Day 1 Arrive in London, England.
Check into your hotel. In the afternoon, there’s time to rest or to start exploring the lively British capital. Uniformed hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Day 2 London.
Today is devoted to exploring on your own or enjoying our exciting program of optional activities. You may choose to join a Local Guide for an optional morning sightseeing tour of the city’s famous landmarks: the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall’s mounted horseguards and the Prime Minister’s Downing Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. Highlights include a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the ceremonial pageantry of the Changing of the Guard (if held). Later on, maybe visit Windsor Castle or the Tower of London with its spectacular Crown Jewels. Tonight, a leisurely cruise on the Thames River would be fun! (B)
Day 3 London–Stratford-upon-Avon–Coventry–Leeds.
Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions and depart at 8 am for Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. Take photos of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, then explore the town at your own pace. After lunch, visit Coventry, and hear the tale of Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom. Finally, head northwards out of the Midlands to tonight’s destination. (B,D)
Day 4 Leeds–York–Jedburgh, Scotland–Edinburgh.
In York, 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. Continue through wild Northumberland National Park and see a section of Hadrian’s Wall. Then, at Jedburgh, see the abbey ruins. Late-afternoon arrival in Edinburgh. A suggestion for this evening: enjoy a traditional Scottish night out, with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and, of course, the Ceremony of the Haggis. (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,” home to 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. Later, a unique optional experience: board the former Royal Yacht Britannia. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds out this optional evening. For departure numbers July 31 through August 21, 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 6 Edinburgh–St. Andrews–Pitlochry–Grantown–on–Spey.
A day of memorable sightseeing: take the elegant Forth Road Bridge to St. Andrews, whose Royal and Ancient Golf Club has given us the rules of golfing, then cross the Firth of Tay and via Dundee and Perth, head into the Highlands. Stop in the Victorian mountain resort of Pitlochry before continuing to your overnight destination of Grantown-on-Spey. (B,D)
Day 7 Grantown–on–Spey–Culloden Moor–Inverness–Fort William–Glasgow.
Via the battlefield of Culloden Moor and Inverness, the Highland capital, skirt Loch Ness as you drive to Fort William beneath Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Enter haunting Glen Coe, where the MacDonald Clan was massacred in 1692, pass wild Rannoch Moor, and then drive along the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond to Glasgow. (B,D)
Day 8 Glasgow–Gretna Green–Lake District, England–Liverpool.
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, and take your photographs of picturesque Lake Windermere. End the day in Liverpool, of Beatles fame, once the departure port of the great transatlantic liners. You may wish to join an optional city tour this afternoon. (B)
Day 9 Liverpool. North Wales Excursion.
A day dedicated to the mountainous splendor of North Wales. After a stop in pretty Betws-y-Coed, drive over spectacular Llanberis Pass and through Snowdonia National Park to Caernarvon, where the castle saw the investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales. Then, follow the coast road via the walled town of Conway back to Liverpool. (B)
Day 10 Liverpool–Chester–Ludlow–Cardiff, Wales.
In Chester, the historic county town on the Dee River, your walking tour includes the Roman remains, black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the “Rows.” Pause in the pretty market town of Ludlow before heading back into Wales and Brecon Beacons National Park, land of salmon rivers and the Welsh mountain pony. Finally, head through “The Valleys,” whose iron ore and coal were the raw materials for the Industrial Revolution, to the Welsh capital. Here, an orientation drive introduces you to the major attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cathays Park, Millennium Stadium, and the stately civic buildings. Tonight, why not join an evening of Welsh entertainment and dinner? (B)
Day 11 Cardiff–Bath, England–Glastonbury–Widecombe–Plymouth.
Leaving Wales, cross the Severn Bridge for a visit to the elegant Georgian city of Bath, famed for its Roman relics, before heading into the romantically scenic West Country and Glastonbury with its King Arthur associations. In the heart of Dartmoor National Park, visit quaint Widecombe-in-the-Moor, ghostly setting for Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Finally, in Plymouth, hear about Sir Francis Drake and see the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked in 1620. (B,D)
Day 12 Plymouth–Stonehenge–London.
On the final leg of your journey, take in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, and visit prehistoric STONEHENGE. First, explore the visitor center with its imaginative exhibitions, then admire the magnificence of the monument from up close. Return to London around 3 pm. How about celebrating the success of your tour with a night out on the town? (B)
Day 13 London.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)