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, 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.

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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.

 

Top Ten Tips for a Rail Tour of England

Since its Victorian era heyday, rail travel has been a major means of transport for us Brits and a popular way for overseas visitors to explore Britain. With a far-reaching network, quality service providers and frequent connections coupled with the range of flexible passes and superb value offered by the Britrail scheme, Britain, and England in particular, is an excellent destination to explore by rail. So if you don’t fancy joining a large coach group and want to ditch the rental vehicle, why not hop aboard a train to traverse Britain.  Here’s our top-ten tips and practical advice for your independent rail tour:

  1. Pack light

This may seem obvious but pack as light as possible – there is no porterage service or luggage assistance at the train stations so you’ll need to be able to manage your own bags.  For this reason, we recommend you travel with minimal luggage, ideally no more than a mid-size bag or suitcase with wheels and one item of hand luggage such as a small rucksack. Most stations will have elevator access to the platforms but it is easier if you’re able to carry your case up or down a short flight of stairs, at the very least you would need to be capable of lifting your bags up two or three steps to board the train.

  1. Avoid the rush hour

You’re on holiday so have a lie in or enjoy a leisurely breakfast! It may be tempting to get your journey underway early but by waiting until after 9am to board the train you’ll avoid the local commuters which means less crowded platforms and quieter carriages meaning more space and a more enjoyable journey!

  1. Download an app

All adeo Travel rail tours include full printed service and departure information in your travel pack, but if you’re travelling with a smart-phone or tablet, we recommend that you download a rail app too. Most are easy to use and offer up-to-the-minute schedule information so that you can check your journeys and keep on top of any local service changes or potential delays. Ask your adeo Travel advisor for the best rail apps to download.

  1. Give yourself time

Britrail passes off amazing flexibility allowing you to choose any departure time for your journey without pre-booking times and seats, however if you’re aiming for a particular service ensure you give yourself plenty of time to catch it. If you plan to get to the station on foot, check how long the walk will take you before you set off. Or if you plan to take a cab, you can ask your concierge or hotel receptionist to pre-book one for your planned departure the night before.  Bear in mind that it can take time within the station to pass through ticket barriers and reach the correct platform, especially in larger stations.

  1. Stay central

It may be tempting to book low-cost hotels away from the town-centre or guest house accommodation located in the residential suburbs, however we would generally recommend centrally located hotels and all adeo Travel rail tours include central accommodation as standard. Even if you choose to take a taxi to/from the station when you are transferring your luggage, you still want to be in a downtown location to ensure you can easily explore the destination on foot; extra time and money spent in cabs could be better spent on enjoying your trip!

  1. Ask for help

Generally, the staff on the railways are extremely knowledgeable and very friendly; if you need help to figure out a timetable, check a platform or clarify a connection, simply ask someone – there are ample staff and ticket conductors, platform staff and barrier attendants will all be more than willing to help.

  1. Do day tours in rural areas

Many British cities are compact and easily explored on foot; rural areas on the other hand can be difficult to explore by rail as many smaller towns and villages no longer have operational railway stations. Our recommended solution is to combine your rail tour with pre-booked day-tours in selected destinations.  Small-group operators offer excellent insight in to countryside regions such as the Lake District, Yorkshire and South Wales but don’t forget to pre-book as they prove popular in the Summer months! If you want recommendations on such tours, simply ask your adeo Travel expert.

  1. Check seat reservations

Many train carriages will have reserved seating denoted by a ticket or digital panel – it may seem that many seats are reserved but always check the tickets; seat reservations are often only in place between selected destinations on the route – if you check the tickets you’ll find that the traveller may not be boarding the train until later on the journey or indeed may already have alighted at a previous stop. If a seat is left free, just use it.  If the owner of the seat reservation comes along, they’ll just politely ask you to move.

  1. Use your passes to their full potential

One of the real benefits of the Britrail scheme is the value the passes offer.  They are specifically designed and valid only for overseas visitors. They provide completely unlimited travel on each day of use, so don’t just set aside your ticket once you’ve arrived in your overnight destination – drop off your luggage at the hotel and get back on the rails to explore the surrounding towns and villages accessible by train.

  1. Enjoy the views

It can be tempting to bury your head in the newspaper or become glued to your phone as you travel between destinations, but don’t forget to look up occasionally; Britain is home to some of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys, and you can enjoy stunning vistas of coast and countryside on your travels by rail. The beauty of a rail tour is that you can sit back and lose yourself in England’s landscapes. Just ask your adeo Travel advisor if you want to include any particularly picturesque or famous routes.

We hope our tips have been helpful – when booking a rail tours with adeo Travel you’ll benefit from our local expertise every step of the way.  We are official Britrail agents and we regularly ride the rails of Britain in our daily lives.  For a full selection of our rail tours please click here.  Alternatively, for a fully customized rail tours simply enquire here.

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Liverpool – My Home City

As I’m travelling back up to the North of England to my hometown of Liverpool this weekend for a baby shower for my younger sister, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about what’s great about this city full of character, and what makes Liverpool stand out from other

Beatles Story Exhibition, Liverpool
Beatles Story Exhibition, Liverpool

cities in the UK as well as the events for 2017!

If you look back at our other blog from 2013 “Liverpool – A Capital City” you’ll find a great introduction in Liverpool, from its history as a major port during the industrial revolution, to its dedication to the infamous Beatles, as well the friendly atmosphere the people of Liverpool create.

Crowned the “Capital of Culture” title in 2008, Liverpool is famous for many other reasons other than the Beatles, including of course the football teams Liverpool & Everton (a great game when against each other… named the Merseyside derby), the Grand National at Aintree Race course (the biggest horse racing championships in the UK, established in 1839 – you can catch this year’s Grand National on the 6/7th April 2017) as well as its great universities, restaurants, bars and music events…

Renowned for its Victorian Albert docks, a major port which a lot of people are unaware has a strong part to play in the history of the Titanic and was considered her home port. The story being that Titanic’s managing company, the White Star Line, had its head office in James Street, Liverpool. White Star’s main New York service sailed from Liverpool until 1907, when it was transferred to Southampton which is where Titanic departed from in 1912.

Albert Docks and Liver Building, Liverpool
Albert Docks and Liver Building, Liverpool

Today, the Albert Docks demonstrates the largest single collection of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK made entirely out of cast iron, brick and stone is home to a few key museums of Liverpool including The Beatles Story, the Merseyside Maritime Museum as well as the International Slavery Museum. It is also home to a selection of great restaurants and cocktail bars, stylish and slick in their decoration with fantastic views of the docks… the international Mersey River festival is hosted this year on the 23rd-25th June 2017 which demonstrates a series of narrow boats & tall ships, as well as sporting tournaments including polo, and demonstrates a great selection of music and entertainment from local artists.

“Ferry across the Mersey”, a song by Gerry and the Pacemakers, was made famous by the Beatles and then was even later turned into a film was based on the Mersey Ferry which runs along the river Mersey along the docks & through to the Wirral Peninsula, and still runs today it can now be experienced by guests to Liverpool.

You’ll also find “The Super Lambanana”- what exactly is a Lambanana you ask? It’s a bright yellow sculpture located in Liverpool, weighing almost eight tons and standing at 17 feet tall. Created by Japanese based artist Taro Chiezo, it stands in front of John Moors university and during the year that Liverpool help the European Capital of Culture local community organisations and businesses invested in 125 individually designed replicas that can be found in and around Merseyside and one in North Wales. The artwork was designed reflecting Liverpool’s history as a port city, trading in commodities such as Lancashire wool and Fyffes bananas, and in my opinion is quite reminiscent of the artist Jeff Koons, and his sculptures of balloon animals.

Not far from the docks you’ll find its “three graces” which consists The Cunard Building, The Port of Liverpool Building as well as famous Royal Liver Building which portrays the Liver birds (mythical creatures symbolising Liverpool), all of which are great examples of Liverpool’s architecture.

If you’re visiting the UK this year, take a night or two to experience Liverpool, with Chester not far away and the breath-taking Lake District just an hour and a half’s drive, it’s a great taste of northern attitude, culture and history.  The perfect driving tour for this region would be our driving tour of the North of England; Yorkshire and the Lake District Tour.

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