Roman baths, historic hotels and a very British pub #AdeoOnTheRoad

A bright and crisp February morning was the perfect opportunity to get out of the office and pop over the Severn Bridge to explore Bath and Somerset. I was excited to get back into my home country of England to see the sights.

The Art Bar at the Abbey Hotel in Bath
The Art Bar at the Abbey Hotel in Bath

Our first stop was the quirky Abbey Hotel in Bath. This characterful hotel is right in the Centre of Bath, just a couple of minutes’ walk away from the train station. The owners, Ian and Christa Taylor, are art enthusiasts and the public rooms feature a range of unique pieces of artwork ranging from gigantic, vibrant oil paintings and distinctive installations, to a magnificent, abstract glass chandelier in the bathroom. I love art and the quirky style of the hotel was right up my street so this is definitely somewhere I would stay.

The only other time I’d been to Bath was an incredibly wet and miserable day a few years ago, guiding a school group. Back then a soak in the Roman Baths might have been in order to relieve the stress of keeping 40 13-year-olds under control! Since it was a completely grown-up trip this time though we had some time to enjoy a wander through Bath’s cute little alleyways filled with independent boutiques, traditional sweetshops and ‘ye olde’ tea rooms. It would be easy to fill a day just strolling round this quintessentially English city, walking in the footsteps of Jane Austen and taking in the distinctive Georgian architecture; for more ideas of what to do in Bath check out our website here.

The Limpley Stoke Hotel
The Limpley Stoke Hotel

A ten-minute drive out of the city took us through the picturesque Somerset countryside to the tranquil village of Limpley Stoke to visit another hotel: The Limpley Stoke Hotel. The Limpley Stoke is a Best Western but don’t let that fool you. As well as boasting spectacular views over the Somerset hills, this 18th Century country house is full of character and the location in the quaint village of Limpley Stoke gives you a real feel for the traditional English countryside. Inside, visitors will love the enormous lounge area and the traditional bar with access onto a lovely terrace; the perfect place to enjoy a drink and enjoy the scenery on a warm summer’s evening.

We finished off our morning with another quintessentially English experience – lunch at Wetherspoons*! After all, you just can’t beat an all-day breakfast!

Patriotic Wetherspoons pub
Patriotic Wetherspoons pub

If you fancy a visit to Bath you can explore on your own with our Cotswolds and Historic cities self drive tour or join one of our many coach and small group tours such as the Elegance of Great Britain tour and the Heart of England Or simply contact us direct and we’ll put together a bespoke holiday just for you!

*You may not know what a ‘Wetherspoons’ is now but after a couple of days in Britain you’ll realise they’re an unavoidable feature of British life! It is rare to find a town in Britain that doesn’t boast a Wetherspoons pub famous for traditional pub grub, cheap booze and hideous carpets

Glasgow Amongst Top Twenty Destinations Worldwide for 2016

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!

George Square, Glasgow
George Square, Glasgow

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.

Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow
Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow

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.

River Clyde, Glasgow
River Clyde, Glasgow

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.

Visit Glasgow by car, rail or coach on one of our recommended itineraries:
Scotland Explorer Tour
Explore Scotland by Rail
Best of Scotland
Scottish Dream

Top Ten Walks in Wales

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll know that I’m something of an outdoors enthusiast. So living in Wales is ideal for me – there’s so much to do, from climbing to surfing; coasteering to kayaking. And hiking – most definitely hiking!

 

Wales is a bit of a walker’s paradise with wild moorlands, rugged mountain peaks and scenic coastal trails. And hiking is definitely the best way to get off the beaten track and explore the hidden beauty of the Welsh countryside.

Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 walks to try on your holiday in Wales:

  1. St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire

I plan to spend our next Bank Holiday weekend, coming up in just a few weeks’ time, exploring this section of the Welsh Coast Path. This spectacular stretch of coastline boasts golden beaches, ragged sea cliffs and an abundance of wildlife including seals and puffins!Pembrokeshire - Tenby (2)

  1. The Happy Valley Trail, Llandudno

This path through Happy Valley is an adventurous trek which leads to the Great Orme summit, a massive chunk of limestone rising out of the sea. You can reach the summit by cable car or tram but how much more satisfying to join the famous Kashmir goats in a scramble to the top?

  1. Isle of Anglesey Coast, Anglesey

The beautiful Isle of Anglesey is a walker’s haven, criss-crossed with tranquil lanes and paths. The coastal path is not for the faint hearted, climbing 4,174 metres during its journey, but is undoubtedly the best way to experience the wild coastal beauty first hand.

  1. The Branwen Walk, Snowdonia

Snowdonia - Harlech CastleHarlech castle is so impressive that they wrote a song about it: ‘Men of Harlech’. This walk through Snowdonia National Park is steeped in history and legend, taking in the mighty medieval fortresses, the town of Harlech, beach and dunes as well.

  1. The Dylan Thomas Walk, Laugharne

Track a ‘heron priested shore’ en route around the estuary where you’ll find the boathouse where Wale’s most famous poet wrote. With luck you’ll avoid ‘the pale rain over the dwindling harbour’, as you explore the ruins of medieval Laugharne Castle.

  1. Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia

There are many paths up Wales’ highest peak including the Pig and Miner’s path which both turn into motorways on a sunny day. If you’re feeling lazy you could hop on the Snowdon Mountain Railway Line and stop for tea and cake at the summit café.

  1. Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons
Queues to pose on the summit of Pen y Fan!
Queues to pose on the summit of Pen y Fan!

The name Pen-y-Fan roughly translates as Top Spot. The regulars call the four-mile circular walk from the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre to the top of the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park ‘The Motorway’, but the spectacular views bring them back for more.

  1. The Taff Trail and Cardiff Bay, Cardiff

Arguably the most popular walk in South Wales, the Taff Trail follows the River Taff all the way from Brecon, through the Brecon Beacons National Park, down to the Bristol Channel at Cardiff Bay.

  1. Rhossili Bay and Worms Head, Gower Peninsula

So called because of the resemblance of the rocks to the head of a dragon, the Worms Head walk is spectacular but requires careful planning. It is only possible to cross the causeway to Worms Head for 2.5 hours between tides. Never be tempted to swim the causeway if you are cut off; many people have lost their lives in the attempt.

  1. Elidir Trail, Brecon BeaconsBrecon Beacons (4)

The entrance to a fairy kingdom is reputed to be somewhere along the Elidir Trail, a tranquil walk which meanders among cascading and gushing waterfalls in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Want to experience some of these spectacular walks for yourself? Why not visit Wales with adeo travel! Explore North Wales with our Mountains and Medieval Fortresses tour or try our brand new Small Group tour: Castles, Coast and Celts

Our Top 10 Castles of Wales!

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

Carreg Cennen Castle
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

Powis Castle and Gardens
Powis Castle and Gardens

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

Castell Coch near Cardiff
Castell Coch near Cardiff

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

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon 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

Cardiff Castle Interior
Cardiff Castle Interior

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.

Our Top Five Tips for your London Stay!

London should be on everyone’s bucket list but you could easily spend a couple of weeks in the city and still not see everything it has to offer. On your England trip, we understand that your time and budget in the English Capital may be limited so here are our own tips to make the very most of your visit to London!

Travel like a Londoner – Buy an Oyster Card.

Oyster Card and Tube Map
Oyster Card and Tube Map

With one of these in your back pocket you’ll travel London like a true local.  But “what is an Oyster Card?” I hear you say – basically it is a travel card which is valid for use on all of central London’s public transport networks, namely the busses, some over ground trains and of course the famous tube (underground rail network).  The card itself costs only a couple of pounds and then you pre-load it with credit which is deducted each time you use it.  The card is easily charged at any ticket office and is easy to use by simply swiping it at the barriers in the tube stations or at the dedicated pads on board a bus. And the best thing is that it will always charge you the best fares possible so if you’re using it all day it automatically stops charging you once you hit the rate of a normal full-day ticket!

Enjoy the free Museums!

British Museum, London
British Museum, London

They say that the best things in life are free and that’s certainly true when it comes to London’s museums.  Whilst London can be an expensive city, all of London’s publicly owned major art galleries and museums are totally free to enter.  So whatever your interests – whether it’s the faces of English Kings and Queens in the National Portrait Gallery, the ancient artefacts of the British and Natural History Museums, the latest gadgets in the Science Museum or the newly revamped Imperial War Museum make the most of this and explore some truly fascinating and world-class exhibitions!

Shop at the Markets.

Covent Garden Market, London
Covent Garden Market, London

There’s nothing quite like a London market – whether you’re in to vintage clothes, music, arts & crafts, gifts and souvenirs or simply to pick up something tasty for dinner that evening there’s a London market perfect for your purchase.  The atmosphere of the London street market is entirely unique, a bustle of activity with the local stall holders calling their prices and conversing in cockney rhyming slang.  They are a part of London life that’s fantastic to behold –  and of course, they are the best place to pick up a bargain or two.

See the Skyline of the City.

London Eye, London
London Eye, London

London is great from the ground but for some truly magnificent views of the vast cityscape in all its glory it is good to get above the rooftops.  And it’s easier than you might think – the London Eye which was originally built as a temporary structure to celebrate the turning of the Millennium remains the tallest observation wheel in Britain offering romantic views over the city from its enviable position on the South Bank of the river Thames directly opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.  And if that’s not high enough why not head over to the East of the city to the city’s most recent addition at the architectural masterpiece of the Shard, now Europe’s tallest building with a viewing platform some 800 feet above the ground.

Do the Open-Top Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Tour Bus - London
City Sightseeing Tour Bus – London

Like many major visitor destinations, there is an open-top bus tour operating in London.  And as in most cities the tour offers excellent value and a convenient way in which to see the major sites.  However in London the value is amplified – all of the major operators have combined to offer one ticket which includes three separate tour routes around this vast city, not to mention a complementary River Cruise on the Thames and various themed walking tours.  The tickets are valid for a 24 or 48hr period from the point of validation meaning your exploration can span two or more calendar days and the tours are overwhelmingly manned by live-guides in the main season ensuring you gain real personal insight on board.

Why not check out our London City packages or ask your adeo Travel agent regarding adding a London stay to your Self-Drive or Rail Tour of Britain.