3 of 16 spaces available: Our small-group tour of England focuses on the rural areas, castles, gardens and stately homes – avoiding the big cities. (07/23)
Our small-group tour of England focuses on the rural areas, castles, gardens and stately homes – avoiding the big cities.
LAND ONLY: $6,395 Canadian/ per person (includes breakfasts + dinners or lunches)
Begins on Aug 14th at Heathrow Airport and finishes on Aug 29th at Heathrow Airport.
On this tour, we DON’T include any time in London. If you wish to explore this great city, you can choose to arrive in London a day or more before the tour starts and/or stay on in London for a day or more after the tour finishes.
On this tour we travel by our own coach through many of England’s prettiest villages and most beautiful scenery, mostly avoiding the large industrial cities. We include 5 of the country’s famous “Treasure Houses”, as well as so many of its most well-known stately homes, castles and gardens. In addition to exploring some of England’s most breath-taking and diverse countryside, we visit historic sites and the locations of several movies and TV series.
The south of England, and especially the south-east, is one of the most historic areas of England because of its proximity to both London and France. Prehistoric man built monuments all over Britain. The Romans built magnificent villas. Religious orders erected beautiful abbeys and cathedrals. Kings and noblemen built sumptuous palaces and stately homes, each with their own magnificent gardens.
We visit romantic, moated castles and fortified mansions – every one now a museum in itself. Each shines in different aspects of architecture, interior decor, marble, plaster work, wood carving, exquisite furnishings, china, paintings and other art treasures. Because of the milder climate, the south-east of England also boasts some of Britain’s most gorgeous, world-renowned gardens. Many of the villages have medieval, half-timbered houses, unique converted oasthouses (where they used to dry the hops for beer) and thatched cottages.
The Derbyshire Peak District is a beautiful, yet lesser-known, area at the southern end of the Pennines – the chain of rugged hills which runs down the centre of the country from the Scottish border.
In the north, Yorkshire is famous for its Dales and wild moorlands. It is home to magnificent stately homes, gardens, ruined castles, abbeys and lovely villages – yet all very different from those in the south. Along its spectacular coastline, there are dramatic cliffs, sand dunes and superlative beaches. In the north-west of England is the Lake District. Measuring only around 35 square miles, this mountainous area contains some of the best-loved scenery in England. Its appeal is the amazing variety of outstanding beauty within such a concentrated area. Its peaks, valleys and glorious lakes have inspired many romantic poets and writers. There are 16 lakes of different size – ranging from Lake Windermere (10.5 miles long) to tiny Brothers' Water (half a mile long.)
We finish our tour with visits to 2 of England’s most famous Treasure Houses, Warwick Castle and amazing Blenheim Palace – birthplace of Winston Churchill.
We stay mainly in historic hotels that reflect the charm of the towns we stay in. Although we visit a wide variety of places on this tour, wherever possible, we stay 2 or more nights in a town.
We know that most of our group members will have visited some areas of England before and may not wish to visit specific places again. When we are spending more than one night in a place, if you don’t wish to join our included excursions on one of the intervening days, you MAY be able to enjoy a relaxing free half-day or full-day exploring the area near our hotel. Of course, the timing and length of much of our sightseeing depend on the weather! Please discuss your options with Norman and Julie.
Each full day of the tour we include breakfast and either dinner or lunch. The food in England has improved HUGELY in recent years and is now one of the highlights of this multicultural country. Many of the best restaurants are cozy little places that have a wonderful atmosphere that locals appreciate. However, many of these unique restaurants are too small to accommodate groups. On most days of our tour, we include dinner together as a group but on 2 days we include lunch together and give you the freedom to choose your own special restaurant for dinner. On these 2 evenings, Julie and Norman will make suggestions for restaurants close to our hotels.
(UPDATED July 23 , 2021)
Limited to 16 travellers + Norman & Julie Bruce
(July 23 2021 Currently there are three spaces available)
Sun August 14th|
We arrive today at Heathrow Airport and transfer to our resort hotel located in the Kent countryside. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and/or explore this lovely rural area.
First of 4 nights near Sevenoaks. Donnington Manor Hotel or similar. No meals.
Mon August 15th
Kent Castles and Gardens
Our first stop this morning is Bodiam Castle, originally built in 1385 as a nobleman's dwelling against an anticipated French invasion. It is the best example in the country of a complete castle exterior with a moat, spiral staircases and battlements from which there are magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
Our next highlight is the famous Sissinghurst Gardens, the 5½-acre connoisseurs' garden created by the late Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson. It consists of a series of truly beautiful small, enclosed gardens, many carefully designed around particular colour schemes. The White Garden is of special note and its ideas have been copied in gardens all over the world.
We end our first day at Ightham Mote, a beautiful medieval moated manor house with a 13th-Century Great Hall, old chapel, crypt and beautiful gardens. An exhibition in the Billiards Room explains how this is the largest building conservation project ever undertaken by the National Trust.
Second of 4 nights near Sevenoaks. Donnington Manor Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Tues August 16th
This morning we visit Leeds Castle, described by many as the loveliest castle in England. Built in the 9th Century, in a fabulous setting on two small islands in the midst of a lake (which is a natural habitat for exotic wildfowl), the castle is surrounded by gardens and parkland. It has been a Norman stronghold, a royal residence to 6 of England's medieval queens, a playground and palace for Henry VIII and a private house. It is now home to a splendid collection of medieval furnishings, paintings, tapestries and treasures – and also a most unusual Dog Collar Museum.
We travel on to Hever Castle and Gardens, one of the most beautiful small castles in Britain. It was here that Anne Boleyn lived and met Henry VIII. He seized the house after her execution and murdered her brother. In 1903 William Waldorf Astor acquired the castle and invested millions to make massive renovations and improvements to both this fascinating moated castle and its gardens. We also enjoy the Miniature Houses Exhibition, illustrating houses of many different periods.
Third of 4 nights near Sevenoaks. Donnington Manor Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Wed August 17th
Winston Churchill + England’s largest mansion
We start our day with a visit to Chartwell, home of Sir Winston Churchill from 1924 to the end of his life. The rooms are left as they were in his lifetime, with two rooms serving as a museum for his personal memorabilia. His Garden Studio contains many of Sir Winston's paintings.
Today we include lunch together. After lunch we proceed to Scotney Castle, built by a lake in the 14th Century. This heavily fortified manor house is known for being in one of the most romantic settings in the entire country. Our last visit today is Knole House, owned by Lord Sackville and set in a magnificent deer park. Dating from 1456, this is the largest private house in England – with 365 rooms, 7 courtyards and 52 staircases! It contains collections of silver, tapestries, 17th-Century furniture and portraits – including works by Gainsborough and Reynolds. This evening you might like to enjoy your dinner (at your own expense) in the town of Sevenoaks. Julie and Norman will suggest restaurants for this evening. Alternatively, you might choose to eat at our hotel (at your own expense) after our full day of sightseeing.
Fourth of 4 nights near Sevenoaks. Donnington Manor Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Lunch.
Thurs August 18th
South-east to Central England
This morning we drive north to the Derbyshire Peak District. En-route we visit Chatsworth House – the magnificent, monumental, ancestral home of the dukes of Devonshire and one of England's greatest “Treasure Houses.” Its 175 rooms are filled with treasures: look out for its incredible collection of antique clocks located all over the house, all exactly “on time.” It is surrounded by elaborate gardens, greenhouses, rock gardens, cascading water and terraces designed by two of England's greatest landscape artists, Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton.
Overnight near Chesterfield. Ringwood Hall Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Fri August 19th
Yorkshire + “Brideshead”
We continue further north into Yorkshire, first to visit Castle Howard, another famous Treasure House, perhaps best known as the setting for the TV series 'Brideshead Revisited.' Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh who also designed Blenheim Palace, it took 60 years to build (1699-1759). Its magnificent interior is packed with fine furniture and works of art; and its beautiful landscape includes woods, lakes, bridges, obelisks, temples, and a mausoleum.
Over lunchtime, we visit the attractive market town of Helmsley, which also has a beautiful castle overlooking the town. On to Hutton-le-Hole, one of the most picturesque villages in Britain where the tame sheep wander everywhere and do a marvellous job of grass-cutting the enormous village ‘green.’ We visit the Ryedale Folk Museum which shows 4,000 years of North Yorkshire life (from Roman times to the 20th Century.) In 1995 this fascinating museum won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year. Several restored buildings were acquired from different parts of the area.
First of 2 nights near York. Ramada Fairfield Manor Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Sat August 20th
We depart for Pickering to board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Goathland village, better known to TV's 'Heartbeat' fans as Aidensfield. After lunch, our coach picks us up to continue on to the picturesque fishing town of Whitby with its majestic Abbey high on the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. It was founded in AD 657 by St. Hilda and the monk, Caedmon, the first identifiable poet of the English language. We make a photo stop at the statue of Captain Cook. Maybe his ship, the Endeavour, will be moored in the harbour.
We continue via the popular seaside resort of Scarborough, with its castle perched on top of a hill overlooking two beautiful bays and busy Scarborough harbour. A short stop at Thornton-le-Dale village with its streams and many little bridges, en route back to York.
Second of 2 nights near York. Ramada Fairfield Manor Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Sun August 21st
We drive through attractive villages for a stop in Leyburn, then visit Middleham Castle, the massive 12th-Century keep which was the childhood home of Richard III. We will see the waterfalls of Aysgarth, and continue over the wild moorland to the small village Kettlewell, site of many movies (including Calendar Girls), via Grassington and Pateley Bridge, to fabulous Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens, now known as one of the most remarkable World Heritage sites in Europe. Set within a 400-acre deer park, the site encompasses the spectacular ruin of the 12th-Century Cistercian Fountains Abbey, a Jacobean Mansion, and one of the best-surviving Georgian water gardens, with long vistas along the lakes towards the great ruins of the abbey with its high tower and 13th-Century arches.
Beautiful Ripon Cathedral is within a 15-minute walk from our hotel, with some of the most wonderful carving you will see in any cathedral.
Overnight in Ripon. Ripon Spa Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Mon August 22nd
Hadrian’s Wall + North-east England
An early start for our drive into Northumberland, via some of 'Catherine Cookson Country', to Housesteads Roman Fort where you may walk on the famous Hadrian's Wall which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begun after the Roman emperor Hadrian's visit in AD 121, the wall originally spanned 73 miles from just north of Newcastle to just west of Carlisle and marked the northern border of the Roman Empire in Britain. Each mile was reinforced by a 'milecastle' or small fort, and each third of a mile by a turret. At Housesteads we tour an excavated 5-acre fort and the museum, and you can see a large expanse of the wall itself.
We continue to the Lake District via Penrith and Ullswater to our lovely resort hotel near Kendal.
First of 4 nights near Kendal. Castle Green Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Tues August 23rd
Northern Lake District
Our tour of the northern section of the Lake District begins at Grasmere village, with a photo stop at Dove Cottage, home of poet William Wordsworth from 1799-1808. Free time to explore the village and graveyard. We next stop at Castlerigg Stone Circle, similar but much smaller than Stonehenge, but set on a hill against the dramatic backdrop of the mountains. In the market town of Keswick we visit the surprisingly popular Cumberland Pencil Museum. We stop in Ambleside to photograph the tiniest house which straddles a stream, then, weather dependent, we have the opportunity to enjoy a boat trip on Lake Windermere en route back to our hotel (extra cost.)
Second of 4 nights near Kendal. Castle Green Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Wed August 24th
Southern Lake District
Today we explore the lovely southern end of the Lake District. Our first stop is Levens Hall, a grand 16th-Century manor house famous for its incredible topiary garden which was laid out in 1692, with yew and box hedges cut into elaborate and curious shapes. There is also a fascinating steam engine collection. Next is Sizergh Castle, which remains the home of the Strickland family after 750 years. Its impressive 14th-Century pele tower was extended in Tudor times, and has some of the finest Elizabethan carved over-mantels in the country. The castle is home to the National Trust's largest and most beautiful limestone rock garden.
Third of 4 nights near Kendal. Castle Green Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Thurs August 25th
James Heriot Country
We drive to Hawes, centre of beautiful Wensleydale, to visit the Wensleydale Cheese Factory, with time to explore the village. You may wish to see the Dales Countryside Museum or the very interesting Rope Factory. This is the country where much of the James Heriot TV series were filmed.
Today we include lunch together. We continue through the Dales via Ingleton, famous for its limestone potholes, and visit Kirkby Lonsdale, a delightful town with flint and limestone houses much loved by the famous writer/critic John Ruskin. This evening you might like to enjoy your dinner (at your own expense) in the town of Kendal. Julie and Norman will suggest restaurants for this evening. Alternatively, you might choose to eat at our hotel (at your own expense) after our full day of sightseeing.
Fourth of 4 nights near Kendal. Castle Green Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Lunch.
Fri August 26th
Lake District – Oxford
Sadly we leave the Lake District to return south, first stopping at Little Moreton Hall, the most famous of England’s “magpie” houses. Begun in the 15th Century and extensively restored in 1991, this gem is regarded as the most perfect example of a timber-framed moated house in the country.
We next visit Kennilworth Castle, whose great red ruins are all that remain of one of the most formidable fortresses in England. The castle's history is vividly depicted in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'Kenilworth'.
First of 2 nights near Oxford. Holt Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Sat August 27th
This morning we visit another of England’s famous Treasure Houses, Warwick Castle - the finest example of a medieval castle in England. Over the centuries it has been owned by some of England’s most famous people - Richard III, Henry VII and Elizabeth I, as well as the powerful Earls of Warwick. The armoury, dungeon, torture chamber, ghost tower, clock tower, and Guy's Tower create a vivid picture of the castle's turbulent past and its important role in the history of England. The private apartments of the Earl of Warwick’s son, who sold the castle to Madame Tussaud's waxworks company in 1978, display a carefully-reconstructed Royal Weekend House Party of 1898.
We finish the day at Charlecote House, a very ornate Elizabethan mansion centred in a huge country estate. The original house was built in 1247 and the present one was heavily restored in the 1550s but keeping its original gatehouse. It was visited by Queen Elizabeth I and is full of souvenirs of the British Empire. There are rich Victorian interiors from the 1820s onwards. Its magnificent grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown, and the rivers Avon and Dene flow through the park.
Second of 2 nights near Oxford. Holt Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Sun August 28th
We depart for some time in the attractive little market town of Woodstock, full of Georgian houses and with royal associations as far back as the Saxon kings who hunted here, before visiting Blenheim Palace.
We started our tour with Churchill, and we finish with him! – at the extravagant baroque “Treasure House” of Blenheim Palace, Britain's largest stately home and birthplace (by accident!) of Sir Winston Churchill. Queen Anne gave the palace to General John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, for defeating Louis XIV at the battle of Blenheim in 1704, and it is now the home of the 11th duke. Built by Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 1700s, this classical-style mansion stands in 2,000 acres of parkland and gardens landscaped by famous landscape gardener, Capability Brown. The palace, loaded with riches, also contains an exhibition devoted to Winston Churchill.
This afternoon we finish our tour at the very special stately home of Waddesdon Manor, a magnificent mansion built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the style of a French chateau to house his enormous art collections. The house and gardens have been extensively and lavishly restored.
Overnight near Heathrow Airport. Clarion Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
Mon August 29th
Heathrow – Home
This morning we transfer to Heathrow for your flight home, arriving in North America the same day. If you wish to stay on in Britain after the tour, you can continue into London from Heathrow by bus, subway or train. Breakfast if not leaving too early.
On this tour, we DON’T include any time in London. If you wish to explore this great city, you can choose to arrive in London a day or more before the tour starts and/or stay on in London for a day or more after the tour finishes.
- Accommodation mainly in 4-star and good 3-Star hotels. All our hotels have en-suite bathrooms and heating.
- Land transport by our own coach.
- Sightseeing and entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Tipping for driver & guides
- Breakfast + dinner daily (except on August 17th and 25th, when we include lunches instead of dinners.)
- Guiding by Royal Heights tour leaders Julie and Norman Bruce with assistance of our expert local guides in each area.
- Visa fees. Canadian passport holders do NOT currently require a visa for England. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the date you leave (i.e. until at least March 1st 2023, if you are returning to Canada straight after finishing our tour.)
- Lunches (except on August 17th and 25th, when we include LUNCH instead of dinner.)
- We do NOT include porterage. Porters MAY be available to help you with your suitcase and you should be prepared to tip them if you use their services. Please only bring one piece of luggage per person and make sure your luggage has wheels so you can move your own luggage when necessary.
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption and Medical Insurance. This insurance is strongly recommended. We can put you in touch with our insurance expert for a quote.
- Single Supplement charge, if requested ($1,460 Canadian)
- Personal Expenses such as souvenirs, laundry, and drinks not included at meals
- Arrival & departure transfers. We can arrange individual or group transfers when you have confirmed the arrival & departure times of your flights. Please contact us for a quote.
Our flight specialist suggests direct flights from Vancouver with Air Canada into London Heathrow (LHR) & returning directly from LHR with Air Canada. You do NOT have to come to Vancouver to join this tour. You are welcome to book your own flights or we can put you in touch with our flights specialist who can book flights for you from any city. Please let us know.
Our published price is based on 2 people sharing a room. If you would like to share, we will do our best to find you a roommate. The EARLIER you pay your deposit, the more likely we are to be able to find you a roommate. If you wish to be guaranteed a single room, there is a Single Supplement charge of $1,460 Canadian. Those people traveling alone but wishing to share will be informed 3 months prior to departure if a roommate is not currently available. At that point, you will be invoiced for the Single Supplement. If a roommate subsequently joins the tour, your single supplement will be refunded with the final documentation.
Land portion of the tour must be booked directly with Royal Heights Tours. You can secure your place on the tour with a $400 per person non-refundable deposit. We take payment by cheque, Visa or Mastercard for the $400 /person deposit. Your invoice for your Land tour will be e-mailed to you in mid-May 2022. Payment will be due by June 14th 2022. Price quoted is for FINAL PAYMENT by cheque. Should you wish to pay the outstanding amount for the LAND tour by credit card there will be an administration fee of 2.5% on the outstanding amount.
- Our office staff are not medically qualified to advise you on which immunizations you require. Please consult your local travel health clinic
- Please make sure your luggage has wheels so you can move it easily.
- This tour is not suitable if you need walking assistance in the form of walking sticks or canes. You must be in reasonably good shape to enjoy this tour – there is a lot of walking and exploring through the back streets of old historic towns where our bus cannot enter. We spend a lot of our time exploring by walking over cobbled streets and around very large country houses and gardens. Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes as some of our walking tours can take up to 3 hours.
BC reg 3379
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.