South West England
(Ideal for Spring and Early Autumn Travel)
12 Days – from $2,795.00+ per person (based on double occupancy)
Individual Tour *
Your Tour Price Includes:
10 nights in 3 ½ to 4 star hotels++
Full English breakfast, daily
Two (2) nights’ dinner
Nine (9) days car rental (automatic shift car with air-conditioning)
BritRail tickets from Plymouth to London
Entrance fees/tickets to:
Longleat House and Safari Park
Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor
Dartmoor National Park
St. Michael’s Mount
Custom-designed maps, routed for your specific driving destinations
+ (Land only price)
London and the South West of England are regions rich in heritage and culture. The South West, in particular, is known for its connections with legendary, literary, religious, and political figures such as King Arthur, Agatha Christie, John Wesley and Jane Austen to name but a few. It is a region with a magnificent coastline, two national parks, and four World Heritage sites (including well known icons such as prehistoric Stonehenge). This area is ideal for spring and autumn travel – the weather is still nice without the crowds of summer. Enjoy!
Day 1 – Departure – You depart on your overnight transatlantic flight.
Day 2 – Welcome to London – Traveling in to London’s City Centre is a breeze by taking the Heathrow Express. After you check into your 4-star, centrally-located London hotel, the remainder of the day is yours to explore, at will. Take in a cozy dinner at a local pub, or have a night on the town – the choice is yours! (London Hotel: Jury’s Clifton Hotel or equivalent.)
Day 3 – Your Adventure Begins – After a full English breakfast, you collect your rental car (automatic transmission with air-conditioning – Opel Astra 4-door or similar) and head South West. Your first stop – Stonehenge! Situated high on Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge stands impressively as a prehistoric monument of unique importance. Erected between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC by no less than three different cultures, its orientation on the rising and setting sun has always been one of its remarkable features. Have a look around the quaint village of Amesbury, just two miles away. Or, stop in at Salisbury Cathedral, a magnificent 13th century cathedral with Britain’s tallest spire. Situated in the largest medieval close in Britain, it is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings and eight acres of lawns and houses the world’s best preserved Magna Carta (AD 1215) and Europe’s oldest working clock (AD 1386). Dinner is included for the next two nights at your quaint country home, The Red Lion, in the town of Salisbury. The Red Lion Hotel was built over seven hundred and fifty years ago, originally to house the draughtsmen working on the design of nearby Salisbury Cathedral and is believed to be the oldest purpose built hotel in Britain. (Salisbury Hotel: The Red Lion Hotel or equivalent.)
Day 4 – Historic Houses – Today, we recommend visiting classic, historical British Manor Homes. Wilton House, Mompesson House, and Longleat House & Safari Park are the top 3 we recommend. Wilton House and Mompesson House were both featured in Jane Austen movies – “Pride & Prejudice” and “Sense & Sensibility”, respectively. Mompesson House is an elegant and spacious 18th-century Georgian house in Salisbury’s city centre, featuring an unrivalled collection of Turnball drinking glasses, charming walled gardens, and a retreat of peace and tranquility. Wilton House, home of the 18th Earl of Pembroke, offers over 460 years of history where you will experience living history at its very best. Uncover its secrets as you wander through its magnificent rooms, marvel at its architecture, soak in its fine paintings or be swept off your feet by its spectacular gardens. Only 24 miles away is Longleat House and Safari Park. Widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public, Longleat is now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath. The House is set within 900 acres of magnificent ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland with a further 8000 acres of woodland, lakes and farmland. In 1966, Longleat caused a revolution in the world of zoological collections by becoming the first location outside Africa to open a drive-through Safari Park. Now, you can enjoy incredibly close encounters with some of the world’s most amazing animals, there, including giraffes, zebras, wolves and monkeys. Dinner awaits at The Red Lion Hotel this evening (and is included in your price). (Salisbury Hotel: The Red Lion Hotel or equivalent.)
Day 5 – West to Wookey Hole – You will continue on westward today to Wookey Hole. (No, this is not a scene from ‘Star Wars’.) As you drive west, stop in to the town of Shepton Mallet for a lovely cup of tea. Then check in to your 4 star hotel, Miller’s at Glencot House - a Jacobean mansion nestled at the foot of the Mendip Hills, just where the River Axe emerges from Wookey Hole. This afternoon, take a drive north to the city of Bristol, a beautiful, vibrant and fashionable city. Bristol’s harbor, which weaves its way through the heart of the city, is lined with restaurants, cafes, museums, arts centers and galleries. The narrow winding streets, radiating from the water's edge, lead to elegant parks and squares and stunning architecture. Take in a bit of night-life if you’re up for it. Then return to "your mansion" for a wonderful night’s sleep. (Somerset hotel: Miller’s at Glencot House or equivalent.)
Day 6 – Holy Cheese! – After a leisurely breakfast at your luxury hotel, you’ll head south to Glastonbury Abbey, where the legendary King Arthur is reputed to be buried alongside his queen Guinevere. Glastonbury Abbey is one of the oldest religious foundations in Britain and boasts extensive Abbey ruins, largely destroyed during Henry VIII's Reformation, amidst 36 acres of beautiful parkland. The Abbey’s features include St Mary's Chapel, the Abbot's Kitchen, and reputedly the graves of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Another famous legend is that of Joseph of Arimathea, who, it is claimed, buried the Chalice of the Holy Grail here, and along with his followers, and built a settlement and small church in the area. Whilst you’re there, don’t miss Glastonbury Tor, a striking landmark just outside the town, rising dramatically from the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels to a height of 158 meters (525 feet) above sea level. Glastonbury Tor is a focus for many of the legends and spiritual energies associated with the area. From Glastonbury, it’s on to Cheddar Gorge. The area has been a destination of travellers and holidaymakers for centuries, each one curious to view the magnificent limestone gorge carved into the southern slopes of the Mendip hills above the village of Cheddar. At the lower end of the gorge, closest to the village are riverside walks, tea rooms and gift shops and the famous Showcaves – a series of labyrinthine underground chambers accessible to the public. Cheddar cheese is known throughout the world, its manufacture originating at farms in the region. You can watch traditional Cheddar cheese making at the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company in the lower Gorge. (Somerset hotel: Miller’s at Glencot House or equivalent.)
Day 7 – Picturesque Plymouth – As you continue on southward, you’ll drive toward historic Plymouth by way of Dartmoor National Park. Dartmoor has something for everyone, including nature reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, endangered birds, rare plants and thousands of archaeological sites, including burial chambers, stone circles and menhirs - more than anywhere else in North Western Europe. Then to Plymouth where you can stand where the Pilgrim Fathers stood before they embarked on the Mayflower to discover the new world in 1646, and learn about their voyage at the Plymouth Mayflower exhibition. You can also enjoy a tour and sample the renowned ‘Plymouth Gin’ and their historic distillery or perhaps visit the National Marine Aquarium - now the largest aquarium in Great Britain with the deepest tank in Europe! (Plymouth hotel: Jury’s Inn or equivalent.)
Days 8 – Exploring the South West – Your “To Do” list will be full whilst in the south west of England with an array of choices. First stop on today’s itinerary: The Eden Project - a living Theatre of Plants in the heart of Cornwall. You will get to experience a fantastic range of plants from around the world. You’ll hear marvelous stories demonstrating the many ways in which man uses plants for; food, medicine, construction, entertainment, the air we breathe and a whole lot more. You’ll learn information on the relationship between plants and the development of our global cultures, including a glimpse into the future, following the use of plants in new designs and technologies. You will have a chance to get involved; feeling, tasting, seeing and using plants on themed tours and in a wide range of workshops with demonstrations of resource use and the showcasing of local and global projects and initiatives working towards securing a sustainable future. And, you’ll gain valuable information and simple practical ideas on how to care for the plants and their habitats that provide for us, and how we can work towards a sustainable future. (Admission to The Eden Project is included in your tour price.) You may also wish to visit Lanhydrock House. First built in the 17th century and largely rebuilt after a fire in 1881, Lanhydrock House boasts itself as the finest house in Cornwall, superbly set in wooded parkland of 450 acres and encircled by a garden of rare shrubs and trees, lovely in all seasons. View the 49 rooms ranging from the richly furnished main rooms reflecting Victorian comfort to maids' bedrooms, the great kitchen and the newly-opened Nursery Wing. (Plymouth hotel: Jury’s Inn or equivalent.)
Day 9 – Cornwall’s Coast– Today we suggest a drive to the most westerly part of England, the Cornish Coast. Famous for its stunning scenery and extraordinary views, you can experience great local food (including the famous Cornish pasties), intriguing history, fascinating sightseeing and historical traditions. In less than 2 hours, you can be at St. Michael’s Mount – situation 500 yards offshore and accessible by foot only at low tide (or a short boat ride if the tide is in). St. Michael’s Mount rises almost 230 feet from sea level to the tower, chapel and battlement of the castle. The grandeur and wealth of history of St Michael's Mount, with its fairy tale castle, make it a unique attraction in Britain. Then, there’s the ancient market town of Penzance, the Capital of the far west of Cornwall, set in beautiful Mounts Bay. Ancient fishing villages, cliff-top walks, sub-tropical vegetation and a wealth of industrial and maritime heritage combine with early Christian history and Celtic legend to make the district surrounding Penzance a fascinating area. The coastline of coves and caves, the area's history of smugglers and wreckers and its long tradition of music and song, inspired Gilbert and Sullivan to name one of the most famous of their productions "The Pirates of Penzance". You can also drive further west to visit Land’s End, the most westerly point in the United Kingdom, and the closest point to North America. Enjoy your final evening in the South West with a luxurious dinner, or a helping of pub fare at the local pub. (Plymouth hotel: Jury’s Inn or equivalent.)
Day 11 – Return to London – You will return your rental car in Plymouth. Then, you’ll be able to relax for a few hours and enjoy the scenery as BritRail transports you back to London. If you catch the morning train, you’ll have the afternoon and evening to explore the town! You may even wish to take in a show this evening in London’s West End Theatre District. (Let us know if you’d like us to pre-purchase theatrical tickets for you.) This evening, watch out for ghosts – you’ll be staying very close to the Tower of London at The Tower Hotel. (London hotel: The Tower or equivalent.)
Day 11 – Lively London – With a full day in England’s capital, there’s a lot to be done! Catch up on your last minute shopping (don’t forget that trip to Harrod’s!). Take tea at Fortnum and Mason. See London via the City Sightseeing Bus. Take a ride on the London Eye, or a cruise down the River Thames. Your options are limitless! Need suggestions or pre-booked attraction tickets? Just let Across the Pond Vacations know – we’ll take care of it for you! (London hotel: The Tower or equivalent.)
Day 12 – Farewell, charming England – After breakfast, you’re off to the airport. Or… extend your stay. Let us know what you prefer. We hope you have had a wonderful time exploring England’s South West!
+ Prices from $2,795/pp based on double occupancy. Single and triple occupants will change rate. Final price will be based upon exchange rate at time of booking, and time of year traveling.
++ Hotels listed in tour description indicate first choice. Equivalent hotels of same star quality and location supplied if first choice unavailable.
* All individual tours can be made into group tours for already assembled groups