Highlights of Britain Small-Group Tour – My Experience

As you may have seen from my last blog, recently I had the opportunity to go on one of our more popular group tours the ‘Highlights of Britain’.

Oxford UniversityWe had an early start from the centre of London, where everyone met in a timely fashion. Once the luggage was loaded onto the mini-coach, we headed straight for Oxford.
It was here that we had our own personal walking tour of the city by a local resident who was very knowledgeable of all the sites and answered all questions our group had with accuracy.
It was especially great to learn about the history of the famous Oxford University while inside the buildings themselves and having plenty of picture opportunities.
After the walking tour, we were allowed two hours to ourselves to explore the city privately. There was an opportunity to get food before exploring landmarks such as Blackwell’s Bookshop, which stocks over 200,000 books and its Norrington Room is the largest single room devoted to the selling of books in Europe at 10,000 square feet.
Departing Oxford, we headed to the Cotswolds where we got to see Bampton, famously used as a fictional village in Downtown Abbey.
Our stay for the evening was in the lovely Three Ways House hotel, where we treated to a three-course meal before becoming dessert connoisseurs by taking part in their famous ‘Pudding Club’.

Leaving the Cotswolds on day two, we headed north to Worcester Cathedral; it was here that we had a tour by a knowledgeable and charismatic historian. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the infamous King John and there were plenty of photo opportunities in this stunning builIronbridgeding.
After the tour concluded, we headed to Much Wenlock where we had an hour to get food and explore the quaint and picturesque village.
After our stomachs were satisfied, it was back on the mini-coach and up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge which was a stunning sight. The bridge was the very first bridge in the world made with an arch-shape out of cast iron. Again, picture opportunities were in abundance and I am still using the photo I took of Ironbridge as the wallpaper on my phone to this day!
After a long day of sightseeing, we crossed the border into North Wales where we retired for the evening.

After a lovely breakfast on day three, we departed our hotel and headed for the Area of Outstanding National Beauty known as Snowdonia Park, home of the impressive Mount Snowdon. The weather was good to us on the day that we visited; the lakes a beautiful blue and the valleys gorgeous green in colour.
Departing Snowdon, it was up to the island of Anglesey where we crossed the Menai Suspension Bridge to visit the famous village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and of course we all took turns trying to pronounce it!Snowdonia
Coming back to mainland Wales across the Britannia Bridge, we visited Bodnant Welsh Food Centre where we had a lovely three course meal followed by a Welsh cookery lesson and a tour of the centre itself.
It was then that we headed back to our hotel after a thoroughly enjoyable day of sightseeing in North Wales.

At the beginning day four, it was time for me personally to leave the tour and return home, but the tour itself lasts nine days and continues through Britain where the rest of the group got to see places like Chester, York, The Lake District and Scotland, concluding in Edinburgh.

With the dates for 2017 recently released for the Highlights of Britain tour, what better time is there for you to enquire to book with us today – I couldn’t recommend this tour enough!

Adeo on the Road – Small-Group Familiarisation Tour

One of our packages we offer here at Adeo are small-group tours, so you can imagine my excitement and expectation when I learned that this month I would have the opportunity to go on a small-group tour myself! When enquiring, guests sometimes ask us what makes our small-group tours unique. Hopefully my personal experiences can help you out if you are stuck on deciding which type of Britain vacation is for you.

Upon my arrival in London, I looked forward to a chance to broaden my knowledge of our products (along with a chance to get out of the office!). My suitcase was then taken off my hands and loaded into the coach, as was a theme for the rest of the trip. Porterage is one of the main focal points in small-group tours; your suitcases will be handled from the moment you start the tour to the moment you leave. Please note that there are luggage restrictions, but I found these were comfortable; typically you will be allowed one suitcase and one bit of hand luggage.

Once the luggage was loaded, we made our way to into the coach wMini-Bushere I sat down in my comfortable leather seat with ample legroom – each with its own air conditioning system above keeping the coach feeling fresh at all times. There were four single seats and four double seats on each side of the bus, with seats across the back of the coach as standard – the coach seated a maximum of 18 people.

The tour driver then introduced himself formally using his microphone where his voice was projected around the coach – the speaker system loud enough so that all passengers could hear. Looking around me I noticed the general demographic of the people on the tour were those over the age of 50. Small-group tours tend to be fairly laid back, with the group rejecting the opportunity to go around one-by-one introducing themselves and choosing to get to know each other naturally as the tour progressed – a fine choice I might say! Before I knew it, conversation in the group started to flow as we all started to get to know each other. Every single passenger on the tour was a delight and an asset to the experience of the tour itself.

All of the small-group tours we offer have breakfast included and our premium tours will have three-course evening meals, both are a great chance to bond further with your fellow passengers while stuffing yourself full – it’s safe to say I may have to diet for a bit after my time on this trip!

While socialising with the other passengers, I got the feeling that many of them chose a small-group tour as their mode of travel in Britain as they found it more relaxing than driving themselves and allowed more opportunity for socialising with others that have similar interests. Small-group tours are also less regimented and offer regular comfort stops; the small size of the group meant that the itinerary was not so rigid and could be personalised slightly with de-tours if enough of the group agreed.

When it was time to depart the tour, it was fairly sad as the group went their separate ways. However, the driver guide asked for our email addresses and soon after sent a group email where people could keep in touch with each other if they hadn’t already exchanged contact details.Inside

Overall, the tour itself was a fantastic and invaluable opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge of what we are selling to our guests and I would like to thank everyone involved for the experience.

In conclusion, the expectation I had before this tour was not in vain. If you are a sociable person wanting to visit Britain without the hassle of driving, I would recommend checking out the many small-group tours we have to offer – enquire today!

There is no better time to book a small-group tour with us here at Adeo Travel – availability is high as our 2017 dates have recently been released, with some of our small-group tours offering an early-bird discount for those that pay in full before the end of November. We look forward to working with you in booking your Britain vacation!

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.

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 3, Cornwall and Bath

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 explore Cornwall, the beautiful South Western tip of England before travelling back East towards Bath.

lands endOur next stop was Redruth. From here we ventured to other locations in Cornwall, including the quaint harbour town of St Ives, with its confusion of cobbled lanes and its tiny fishing boats bobbing defiantly in the Atlantic swells. Under increasingly threatening skies we drove on to the southernmost tip of England – Land’s End – where we managed to catch glimpses of the storm-battered basaltic cliffs through the rain squalls. We sought refuge in a warm clifftop cafe where we devoured, as you would expect, Cornish Pasties.

 

Our next stop was the beautiful little coastal village of Marazion. We were here to walk to St Michael’s Mount, an 11th century Benedectine priory-turned-castle set imposingly atop a craggy island located just offshore and reached only at low tide via a rocky causeway.

St Michael's MountHeading northwards now and we hugged the Cornish west coast for as far as we could. We stopped in at Tintagel, home to many of the Arthurian legends but with an even more fascinating real history revealed by its ancient ruins. We were early arrivers, so had the whole headland to ourselves. The views up and down the wild coast, framed by decaying siltstone castle walls and bathed in early morning sunlight were, like the climb, literally breathtaking!

 

And so, on to the fabulous city of Bath, a place literally dripping with ancient history, especially Roman. Naturally we toured the meticulously excavated old Roman Bath complex where the very professional and highly evocative audio and visual presentation really brought the ruins to life. We especially liked the emphasis on recreating the lives of “ordinary” people rather than the usual preoccupation with the lives of the “ruling classes”. The digital simulations and 3D models enhanced the real sense of traveling back in time.

 

Bath - Bath Abbey 2We also visited the beautiful Bath Abbey where we were almost brought to tears by a young soprano, Maria Brown, filling the vast space with her enchanting voice. A walking tour of the nearby attractions, including the Royal Crescent and Victoria Gardens and we were replete with the splendour of this most wonderful of cities.

Visit Cornwall and Bath on adeo Travel’s very popular West Country Legends self-drive tour, or perhaps our Corners of Cornwall small group tour.

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 2, Going West

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 head West, stopping at the historic town of Salisbury and the mysterious Avebury standing stones before continuing to the beautiful Devonshire coast.

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral

The next day found us heading southwest in our near-new, canary yellow Citroen DS3. We drove to Salisbury, checked in to the Grasmere House Hotel (in a room with a four-poster bed, no less) then checked out the spectacular 13th Century Cathedral that dominates the town. We were fortunate enough to hear a service with the harmonious voices of a full choir filling the cavernous interior. Walking back through ancient irrigated fields called “water meadows” we were reminded just how long this area has been occupied and farmed.

The next day saw us winding our way north through narrow, soggy roads to the little village of Avebury. Here we became utterly absorbed by the thousands of years of history that confronted us. From the Neolithic standing stones, mysterious circular trenches and huge conical hills, to the 600 years of continuous habitation of Avebury Manor, captured in the refurbishment of its rooms, with each room reflecting a particular era of occupation. On our way back to Salisbury we visited Old Sarum, another Neolithic site of mysterious meaning, later used as fortification or as a place of worship by various conquerors.

Avebury Stone Circle
Avebury Stone Circle

We left Salisbury under clear blue skies and headed for the coast. Our trusty satnav took us along narrow, windy, pot-holed tracks that pass for roads here, eliciting a large sigh of relief from us both when we eventually arrived at our first destination; the evocatively named Durdle Door. A heart stopping descent on foot down a slippery track, buffeted by an icy gale coming off the sea and we found ourselves on a beach of fine pebbles nestled beneath towering cliffs of chalk, with our eyes compellingly drawn towards the enigmatic stone arch that gives this part of the coast its unusual name. The climb back up to the carpark was literally breathtaking!

The Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast

On to Exeter. What a fabulous, friendly place this is, surrounded by rich green pastures which start just minutes from town. We went on a guided walking tour of “Medieval Exeter” discovering snippets of its history, from the Roman walls and bridges to the gothic churches. We passed through 600-year-old doors and viewed twisted medieval houses, all with interesting stories to tell. We lunched in the Spring sunshine by the quayside before enjoying another tour, this time of the fabulous spire-less 12th to 14th Century Cathedral with its distinctive Norman towers, intricate vaulted ceiling and soaring stained glass windows.

Leaving Exeter, we headed west, right through the middle of the Dartmoor National Park. The weather couldn’t have been any kinder to us, brilliant sunshine, no wind, blue, cloud-flecked skies. Dartmoor is littered with the eroded remnants of a 300-million-year old granite intrusion, leaving huge boulders (called tors) atop steep hills of sodden peatmoss. Also littered across the landscape are quiet little villages sheltering in the deep, green valleys, beside fast flowing, ice-cold streams. The patchwork of fields is delineated by mile after mile of dry stone walls – many of them much older than the 14th century church we visited in Widecome in the Moor.

If you would like to visit the places described in this blog, we recommend our West Country Legends self-drive tour or the Best of Devon and Cornwall escorted coach tour.