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 Guides: The Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city with 12 major annual festivals but August is a particularly special time of year in the capital of Scotland! It’s a time where the whole city is transformed into a venue for the world’s largest annual cultural festival, playing host to a hundreds of artists from all disciplines including theatre, music, comedy, opera and dance.

Edinburgh - Castle TattooThe festival was first established in 1947 in order to create ‘a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’ and enriching the cultural life of Scotland and it has been inspiring artists and enthusiasts from around the globe ever since. Today the festival includes 3000+ events, 25,000+ performers and 4.2 million attendances from 70 countries worldwide. The event is outsold only by the Olympics and the World Cup.

Today the so-called ‘Edinburgh Festival’ consists of about 10 separate festivals which are all held in the city at around the same time each year. The most notable are the Edinburgh International Festival which is devoted to classical music, theatre, opera and dance and the Edinburgh Fringe which is an open access festival and includes a wide variety of shows including comedy, circus and cabaret. World famous comedians including Hugh Laurie, Mike Myers and Eddie Izzard can credit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their big breaks.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival - David Cheskin/PA Wire
Edinburgh Fringe Festival – David Cheskin/PA Wire

Also popular is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a series of Military Tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International Military Bands on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. This extremely popular show has been seen by an average of 217,000 people each year since the 1970s and has sold out in advance for the last decade.

Other festivals taking place in August include the Edinburgh Art Festival, celebrating visual art, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Edinburgh Mela, celebrating world music and dance. There is well and truly something for everyone!

Edinburgh - TattooAlready a popular tourist destination, the population of Edinburgh quadruples during the Festival and touristy areas like the Royal Mile will be crowded with flyer pushing performers touting their shows. However, most visitors really enjoy the frenetic atmosphere, the buses crowded with performers in weird and wonderful costumes including Zulu dancers, Shetland fiddlers and Indian folkloric groups and the infinite choice of entertainment among the thousands of shows and events.

Want to visit Scotland during festival season? Why not try a adeo travel self-drive or rail tour? Pick one of the suggested itineraries from our website or contact us directly for a unique tailor-made itinerary.

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.

Our Top Five Sites – Edinburgh

The team and I recently traded the capital of Wales for the capital of bonnie Scotland, Edinburgh!

As we alighted the plane, we were blessed to be greeted by such warm sunlight accompanied by that famous fresh and welcoming Scottish air.

The primary purpose of this trip was to get a real feel for Edinburgh as a city, we visited our most frequently used accommodations and checked out sites that make Edinburgh the spectacular city it is.

Below are a list of our top five sites that we loved and that you may choose to visit when you venture to the Scottish capital city.

Edinburgh Castle

Of course, we couldn’t visit Edinburgh without seeing the castle that sits spectacularly high in the skyline.

Edinburgh Castle View
Edinburgh Castle View

A brisk uphill walk led us to the front of the castle, where we bought our tickets and headed inside.

Atop the castle were breath-taking views of the city itself and excellent photo opportunity for all.

History enthusiasts should not miss this as there is a lot of historical information to be absorbed about the old Kings and Queens that resided here, along with accessible real life dungeons where prisoners were kept.

Admission to the Castle is only £16.50 and £13.20 for those of you over 60.

Edinburgh Old Town

After the castle we took a stroll down into Edinburgh’s Old Town, a visually stunning area of the city that features various Scottish artists, performers, shopping opportunities, bagpipes and food.

The food we had was exquisite and afterwards we ventured into a pub for a recreational taste of one of Scotland’s finest qualities – alcohol!

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat
Arthur’s Seat

A short walk from Edinburgh’s Old Town is the famous Arthur’s Seat, which isn’t just for fitness freaks – the walk only takes about 15 minutes and is a fairly leisurely pace despite the incline.

Once atop the hill, this is another unmissable opportunity for photos and different view of Edinburgh than that of from the castle.

For the budget conscious this sight does not cost a penny – oh and don’t forget to touch the stone of Arthur’s Seat once you reach the top!

Royal Mile

Before we retired back to our hotel rooms, we decided to take a proper look into Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Here we were greeted by shops, museums, historic churches, gardens and more! There is something for everyone on the Royal Mile and a perfect place to pick up those much coveted souvenirs for loved ones back home!

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Despite the fact we did not actually see this on our trip, we could not miss putting the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on our list!

This event takes places every year in August, in 2016 the dates are August 5th – August 27th, so if you are travelling Scotland in the summer, don’t forget to pick up tickets from approximately £40 and upwards.

Often described by our guests as a ‘once in a lifetime event’, the Tattoo consists of musicians, dancers and army drill teams from around the world and is embedded in Scottish culture with Edinburgh Castle lit up at night as a stunning back-drop.

To sum up, Edinburgh is a must-see city for anyone wishing to visit Britain, don’t miss out!

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!