Inspired by the story of King Arthur and the mythical Camelot we will ponder on this and many more stories, as we travel together through the truly spectacular “West Country”, embracing the four counties of Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall, or Kernow as it is known in the Cornish language. We will learn how for over 1000 years the peninsular was the richest region in the known world, having abundant resources of copper, tin, silver and gold, trading in centuries BC with The Phoenicians and The Roman Empire, feeding the mineral needs of the Bronze Age.
The region is not only rich in folk law but offers unique local dishes, wines, ciders and beers, many of which we will sample as we travel through this wonderful land. Let us start without any further ado!
Bristol, Bridport, Wells, Lyme Regis & Glastonbury
Our tour starts in the prosperous city of Bristol, once a thriving maritime port. Now the waterfront’s 19th century warehouses and harbour side have become a cultural hub, with many fine restaurants, bars, shops and cultural institutions. Our first destination is the Cheddar Gorge, England’s largest gorge at 400 ft deep and 3 miles long, with spectacular pinnacles and beautiful caves. Cheddar cheese is known the world over, where better to taste this delicious cheese than at the last cheese maker in the gorge, The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, where we will not only see authentic cheddar cheese made but have the opportunity to taste it.
Next we visit England’s smallest city, Wells. Enjoy taking our lunch at one of the many fine restaurants, pubs and tea shops. A drive of only 6 miles brings us to the historic city of Glastonbury to visit the famous Glastonbury Tor. Visit Dorset market town of Bridport, where you can taste traditional English ale and taak a look “behind the scenes” of the brewing process at Palmers Brewery. The breathtaking Jurassic Coast and Lyme Regis is our final destination today. We will stay tonight in one of the many fine hotels in or near the town.
We are happy to send you a program which is adapted to your flight schedule. Please get in touch with us if you would like this.
Overnight stay including half-board in the Lyme Regis area
Lyme Regis, Exeter, Torquay, Dartmoor & Princetown
We start our day travelling along the south Devon coast, passing through the towns of Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, arriving in the university city of Exeter,once the most south-westerly Roman fortified settlement in Britain.
We will visit Exeter Cathedral, which has the longest uninterrupted medieval vaulted ceilingin the world. This afternoon we will visit “The English Riviera”, Torquay, and Devon’s famous seasideresort. Enjoy a “Devon cream tea” at the world famous Imperial Hotel, overlooking the bay and the beautiful Devon coast. Our last journey today is inland, to the ancient and mystic Dartmoor National Park, driving through one of the largest wildernesses in the UK.
Overnight stay including half-board in the Dartmoor area
Tavistock, Fowey, Saltash, Truro & Falmouth
Before we leave Dartmoor, we will visit the hamlet of Postbridge and pass the notorious Dartmoor prison. Our next port of call is to Tavistock an ancient stannary and market town, where local crafts sit aside all sorts of local produce and is very much the social hub of the town. One last visit on Dartmoor will be to Buckfast Abbey, an extraordinary place on the southern border of the moor with a truly remarkable story. In medieval times the Abbey was totally destroyed, only to rise, phoenix like again between 1906 and 1938, recreated as it had been, 650 years earlier. You have to see it to believe it! It’s time to leave Devon and Dartmoor. We travel west to Saltash, to cross over the River Tamar and the Tamar Estuary, via the modern suspension bridge.
No visit to Whitby would be complete without eating its most famous dish “fish and Chips” you will find no better than here. We will visit one of Whitby’s fine restaurants for lunch. Later we depart travelling inland through the northern sector of The North York Moors National Park, to our final visit today at Great Ayton and the Captain Cook Monument.
Overnight stay including half-board in a nearby hotel
Fowey, Porthcurno, Truro, The Minack Theatre, St Michaels Mount & Falmouth
The Cornish peninsula offers such a diversity of land and seascape, enjoying a pleasant microclimate, encouraged by the ever present Gulf Stream. We travel to the Cornish capital and only city Truro, marvelling at the spectacular Truro Cathedral, the last built in the English gothic revival style and consecrated in 1910. Our onward journey takes us through the former stannary town of Helston, best known for the annual “Furry Dance”, performed every 8th of May to hail the beginning of summer. Now to a Cornish icon, St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island with a medieval village, harbour and castle. Depending on the tide we will either walk the stone causeway or take a taxi boat to make the five minute crossing, either are very exhilarating. We journey further, driving along the Penzance seafront, through the fishing port and centre for the arts, Newlyn, then on to the enchanting fishing village of Mousehole. After a delightful short drive through the hamlets of Lamorna and St Levan, we arrive in Porthcurno Bay. Today the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum tells the story of the birth of international communications. On the southern headland of the bay is the unique Minack Open Air Theatre, in every appearance like a Roman amphitheatre.
We journey on, passing the now highly commercialised Lands’ End complex and take the very picturesque coast road along the north coast before we arrive in St Ives, which will not disappoint, twice voted “Best UK Seaside Town”, this is perhaps the ultimate English seaside resort with its beautiful beaches and harbour and regarded by many as the most important centre for the arts. Today dozens of small art galleries can be found in the quaint, narrow streets around the harbour. If this doesn’t excite the visitor, then perhaps a Cornish cream tea, or Cornish pasty on the harbour side might! After our busy day we journey back across the peninsular to the maritime town of Falmouth, to enjoy the night life and spend our night in one the very fine hotels.
Overnight stay including half-board in Falmouth
Falmouth & Free day to visit local attractions
On this free day there are numerous possibilities to occupy the visitor. Falmouth is home to The National Maritime Museum, highly recommended, or perhaps tides permitting a river taxi up The River Fal, to Truro and visit the city for some culture and retail therapy. Visits to the Tudor castles of Pendennis and St Mawes may excite the history buffs, or just relaxing on Gyllyngvase beach, enjoying an informal lunch at the beach café.
The opportunities are limitless!
Overnight stay including half-board in Falmouth
Padstow, Boscastle, Port Isaac, Tintagel, Clovelly & Westward Ho
Today we head back to the rugged north coast, with our first stop in the fishing port of Padstow, situated near the mouth of the River Camel. Soon we depart for Port Isaac, a small picturesque fishing village, before we stop at the picturesque harbour of Boscastle, said to be one of Cornwall’s most romantic places. The village has charming little shops, cafes and galleries, which are very easy on the eye but maybe not the pocket!
Now we return to the Arthurian Legend and the village of Tintagel, where speculation about King Arthur, the wizard Merlin and Avalon are the main focus of myth and legend around the nearby castle and headlands. We will visit the 13th century castle ruins, which enjoy a spectacular position on cliffs by the sea. Afterwards, we continue north east along the coast, sadly leaving Cornwall and returning into Devon, passing by Bude on our way to our penultimate visit today, the small village of Clovelly, famed for its very steep main street. Our last short journey, just a few miles around Bideford Bay is to our final night of the tour in Westward Ho, where perhaps we will ponder the last six exciting days, in our sea view hotel.
Overnight stay including half-board in Westward Ho
Ilfracombe, Weston-Super-Mare, Exmoor National Park & Bristol
Our first stop is Ilfracombe, a well-established seaside resort, at its height in the 1950’s, before the days of overseas package holidays. Today it still has the charm of those happy days. We travel on to Exmoor National Park, an area of 267 sq. miles, which is situated 29% in Devon and 71% in Somerset. We will have another opportunity to see wild ponies on the open moors as we drive through this largely unspoilt wilderness. We will travel along most of the 4 miles of coastline seeing Great Hangman, the highest sea cliff on mainland Britain at 1,043 feet. Following the coast we arrive at Burnham-on-sea, before our last stop on our tour together at Weston-Super-Mare. Here we can marvel at the enormous expanse of sandy beach exposed when the tide is out and visit The Grand Pier to have that very English holiday experience, eating crab sandwiches and a cup of excellent English tea.
The last part of our journey together will be the city of Bristol where we started our adventure seven days ago, when we must sadly say goodbye to our fellow travellers.
We hope you have enjoyed our “West Country Myths and Legends” tour and look forward to seeing you again on another of our tours in “England’s Green and Pleasant Land” series.