Discovering the “Wonders of Wales” – #adeoOnTheRoad

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend three nights on the small-group Wonders of Wales Tour, a comprehensive tour of the great nation of Wales! Whilst researching itineraries helps us to provide a nice overview of the tour for our guests, nothing beats experiencing first-hand the quality of such trips to help us with our knowledge and expertise. And the with just 14 passengers, it was the ideal group-size for exploring.

We departed from Cardiff in Wales on a bright Sunday morning (the hottest day of the year, only to be beaten by the following day). Heading North to the Big Pit, we were sent far underground for a crash course in Wales’ coal industry, which, of course, helped a boom in the South Wales economy and helped develop cities such as Cardiff, where we at adeo Travel are based. From the Big Pit, we travelled to the open-air museum of Saint Fagans to learn about Welsh culture and life. Hidden away were some great gardens and a tea room. Finally, we headed to our overnight stay in the Bear Hotel, Crickhowell. The Hotel offers great tasting food (massive portions), and has managed to preserve the charm and draw of a country hotel in such a stunning location, largely due to the great characterful features and top hospitality.

Our next day saw us drive to Tintern Abbey, in the heart of the Wye Valley. The Abbey is famed for its connection to Dylan Thomas and J.M.W. Turner. After lunch, we drove further into the Valley and made a stop at the idyllic White Castle Vineyard. Owned by a married couple who dreamt of such an adventure, we learnt about the production of wine, and the difficulties of growing grapes in the rather harsh South Wales climate (hard to believe for our overseas guests when it was 35 degrees!). Having the evening free, we returned to the Bear Hotel to sample more of their great menu, filled with tasty home comfort foods in addition to luxury items.

On day three, my final day, we began our journey to the North Wales base of Conwy. Our first stop was the impressive Powys Castle. Most castles in Wales are historical ruins, whereas Powys Castle showed off Victorian décor with stunning views across Powys and Mid Wales. Next, we drove the short distance to the Llangollen Aqueduct. Seventy metres in the air, and for those less afraid of heights, the attraction serves as a crossing to the other side of the canal, whilst offering spectacular views across the landscape. Before heading to our new hotel, we made a quick stop at the beautiful Tu Hwnt Ir Bont tearoom. This quaint house has retained its charm and offers a great food stop for guests. From there, we checked in to our second hotel, the Castle Hotel, an old coaching inn in Wales, standing on the site of a Cistercian abbey within the UNESCO World Heritage walled town of Conwy. Finally, the balance of the day was spent in the seaside resort of Llandudno, listening an all Welsh choir. A must-see experience!

The Wonders of Wales Tour gave me an in-depth look at the way small groups are run, in addition to valuable knowledge of attractions, destinations and accommodations used. I would recommend the trip to anyone interested in a hands-free experience of Wales. Attractions I missed out on were as follows: Snowdonia, Welsh Slate Museum, Pembrokeshire Coast, St Davids, Welsh language lesson and Caernarfon Castle, to name a few. In summary, I wish I had stayed longer!

For more information on the Wonders of Wales Tour click here.

To enquire or book click here.

Save

Castle Hotels “An authentic night with a difference”

Castle Hotels “An authentic night with a difference”

Celebrating something special? A wedding anniversary, honeymoon, birthday milestone, retirement, maybe celebrating your children passing their exams or just looking for a vacation with a difference? What ever your special moment, why not consider experiencing a night in a castle hotel in the UK, which could be the perfect way to mark the occasion!!

With the vast history the UK withholds, castles built in previous eras can be found sprinkled around the whole of the England, Scotland & Wales. Frozen in time, these castle hotels stand regal, often set within beautiful gardens engulfed in breath taking surroundings. Even in this day they have the most original features still intact, as you enter you feel like your back in time…hidden in the walls of legends passed this creates a truly fascinating & authentic experience!

Here at adeo Travel, we pride ourselves on presenting our guests with the most charming and original accommodation possible, and believe that a castle hotel stay can really enhance a guest experience in Britain!!

Below are some of the great Castle stays we offer here at adeo Travel, take a look at our Castle & Manors of Britain, and Castles & Manors of England/Scotland & Wales tours on the self-drive tours section of our website to find out more and submit your request now to receive your very own, tailored itinerary, customised to your needs!!

Dalhousie Castle, near Edinburgh

Dalhousie Castle is situated in the parish of Cockpen, which can be found about eight miles south of Edinburgh. Dating all the way back to the 13th century, it still demonstrates many original features with, and even the ancient vaults remain today.

Most of the present structure was built around 1450 from the red stone quarried from the opposite bank of the South Esk River, on which the Castle stands.

Renovated into a castle hotel, it now has 29 individually and charming bedrooms, all themed around famous historical figures. You will find the decoration is faithful to Scottish design fabrics such as tweed, tartan and twill. Hard not to be enchanted with the details you’d expect from a building of this age you’ll enjoy its period features including furniture, rugs and carpets which harmoniously work together to create a warm, relaxing and fabulous overnight stay.

 

Sherbrooke Castle, near Glasgow

Sherbrooke Castle, became a hotel in just before World War two. It was originally built as a home or villa for its contracter John Morrison in 1986, a respected contractor of the time, built a baronial villa for himself in Pollokshields, namely, Sherbrooke Castle, designed by Thomson and Sandilands.

 

It is a good example of the type of house built by the middle class in the rather decadent late Victorian period and has a number of unusual features. The rooms are arranged around three sides of a large hall and staircase. The external Baronialism is, in some ways, an added romantic touch.

The hotel has luxury bedrooms and suites, a lounge bar & great restaurant

At the Sherbrooke, they have combined traditional grace with modern efficiency. Prestige with convenience that is enjoyed by many a guest.

 

Augill Castle, Cumbria

Augill Castle, was originally built in 1841 as a Victorian gentleman’s country residence, has all the fairytale romance of a turreted hideaway. Augill Castle is not just a hotel, but a country house in its truest sense.

Set in the Upper Eden Valley, it stands in open country and has had little changes for centuries. Set in the dramatic back drop of the North Pennines, you will find luscious gardens opening out to views of the nearby Yorkshire Dales and the Lakeland Fells beyond.

This is a great family run hotel with a rich history and a great experience for any visitors.

 

Ruthin Castle, North Wales

Ruthin Castle, was created by Dafydd, brother of Prince Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, for King Edward I of England in 1277 who gave the fort (that was present on the site) to him in return for his treacherous help during the invasion of North Wales that year. Dafydd also had castles at Caergwle and Denbigh.

It was originally known by the Welsh name of Castell Coch yn yr Gwernfor or The Red Castle in the Great Marsh.

In the early 1960’s The Castle was purchased at auction and converted into an hotel. One of its most notable guests since was HRH Prince Charles who stayed on his way to his investiture as Prince of Wales (the 21st Prince of Wales since the new title began in 1301).

Now, Ruthin Castle is a beautiful retreat; interesting in its history and nestled in acres of parkland beside the Clwydian Range in North Wales. Here you can indulge yourself with exquisite dining,& unwind in their distinctive spa. Enjoy the renowned Medieval Feasts and luxurious accommodation!

 

Thornbury Castle, near Bath & the Cotswolds

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, built the castle during the reign of Henry VIII, though he wasn’t able to enjoy it for long. After being betrayed to the king by a disgruntled servant, Stafford was arrested for high treason and executed on Tower Hill. Henry claimed the castle for himself, spending ten days here while on his honeymoon tour with Anne Boleyn. It remained royal property until the death of his daughter Mary I, when it was returned to the Duke’s descendants.

For two centuries, the castle was unoccupied, falling into ruin. In the 1850s, it was saved and turned into a family home. Its more recent occupants have included the Howards, the Clifford family, Kenneth Bell MBE and the Baron and Baroness of Portlethen

Today, visitors can enjoy Thornbury Castle at its best. Tudor style meets modern excellence, with comfortable four-poster beds, magnificent open fireplaces, a dungeon dining room and a grand hall for balls, feasts and parties.

 

 

So, why not take a step back in time, treat yourselves like the Royals, and enjoy an evening to remember with a night in a castle hotel! You can find these fantastic examples aswell as many more in our self-drive section of our website under Castle & Manors of all Britain, Scotland,England & Wales . Request your own personalised tailor-made self drive tour today with adeo Travel, your Britain Vacation Experts.

 

Filming Locations in the UK

You may have wondered around New York City or Monument Valley and felt like you had stepped into the silver screen. Here in Britain, this feeling is frequently felt all around our country. Whether it be from the mesmeric Cornish Coast and the setting of Poldark, to the rolling hills and shimmering lochs of Scotland used as the backdrop for some of the Harry Potter movies’ most famous shots, you are never too far from a piece of movie history.

Here is a top 6 of the best filming locations for you to enjoy:

6) CARDIFF – SHERLOCK, DOCTOR WHO, TORCHWOOD

Nestled on the South Wales coast, Cardiff is home to many iconic moments from the BBC in recent years. Housing one of the major studios for the British Broadcasting Corporation, Cardiff has seen its fair share of moments on the screen. From the beautiful Cardiff University main building being used as a backdrop for London in Sherlock, to the Cardiff Bay homing the Torchwood team in the highly rated Doctor Who spin-off, there’s something for everyone to see in this up-and-coming city receiving a modern upgrade, whilst still retaining the history and culture associated with South Wales. The Bay is also home to the Doctor Who Experience, a must for any fan of the show. If you’re lucky, you may even visit on a filming day. Our Capital City Tour allows you so see the highlights of this fantastic city.

5) PORTMEIRION – THE PRISONER

Hidden away between Mount Snowdon and the Welsh coast, Portmeirion is a gem that should not be missed. Multi-coloured buildings once played host to the filming of the Prisoner, an flagship show during the late 1960s. The series follows a British former secret agent who is held captive on a mysterious, albiet tranquill coastal village resort. Starring Patrick McGoohan, this classic should be watched in association with a trip to the resort, conveniently located for anyone visiting North Wales on one of our Welsh self-drive experiences.

4) PORT ISAAC – DOC MARTIN

Martin Clunes’ fantastic portrayal of a surgeon who has developed haemophobia is matched only by the incredibly stunning seaside town of Port Isaac, the filming location for this hit BBC show. In Port Isaac enjoy authentic Cornish Clotted Cream, scones, and traditional British fish and chips. The food and scenery go hand in hand. As the sun sets over the coast, watch as the fisherman descend on the port walls to catch their evening meal fresh. With our fully customisable trips to Cornwall/Devon, make sure to include Port Isaac as one of your top stops along the way.

3) NOTTINGHAMSHIRE – THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY

The Nolan Batman trilogy re-energised DC Comics from 2005-2012.  A short drive away from Nottingham you will find Wollaton Hall. The historic Elizabethan mansion is a popular attraction, hosting many scenes during the Dark Knight Rises, including the opening garden party scene in which Gary Oldman delivers a eulogy of Harvey Dent, some 8 years after his death. A visit today will see you looking around a constructed gravesite, in which Michael Caine delivers one of the more heart-warming scenes from the final movie. At Wollaton Park, also find the resident herd of red deer, which roam around the magnificent gardens and parkland.

2) CAMBRIDGE – THEORY OF EVERYTHING

At number two, we feature the recent Academy Award nominated film, the Theory of Everything. Starring British talents Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Mr and Mrs Steven Hawking, the film centres around the couple’s early years in amongst the early stages of ALS. Set in the stunningly gorgeous university city of Cambridge, the film utilises the stunning buildings (such as King’s College Chapel) in its backdrop. Local areas to visit range from the Roman fort of Duroliponte on Castle Hill, to St Bene’t’s Church, the oldest standing building in Cambridgeshire. When on one of our many fully-customisable self-drive tours of England, be sure to check out Cambridge, conveniently located between York and London. A perfect stop on the final day of a perfect trip to the UK.

1) SCOTLAND – HARRY POTTER

Iconic and magical, the filming locations for Harry Potter are primarily located in among the Scottish lochs and highlands. The standout, to begin, must be the Glenfinnan Viaduct, used in the filming of the famous Hogwarts Express vs flying car

Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West highland Rail Line.
Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West highland Rail Line.

scene from the Chamber of Secrets. If the earlier films are more to your taste, then how about a visit to Loch Shiel, where Buckbeak dips a toe into the water whilst Harry soars around the sky on his back. Departing Scotland, in the North of England find Alnwick Castle, the location for Harry’s first broom flight under the guidance of Madam Hooch. Visit Scotland and these locations today on one of our Scotland tours, booking now for 2017!

If the above filming locations have piqued your interest, enquire today either online or by phone regarding a trip to England, Scotland or Wales!

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary, Week 7: End of the Road(trip)

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

This week Kevin and Glenys travel through England’s most northerly counties to cross the ancient border into Scotland.

We continued travelling north, following the picturesque lochs and valleys to Mallaig. Here we boarded a car ferry for a somewhat “bumpy” voyage to the Isle of Skye where we drove across the bare, windswept, mountainous spine to reach the blue waters and sheltered bays of Skye’s beautiful north coast.

img_1191The Isle of Skye has a reputation for wild, wet and windy weather and it well and truly lived up to this reputation for our journey around its coasts. However, we saw enough through the horizontal rain and obscuring mist to enjoy Skye’s rugged beauty, to appreciate her volcanic geology, and to admire those hardy, tenacious individuals that were able to make their livings here.

 

We crossed back to the mainland via the gracefully arching Skye Bridge… with an icy cold south-westerly gale doing its best to get us airborne. We visited two castles on our way to Inverness, both of which revealed the usual stories of invasions, medieval arms races, ever-changing alliances, inevitable betrayals, and power-seeking, war-mongering, egomaniacal despots – with brief periods of peace between the senseless, wasteful, bloody battles. But the views were superb.

img_1192Scottish highlanders have never forgotten “the 45s”, those clans who rallied to the cause of installing Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne in 1745. Charlie’s ill-conceived plans, however, came to a terrible, bloody end a year later at Culloden, an otherwise unremarkable field just outside Inverness.  Standing where 1,500 “rebel” highlanders were cut down in less than an hour, and listening to real stories from the perspectives of the routed Jacobites and the victorious government troops, sent awful chills down our spines.

img_1194Heading east from Inverness, we explored the Moray Coast, surprised to find long sandy beaches on parts of it. Not so surprised to find ruined forts, ruined palaces and even a ruined cathedral (at Elgin). We also stumbled upon the remains of a very ancient Pict fort at Burghead, and a tiny 17th century man-made harbour at Portsoy that was still partly operational. We passed through several very neat little fishing villages trying to survive after the collapse of their traditional fisheries.

On our last day with the car in Scotland we felt that we just had to visit Dunnottar Castle. It was as if we had been saving the best ’til last. Dunnottar was breathtaking – slowly revealing itself as the whisps of morning mist rolled away, perched on an island of sheer-sided basalt, tenuously tethered to the mainland by a single steep, sinuous path. The defenders of this imposing fort were able to withstand the onslaught of Cromwell’s army for eight months, thus saving the Scottish Crown Jewels!

img_1195We left the coast and drove on to Edinburgh via the tortuous roads that wind through the majestic Cairngorms National Park, following the River Dee for much of its path through the deep glacial valleys where, in its quieter moments, it reflected the snow still clinging to the looming mountains above. Wow!

img_1196Edinburgh presents a harmonious mix of the very old and the very new, and tangibly buzzes with the melting pot of humanity coursing through its labyrinthine, cobbled streets. Naturally we explored its iconic Castle, perched atop those dark, dolorite cliffs, ominously dominating the city below. But we also investigated the pokey 17th Century alleys and houses hidden beneath the streetscape of today, providing us with a fascinating insight into those smelly, unhygenic, crowded and generally impoverished times.

What would a visit to Edinburgh be without paying homage to Grayfriars Bobby? Or spending time in the not-quite-as-austere-as-it-should-be St. Giles Cathedral? Or climbing Calton Hill to view the unfinished “Acropolis” at its summit and to take in the view over this magical city

Save

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 6, Heading North

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

This week Kevin and Glenys travel through England’s most northerly counties to cross the ancient border into Scotland.

Leaving Chester, we crossed the bleak, browned grasslands of the high Pennines into Yorkshire. York itself was like a living museum; the presence of the Romans was still palpable and the subsequent Viking and Anglo-Saxon influences are also obvious. One place which typified this was the huge Minster that dominates the town. Below its floors can be found whole Roman walls and roads. Above the floors one can read the chequered history in the many architectural changes to this magnificent structure.

York - Shambles
York – Shambles

From York we now headed northwest to the Lake District. But on the way we detoured first to the little town of Ripley where we explored the enchanting walled garden belonging to the local castle/mansion. We then stopped off at Fountains Abbey, another huge Cistercian abbey destroyed by Henry VIII’s mob. The beautiful 17th century water gardens here are now under the protective wing of the National Trust and are superbly and lovingly preserved.

On we drove towards the west passing through the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales under increasingly threatening skies which decided to unleash their bucket loads of snow just as we were entering the steep mountain passes leading to the Lakes. Around every corner was a Christmas-card scene of snow-covered ground and conifers bending under the weight with bewildered sheep wondering where their grass had gone. The steep, narrow, icy roads made for some treacherous driving but it was well worth it in the end – as we gazed with delight out the window of our Ambleside hotel at a spectacular view of towering snow-shrouded peaks!

IMG_1185With our intended cruise on Coniston Waters cancelled because of the “inclement” weather, we drove down the western side of Coniston Waters to Greenodd and back up along the eastern side of Windemere, with the snow-capped mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the windswept lakes. We had 10 minutes of rare sunshine just as we left Windemere, allowing me to capture a few stunning reflections. Near Carlisle we stopped at Birdoswald, the site of an excavated Roman fort, built in the second century as part of Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northernmost boundary of the vast Roman Empire, keeping those pesky marauding Scots at bay. We even got to walk a little of the famous Wall itself.

And so, on to Glasgow, which, like Cardiff, is another industrial city successfully re-invented as a cultural capital. The miserable weather encouraged us to explore Glasgow‘s museums, including the newly opened and very modern Riverside Transport Museum and the fabulous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Each in their own way defining the considerable impact this city has had on the social, industrial and technological milieux not only of Britain, but on the rest of the world.

IMG_1188Northwards once more; but first we decided to climb the 400 steps to the remains of the historic Dunbarton Castle, perched strategically atop a massive volcanic plug, guarding the windswept River Clyde. We journeyed alongside the enigmatic Loch Lomond, experiencing brief periods of sunshine and rain in equal measure, following a waterlogged zig-zag path into the Scottish Highlands.

If you would like to explore the wild and beautiful North of England why not try our Yorkshire and the Lake District self-drive tour.