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Ancient Touring Routes of England

United Kingdom
2-Centre Tour to Bristol and Oxford
Join us as we follow one of England’s ancient touring routes, known as ‘The Great West Way’. It was one of the first “Great Roads” commissioned by the Kings of England, and is considered one of the world’s premier touring routes. We will wind our way through lush green landscapes to discover historic and culturally rich cities, as well as world-famous attractions. This tour is for the curious traveller who wants to explore the real England and enjoy an extraordinary variety of English experiences not found in any other parts of the country. 

Our first 6 nights will be in Bristol, a lively yet laid-back  city recently designated the UK’s best place to live! Bristol has a rich centuries-old maritime heritage involving swashbuckling pirates and North American expeditions, and is noted for its famous harbour, historic landmarks and variety of English architecture from different periods. 

Our last 6 nights will be in Oxfordshire, one of England’s most glorious regions. Here we will find skylines pierced with spires and domes, dream-like palaces, world-class museums, spectacular scenery, picture-postcard villages, honey-coloured Cotswold stone architecture, and of course the world’s oldest English-speaking university. 

Tour Highlights:
    • The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath
    • The magical, historic town of Bradford-upon-Avon,  
    • Bristol – the SS Great Britain and “Being Brunel”
    • Berkeley Castle
    • The unspoiled village of Lacock 
    • Castle Coombe – The “Prettiest Village in England”
    • The Royal Borough of Windsor 
    • Bombay Gin Distillery
    • Hobbs of Henley Cruise on the Thames
    • Knebworth House 
    • Oxford – the City of Dreaming Spires 

*Those participating in any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for London.
We arrive and transfer to our centrally located hotel in Bristol for a 6-night stay. Tonight is our Welcome Dinner.
Our city tour of Bristol begins at the historic waterfront with a visit of the SS Great Britain, where we’ll see what life was like on the world’s first great luxury liner (launched in 1843). Then we visit the newly-opened Being Brunel, where we learn about Victorian England’s most ingenious engineer. Brunel changed the face of England with his construction of bridges, tunnels, dockyards and railways. Our final visit is Aerospace Bristol, where we travel through aviation history and step aboard the last Concorde to fly.
We first visit the magnificent Berkeley Castle. Founded in 1153 by the first Lord Berkeley, it is the UK’s oldest medieval castle occupied by the same family from its inception to this very day. Then we visit Tetbury, known for its many antique shops and its proximity to Prince Charles’s residence at Highgrove. The town has a wonderful variety of individually owned specialty shops, where you may experience a level of service long since vanished from most high streets.
We begin in the UNESCO City of Bath, where our guide will show us the stunning honey-coloured Georgian architecture, the iconic Royal Crescent, the majestic Circus and Pulteney Bridge. Later we visit Bradford-on-Avon. Surrounded by glorious countryside, the ancient bridge in the centre of the town still retains its original 13th-century arches. There will be free time to explore the historic streets of the town centre. This evening we enjoy a pub dinner.
A day at leisure in this city bursting with activity, stunning architecture, award-winning attractions, great restaurants, stunning cityscapes and elaborate street art.
Lacock Abbey is considered the birthplace of photography, as it was here in the early 1830s that William Fox-Talbot took his first "photograph" of an oriel window. The window looks much the same now as it did 200 years ago. Lacock village has been preserved from the ravages of modern civilization, with no television aerials or other signs of the modern world. Next, we visit Castle Combe, known as 'The Prettiest Village in England' and with good reason. Step back several centuries as you stroll through this relaxed village of honey-toned Cotswold-stone cottages.
We leave Bristol and meander through the gentle hillsides and sleepy, honey-coloured villages of the Cotswolds - a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We arrive at Blenheim Palace - birthplace of Winston Churchill. This National Treasure houses some of Europe’s finest antique collections. We’ll tour the State Rooms and discover over 300 years of history. There will be time to explore this World Heritage Site and the 2000 acres of landscaped parkland, featuring some of the finest views in England. We arrive at our hotel on the edge of Oxford, for a 6-night stay.
Windsor is steeped in the pageantry and history of the royal family. We’ll enjoy both a walking tour and a river cruise which will offer the perfect view of Windsor Castle - one of the Queen’s official residences and the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world.
On our guided walking tour of Oxford - ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’, we’ll see the key university buildings (and hidden alleyways connecting them), visit Radcliffe Square and Bodleian Libraries, and see some of the oldest colleges. We’ll learn about the city’s past and some of the famous characters that studied here, and be enchanted by its fabulous architecture and gardens. Next, we proceed to Hampshire to visit the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, where we’ll experience the skill and artistry that goes into the production of this famous and unique spirit enjoyed the world over.
Henley-on-Thames is one of England’s most beautiful towns, and has an international reputation (earned over 175 years), for having the world’s greatest rowing regatta. We begin with a cruise along the regatta route, then visit the River and Rowing Museum - designated one of the world’s 50 best museums, located in an architecturally stunning award- winning building. The town has appeared in many episodes of Midsomer Murders. This evening we enjoy dinner in the local pub in Bucklebury (where Kate Middleton’s family resides).
Our hotel is set on 17 landscaped acres, just 10 minutes from the centre of Oxford. You may want to spend the day walking the grounds, enjoying the pool and spa facilities, or play a round of tennis! You may also want to go into Oxford or take a short taxi ride to Bicester Village - one of the world’s leading luxury shopping destinations.
Our first stop is Aylesbury, known for its vibrant market displaying unique wares in the heart of the historic town. Then we visit Knebworth House, owned by the Lytton family for 500 years. Stories and heirlooms reflect the family’s contribution to literature, politics and Foreign Service. Visitors to the house have included diverse characters such as Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Noel Gallagher. Tonight, we enjoy our Farewell Dinner and lift a glass to cheer this incredible tour!
We fly home from London.
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