century and a half later, it came into the possession of Queen Eleanor of Castile, first wife of Edward I.
For the next 300 years the castle remained a royal residence, before again becoming a private home. This in turn was handed down over four centuries, by both inheritance and purchase, through a network of interlinked families.
Discover the fascinating history of the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, the last private owner of the castle; a wealthy Anglo-American heiress who acquired Leeds Castle in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.
Today, the influence of Lady Baillie continues to bring the state rooms to life while visitors can see the effect of Medieval and Tudor periods in many of the other castle rooms.”
Day 18: London
Mid morning, after a leisurely breakfast in the Dining Room, we will transfer to St Pancras and Paddington stations, in central London, where sadly our tour ends.