Bath, York, London, Lake District, Wales, Cotswolds
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
In this 2-week best of England tour you will explore the fantastical world hidden in charming cities and the countryside. England conjures legends of King Arthur and famous castles, enchanting villages with thatched-roof cottages and reflective lakes nestled into the foothills of rolling mountains. Roman ruins continue to decorate hillsides. Mysterious stone circles are set with a curious presence. Stained glass windows brighten cathedrals. Whether roaming through London or discovering the opulence...
Bath – Finding Bath
Georgian architecture fills the city of Bath, lining cobbled streets and decorating lush parks. The aroma of blossoming flowers spills over iron wrought fences in the spring. In the winter the sidewalks are lightly dusted with snow. The city has an undeniable elegance winding around the canals. River cruisers meander through the cityscape around Roman hot springs and underneath church spires. You land in London, and are quickly whisked away to the enchantment of Bath, a city with the most historically recognized and preserved buildings in all of England.
When you arrive, you find the creamy complexion of bathstone bordering the streets, creating the foundation and structure of historic buildings. Quality local British shops fill Stall and Union Street, where the aroma of caramel accompanies the glistening shop windows of jewelry shops. The central streets resemble hanging gardens, with flowers dangling from gas lamps, and storefronts blossoming with rich hues against the cream colored stones. You settle in to your charming and luxurious accommodation set in the heart of the city.
Bath – Beyond Georgian and into Roman
Ivy vines sweep across Georgian buildings adding lushness to the stone. The public Medieval Square sits in the forecourt of the Bath Abbey, which was founded in the 7th century and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. The emphasis of the design is on vertical lines, clearly visible in the overall architectural accomplishment, including the tower standing 161 feet tall. A literal interpretation of Jacob’s Ladder climbs the façade, decorated with angles looking down over the square. 52 windows encompass the majority of the wall space, providing exceptional natural light, showcasing the vaulted ceilings. 212 steps ascend to the tower’s top, where you have an unparalleled view of the surrounding city. Form the top, the bathstone glows gold under the sunlight. You can even spot the nearby Roman baths, noticing the open palace where the water simmers from the hot springs.
Bath – Kings of Legend
The morning light washes over the city and returns the creamy hue to the streets and skyline of Bath. The aroma of herbaceous black tea drifts out of cafes and onto the streets. After breakfast, your guide escorts you to the mystical atmosphere of Glastonbury. The lush countryside envelops the city with endless greenery. The scent of incense fills boutique shops. A unique tor rises out of the city and topped with the Chapel of St. Michael, is visible for miles in any direction. A gentle breeze brushes against the harsh lines of the church architecture. A trail from the city center leads to the top of the tor with guiding steps at the steepest inclines.
There is a captivating mysticism to the knoll. Ancient legend says it is the home of the Celtic king of the Underworld. Romantic folklore says it the legendary island of Avalon, where King Arthur rests. The hillside is naturally tiered with seven deep symmetrical terraces. The church was constructed in the 14th century and continues to mystify archaeologists as to its background and commemorations. The town looks quaint and tranquil from atop the tor. You can hear the hum of the quiet breeze rushing against the stone ruins of the chapel.
Lacock – Medieval Fancy
In the morning the water from the canals brushes against the lush banks winding through the city. Riverboats unmoor and continue their journey up and down stream. After breakfast, your guide leads you away from the charm of Bath, taking you to the splendor of Lacock, a preserved medieval village in Wiltshire County. The aroma of geraniums emanates from the cottages, and even covering them. You step back into the 19th century to a village without telephone poles, or electric streetlights, and a town center open to pedestrians only.
The village was featured in the Harry Potter movies as a traditional English town home to magical folk. The abbey was constructed in the 13th century with a Gothic entrance hall decorated with interesting terracotta figures. Natural light filters through the graceful windows and showcases remnants of medieval wall paintings that once decorated the interior. Beyond the historic walls of the abbey, you journey to the prehistoric stone circle of Avebury.
Cotswolds – Quintessential England
The image of an English village comes to life today as you enjoy a scenic drive through Cotswolds Hills. The verdant hills rise out of the upper Thames, and roll to the steep cliff of the Cotswold Edge. Honey-colored stones stand out against the lush hillsides. Thatched roof cottages line cobblestone walkways. Brooks babble underneath arching stone bridges. In the town of Stanton you find the picture perfect image of a traditional English village encircling the Church of St. Michael and All Angels.
The church maintains three Normand pillars dating back to the 13th century but the pointed arches of the south arcade represent the early English style. A 17th century stained glass window on the eastern wall shows the White Rose of York, symbolic of the House of York. Sheep graze on the country grass. The Stanton Court was erected in the early 17th century and represents a Jacobean Manor House with a Georgian sitting room. In the tranquil atmosphere of the village, you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon sipping cream tea surrounded by the aroma of fresh flowers.
Cotswolds – Castle Panorama
In the morning, the village of Stow-on-the-Wold overlooks the lower hills of the Cotswolds, standing at 800 feet above sea level. Charming buildings encircle the large market square and open up to steep-walled pathways meandering through the village. After breakfast, your guide leads you into the view of Stokesay Castle, a fortified manor house constructed in the 13th century. A nearby hillside watches over the castle grounds. The gray and brown stones form a rustic, strong foundation. In the stillness of the morning, the castle tower reflects the glassy water of the pond.
The castle is erected on a higher patch of ground. The buildings themselves have remained relatively unchanged since its inception. The south tower is shaped like an uneven pentagon, encased in thick walls climbing three-stories tall. From the roof, you can see the lush landscape and entire castle grounds, including the symmetry of the tower and solar block. You continue deeper into the countryside, venturing westward through the Bodnant gardens and eventually overlooking the Irish Sea.
Caernafon – Seeing Wales
In the morning, you venture out into the Welsh landscape and board a steam train ready to take you along Snowdonia National Park. The railway was constructed in the late 19th century, and built to ferry slate from the quarries to the coast. The train traverses the Snowdon summit at 3,560 feet above sea level, the tallest mountain in England and Wales. Snowdon Mountain has rugged peaks and windswept uplands. Gorges sink deep into the scenery below. Roman forts decorate the countryside with lingering stones. Sheep graze in the encompassing lushness on mountain foothills and reflective opal lakeshores.
Streams turn into rivers, which careen into waterfalls. When you look out to the landscape, you can see no one else for miles, providing an invigorating yet humbling view. The train continues until it reaches the coastal town of Caernarfon, situated overlooking the azure waters of the Menai Strait and the purple peaks of the Snowdonia Mountains. The Caernarfon castle was constructed in the 13th century overlooking the strait. The fairytale look of the structure only enhances its powerful place in the region’s history and local folklore pertaining to the structure.
Windermere – A Special Touch of Lakes
The powerful façade of the Caernarfon Castle fades behind the hills and mountains of Snowdonia as you make your way back into the English countryside. You find yourself in the Lake District, a favorite of poets and artists, including the writer Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. The panoramas of the countryside are perfect, filled with rugged hilltops, mountain ponds, and shimmering lakes. You arrive at the dock and step onto a comfortable boat with windows, port, and bow all open to the view of Lake Windermere. The lake is the largest in the district stretching more than 10.5 miles, gaining the title of the largest lake in England.
The ancient glacial water is cold to the touch. The lush lakeshores shine verdantly in the sunlight. The water reaches a maximum depth of 219 feet. Locals row small boats near the shoreline for a tranquil outing on the lake. The breeze sweeps up the mist and brushes your cheeks with the refreshing water. The village is divided into the eastern, Bowness-on-Windermere, and the inland village of Windermere Town. The main street erupts with classic teashops and delicious ice cream stalls, lined with Victorian and Edwardian villas decorating high street.
Windermere – Lakes at Leisure
The sunlight carpets the Lakes District and brings the beauty of the trees, hills, and water back into view. The scent of herbaceous black tea accompanies a full English breakfast and the day is yours to delight in the wonders all around you at your leisure. Follow your guide on a tour between the lands and mountains, or venture out on a boat cruise taking you through Derwentwater and its numerous islands. William Wordsworth was a Romantic poet in the 17th and 18th centuries known for his lyrical ballads and his best-known work, The Prelude, draws inspiration from this region.
Near the town of Grassmere, you can find his home, a whitewashed cottage peeking through the trees. A small stone wall encloses the yard where the poet would sit and compose his works. The interior displays some of the writer’s personal belongings including his glasses, passport, and ice skates. Exposed wooden beams line the roof. The house, now a museum, maintains elements of historic charm that connect the poet to the region, and the past with the present.
York – Visiting the Wall
The world of color emboldened on the lakes’ surface in the morning light fades behind the hillsides as you leave the Lakes District. Your guide takes you northbound to the elaborate ancient edifice that once attempted to separate civilization from barbarity at the Roman auxiliary fort of Vindolanda. Hadrian’s wall was erected between 122 and 128 AD, as ordered by Emperor Hadrian. The wall spans 73 miles and remains in tact across a long stretch of the landscape with a gateway positioned at every Roman mile. The wall even inspired George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones, to create the infamous Wall.
When you reach Vindolanda, you have a tremendous glimpse into the daily life of a Roman garrison town encapsulated in the museum, which feels more like a time capsule. Turrets have been reconstructed. The outer rim of a bathhouse remains standing. You can see a reconstructed temple with its historic outer layer shining pearl-like against the jade evergreens. Away from town, you can spot the firm stones lining the landscape, ascending and descending with the hills. People stroll along the walkways, some even bringing their dogs. The marvelous history continues to inspire locals and visitors from around the world.
York – Watching the Glass
York is rich with medieval ambiance, from the historical wealth to the interesting culture. 13th century walls encircle the twisting narrow streets of the city center. Traditional pubs have roaring fires throughout the year making a cozy ambiance inside the brick and wood-beam buildings. At the center of the city, you find one of the most awe-inspiring Gothic cathedrals in the world, the York Minster. The Minster was christened in the 4th century but became the Gothic megalith most notable today in the 12th century. The Central Towers stand 230 feet above street level.
The central nave has an elegant rose window with a design reminiscent of tree roots. The minster has a long tradition of stained glass, using the colors and characters to create breathtaking artwork. The Five Sisters window is 50 feet tall but is not the largest window in the minster. The five thin panels stretch alongside thin pillars topped with tiered arches leading to the vaulted ceiling. The color and incomparable stonework of the minster provides insight into the Gothic architectural development, but more than that, offers a moment of insight into the devotion of the past.
London – Landing in London
In the morning, your guide leads you to the York Rail Station. You step aboard your comfortable train cabin and journey through the Midlands, arriving at Kings Cross Station in London. You see a couple taking a picture at a marker titled “Platform 9 ¾,” made famous by the Harry Potter series. London is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that holds tightly onto its strong, yet delicate history. Shakespeare’s Globe Theater stands on the banks of the River Thames. The London Tower Bridge raises its platform to allow boats to pass, the towers reminiscent of castle turrets.
Your guide leads you to the Parliament, where the Gothic building stands beside the river with the Elizabeth Tower chiming Big Ben on the quarter hour. The House of Parliament contains remnants of its original construction dating back to the 11th century. The ceiling is the earliest known attempt at a hammer-beam roof with the remainder of the building emanating neo-Gothic design of the 19th century. Certain images are emblematic of certain cities, no more so than the House of Parliament crowned by the large clock of Elizabeth Tower. The sounds of the city are filled with music echoing off of the cobblestone walkways. Historic pubs open their doors to jovial Londoners happy to clock out of work. The towers of Westminster Abbey rise behind Parliament, and you continue your exploration of London.
London – Matters of the Crown
The history of London encompasses battles and theater, music and jewelry, literature and Roman settlement. After breakfast, your guide leads you through the heart of London, near the historic Financial District, and to the Tower of London. The Tower of London is a castle with a collection of 22 towers that provides a window into the compelling history of London, along with being home to the fabled Beefeaters. The grand castle stands at 88 feet at its highest point on the White Tower. The grounds were constructed in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and were expanded upon time and time again.
Two concentric defensive walls stand behind the moat. The White Tower was the strongest structure in the medieval castle, used as both a defense and as a castle keep comprised of three-stories, with the upper floor containing a grand hall. From the walls, you can look into the castle grounds to see the manicured courtyard encompassing the tower. You can also see the River Thames bordering the walls near the Wakefield Tower and Traitors’ Gate. The Tower of London represents the eclectic history of the city, as the modernity of London surrounds the wealth of its past.
London – Leaving London
In the morning, the city returns to its active lifestyle. The London Eye begins to spin, offering aerial views of the city. The aroma of freshly brewed tea and recently baked scones with jam drifts out of teahouses. In the spring and summer, the daffodils and roses in Hyde Park create streaks of graceful countryside color against the urban streets of London. You have traveled through England, taking in the classic architecture and iconic villages of the countryside, along with enchanting castles overlooking hill, mountains, and lakes. After breakfast, you make your way to Heathrow International Airport for your flight home, but you can always extend your vacation, crossing the English Channel to discover more of what Europe has to offer.
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- Experience the tranquil charm of traditional English villages set in the lush countryside
- Witness Roman hot springs and elegant Georgian architecture in the beautiful city of Bath
- Discover the mysterious ambiance of the Glastonbury Tor, where legend tells of Cetlic gods and the Isle of Avalon
- Visit the extravagant Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill was born
- Stroll through the stunning medieval preserved town of Lacock
- Enjoy the lush trees, verdant grasses, and reflective waters of the famous Lakes District
- Marvel at the storybook image of Caernarfon Castle in Wales
- Wander around a Roman auxiliary fort and magnificent Hadrian’s Wall
- Bask in the colorful stained-glass of the York Minster Abbey
- Revel in a Beefeater guided tour of the Tower of London
$4,895 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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