Day 1 London – Wells – Dartmoor National Park
From London, we set off on our adventure to England’s beautiful west. Our first stop is the tiny market city of Wells. Wells Cathedral, one of the first attempts at English Gothic architecture, was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. It became one of the richest sees in England. A great attraction is the astronomical clock of 1390, one of the oldest working clocks in the world.
The scenery in Dartmoor is a landscape of rounded hills and quiet valleys of greens and browns contrasting with the greys and blues of the slate cliffs and rocky outline of the coast and its lure of the sea. This is pastoral moorland and heather clad heathland; this is the country of Lorna Doone. If we have time, we stop at the High Moorland Visitor Centre for an insight into regional history, legends and wildlife, before sitting down to a welcome dinner together. Accommodation: (Two Bridges Hotel)(D)
Day 2 Dartmoor National Park – Port Isaac – Padstow – Falmouth
Today we leave Dartmoor for the sheer cliffs and sheltered harbours of Cornwall’s northern coast – a gourmet feast set firmly in our sights. For an appetiser, there’s a stroll around Port Isaac, the fishing village made famous by television series, Doc Martin. Then it’s on to the main course: a leisurely lunch at ‘The Seafood Restaurant’ – Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant in Padstow. Pick from a menu of fresh-off-the-boat Cornish seafood and international favourites such as Atlantic Crab. Or take a seat at the seafood bar and watch chefs making up platters of oysters, langoustines and wafer-thin sashimi. Then its time to take it easy as we travel further west to Falmouth, our launch pad for the next three nights. Accommodation: (Greenbank Hotel) (B, L)
Day 3 Falmouth – St Ives – St Michael’s Mount – Falmouth
This morning takes us to one of England’s prettiest towns, St Ives, that’s set on a curl of coastline with an endless expanse of beaches, with picturesque Godrevy Lighthouse on the horizon. We wander through cobbled lanes, past traditional fishermen’s cottages with their tiny staircases up to the front doors, to the beach set behind a sheltering harbour wall. Afternoon finds us setting sail to St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island just off the coast from Penzance. Stepping ashore in the buzzing village, we witness life through the eyes of the islanders and explore the medieval castle, brimming with treasures and stories from the island’s past. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together back at our Falmouth hotel. Accommodation: (Greenbank Hotel) (B, D)
Day 4 Falmouth – Tregothnan – Fowey
There’s a treat for the green-fingered as we set off to explore Tregothnan – Cornwall’s largest estate and the historic seat of the Boscawen family. A member of the gardening team gives us a private tour of the grounds and the tea plantation, where we learn all about the only tea grown in England. Then we make our way to Fowey (pronounced "Foy"), a centuries-old town that hugs the steep banks of the Fowey estuary. Settle into our hotel for the night then enjoy time to explore – watch the mussel boats sailing back into the harbour, or seek out a friendly local pub. Accommodation: (Fowey Hotel) (B)
Day 5 Fowey
We have no set plans today, leaving you free to explore Falmouth at your leisure. Make for the museums, including the Falmouth Art Gallery and the fascinating National Maritime Museum. Walk up to the headland to explore Pendennis Castle – one of a pair built in Henry VIII’s day to guard Falmouth Harbour. Potter along the high street, stopping off in independent boutiques, bookshops and cafes as you go. Or set out to explore the local area. You could take the scenic ferry ride over to St Mawes, or journey up the Fal River to Cornwall’s capital city, Truro. Accommodation: (Fowey Hotel) (B)
Day 6 Fowey - Lyme Regis- Hawkchurch
Leaving Fowey, we make our way along the south Cornish coast, with a stop at Polperro fishing village before we leave the county behind us. After visiting magnificent Buckfast Abbey in south Devon, our road takes us to the green hills and golden sandstone cliffs of Dorset. We continue to Lyme Regis where we walk in the footsteps of Jane Austin’s heroines. We climb the historic Cobb, made famous by Austen’s novel Persuasion, before taking in sweeping views of the Jurassic Coast from the Langmoor and Lister Gardens. Hunt for fossils in the local shops, or promenade along the 18th-century seafront. Tonight we hang up our hats in Hawkchurch, near Lyme Regis, for a farewell dinner together. Accommodation: (Fairwater Head Hotel) (B, D)
Day 7 Hawkchurch – Salisbury – London
The adventure isn’t over just yet. Our journey then takes us along the Old Roman road to Salisbuy. rOne of the most beautiful, and one of the most typical of English cathedral towns, its narrow streets are busy and prosperous-looking, seeming to bear witness to important history here. Salisbury dates from the early 13th century. The foundation of the Cathedral was laid in 1220 and was built in a single style. No cathedral rises so superbly from its setting as Salisbury Cathedral. Many of the Cathedral's treasures are due to the restoration in the 18th century by Wyatt. Salisbury is rich in late medieval gabled houses in narrow alleys, and has countless interesting buildings. From a town steeped in history to a modern metropolis, we travel to London, where our tour ends. (B)
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