This exciting vacation is a delightful introduction to the history and culture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Begin your trip in London with a full day to discover the city’s landmarks on your own or to take an optional tour. Then, visit the market town of Stamford and York, England’s most complete medieval city. See a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes, before arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, where your guided sightseeing tour includes mighty Edinburgh Castle with its Crown Jewels. Travel south through the Lowlands to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed young runaway couples. Continue through the Lake District, considered the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Wordsworth’s charming Grasmere and follow the shores of beautiful Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake. Enjoy a walking tour of 2,000-year-old Chester, and stop at William Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Travel through the scenic Cotswolds to the Welsh capital of Cardiff, where you’ll enjoy an orientation drive. Later, explore elegant Georgian Bath, famous for its Roman ruins, and see mysterious Stonehenge before returning to London for the finale of your grand Britain vacation.
Day #1 Arrive in London, England. Check into your hotel. In the afternoon there’s time to rest or start exploring the lively British capital; uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Day #2 London. A full day to enjoy our exciting program of optional activities. Morning sightseeing features all the famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben beside the River Thames, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall’s mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister’s Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. A highlight is the ceremonial pageantry of the Changing of the Guard, if held. This afternoon you may want to visit Windsor Castle or the Tower of London with the spectacular Crown Jewels, and tonight a leisurely cruise on the River Thames would be fun. (B)
Day #3 London–Stamford–York–Leeds. Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and depart at 8 am for a day of northbound travel. Take a break in the market town of Stamford and in York, England’s most complete medieval city, stand in awe in front of the great structure of York Minster. Then, follow your Tour Director through a maze of quaint streets, including the narrow Shambles. Stop for the night near Leeds. (B,D)
Day #4 Leeds–Jedburgh, Scotland–Melrose–Edinburgh. See a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes, then motor through wild Northumberland National Park to the Scottish border. Stop for photos at Jedburgh, with glimpses of the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and then Melrose with its 12th-century abbey ruins and connections with Robert the Bruce. Afternoon arrival in Edinburgh. Later, a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia, which for the Queen was once the perfect royal residence for glittering state visits and family holidays. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening. For departures August 3, August 10 and August 17, tickets are included for tonight’s performance of the world-renowned Military Tattoo, a vast spectacle of massed Scottish pipe bands that takes place in an arena on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. (B)
Day #5 Edinburgh. A full day to enjoy the Scottish capital. Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the 200-year-old “New Town” and famous scientists, inventors, and novelists. In the “Old Town,” drive up the narrow Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle to admire Scotland’s Crown Jewels. Afternoon at leisure. Tonight an optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (B)
Day #6 Edinburgh–Gretna Green–Lake District, England–Chester–Wrexham, Wales. South through the history-steeped Lowland Hills and a visit to Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Drive through beautiful scenery in the Lake District, considered to be the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Wordsworth’s Grasmere, then follow the shores of Lake Windermere. In Chester, the historic county town on the River Dee, your walking tour includes the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the “Rows.” Overnight in Wrexham. (B,D)
Day #7 Wrexham–Stratford-upon-Avon, England–Broadway–Cardiff, Wales. Back in England, tour fascinating Stratford-upon-Avon, a living monument to William Shakespeare, before driving through the scenic Cotswold Hills with a stop for photos in picture-book Broadway. Overnight in Cardiff, where an orientation drive introduces you to the capital’s major attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cathays Park, Millennium Stadium, and the stately civic buildings. A suggestion for tonight: why not join an evening of Welsh entertainment and dinner? (B)
Day #8 Cardiff–Bath, England–Stonehenge–London. A day of memorable highlights with a visit first to the elegant Georgian city of Bath, famous for its Roman relics, before passing Stonehenge, still an intriguing mystery. After returning to London around 3 pm, how about celebrating the success of your tour with a night out on the town? (B)
Day #9 London. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)