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.

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 1, London

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.

Kevin and wife Glenys spent the first week of their trip in London. In this first installment they explore every corner of the capital as well as finding time to spend a day in the coastal town of Brighton.

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After spending a total of 22 hours on a plane, an overnight in hot and hazy Dubai and half a lifetime standing in airport queues, we finally arrived in London. We really lucked out with the hotel in Bayswater and quickly learnt how to successfully navigate the fabulous London Tube. Apart from just wandering around absorbing the myriad sights and sounds of London, we did a hop-on-hop-off boat trip on the Thames, climbed the hill to the historic Greenwich Observatory, toured the insides of the majestic Westminster Abbey and spent a whole day exploring the grounds of the fabulous Kew Gardens. Unexpectedly, all of this activity was completed beneath blue and sunny, albeit still somewhat chilly, skies… with not a drop of rain in sight for two whole days – oddly, we felt slightly “dudded”!

London - Tower Bridge (2)I spoke a little too soon about the rain, but at least it only fell overnight, leaving our third day fine for a little more sightseeing. This time to the iconic Tower of London and the adjacent Tower Bridge – “the most famous bridge in the World”, according to the Brits – with its imposing views of the impressive London cityscape…

Our fourth day in London was also surprisingly rain-free, allowing us to walk through Kensington Gardens, past Kensington Palace and the extravagant Prince Albert memorial, and to spend the rest of the day attempting to absorb the wealth of information contained within London’s superb Science Museum.

Brighton - Brighton PavilionThis has to be some sort of record… our fifth day in London and our umbrellas are yet to be used! We took advantage of the fine day and caught the train to Brighton where we visited the unbelievably opulent Royal Pavilion – marveling at the unflinching narcissism of King George IV in conceiving of and building such a monument to one man’s vision of unreality.

We knew it couldn’t last. Our sixth day in London and we finally had to deploy the brollies against the chilly drizzle. Just the type of day to spend in another museum, this time the fabulous Museum of London. We circled the ginormous St Paul’s cathedral on our way there and visited Selfridge’s department store on our way home. But the Museum itself was totally engrossing. We spent over 5 hours wandering its chronologically organized galleries but barely scratched the surface of the thousands of years of history upon which this incredible city is built.

London - St Pauls…And so we end our first week of travels. Boy, has that time flown. In a couple of days we hire a car and venture beyond London. Stay tuned…

Inspired by Kevin and Glenys? How about spending a week in London on our London and Beyond tour?

5 reasons to travel to Britain this Fall

The official first day of summer was this week with the Summer Solstice falling on Monday 20th June and many people will be thinking about their summer holidays.

Many people will already have plans to jet off for some summer sun but if you’ve not got anything booked yet, never fear! Now is a great time to book a vacation to Britain in the Fall.autumn

September and October are great months to travel to Britain and here is why:

  1. School Holidays

In less than a month school will be out for the summer but, luckily, school will not be out forever! In July and August hotels, attractions and aeroplanes will fill up with families so if you do not have children why not hold on until September when the kids have gone back to school for a much more peaceful vacation.

Stonehenge (5)         2. Cheaper

It might seem obvious but travelling during the high season is more expensive. Flights, hotels even car hire is in higher demand and therefore more pricey. By travelling during ‘shoulder season’ you’ll have a wider range of options at much better prices.

  1. Autumnal weather

Fall is a special time of year in Britain: crunchy autumn leaves underfoot and the smokey smell of bonfires. You won’t necessarily have to forgoe the heat as summer often drags on well into September here in Britain. However, if you do choose to travel later in the Fall you’ll be in for a treat as Britain shows her true colours with incredible autumnal displays of brightly coloured leaves and purple heather-covered hills.

  1. Edinburgh Festival

EdinburghNow, the advent of the world-famous Edinburgh Festival might seem like a brilliant reason to visit Scotland in August. Well, that’s what several thousand other people thought and for that reason Edinburgh, and indeed the whole of Scotland, is overcrowded with tourists throughout the entire month of August. By travelling later in the season you won’t have to share famous beauty spots like the Isle of Skye or Eilean Donan castle in peace.

  1. Availability

Here at adeo Travel we have a wide array of fantastic small-group and escorted coach tours, which are invariably fully booked in July and August. If you find your dream tour is full up in the high season, you may find that there’s space on an October departure – plus with the coach a little less full you’ll have lots more legroom!

Group TravelIf we have persuaded you to come visit us over here in Britain this Fall why not head on over to our website where you can check out our range of self-drive and rail tours! We strongly recommend Skye and the Highlands or England Explorer to enjoy the beauty of Britain in the Fall.

A Royal tour of Britain

On Saturday we’ll be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday here in Britain! But we know that it’s not just us Brits who love Queen Liz – The British Royal family have plenty of fans all over the world.

We’d all like to catch a glimpse into the lives of one of the world’s most historic families and luckily the British Royal Family are happy to share and have opened the doors to many of their official residences to the public.

So how about a right royal tour of Britain!

  1. Buckingham palace, The Royal Mews & The Queen’s Gallery

London - Buckingham Palace (2)Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the UK sovereigns since 1837 is a must-see on any visit to the capital. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace annually as guests at State banquets, receptions and Garden Parties. Although you probably won’t manage to score a ticket to one of these, the State Rooms are open to the public when they are not being used for official functions and you can also visit The Queens Gallery and The Royal Mews.

Don’t miss: The Changing of the Guard ceremony at 11:30 every day from April – July and on alternate days for the rest of the year.

  1. Westminster Abbey 

Just around the corner from Buckingham Palace is another famous royal site. When Prince William and Kate Middleton exchanged their vows at Westminster Abbey in 2011 they became part of a centuries old tradition of royals being married, crowned and buried at the famous Abbey. Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church for the British Monarchy since 1066 when William the Conqueror became the first royal to be crowned there.

Don’t miss: A verger-led tour including the Royal tombs!

  1. Windsor Castle

Windsor - Windsor Castle (2)Just outside of London you will find Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle has been the family home of British monarchs for almost 1,000 years and is an official residence or HM Queen Elizabeth II who spends most of her private weekends here. Visit the state rooms, semi state rooms and St George’s chapel which contains the tombs of ten sovereigns including Henry VIII and Charles I.

Don’t miss: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls’ house in the world.

  1. Sandringham Estate

Sandringham is Her Majesty the Queen’s much-loved country retreat in Norfolk and has been the private home of British monarchs since 1862. The Gardens were opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908 and the Museum by King George V in 1930; Sandringham House was opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

Don’t miss: Sampling some delicious estate produce in the Visitor Centre Restaurant

  1. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

HolyroodhouseStanding at the end of Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Mile, this fine palace is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign. Visitors can explore 14 magnificent State Apartments as well as the beautiful royal gardens.

Don’t miss: Mary Queen of Scots’ Bedchamber, described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland.’

  1. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch between 1954 and 1997, steaming over 1,000,000 nautical miles in this time. Now berthed in Leith, Edinburgh, you can step aboard this most special of Royal residences. Starting at the bridge visitors can discover the Royal Apartments, explore the Crew’s Quart

THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA, MOORED AT OCEAN TERMINAL, LEITH, EDINBURGH PIC - ADAM ELDER/VISITSCOTLAND/SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. YOU MUST NOT REPRODUCE THIS PHOTOGRAPH WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION. CONTACT SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. TEL:0044 131 622 7174. FAX:0044 131 622 7175. E-MAIL: info@scottishviewpoint.com

ers and finish at the Engine Room.

Don’t miss: home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop!

  1. Balmoral Castle

In the heart of the magnificent scenery of the Cairngorms National Park lies the Balmoral Estate. Purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 for Queen Victoria, the Estate has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family ever since and continues to be where the Queen likes to spend her summers and where, it is rumoured, she plans to retire. Although the majority of the private residence is not open to the public, visitors can see the grounds, gardens, exhibitions and a gift shop.

Don’t miss:  a guided safari tour through the manicured parkland and gardens as well as the ancient Caledonian Pine forest, moors and mountains beyond.

 

Why not visit some of the royal residences on a bespoke self-drive tour! Or travel from London to Scotland by rail – just like HRH!