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Spires, Steeples and Spiritual Britain: A Classic Route

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11 days - adjustable to suit if you want to also include London

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The UK is home to a wide variety of religious and spiritual institutions.

Overviewicon Itineraryicon

This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.

 

This tour begins and ends in London. Choose to spend time in London pre-tour, beginning your tour at 9am from the lobby of your London hotel OR you can begin with meeting your guide at London Heathrow Airport directly from your overnight flight. Note that if beginning from the airport, DAY ONE visits may fluctuate dependent upon arrival flight times.

 

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1

Our first stop can be in the beauty of the Chiltern Hills, a quaint area just a stone’s throw from the sprawling metropolis of London. Here you will find an original Quaker churchyard with the grave of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. The quiet simplicity of this 1600s building will contrast sharply with the later magnificence of the great Gothic cathedrals, a reminder of the reasons for the reformation and early Puritanism.

 

Another short drive will bring you to Dorchester Abbey. This was once the centre of the largest diocese in England and an important Roman centre. Today this once imposing 12th century abbey sits in an idyllic thatched cottage village.

 

Today can also include ample time 'dreaming spires' of Oxford, focusing on New College and Christchurch cathedrals. Both cathedrals are situated in university colleges and both contain some unforgettable treasures, a painting by El Greco in one and literary associations with 'Alice in Wonderland' and that boy wizard Harry in the other. Christchurch also brings our first contact with John Wesley, who was educated here then later taught here.

 

Later, make your way to your accommodation base for the next few days.

 

NIGHTSTOP: in or near Bath

Day 2

Our day takes you to two of the most inspiring cathedral cites in the UK, Salisbury and Winchester, with time in each to explore the sites as well as the cathedrals themselves. Salisbury is famed for its steeple, the highest in Britain, copy of the 'Magna Carta' and splendid variety of museums and important houses in the cathedral close. Winchester boasts Jane Austen's tomb, the remains of some of England's earliest kings and the nearby St Cross monastery, where the pilgrim's 'wayfarer's dole' of bread and beer have been offered to pilgrims for the last thousand years or more.

 

As time and interest permits, we may be able to enjoy a short visit to the impressively preserved mediaeval village of Lacock. Here in the ancient abbey we'll see an early brewery, the birthplace of modern photography, and the sites of many recent period films.

 

NIGHTSTOP: in our near Bath, same property as above

Day 3

Today see Wells Cathedral and mystic Glastonbury. Joseph of Aramathea is said to have visited here and this explains the origins of the monastery. It is claimed the mighty King Arthur and bride Guinevere are buried here. Whatever the truth, the town is delightful and is today the centre of mysticism in England, hosting many interesting 'new age' shops and the fabulous Tor.

 

We will also ensure to spend time in our nightstop location Bath to enjoy what this elegant Georgian city has to offer. After a panoramic city tour and a visit to the Roman baths, have free time to explore as you wish, visit the abbey, Jane Austen Centre or simply relax by the riverside.

 

NIGHTSTOP: in our near Bath, same property as above

Day 4

Our journey today is quite simply breathtaking, through Borders countryside, touring through the Wye Valley of Wales, stopping to wonder as did Wordsworth at the sheer magnificence of Tintern Abbey. Then our day will take us through the narrow winding roads of the Black Mountains to the lovely Llantony Priory. There are a few ‘typical’ Welsh chapels to possibly discover before crossing back into England and to the lovely city of Hereford. Here we've two highlights, the cathedral, home of one of the world's most treasured maps, the mediaeval 'mappa mundi' and a delightful local parish church.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Hereford/Shrewsbury area

Day 5

A rare bit of motorway driving will bring us to some faith restoring scenic areas around the Lancashire Dales and south Yorkshire Moors, the heart of “John Wesley Country.” The workers of the local cotton and coal towns in this industrial area formed much of his congregation. A highlight of the afternoon can be a visit to Wesley's octagonal chapel at Heptonstall Bridge.

 

Later, we will arrive into our Northern England base in the city of York.

 

NIGHTSTOP: York

Day 6 ND

A full day spent in York, one featuring York Minster, no adjective can adequately describe this truly awe-inspiring edifice! York is a fabulous walled city that has much to offer its visitors including a city centre castle, Roman museum, National Railway museum, Jorvik Viking Centre and the medieval shopping 'Shambles' to name a few highlights. You will have all day to explore as you please. Your guide will be on hand for advice, assistance and a morning orientation walking tour for those that wish it.

 

NIGHTSTOP: York, same property as above

Day 7

Another splendid day featuring cathedrals and a host of romantic, ruined abbeys set in stunning scenery. We’ll explore one of Britain's most historic cities. Durham is a Heritage city where you can learn of St. Cuthbert, one of the earliest Christians in the country, and of Bede, one of Britain’s earliest historians.

 

The rest of our day, as time permits, can also include the ruined Bolton and Rivaulx abbeys, small typical parish churches and even an original 'preaching stone,' said to have been used by John Wesley. Fittingly each of these possible ecclesiastical diamonds is set in the fabulous scenery of the rolling countryside of Yorkshire.

 

NIGHTSTOP: York, same property as above

Day 8

From York we drive south to Lincoln, a city visited by far too few. Here discover the great cathedral spires and castle battlements dominating the hilltop above the ancient mediaeval, cobbled street of 'old Jewry'. Contrasting with the imposing grandeur of Lincoln will be the 'hidden' parish churches en route as we make our way to Cambridge. Memorials to forgotten wars, flower-filled naves and atmospheric graveyards will be amongst our finds.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Cambridge/Ely area

Day 9

Today is our very own ‘tale of two cities’ as you discover the pleasures of Ely and Cambridge.

 

Cambridge is one of the country's quieter, rural areas where the river Cam lazily winds its way through the university college grounds. The founders of the university chose the site because it was removed from the tensions of 'city life' in Oxford. The area has retained that feeling of solitude and peace as you'll also discover in Ely, home of Oliver Cromwell and site of some of the most magnificent stained glass you'll ever see!

 

From Cambridge we drive across the Thames to into the county of Kent.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Canterbury area, Kent

day 10

A leisurely day around Canterbury. This is a charming town with several streets known for shopping and local food treats. Also see 'the crooked house' and of course the amazing cathedral. As this is our nightstop location, miss the main and sometimes madding throng of daytrippers from London.

 

Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597, completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077 then greatly enlarged in the gothic style in the 12th century to accommodate pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. Subject to availability, there is the option to stay at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge within the precincts of the cathedral so guests may visit this World Heritage Site at any time, day or night. Before the English Reformation the cathedral was part of a Benedictine monastic community known as Christ Church, Canterbury. It remains the seat of the archbishop of the Anglican church.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Canterbury area, Kent; same property as above

Day 11

Make your way back into London via the ancient coaching road, one made famous by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales.

 

Visit Rochester, a gem of a city with its cathedral, Norman castle and Charles Dickens sites. The cathedral here is a Norman church and the second oldest in the country after Canterbury. Depending on opening times, perhaps also see ‘Mrs Havisham's House' featured in Great Expectations, the real Restoration House. This is a home with an interesting history, connections to Cromwell and King Charles II plus it offers a large walled garden with a Tudor wall.

 

This evening, we will arrive into London where our touring adventure concludes.

 

Continue your touring in London independently or we can share some of the city’s rich spiritual heritage on a guided visit.

 

 

 

Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.

 

Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.

 

Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT. Written in conjunction with Bruce Cherry.

Inclusionsicon

What Your Tour Package Includes

This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.

 

Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.

 

SGT is at your service!

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The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.

 

The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!

 

At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!