Castle ruins, meandering medieval streets, and a magnificent Celtic heritage bring the beauty of Wales to life against a backdrop of rolling green hills and dramatic sea cliffs. Past and present co-exist in this distinctive part of the world the Romans mined for gold, the Tudors founded a dynasty and the Normans built castles whose ancient remains are scattered along windy hilltops throughout the countryside. Along the way, Wales' ancient Celtic heritage was memorialised in a stunning collection of literature and artwork.
Our stay in Cumbria takes in several literary locales: Wordsworth's Dove Cottage and Beatrix Potter's charming habitat and will give you an indication of why Wordsworth and the other Lakeland poets (for example Coleridge, Southey) decided to make this area their home.
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Evening departure from your chosen gateway city.
Your morning arrival at London Heathrow will be met for the transfer to our nearby hotel. We will gather the group together here from various arrivals and, after time to unpack and rest from the overnight flight we will enjoy dinner at the hotel.
This morning we cross the Severn Bridge into the principality of Wales. We will spend the next two nights in Abergavenny. Known as the 'gateway to Wales' this pretty little town features some wonderful crafts, galleries and workshops, including the famous Alison Tod Couture Milliner. After settling into to our hotel we have a private visit and afternoon tea at Castle Acre. Overlooking Grosmont Castle the gardens at Castle Acre are being lovingly restored by Sue Gill, a noted (now retired) garden designer. Dinner is included this evening at our hotel.
Our excursion today takes us to the magnificent Tintern Abbey and the historic riverside town of Chepstow before we make our way to the historic town of Monmouth and a visit to the Castle, and the breathtaking views of Symonds Yat. We return to our hotel for dinner.
This morning we will drive to the black and white town of Ledbury and enjoy a visit to Eastnor Castle before we drive via the A49 to Craven Arms and Welshpool and on to Aberdovey and our accommodation at the family owned and much loved Trefiddian Hotel. Set in an unrivalled position overlooking the estuary waters and just beside a delightful little town full of interesting gift shops and cafes, this hotel is full of old fashioned charm.
This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we will drive south towards the Mynach Falls and Devil's Bridge. This afternoon we will have a special private garden visit.
A drive through North Wales and the Snowdonia National Park today, and a visit to Harlech Castle, perched high above the sea in front of a magnificent backdrop of peaked mountains Cader Idris and Mount Snowdon. From here we drive to the village of Portmeirion, designed in the 1920s by ceramic designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in an array of different architectural styles. Famous as the location for the TV series The Prisoner, it is also the inspiration for the iconic Portmeirion pottery, particularly The Botanic Garden design collected worldwide. From here we will drive to the much loved hotel of Bodysgallen Hall and famous National Trust garden. The hall is a Grade I listed 17th Century house within 220 acres of parkland, with the most spectacular views towards Conwy Castle and Snowdonia. Award winning gardens, renowned food and comfort and a delightful spa awaits! Our route will take us through Betws y Coed, past the Swallow Falls and through the Vale of Conwy to the estuary.
A day on the mystical Isle of Anglesey, the Druid's sacred island. We will first visit the beautiful Grade I listed Gwydir Castle in the Conwy Valley. A 10-acre garden surrounds this fine example of a Tudor courtyard house, and the important 1640s dining room has now been reinstated in the House, following its repatriation from the New York Metropolitan Museum. Driving on past Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, overlooking the Menai Straits to Anglesey. We'll cross the famous suspension bridge designed by Thomas Telford in the 1820s and see the restored toll keeper's cottage which never closed, whatever the weather! We visit Plas Newydd, the ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey. Built on the side of the water straits, this is a truly lovely house and garden, and the whole island has a very special feel. His Royal Highness Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, was stationed here for some time during his RAF pilot work, and has very fond memories of the welcome he and his new bride received. We return to our hotel for a free evening.
We begin the day with a visit to Conwy Castle, built by Edward I in the 13th century. We continue to historic Caernarfon Castle, where Her Majesty The Queen invested His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in 1969. We will then drive up though the Llanberis Pass for perhaps the most spectacular views of Mount Snowdon. A free evening in Llandudno this evening.
Leaving Wales behind, we will this morning depart by coach to the Lake District. En route we will visit St Winifred's Well at Holywell. Our route into the Lakes will take a few hours and we will have a chance to stop at the renowned tearoom and café at Sizergh Castle and have a chance to visit the Castle and delightful gardens, with over 750 years of history. We will then drive on through the lower Lakes to our luxury accommodation at Holbeck Ghyll. Dinner together this evening after a chance to unpack.
After a leisurely breakfast, we visit Dove Cottage, the home of the Wordsworths, and Rydal Water, Grasmere, with a visit to Rydal Mount. On to Hawkshead and a stop for lunch (own arrangements) at the outstanding Inn: The Drunken Duck. Dinner at our hotel this evening.
Today, a visit to magnificent Holker Hall, home of the Cavendish family (Chatsworth), a visit to Cartmel Priory and of course, a chance to find the Sticky Toffee Pudding shop! From here, back along Coniston Water and a visit to Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin. We return to our hotel for dinner.
This morning we will drive up the notoriously bleak but spectacular Kirkstone Pass and Glenridding, before we drive to Ullswater and take a one-hour boat trip along the beautiful shores. From here we will drive to Lake Bassenthwaite and Derwent Water, for a final look at the beautiful scenery of Cumbria before heading down the motorway to our hotel close to Manchester Airport. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner in the private dining room of our hotel.
Morning transfers to Manchester Airport for returning flights home, or alternatively to London to spend a few days in the capital.