South England & Cornwall Tour
Upon arrival at Heathrow you will meet your guide and board your coach. Your first stop is Hampton Court Palace. Explore 60 acres of immaculate riverside gardens and lose yourself in the world-famous maze. It was King Henry VIII who, in 1529, began to establish the structure of the gardens, very much as they remain today.
His layout survived, despite changes in horticultural fashion, until the reign of William III and Mary II when they decided to re-plan the whole of the estate in the Baroque manner. Inside the Palace one of the highlights is the Tudor kitchens, which were built to feed the court of Henry VIII, up to 600 people, twice a day!
The beautiful Chapel Royal has an outstanding ceiling which is rich in colour and layered with history.
After your visit you make your way west to the ancient city of Winchester.
After a good English breakfast you will visit Winchester Cathedral which has been open to worshippers for over 1000 years. From a small Saxon church to a great Cathedral, the long history of this sacred place stretches back over 15 centuries. It contains glorious church architecture and tiny crafted details, priceless treasures and great works of art.
Your journey continues to Exbury Gardens which is your opportunity to visit the world-famous collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Created in the 1920’s, the gardens extend over 200 acres of natural land.
This afternoon you travel through the New Forest and into the county of Dorset to Athelhampton House & Gardens. The house date from 1485 and has an array of fine furniture, paintings and antiques. The Grade 1 award-winning gardens are full of variety, dominated by the 30 feet high yew pyramids and a number of superb water features.
This morning head west into Devon and the city of Exeter. It is full of character and ancient history and the most well known landmark is the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, which dates back to Norman times.
This afternoon, take a drive across Dartmoor National Park. Covering an area of 368 square miles, Dartmoor is the largest area of open country in Southern England. The Moor is a beautifully atmospheric landscape and home to the famous “Hound of the Baskervilles” in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel and more recently, the location where the film “Warhorse” was shot.
See Dartmoor ponies and nature at every turn, little villages, castles and lots more.
On the western edge of Dartmoor is The House Garden, an inspirational garden offering stunning views in all directions. This 8-acre site is really several gardens in one, using over 6,000 varieties of plants to great effect.
You carry on south to Britain’s largest navel city Plymouth where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America in 1620.
In the morning you journey to the port at Plymouth where you will take the ferry to Mount Edgcumbe House & Gardens. This is the earliest landscaped park in Cornwall and contains, temples, follies, the National Camellia Collection, daffodils & bluebells and formal gardens in European, New Zealand & American styles.
Within the eight acres you will see the enchanting terraced walled garden with its 16th century tower and the ‘magic circle’, a quarry garden, a wild flower meadow and much more. Afterwards there will be time for a visit of the House which was built between 1547 and 1553 for the renowned Edgcumbe family of Cotehele and became the home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe.
The house is now beautifully restored to an 18th century style, in keeping with the furniture and family treasures it holds. Features include paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Gerard Edema and William van der Velde, Irish Bronze Age horns, 16th century tapestries and 18th century Chinese and Plymouth porcelain.
Return to Plymouth in the afternoon with free time to explore the city.
After breakfast this morning you will take a journey to the heart of Cornwall and visit The Eden Project. Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by some, Eden Project is a dramatic global garden housed in tropical biomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches.
More than just a huge, tropical garden, Eden is a gateway into the relationships between plants and people, and a fascinating insight into the story of mankind’s dependence on plant life.
Experience the sights, smells and scale of the rainforests in the world’s largest greenhouse and discover the tropical plants that are used to produce everyday products.
This afternoon you continue on to the Lost Gardens of Heligan – this award winning Gardens extend to some eighty acres of superb pleasure grounds together with a magnificent complex of walled gardens and a huge, productive vegetable garden.
Return to Plymouth.
This morning take a trip to the “Capital of Cornwall”, Truro. Cornwall’s one and only city radiates a chic, urban charm that’s reflected in endless shopping opportunities and some of the best restaurants and bars in the county.
Once a Norman castle stood where the present day Crown Court is located and Truro thrived as a port and the prosperity of the late 18th and early 19th that continues to this day can be seen today in the elegant town houses that line the city’s streets.
With a yearlong festival programme, weekly food markets and several art galleries and historical attractions Truro is a cultural gem.
Last visit today is Trebah Garden; one of the ‘Great Gardens of Cornwall’ is rated among the 80 most beautiful gardens in the world. This lovely wild sub-tropical ravine paradise winds through huge plantations of 100 year old giant tree ferns, rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias, palms and 2 acres of massed hydrangeas to a private beach on the Helford River. The award winning Visitor Centre houses a distinctive restaurant with a Mediterranean-style terrace, plant and gift shops.
Return to Plymouth
After breakfast you will depart from Cornwall and stop to visit the stunning 40-hectare Stourhead House & Garden – laid out between 1741 and 1780, offers a visual experience which is perhaps unequalled in Britain.
Sheets of water reflecting splendid specimen trees and flowering shrubs make Stourhead an idyllic paradise in the finest 18th-century tradition. Experience grand tour adventures at Stourhead House – with its unique Regency library, Chippendale furniture and inspirational paintings, set amid ‘picnic perfect’ lawns and parkland.
Spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the beautiful city of Bath. Nourished by natural hot springs, Bath offers a unique experience with stunning architecture, great shopping and iconic attractions.
Depart Bath and travel to London. Enroute, stop at Savill Gardens – with 35 acres, is one of Britain’s greatest ornamental gardens created in the 1930s by Sir Eric Savill.
This is a place of constant discovery, and of hidden, interlocking gardens, containing distinctive planting groups including areas such as Spring Wood, The Summer Wood, The Hidden Gardens, The Summer Gardens, The Glades, Autumn Wood, The Azalea Walks and The New Zealand Garden.
The Savill Garden mixes native and exotic species and has bred many important garden hybrids.
Close by you will visit Windsor Castle – the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Over a period of nearly 1,000 years it has been inhabited continuously, and altered and refurbished by successive monarchs (please note that this is a working palace and opening arrangements may change at short notice).
Escorted transfer to Heathrow Airport and your onward journey.
June 27, 2016