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.

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!

International Museum Day Special: Britain’s Best Museums

A visit to Britain would not be complete without a visit to some of our world class museums. These include vast collections of ancient artefacts, wonderfully preserved historical sites, natural history exhibits and an infinite array of institutions dedicated to everything from football to lawnmowers, garden gnomes to witchcraft.

To celebrate International Museum Day, here’s a rundown of our top ten museums in Britain:

  1. British Museum, London
British museum
British museum

This is one of the world’s most famous and controversial museums. Dedicated to human history, art and culture the British Museum has a permanent collection of some 8 million works – you can get lost for days in here! From Egyptian Mummies to Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens and Easter Island statues, you can travel around the globe as you explore this enormous museum.

  1. Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular in London. Probably most famous for the iconic diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall, you will also find animatronic dinosaurs, birds, creepy crawlies, gems and meteorites.

  1. The Roman Baths, Bath

Bath - Roman BathsThe Roman Baths at Bath is one of Britain’s best preserved Roman sites one of the most visited with around one million visitors each year. As well as the beautifully preserved ruins of the Great Bath, changing rooms and plunge pools, there is also an interactive museum which will transport you back in time to Roman Britain.

  1. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland boasts a weird and wonderful array of exotic artefacts including a hippopotamus suspended from the rafters, a colour television dating from 1937 and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin. The wide ranging collection represents the diversity of thought and activity that came out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  1. Churchill War Rooms, London

Hidden in the basement of a building in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster you will find Winston Churchill’s WW2 bunker and museum. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Churchill and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of WW2. This bunker has been perfectly preserved exactly as it was left on the day the lights were switched off in 1945.

  1. Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

This Glasgow art gallery and museum is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features 22 themed galleries which include natural history, arms and armour, art, history and more. The most famous painting on display is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ and other popular attractions include Sir Roger the Asian elephant and a real life Spitfire!

0976
0976
  1. Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

This is a living, working museum set in 300 acres of picturesque Durham countryside where you can experience the Industrial Revolution first hand. The museum also plays hosts to a vast program of events throughout the year including the Georgian Fair, Classic Car Day, Harvest Festival and much, much more!

  1. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Wales

Okay, so a coal museum probably doesn’t really sound that exciting but the Big Pit is much more stimulating than it sounds. The former coal mine has been operating as a museum where you will descend into the earth for an underground tour and a walk through the mine’s tunnels.

  1. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford

The world’s first university museum, The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and now houses a world famous and extraordinarily diverse collection that ranges from Egyption mummies to contemporary art. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, incredible Anglo-Saxon treasures and a collection of modern Chinese painting that is unrivalled throughout the Western world.

  1. National Football Museum, Manchester

National Football Museum, ManchesterAnd now for something completely different, the world’s largest museum dedicated purely to football (or soccer, if you prefer). The museum contains a fantastic mixture of stats, memorabilia and fun stuff including a radio commentary collection, the chance to lift a (virtual) trophy and plenty of interactive games!

 

Why not visit some of these fantastic museums on a road trip with adeo Travel. Try our Great Britain self-drive tour or even Great Britain by Rail.

Top Ten Visitor Destinations in Britain – Traveller’s Choice.

We’re often asked what Britain’s best visitor destinations are – but with three countries, dozens of bustling cities and expansive and contrasting areas of natural beauty to choose from, it’s not a question easily answered! So on this occasion we can dodge the question and look to you, the visitor, to answer it…

A major online review site has recently released their 2016 traveller’s choice awards – using a complex algorithm based both quality and quantity of local destination and attraction reviews by visitors over the last twelve months, Trip Advisor have compiled a top-ten list of UK destinations.  The list throws up some obvious choices, but also some real gems; so, as local travel experts, do we agree…?  Here’s the list, and our thoughts:

10. Manchester

Often overlooked by the international visitor, Manchester has so much to offer! Home to England’s leading soccer team (ManchesterUnited), the national soap opera (Coronation Street) and internationally renowned museums, shopping and nightlife, Manchester has something for everyone.

scotland_glasgow_george_square

  1. 9. Glasgow

Scotland’s second city was recently named as a top international destination for 2016, and with good reason.  A hub for modern Scottish culture, Glasgow also boasts grand Georgian architecture, world-class museums and hallmarks of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

8. Bath

One of our favourite spots in Britain and arguably England’s prettiest town, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage city.  With elegant Regency architecture and a history which dates back to the Roman Empire, Bath is simply a must-visit for travellers exploring England.

england_york_shambles

7. York

Another of adeo Travel’s choice destinations, set amidst the scenic Yorkshire Dales and Moors, York is simply packed with history – discover how the Vikings invaded, explore the cobbled Shambles, walk the medieval town walls & gates and visit Europe’s largest gothic cathedral at the masterpiece of York Minster.

6. Torquay

Possibly best known as the home of Basil Fawlty’s less-than hospitable hotel in John Cleese’s seventies sitcom, Torquay has experienced a resurgence in recent years; this pretty Devonshire harbour-town is at the heart of the “English Riviera” coastline and has the wild landscapes of the Dartmoor National Park on its doorstep.

5. Blackpool

Not one often requested by our international guests, Blackpool is a seaside resort on Northern England’s Lancashire coast. Home to an annual coloured lights festival, donkey-rides on the beach, traditional games arcades and the famous tower ballroom there’s no doubt the town holds a certain nostalgia for Briton’s and their childhood seaside holidays.wales_llandudno

4. Llandudno

A picturesque Victorian seaside resort on the North Wales coast, Llandudno boasts a beautiful sweeping bay, historic pier and elegant promenade not to mention Britain’s only cable-hauled tramway (which dates back to 1902) and the Great Orme headland and nature reserve.  And just a stone’s throw from Conwy Castle and the Snowdonia National Park, Llandudno is definitely one we’d recommend.

3. Liverpool

The home-town of the World’s best known pop group, the wealth of Beatles’ related cultural sites is enough to put Liverpool on the map; but the city has much more besides including two magnificent cathedrals, dozens of listed historic buildings, the famous Albert Docks and a rich maritime heritage.

2. Edinburgh

Scotland’s enchanting capital, Edinburgh offers architectural beauty, an ancient history, major Scottish political and heritage sites and a leading international cultural festival. The must-see Scotland destination and gateway to the renowned Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh deservedly holds the second spot of this top-ten.

england_london_westminster_dusk

  1. 1. London

Britain’s top-rating location, incidentally, London also tops the list of international destinations.  A thriving metropolis, the English capital leads in terms of sport, politics, commerce and culture. Playing host to a wealth of historical and heritage landmarks, recognisable the world-over, London is truly a global destination and unsurprisingly features at the premier position of Britain’s top-ten visitor destinations.

Discover any of the above Britain destinations on one of adeo Travel’s self-drive tours or rail tours which can be entirely customised to suit your travel requirements and preferences.

Join adeo Travel for a year of travel in Britain – #AdeoOnTheRoad

As you probably know, here at adeo Travel we are destination specialists – based here in Britain, we provide holidays to the country we know and love, our home! In fact, we offer a commitment to our guests to know England, Scotland and Wales inside-out and have a unique, first-hand experience of the great British vacations that we offer.

Car on country road
Car on country road

Now, as locals, we like to think we already know a thing or two about travel in Britain, but as perfectionists, we know that there is always more to learn! For this reason, in 2016 we have decided to put our money where our mouth is and spend even more of our time out on the roads of England, Scotland and Wales; from the bright lights of London to the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Throughout the year we will be partaking in familiarisation trips, seeing the sights, inspecting hotels, meeting with vendors, attending travel trade events, perfecting itineraries, sampling tours and just generally honouring our commitment to you. After all, the more we know our stuff, the better we can ensure you have the very best experience when you come here to the UK on your travels.

Traditional English Inn
Traditional English Inn

So why not come with us as we travel the length of breadth of Britain!? All you need to do is “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and keep an eye on this blog and we’ll keep you fully up to date with our adventures; bringing you trip reviews, anecdotes, commentary and photos from our travels. We’ll be offering both inspiration and practical help for your own trip here in Britain!

And, of course, we want you to get involved online yourself! No campaign is complete nowadays without a hashtag, so keep an eye out for #AdeoOnTheRoad on our social media pages and you too can follow, comment and share your Britain travel tips and experiences with us and our community of guests past, present and future in preparation for your own vacation.

Here’s to a year of travel in Britain and the beginning of your own adeo Travel Britain trip!