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.

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!

Top Five Tips for a Self-Drive Tour of Britain

We are often asked by our guests for some hints and tips for travel in Britain, especially for self-drive tours where you have lots of independence and flexibility.  I jotted down a few of these that came up in conversation this week with some our guests who are travelling this Summer and thought I would share them with you…

1. Bring your Own GPS and buy a map.

adeo Travel - Edinburgh Map
adeo Travel – Edinburgh Map

It may sound obvious but buy a map!  Request one and we can stick one in with your vacation documents or you can pick up a good British road atlas when you get here at most service stations and book shops throughout England, Scotland and Wales.  It’s worth the investment and will help when planning your daily route and act as a back-up if your GPS battery dies.  A sat-nav or GPS system is useful in each town/city especially when finding your specific hotel or B&B as you can punch in the exact post-code/zip code.  If you own one already then I would recommend bringing it with you; you can usually download overseas maps/programs in advance and most modern GPS systems are small and can be easily packed.  Bringing yourown will not only save you money on renting one here in Britain but can also save time as new and unfamiliar systems can be confusing – you don’t want to spend half an hour each morning working out how to program it!

2. Enjoy the Scenic Routes.

Self Drive Scottish Highlands
Self Drive Scottish Highlands

We know you want to get to your destination and a GPS will send you the most direct route, but we advise that you get off the beaten track.  Avoid the commuter traffic on the boring highways and get on the back roads where you can take in the scenery and where you’re more likely to stumble upon quaint villages and towns and sights that you weren’t expecting to find.  Particlularly in Scotland, scenic routes to certain destinations are well sign-posted.  Remember, when you’re on your holidays the journey should be just as enjoyable as the destination itself!

3.  Look out for the brown road signs.

Here in the Britain all of our visitor attractions, heritage sites and historic buildings are clearly signposted from major routes by road-signs with a brown background.  Knowing this can help you reach the sites you plan to visit but can also highlight places you didn’t even know existed but will be glad that you didn’t miss.

4. Fill up the car at a supermarket.

Edinburgh Tourist Route Sign
Edinburgh Tourist Route Sign

Gas (or petrol) prices in Britain are generally higher than many other countries so it’s a good idea to fill up in the most economical way possible.  Large supermarkets generally have gas stations and often provide the best priced fuel in the area.  If you spot one fill up there rather than at a highway service station and you’ll save several pence per litre of fuel – it may not seem like much but over the course of your trip you’ll make some savings.

5. Park and ride in to town.

Most of Britain’s major cities offer park and ride schemes whereby you can park in an out of town car-park (parking lot) and take a short bus ride in to the city centre.  This saves the high cost of city-centre parking and the stress of driving in city centre traffic.  Most towns and cities can then be explored on foot or by hopping on the local open-top bus tour which will take you to the major places of interest within the town.

If you have any of your own travel tips or things that you have found useful to know when driving in Britain why not leave a comment below?