London To Stratford-Upon-Avon. At 08:15 meet your Travel Director at the trip's hotel in London. After a warm welcome, settle into your luxury coach and head westwards through the green Chiltern Hills. Stop in Oxford where your Travel Director will introduce you to the City of Dreaming Spires and home to the world's most famous university. With time at leisure, why not enjoy a visit to the world-famous Ashmolean Museum or browse through the local indoor market? Continue via pretty Cotswolds villages to Stratford-upon-Avon. Visit the half-timbered house where William Shakespeare was born, now a museum full of memorabilia relating to his life. Later, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers at a local restaurant for a warm and friendly Welcome Dinner with drinks and the opportunity to get to know each other over a pleasant evening. (DW)
Stay: Macdonald Swan's Nest Hotel, Stratford
A leisurely drive brings you to the historic city of York
, its story going back to the time of the Romans and the Vikings. Inside the ancient city walls, see the York Minster, the largest medieval church in northern Europe. Explore the maze of narrow streets to the topsy-turvy Shambles, where warped, overhanging timber-framed houses lean so far that they almost touch! Spend the rest of the day at leisure. (BB/D)
By The Lakes To Edinburgh.
Travel across the Yorkshire Dales and wild Pennines to the picturesque English Lake District
. Here a scenic wonderland awaits - rugged mountains and tranquil waters, inspiration to a host of English poets including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tennyson and Shelley. After a visit to Wordsworth's grave in the village of Grasmere
, cross into Scotland and stop briefly at Gretna Green. This is the famous spot where runaway lovers were married over the anvil at the blacksmith's shop. Then it's on to the majestic Scottish capital. At night, select departures will attend the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - a colourful mix of pipes and drums, dance and display, set against the floodlit backdrop of Edinburgh Castle
Stay Two Nights:
Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel
Scotland's City Of Culture. Join a Local Expert for a trip along Princes Street to see the ornate Victorian Gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott. Walk the elegant 18th century New Town to see its classical Adam facades. Over in the Old Town, visit the castle, home of Mons Meg, the Stone of Destiny and the Honours of Scotland, Scotland's glittering Crown Jewels. At the bottom of the Royal Mile, stands the Palace of Holyroodhouse - the official Scottish residence of Her Majesty, the Queen. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps research your family tartan in the Tartan Centre or visit the art treasures in the National Gallery? (BB)
The Highland Capital Of Inverness. Cross the Firth of Forth into Fife and make your way to St. Andrews, passing the Old Course where golf was born in the 15th century. Enjoy free time to explore. Perhaps stroll to West Sands Beach where the famous 'Chariots of Fire' scene was filmed? Alternately, wander to St. Andrews University where the love story of Kate Middleton meeting her Prince Charming began. Cross the Tay and journey to the charming Victorian resort town of Pitlochry, famous for its salmon run. Continue via Blair Atholl and pass the Grampian Mountains on the way to the sparkling Spey Valley. Stop at Culloden Moor, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army was finally crushed in 1746 and visit the Culloden Visitor Centre. Travel to stately Inverness, where your centrally-located hotel is set on the banks of the River Ness and looks up to Inverness Castle. (BB/D)
Stay: Columba Hotel, Inverness
Loch Ness To Wick. Start the day with a journey of discovery on a Loch Ness cruise. Soak up the scenery, historic monuments and intriguing tales of Nessie in the heart of Scotland's great glen. Your travels then follow the rugged coast north to the fishing port of Wick. Pause at the Old Pulteney Distillery to taste a wee dram of whisky and learn about the production of the national drink. Don't blink as you drive on to your hotel - you pass Ebenezer Place, which at 2.06 m, is the world's shortest street! (Buffet Breakfast/Dinner)
Stay Two Nights: The Norseman Hotel, Wick
Orkney Islands Experience. Visit the most northerly community on the British mainland, John O'Groats. Board the ferry to the beautiful Orkney Islands - where the hardy locals live 'below the wind and above the water.' Guided sightseeing includes visiting the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, Kirkwall and the small chapel built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. (BB/D)
Over The Sea To Skye. Relax and enjoy the stunning landscapes of lochs and mountains on your way to the fishing town of Ullapool. Continue alongside Loch Carron and through Glen Carron, before crossing to the magical Isle of Skye - the largest and most beautiful island of the Inner Hebrides. Hear the story of the song 'Over the Sea to Skye,' which tells of young Flora MacDonald and how she helped to rescue Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fled in disguise after his defeat at Culloden. Admire the scenic splendour on the way to your hotel in Broadford. (BB/D)
Stay: Dunollie Hotel, Broadford
Loch Lomond To Glasgow. Return to the mainland to see remote Eilean Donan Castle, which under a clear sky offers a perfect reflection in its loch. Move on to the WWII Commando Memorial where there are views of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. Continue on to the Valley of Glencoe, its dramatic peaks still echoing with the ghastly cries of massacred clansmen. Stop on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, known as the 'Queen of Scottish Lakes' according to Sir Walter Scott, before arriving in Glasgow. (BB)
Stay: Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow
Walk In The Giant's Steps On The Way To Londonderry. Cross the Irish Sea, enjoying views of the Island of Arran along the way. Once you arrive in Northern Ireland, prepare yourself for miles of breathtaking beauty! The road clings to the coastline at the mouth of the famous Nine Glens of Antrim, alongside sandy beaches beneath towering basalt cliffs. Stop at the Giant's Causeway, and hear the legends which surround this geological masterpiece, created by the cooling of lava which burst through the Earth's crust millions of years ago. Continue to the ancient walled city of 'Derry'. (BB/D)
Stay: Da Vinci's Hotel Derry, Londonderry
Belleek And Sligo Bay.
In the morning, meet Ronan, one of the nation's great storytellers, as he takes you inside Londonderry's well-preserved walls, still topped with cannons. Walk down steep Shipquay Street, with its elegant Georgian houses, to the Gothic Guildhall, and cross the border to see O'Donnell's Castle in Donegal. Journey south to the Belleek Pottery & Visitor Centre, nestled on the banks of the River Erne. Meet some of the specialist craftspeople and see artisan techniques in action during your visit. Continue to the churchyard at Drumcliff, the last resting place of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Then it's on to your country retreat, set on the scenic shores of Sligo Bay. (BB/D)
Stay: Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo
Galway And Limerick.
Experience the beautiful rugged landscape of Connemara, a wonderland of rivers, lakes and silent hills. Continue to Galway, where your Travel Director will show you St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, dedicated to the late US President John F. Kennedy. Move onto your hotel in Limerick, famous for rhymes, lace and Georgian houses. (BB)
Stay: The George Boutique Hotel Limerick
Adare To Killarney. Start the day with an exploration of Limerick where you will see King John's Castle, St. Mary's Cathedral and the Treaty Stone. Continue your journey through the land of song and legend via the picturesque thatched village of Adare, into County Kerry and onto your Killarney hotel. (BB)
Stay Two Nights: Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa, Killarney
Ring Of Kerry Experience.
In the morning, enjoy a trip around the Ring of Kerry
, one of the world's greatest scenic journeys. See towering cliffs, lush lakelands, remote villages, Ireland's highest mountain range and the three peaceful Lakes of Killarney. With time at leisure, perhaps hire a bicycle and take advantage of the many cycle trails that Killarney has to offer, around the lake or through the National Park? At night your Dine-Around Evening offers you authentic and intimate dining as you choose from a hand-picked selection of local restaurants, ranging in style and ambience. (BB/DW)
Blarney Castle And Waterford.
Cross the rugged Derrynasaggart Mountains this morning and head for Blarney
. Visit the ruined 15th century castle and home to the famous the famous Stone of Eloquence. It is said that those whose lips caress the Stone of Eloquence are bestowed with the power to persuade, flatter and coax. Continue on to Cork, Ireland's second most populous city, built on the River Lee. See the City Hall and Opera House, before a delightful coastal drive brings you to historic Waterford, with its 9th century Reginald's Tower and remains of the old city walls. (BB)
Stay: Dooley's Hotel, Waterford
Kilkenny And Dublin. Admire the sparkling display of crystal on your guided visit to the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal, where you will meet a master craftsman. Travel to the medieval city of Kilkenny, home of the world's fastest field game. The ancient Celtic sport of Hurling is over 3,000 years old and Ireland's national sport. Meet a player who will share his passion through a demonstration of skills. Continue to Ireland's lively capital, Dublin, and spend a leisurely evening relaxing, exploring or perhaps taking in a famous Irish Cabaret? (BB)
Stay Two Nights: Trinity City Hotel, Dublin
In Dublin's Fair City. Before it opens to the public, experience Ireland's national and world-famous drink with a guided visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Gain a fascinating insight into the history and traditions behind its production and enjoy a tasting with a Guinness expert. Then meet your Local Expert who will show the sights of the city, including Dublin's elegant Georgian squares, O'Connell Street and the Custom House. The afternoon is at leisure. (BB)
Across The Irish Sea To Chester. Bid farewell to Ireland as you board the ferry to Wales. Cross the Isle of Anglesey, via the village bearing Britain's longest name, and continue over the Menai Straits for a stop in the walled market town of Conwy to see the castle. Travel along the north coast of Wales and cross the English border to arrive at Chester. This fine town still boasts relics of its history as a Roman fortress, as well as the unique black and white shopping arcades known as the Rows. An exploration with your Travel Director will show you the well-preserved city walls, Jubilee Clock and impressive cathedral. (BB/D)
Stay: Hallmark Hotel The Queen, Chester
The Welsh Marches To Cardiff. Head south as you follow the Welsh border to Ludlow. This bustling town is still dominated by the massive castle, built to resist the frequent Welsh raids, while the medieval timber-framed buildings and Georgian mansions reflect a later time of peace and prosperity. Continue through the countryside to the Welsh capital and see the Principality Stadium and Cardiff Castle. (BB)
Stay: Clayton Hotel Cardiff
Bath And Glastonbury.
Cross the soaring Severn Bridge to reach the elegant Georgian city of Bath
, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in amphitheatre-style on the surrounding hills. An orientation of the city will show you the impressive Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge, both built in mellow local stone. See the angels climbing Jacob's Ladder on Bath Abbey before visiting the Pump Room and ancient Roman Baths to see the incredibly well-preserved remains of one of the greatest spas of the ancient world, still ﬂowing with the natural hot water from the springs. Journey on to Glastonbury, rumored to be the resting place of legendary King Arthur and the Holy Grail. After some time to explore, continue on to the Cornish Countryside for the night. (BB)
Stay Two Nights:
St. Mellion International Resort, Saltash
The Cornish Coast Experience. In the morning, cross the moorlands of Dartmoor, home to wild ponies, to reach maritime Plymouth. Numerous famous voyagers have set off from this ancient port. See the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America. Visit a picturesque Cornish fishing village, where contraband was once landed in the dead of night. Experiences shared lead to lasting friendships, and back in Saltash you will enjoy a glass of wine with your newfound friends at your delectable Celebration Dinner. Toast to an inspiring journey of discovery. Cheers! (Buffet Breakfast/Dinner with Wine)
Ancient Stonehenge To London.
Travel across Salisbury Plain
to visit the pre-historic and mysterious Stonehenge
, where the strange and awe-inspiring monoliths are reputed to be up to 5,000 years old. Your discovery of Britain and Ireland concludes upon your return to the trip's hotel in London. (BB)