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.

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!

Why you should take a Britain road trip!

There are many ways to explore Britain; an all-inclusive coach tour can be an easy and comfortable option; travelling by rail is a relaxing way to see the beautiful countryside; but here at adeo Travel we firmly believe that the best way to see the country is to hire a car and head out on the open road.

roadtrip

Flying solo in a foreign country might seem scary at first but here’s why it’s worth taking the leap:

  1. Create your own itinerary

Unlike on a group tour, you don’t have to follow a set itinerary for self-drive tours – really the only limit is your imagination! Maybe you want to go back to your roots and visit your ancestors’ hometown, maybe you want to see the filming locations of your favourite movie – Just tell us where you want to go and how long for and we’ll make it happen (within reason :P). Or, if you’re not sure, we have a great range of recommended itineraries on our website.

 

  1. Upgrade your vacation

Destinations aren’t the only thing you get to choose for yourself on a self-drive tour; you also get to choose the hotels, car and activities. So if you want to treat yourself by staying in 5* luxury you can do that! At adeo we have a massive range of hotels on offer including gorgeous castles and stately manors, historic coaching inns and luxurious spa hotels – it’s your choice!

upgrade your vacation
upgrade your vacation
  1. Set the pace

It’s the catch 22 of holidays: you want to ‘make the most of it’ but at the same time, you don’t want to get back home after your vacation feeling more exhausted than when you left! On a self-drive tour you can mix jam-packed days of sightseeing with more relaxed days where you treat yourself to a lie in or enjoy a long, lazy lunch in a country pub. Without railway timetables or Tour Leaders to dictate your schedule you’re a free agent!

 

  1. Travel the backroads

Britain is famous for its beautiful scenery: rolling English hills, spectacular Welsh coastline and magnificent Scottish mountains. By far the best way to immerse yourself in these gorgeous landscapes is by getting off the motorway and pointing the nose of your car down the narrow and winding backroads – you won’t have this kind of adventure sitting on a train!

travel the back roads
travel the back roads
  1. Be independent

Britain has so many secrets and hidden corners – many of our guests told us that they most enjoyed themselves when they headed down a road that ‘looked interesting’ or took a tip from their hotel receptionist instead of visiting another crowded tourist hotspot. The opportunity to get off the beaten track and discovering your own little corner of Britain is one of the best things about travelling by car.

Inspired? Why not take a Britain road trip with adeo travel?! You can follow one of our pre-designed itineraries like The British Journey or Icons of England or simply email us and tell us where you want to go!

Walking in Shakespeare’s footsteps – 10 spots to explore the Bard in Britain

A visit to Britain is not complete without a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This quintessentially English town in the heart of the Cotswolds is most famous for being the birth place of William Shakespeare and literary pilgrims can visit The Bard’s birthplace and his wife, Anne Hathaway’s, cottage.Stratford-upon-Avon

But real enthusiasts may choose to travel further afield to follow in the Bard’s footsteps across Britain. Here are 10 places to explore the legend of Shakespeare in Britain:

 

  1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London

The Globe Theatre in London has been linked with Shakespeare through 400 years and 3 buildings. The first building, constructed in 1597, burnt down in 1613 when a cannon set fire to the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt, but in 1642 The Puritans banned all stage plays and the theatre was turned into tenement housing. In 1997 a faithful reconstruction of The Globe was built close to the original site in Southwark. You can visit the theatre, explore the Shakespeare exhibition and even see a performance.

  1. The National Portrait Gallery, London

The first acquisition of London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1856 was the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, attributed to artist John Taylor. It’s now considered the only representation of the writer that has any claim to having been painted from life.

  1. Hampton Court Palace, London

London - Hampton CourtIn 1603 Shakespeare and his players were summoned to Hampton Court to provide entertainment during the royal Christmas celebrations. They were lodged at the palace for three weeks and performed 7 plays in the Great Hall. So, if you’d like to stand in one of the only remaining theatrical spaces in which Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, visit Hampton Court Palace.

  1. Windsor, Buckinghamshire

The historic town of Windsor is the backdrop for Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The events that unfurl take place in the town with many local landmarks featured in the play including The Castle, Frogmore, the Thames and the Garter Inn. It is likely that Shakespeare himself stayed at the Inn which has now been replaced by a hotel – stay here and you really will be following in The Bard’s footsteps.

  1. Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire

Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house in Oxfordshire. Built in 1300 and fortified by its then lord, Broughton Castle has stood the test of time, despite being captured during the English Civil War. You might recognise it as one of the locations in British film Shakespeare in Love.

  1. Milford Haven, Wales

This coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales was described by Shakespeare as ‘blessed Milford’, and is the setting for his play 1611 romantic play, Cymbeline.

  1. Glamis Castle, Scotland

Dundee - Glamis CastleShakespeare chose this castle with its dark and bloody history of murder and witchcraft as the backdrop for his darkest play, Macbeth. As Thane of Glamis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth resides in the castle and many believe it is where he famously murders King Duncan. Duncan’s Hall commemorates King Duncan’s death at the hands of Macbeth.

  1. Bosworth Field, Kent

The Battle of Bosworth, referred to in King Richard III, is where Richard III famously speaks the words ‘A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!’. The site can be visited by public footpath and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is well worth a visit.

  1. The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent

Dover - White CliffsShakespeare famously brought the cliffs to the attention of the nation in the play King Lear in which the climax takes place on and around Dover’s white cliffs. You can take a stroll along Shakespeare Beach which stretches West from Admiralty Pier to Shakespeare Cliff, Dover’s most impressive cliff.

  1. The Forest of Arden, Warwickshire

The ancient Forest of Arden is the setting for one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, As You Like It. In the play, Rosalind flees to the Forest of Arden, likely based on Arden Forest which was situated near Shakespeare’s hometown in Warwickshire. The oldest oak in the forest has a girth of 9.2 meters and is estimated to be 1000 years old.

Follow Shakespeare’s footsteps through Britain with one of our self-drive tours like the English and Scottish experience or Castles and Manors of Britain.