Day 1: London - Shrewsbury
Depart from London around 9.15 am. Travel to William Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the Tudor thatched cottage and the gardens of his wife, Anne Hathaway. You will have time to explore the magnificent village of Stratford and enjoy lunch, before continuing to the World Heritage site of Ironbridge. Set in a stunning forested gorge on the River Severn, this historic valley boasts the world's first ever iron bridge and a host of attractions to choose from. It was once described as the most extraordinary district in the world! From here, travel to the beautiful riverside town of Shrewsbury for the next 2 nights.
Day 2: Shrewsbury and Beyond
This morning, travel into the heart of North Wales. You will visit the picturesque medieval castle of Conwy, built by Edward I in the late 13th century. You will also explore the impressive mountain scenery of Snowdonia National Park including the huge Dinorwic slate quarries and the dramatic Pass of Llanberis in the shadows of Snowdon - Wales' highest peak. Hear tales of Owain Glyndwr and the Welsh struggles for independence before travelling back through the borderlands into England. (B)
Day 3: Shrewsbury - York
To the northeast of Shrewsbury lie the hills of the Peak District National Park with a mixture of stunning scenery and beautiful little villages. You will take a scenic route through the park to the village of Castleton. In the afternoon, you can visit the famous mansion house and gardens of Chatsworth, home to the Cavendish family and the Duke of Devonshire. Chatsworth is often named the UK's favorite country house and a visit will reveal some of the finest collections of furniture, priceless paintings, Old Master drawings, and neo-classical sculptures. From here, travel east out of the hills to the wonderful historic city of York where you will spend the next 3 nights. (B)
Day 4: York at Leisure
Today, you have a choice of things to do. You can spend the whole day at leisure exploring the medieval heart of York, a city whose rich history goes back to the time of the Romans, Vikings, and Normans. Visit some of the fascinating museums, the amazing York Minster, or just lose yourself in the maze of narrow streets and ancient city walls. Alternatively, you could join your guide on a half-day excursion into the Yorkshire Dales, visiting the historic market towns of Knaresborough or Ripon and some of the attractive little villages and beautiful countryside of the Eastern Dales, followed by a free afternoon in York. (B)
Day 5: York and Beyond
Spend some more time exploring York before and nbsp;heading to the magnificent North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Lunch will be in Whitby, a bustling fishing port and the inspiration for the fertile imagination of the author Bram Stoker, who stayed in the Royal Hotel on the western side of Whitby while writing his famous novel Dracula. After lunch, and free time in Whitby, travel to the fishing village of Robin Hood's Bay, a perfectly preserved conservation village of winding lanes and narrow alleys, before returning to York. (B)The minibus cannot access the main village because of local restrictions. The coach will drop you at the top of the village and you must walk down (and back up!) a steep hill to reach the old village center.
Day 6: York - Keswick
Head west into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Established in 1954, the park has outstanding scenery, a range of wildlife habitats, and a rich cultural heritage. It's a special place - a fantastic outdoor arena for recreation and peaceful relaxation and a haven for wildlife. Continuing west, your route will take you through the Northern Dales, an area of outstanding natural beauty, that is the center of the Dales cattle trade. Your final leg of today's journey will take you high up into the remote hills of the Yorkshire Dales before descending into the lively market town of Keswick where you will be dropped off at your hotel and are then free to explore this charming town. (B)During July this tour may stay in Windermere instead.
Day 7: Keswick and Beyond
After breakfast, head a short distance out of town to the mysterious Castlerigg Standing Stones, thought by many to have been built over 5,000 years ago and the scene of ancient rituals. Travel on to the shores of Ullswater, described as England's most beautiful lake, where you can take a forest walk to see the mighty Aira Force waterfall. Continuing south over the narrow and winding Kirkstone Pass, stop at Windermere where you have the option to take a leisurely cruise on the water or simply eat lunch while enjoying views of the mountains and lakes. After lunch, travel around the southern tip of Windermere and on towards Coniston Water after which you will arrive at the picturesque conservation village of Hawkeshead. After free time to explore the village, take the narrow country lanes north towards Grasmere. There is free time to visit Wordsworth's Dove Cottage or enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden by the River Rothy. In the late afternoon, return to Keswick. (B)
Day 8: Keswick - Edinburgh
Leaving the Lakes behind you, start your climb of Hartside Pass which stands at over 1,900 ft. On a clear day the hills and mountains of Scotland and the English Lake District are clearly visible as you follow the route of the old sheep drovers between England and Scotland. Stopping at Hadrian's Wall, built by Emperor Hadrian to keep the Scots out of the Roman Empire, there is an opportunity to explore some of the Roman remains and walk in the footsteps of the Roman Centurions who patrolled this desolate frontier. Following the ancient Roman Dere Street, cross into Scotland and continue on to the border town of Jedburgh for refreshments in the shadow of the ruins of Jedburgh
Abbey. Your final stop is at the world famous Scott's View, encompassing outlooks of the River Tweed and the Cheviot Hills that broadly form the Scottish-English border before continuing north to Edinburgh. Arrive in Edinburgh around 7 pm. (B)
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