As you probably know, here at adeo Travel we are destination specialists – based here in Britain, we provide holidays to the country we know and love, our home! In fact, we offer a commitment to our guests to know England, Scotland and Wales inside-out and have a unique, first-hand experience of the great British vacations that we offer.
Now, as locals, we like to think we already know a thing or two about travel in Britain, but as perfectionists, we know that there is always more to learn! For this reason, in 2016 we have decided to put our money where our mouth is and spend even more of our time out on the roads of England, Scotland and Wales; from the bright lights of London to the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Throughout the year we will be partaking in familiarisation trips, seeing the sights, inspecting hotels, meeting with vendors, attending travel trade events, perfecting itineraries, sampling tours and just generally honouring our commitment to you. After all, the more we know our stuff, the better we can ensure you have the very best experience when you come here to the UK on your travels.
So why not come with us as we travel the length of breadth of Britain!? All you need to do is “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and keep an eye on this blog and we’ll keep you fully up to date with our adventures; bringing you trip reviews, anecdotes, commentary and photos from our travels. We’ll be offering both inspiration and practical help for your own trip here in Britain!
And, of course, we want you to get involved online yourself! No campaign is complete nowadays without a hashtag, so keep an eye out for #AdeoOnTheRoad on our social media pages and you too can follow, comment and share your Britain travel tips and experiences with us and our community of guests past, present and future in preparation for your own vacation.
Think of world-class visitor destinations in Scotland and you may think of the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness and the wonderful city of Edinburgh; well now you should think of Glasgow too as the city was last month named among National Geographic’s top twenty worldwide destinations to visit in 2016!
As regular visitors to Glasgow, here at adeo Travel we need no convincing of the unique attraction that the city holds for tourists. However, due to its close proximity to the internationally renowned destination of Edinburgh (around an hour by car), it’s little wonder that Glasgow has, in the past, been slightly overshadowed. Following its selection by such a highly-regarded international travel magazine for its prestigious destinations list, Glasgow might now receive the recognition it deserves.
Glasgow has recently seen a steady rise in profile having played host to a number of prestigious sporting events including the Common Wealth Games in 2014 and several tennis ties this year which saw Britain progress to win the Davis Cup Trophy for the first time in almost 80 years. However, it is primarily for its music and arts scenes that Glasgow has found recognition by National Geographic – last year the city hosted the MTV Music Awards and renowned stars including Beyonce and One Direction have performed at the SSE Hydro venue in the heart of the city; events which reinforce Glasgow’s status as a UNESCO world city of music (one of just nine across the globe). And, already home to cutting-edge exhibitions and galleries at the Kelvingrove Museum and the Burrell Collection, amongst others, Glasgow’s art scene is only set to grow as it welcomes the Turner Prize to the Tramway arts venue in early 2016.
Music and arts however are just the tip of the iceberg of what Glasgow has to offer its visitors; the city boasts a number of historic attractions including the gothic 12th century St Mungos Cathedral, some of the finest Georgian architecture in Britain and sites on the banks of the Clyde related to the city’s shipbuilding industry. Glasgow was recently voted the friendliest city in the UK, the Merchant City area is renowned for its quality restaurants and there are two distilleries in or just outside the city if a dram of Scotland’s “Water of Life” is your tipple. And whilst Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city in terms of population, the great outdoors is still right on your doorstep with the bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the stunning landscapes of the Trossachs National Park just a short drive from the city centre.
So, with a long-established and diverse appeal alongside this more recent and well-deserved recognition, why not make Glasgow just one of many highlights on your 2016 trip to Scotland.
With more historic fortresses per square mile than any other country in Europe, it is little wonder that Wales is known as the “Land of Castles”. In fact, the mountains, borders and coastlines of this small but varied nation were once home to more than 400 forts; whilst many are vanished remaining only as ruins or earthworks,today there still exists more than 100 historic monuments, fortresses and manor houses. And for the modern traveller they make for a trove of historic treasures just waiting to be discovered. Here are our top ten Castles of Wales!
10. Carreg Cennen Castle
A site dating back to 1300, Carreg Cennen Castle makes for an impressive sight towering some 900ft on a limestone precipice overlooking the Preseli Hills on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in mid-Wales.
9. Raglan Castle
Unlike many of the Wales’ other medieval Castles, this Norman fort has a unique design, styled to appear like an elegant French chateau. But don’t be fooled, it still offered fierce defences with its hill-top position and moat tower.
8. Powis Castle
Dating back to circa 1200, this castle in mid Wales evolved over the following four centuries and today is home to exquisite interiors and antique collections to include paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries. And all surrounded by stunning grounds of classic Italian and French-inspired manicured gardens.
7. Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle is an imposing border fort overlooking the scenic estuary of the River Wye in South East Wales; the town where JK Rowling grew up, it is possible to see how the fortress may have influenced her works of fantasy and potentially inspired parts of Hogwarts Castle.
6. Castle Coch
Commissioned by the 19th century coal baron, the Marquess of Bute, Castell Coch is far more recent than many of Wales’ forts and offers a stunning Victorian gothic-revival, fairy-tale castle of spires and turrets scenically set amidst thick woodlands on the outskirts of Cardiff.
5. Harlech Castle
A UNESCO World Heritage Fortress, Harlech Castle perches on a hill-top on the North Wales coast overlooking the Irish Sea and offers a unique history; originally constructed to oppress the Welsh the Castle later fell to Welsh ruler Owain Glyndwr who held a parliament here in the early 1400’s.
4. Caerphilly Castle
Second in size only to Windsor Castle in Britain, Caerphilly Castle near Cardiff covers a site of 30 acres and demonstrates sophisticated 13th century military design with concentric ringed walls and extensive water defences.
3. Caernarfon Castle
One of Edward I’s “ring of steel” around North Wales and with unique polygonal towers, Caernarfon is a beautiful and well-preserved 13th century fortress which received more recent notoriety as the venue of Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.
2. Conwy Castle
“One of the greatest fortresses of Medieval Europe” Conwy Castle today holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Impressive and imposing, the fort remains linked to the Conwy town walls which almost completely encircle this beautiful medieval market town to this day.
1. Cardiff Castle
An utterly unique castle located in the heart of Wales’ bustling capital city of Cardiff and overlooking acres of open parkland, Cardiff Castle combines Roman history, a Norman Motte and a glorious mock gothic Victorian manor complete with clock tower and opulent living quarters.
To explore the beautiful landscapes, cities, coasts and castles of Wales why not do so on the Wales Explorer self-drive itinerary as featured on our website here. You can add the CADW Wales explorer pass which offers free admission to dozens of castles and historic sites across Wales.
The British economy has weathered the international downturn fairly well, and in recent years has shown some promising signs of recovery. Whilst this was great for us Brits as we headed off abroad on our holidays with a strong pound (£) buying lots in other currencies, exchange rates have not always been so great for people coming here. Whilst the value of holidaying in Britain has never been in question, it now looks like this year it is only set to get better! As other economies catch up with the UK, for the first time in several years, exchange rates with the US and Australian dollars (amongst others) have swung distinctly in favour of visitors to Britain. Indeed in 2015 our international guests are now going to get, to coin a classic American phrase, “even more bang for their buck!”.
Experts in British business and in the British travel industry in particular have said that the recent relative decline in the pound sterling is sure to have a great impact on people’s holiday plans and will certainly make the UK an even more attractive destination for international tourism. The appeal to the international visitor is enhanced by the fact that some of Britain’s main attractions include enjoyment of the low-cost, natural environments of England, Scotland and Wales. Visiting Britain’s areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the stunning coastlines of Devon and Cornwall or South West Wales, driving through the Cotswolds, hiking in the Scottish Highlands or enjoying walks in the English Lake District can be experienced at little financial outlay. And service experienced on tours, at attractions and amongst hoteliers is said to be exceptionally high following several years of local competition driving up standards.
In addition to the improvement in exchange rate, the cost of a barrel of oil has also tumbled which has, of course, had a significant knock-on effect to the price of petrol/gas at the pumps. In fact the price of petrol here in Britain currently stands at its lowest price in six years which makes touring the UK on a self-drive tour and getting around between all the sights even more cost effective. Likewise, the competitive cost of fuel has seen escorted coach tours in Britain remain keenly priced for 2015. The savings are enhanced if you choose to cover greater distances on your trip to reach the hidden corners of Britain in the north of Scotland or the South West of England. The price of fuel is set to remain at this recent low throughout the Summer touring season and well in to the Autumn.
So with the exchange rate improved, prices of touring coming down and service at its very best, it seems there is no better time to plan and book your trip to Britain!
It will soon be time to say Happy New Year to all our readers, or as they may say in Scotland – Happy Hogmanay! So Hogmanay is just a Scottish word for New Year’s Eve? Far from it! Hogmanay is an entire festival in its own right – and as with many of Scotland’s cultural events it comes with its own array of unique traditions which the Scottish people take very seriously…! Here we thought we’d answer a few questions about this particular Scottish festival…
So there is a big party, right? The evening of Hogmanay is of course celebrated in the way Scots know best – with lots of music, spectacle, dancing and perhaps a nip of whisky. Edinburgh is a focal point for celebration with an organised ticketed street-party taking place in recent years, however previously an unofficial gathering would take place on the Royal Mile around the old Tron Church – with the clock of ancient tower decidedly unreliable chaos would ensue around midnight with various groups celebrating at different times and on different count-downs!
Is Hogmanay just celebrated in Edinburgh? No, celebrations take-place up and down the country and are not immune to local and regional twists. In Stonehaven near Aberdeen, giant balls of mesh filled with flammable material attached to chains are lit upon the tolling of the midnight bells and swung around the heads of the marchers who parade up and down the High Street. Think that’s strange? On the Isle of Orkney it is said there used to be a tradition where the man-folk took turns to don the remains of a burnt out cow’s head – why, no one is quite sure… The Highland city of Inverness and historic Stirling both opted for more traditional festivities and hosted magnificent music concerts this year.
Is there one thing which is done across Scotland? Wherever the celebrations take place, you can guarantee to hear the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne! This traditional Scots poem, penned by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, will be boomed out of every pub and inn throughout Scotland as people link arms to dance and sing-along. And of course this is a tradition not only also adopted in England and Wales but exported across the world! But as the Scots will tell you, it’s only done properly in Scotland.
And after midnight and the singing ends, the festival is over? Not a chance! First-footing is an old custom which remains observed today whereby people go to visit friends and neighbours after midnight. You should of course come bearing gifts and if your first visitor (or first-footer) is a tall, dark man with lump of coal then that is particularly lucky (obviously!).
But you can rest on New Year’s Day, right? Erm, not exactly. Unless you consider going for a swim in the sea relaxing – bearing in mind this is January and you’re in Scotland! Recent years have seen a resurrection of this old tradition known as “Dooking” whereby people gather to go for a nice dip in Scotland’s icy coastal waters on New Year’s Day. The aptly named “Looney Dook” in South Queensferry in Edinburgh is now a recognised part of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and many swear it is the ultimate antidote for the excesses of the previous night – we’ll take their word for it!
New year’s Day is of course a public holiday across the UK, however, uniquely in Scotland, January 2nd is also a public holiday which means most people enjoy an extra day off work. Some people in England and Wales are jealous of this whilst others simply believe, after all that ritual, they deserve it!
A blog about all things British, brought to you by adeo Travel, your Britain travel experts!