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 Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 3, Cornwall and Bath

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 explore Cornwall, the beautiful South Western tip of England before travelling back East towards Bath.

lands endOur next stop was Redruth. From here we ventured to other locations in Cornwall, including the quaint harbour town of St Ives, with its confusion of cobbled lanes and its tiny fishing boats bobbing defiantly in the Atlantic swells. Under increasingly threatening skies we drove on to the southernmost tip of England – Land’s End – where we managed to catch glimpses of the storm-battered basaltic cliffs through the rain squalls. We sought refuge in a warm clifftop cafe where we devoured, as you would expect, Cornish Pasties.

 

Our next stop was the beautiful little coastal village of Marazion. We were here to walk to St Michael’s Mount, an 11th century Benedectine priory-turned-castle set imposingly atop a craggy island located just offshore and reached only at low tide via a rocky causeway.

St Michael's MountHeading northwards now and we hugged the Cornish west coast for as far as we could. We stopped in at Tintagel, home to many of the Arthurian legends but with an even more fascinating real history revealed by its ancient ruins. We were early arrivers, so had the whole headland to ourselves. The views up and down the wild coast, framed by decaying siltstone castle walls and bathed in early morning sunlight were, like the climb, literally breathtaking!

 

And so, on to the fabulous city of Bath, a place literally dripping with ancient history, especially Roman. Naturally we toured the meticulously excavated old Roman Bath complex where the very professional and highly evocative audio and visual presentation really brought the ruins to life. We especially liked the emphasis on recreating the lives of “ordinary” people rather than the usual preoccupation with the lives of the “ruling classes”. The digital simulations and 3D models enhanced the real sense of traveling back in time.

 

Bath - Bath Abbey 2We also visited the beautiful Bath Abbey where we were almost brought to tears by a young soprano, Maria Brown, filling the vast space with her enchanting voice. A walking tour of the nearby attractions, including the Royal Crescent and Victoria Gardens and we were replete with the splendour of this most wonderful of cities.

Visit Cornwall and Bath on adeo Travel’s very popular West Country Legends self-drive tour, or perhaps our Corners of Cornwall small group tour.

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.

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.

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  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.

Stones, Spires & Sunshine – #AdeoOnTheRoad

As part of our #AdeoOnTheRoad programme, we recently headed for Wiltshire to explore Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site and the nearby medieval city of Salisbury.

Upon arriving in Wiltshire by car, we were greeted by encaptivating views of luscious green fields basking radiantly in the famous early morning English sunlight.

As our car approached the site of Stonehenge, the first thing to catch the eye was the recently renovated tourist centre, a fine example of modern architecture which had new and improved facilities to cater for every guest. If you have been to Stonehenge before 2014, the new tourist centre is a vast improvement and enhances the experience greatly.

We then strolled up to the coach, which would transport us a short distance to the site itself. Despite being a short journey, it was one filled with history as the burial mounds created by humans all those years ago were both visible and intact.

Upon alighting the coach, I felt surrounded by an aura of history and took in my immediate surroundings as my ancestors would have done.

As well as visual stimulants, we were also accompanied by a fascinating audio guide which informed us of various facts about Stonehenge. One interesting fact that stood out was that the site and surrounding areas were estimated to be constructed from 3000BC to 2000BC.

Team Adeo at Stonehenge
Team Adeo at Stonehenge

After we were done exploring Stonehenge, the coach promptly picked us up and took us back to the tourist centre, where we explored the gift shop and learned more about the history of Stonehenge in the spectacular brand new exhibition centre.

A short journey followed thereafter as we entered the closely located and picturesque city of Salisbury.

The skyline of Salisbury is certainly one to behold, as it prominently features Salisbury Cathedral, which has the tallest church spire in Britain, standing at an impressive 404ft.

The Cathedral is a top tourist attraction well-known for containing the world’s oldest working clock and housing the original copies of the Magna Carta – a must see for every visitor.

It was in Salisbury that we would visit two of the accommodations we offer to our guests here at Adeo Travel.

The first hotel we visited in Salisbury city-centre was called The Red Lion Hotel, which is famous for being the oldest purpose-built hotel in Europe, built for the Stone Masons working on the nearby cathedral in the 13th century.

The Red Lion Hotel

Along with having a fantastic location in the middle of Salisbury, the hotel had a soothing and welcoming feel to it, with each room sympathetic to its vast history yet fitted with modern facilities.

We also had a tour of the Seamstress Room, a classic-contemporary master suite which was extremely spacious, modern and drenched in history.

We then travelled out from the city centre into the outskirts of Salisbury where we visited the delightful Grasmere House Hotel.

Grasmere House Hotel

We were taken aback by the stunning views of the nearby grasslands which featured the River Avon meandering through.

Overlooking this stunning view is the conservatory of the hotel, which was just as delightful in the crisp Winter sun as it would be in the middle of July – the only difference being our multiple layers of clothing!

The rooms in the hotel were pleasant and charming and fitting to house any guest looking to have countryside views within walking distance of the city.

Soon after we decided to head home after a satisfying day exploring Wiltshire, an experience we at Adeo Travel will never forget and would recommend to all guests.

Experience Salisbury and Stonehenge with us on tours such as England Explorer & Heart of England.