Tropical Gardens in England!
6 days from London
“Cornwall is often described as the 'garden capital of the world' as the lush vegetation and colour give garden lovers a feast for the eyes all year round.”
This tour begins and ends in London.
We depart our London meeting point at approximately 09:00.
Firstly, we speed our way to Hampshire. One garden of interest is the ‘hidden gem’ Houghton Lodge, a Grade II listed garden surrounding the UK's best surviving example of an 18th century Cottage Orné. Set above the tranquil waters of the River Test, here enjoy stunning views across picturesque water meadows; also find a traditional Kitchen Garden with a themed herb garden, rose arbour, avenue of old apple trees and espaliers, peony walk, asparagus beds, the well border, a wild flower meadow, a wonderful Orchid House and fun topiary of a dragon. And don’t forget the friendly alpacas Tom, Dick and Harry!
Mottisfont Abbey Gardens is one of the famous English rose gardens in the country. A former Augustinian priory beside the River Test, here is a park with ancient trees and an eighteenth-century summer house. The Rose Garden, planted by Graham Stuart Thomas with pre-1900 shrub roses, is in the old kitchen garden.
If we’ve any addition time today, we may call into Salisbury briefly before making our way to our base around Roman Exeter.
OVERNIGHT: Exeter area
A full day around lovely gardens touring into Cornwall today! Our route will take us via the atmospheric and brooding Dartmoor Moors. If we’re lucky, we may see some of the famed Dartmoor ponies!
Eden Project is the progressive endeavor located in an old disused quarry. Its aim is to demonstrate as many aspects of the world’s bio-diversity as is possible, in the correct ecological context. The actual site looks like a moon settlement with its massive glass pods.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan is definitely on our agenda today. This amazing place represents Europe’s largest restoration project with over 80 acres of award winning landscape, a super walled garden of exotic fruit and 22 acre ‘jungle.’
Evenings in Falmouth offer a wide range of dining options! SGT Recommends Falmouth's Rick Stein's Seafood (Reservations subject to availability & highly recommended! OR guests can enjoy take away fish & chips.) Your tour hotel also offers a restaurant for those wishing a low-key evening and there is a variety of restaurants. Many feature freshly caught local seafood!
OVERNIGHT: Falmouth area
Suggested Property: St Michaels, Penmere Manor, Penmorvah Manor or similar, http://www.penmeremanorhotel.co.uk/ http://www.penmorvah.co.uk/the-hotel.php https://www.stmichaelshotel.co.uk/contact-and-directions/
Today explore the amazing gardens around the Falmouth area. We are certainly spoilt for choice in this amazing ‘tropical’ corner of England! The stunning coast and nearby estuary villages will be explored as part and parcel of this lovely day.
Spend time in Trebah Gardens. Trebah is a uniquely beautiful, wooded 25-acre subtropical ravine garden with its own beach on the beautiful Helford River. It is the wild and magical result of 160 years of inspired and dedicated creation.
Maybe, if feeling adventurous, take a ferry from Trebah to Glendurgan to explore the subtropical gardens and laurel maze dating from 1833?
As time permits, there are a variety of smaller gems nearby to choose from to round out our day, such as Carwinion with its national collection of bamboo, Trelissick on the Fal Estuary, or subject to availability/by special appointment, England’s only tea plantation at Tregothnan.
OVERNIGHT: Falmouth area, same property as above
Another day spent exploring Cornwall and the area’s stunning landscapes.
St Michael’s Mount is the mythical island accessible only by boat or, tides permitting, by walking across the ancient granite causeway. Learn the legends of giants and pilgrims. Discover a medieval castle, a sub-tropical garden and a close-knit island community.
Also today, see Trengwainton Gardens, a horticultural hotspot home to magnificent walled gardens growing species not seen anywhere else on mainland Britain. Marvel at the styrax, eucryphia, stewartia and the 'Lobster Claw' - Clianthus puniceus, and discover hybrids created from plant-hunting expeditions in Assam and Burma. This property also boasts a stream garden and a woodland garden featuring a rich collection of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias, plus beautiful views of Mount's Bay to The Lizard.
Nearby is the option to sample the wares of a local Cornish vineyard and cider farm. An experience here can include wine/cider tastings, local cheeses or a Cornish crab sandwich.
The rest of the day will be spend exploring the wonderful coastlines. Options for stops include the famous open-air Minack theatre, charming fishing villages, mining museums and of course, Land's End itself. This is the area of inspiration and filming locations for the Poldark series.
OVERNIGHT: Falmouth area, same property as above
This morning will be spent discovering the quaint fishing villages of the north Cornwall and Devon coast. Our options for stops include Port Isaac of TV show Doc Martin fame, Boscastle with its King Arthur and Thomas Hardy connections, and rugged Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, scenically placed high on top of the wild cliffs accessible only by steep walking.
Further north is another option, the lovely village of Clovelly, a tiny and beautiful harbour village where no vehicles are permitted. The picturesque cobbled steps into the village open into inspiring views. Donkeys are still used to deliver goods down the cobbled hillside to the locals! Here too is Clovelly Court, a Victorian kitchen garden with glasshouses and charming orchard. Another day spoilt for choice!
This afternoon, visit another spectacular garden. RHS Rosemoor, created and given to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988 by Lady Anne Berry, is a magnificent garden that has been developed into a joyous 65 acres of gardens and woodlands. Highlights include Herb and Cottage Gardens, a Potager, a Fruit and Vegetable Garden, two beautiful Rose Gardens, a Foliage and Plantsman's Garden.
OVERNIGHT: Barnstaple area
Suggested Property: Barnstaple Hotel or similar
A full day on our finale day! Via the landscape of the Exmoor Moors, pay a visit to the charming Victorian country house, Knightshays Court. The gardens here feature lily pools, floral borders, amusing topiary and a newly restored kitchen garden.
Also today, Stourhead Gardens, featuring one of the world's finest 18th century landscape gardens including a magnificent lake, classical temples, enchanting grottos plus rare and exotic trees. The Temple of Apollo here was featured in a memorable scene between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and should be recognizable to fans.
Return to London this evening.
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.
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.
6 touring days with driver/guide companion, accommodation for 5 nights while on the tour including breakfast daily, entrance fees to listed attractions, transportation and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.
Dinners, beverages and any items of a personal nature are not included in the package price.
Logistical Note: Cornwall is somewhat of a remote part of England and, via quaint rural roads, getting to/from involves a bit more driving than some other regional itineraries. We strive to present an itinerary balanced overall by spending several leisurely days in one base. The stunning landscapes throughout are surely worth the journey!
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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!
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