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Gardens of England's Great West Way®

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7 days from London or London Heathrow

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Meander the lovely countryside of Wiltshire, iconic places, lovely locals and stunning gardens!

Overviewicon Itineraryicon

This tour begins and ends in London.

 

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1

Monday

 

Depart London at 09:00 and, despite a short stint on the motorway to get away from the city, travel via the ‘olde coaching route’ to Bath. Pass through some lovely towns and villages such as Marlborough, known for its antiques.

 

See the mystical stones of Avebury and spend some time exploring Avebury Manor Gardens. This National Trust property is unique in that it encourages visitors to explore without barriers, and to even sit on the furniture! This delightful garden is arranged as a series of 'rooms', each with a different character, including the Kitchen Garden, Topiary Garden, Lions Walk, Church Garden, East Garden, Half Moon Garden, Orchard, Monks Garden and South Lawn.

 

Later visit the medieval village of Lacock, which has hardly changed in the past 200 years. With its magnificent abbey, half-timbered cottages and greystone houses, it provides a perfect setting. This lovely place has been used as a film set for many popular films such as the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle production of Pride and Prejudice, the BBC series of Cranford and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath

PROPERTY: The Kennard, Edgar Townhouse or similar, http://www.kennard.co.uk/ https://www.edgar-townhouse.co.uk/

 

Day 2 ND

Tuesday

 

Today is a full day around Bath. Your guide will take you on an orientation walking tour of this city of Roman antiquity and Georgian splendour followed by free time. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for many writers. Jane Austen fans will immediately recognize several streets and squares from her novels such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. If you haven’t been before, we recommend time in the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms or you could visit the Jane Austen Centre, Museum of Costume, relax over a Bunn at Sally Lunn’s or simply wander the lovely tea rooms and antique shops – the day is yours to explore how you choose!

 

Those wanting more garden time should not be disappointed - Bath has a surprising amount of public green spaces! From beautiful 18th-century landscaped grounds to charming community gardens, there is something for everyone. Perhaps spend some time around the Sydney Gardens, Bath’s oldest park with Kennet and Avon Canal running through, or maybe a picnic in sprawling Victoria Park, or enjoy live music in the Parade Gardens, with a lovely view of Pulteney Bridge as your background.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath, same property as above

Day 3

Wednesday

 

Today explore some quintessentially English countryside and more lovely garden spaces. See the charming town of Wells and Wells Cathedral, with its unique scissor arches.

 

Milton Lodge Gardens (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, 14:00 – 17:00 only) The garden at Milton Lodge was conceived about 1900 by Mr Charles Tudway, the present owner’s great grandfather. During the first ten years of the 20th century, the sloping ground was transformed into the existing series of architectural terraces, specifically to capitalise on the glorious views of Wells Cathedral and the Vale of Avalon.

 

The visionary design influences of Mulberry founder Roger Saul can be seen in his garden at Kilver Court Gardens. His unique planting schemes using colour and texture are evident in the newly redesigned 100m colourist herbaceous border, formal parterre and subtropical island. This eclectic garden is also home to one of the largest sculptures in the world, a breath-taking 15-metre-high Victorian viaduct.

 

Later seek out King Arthur’s reputed burial place of Glastonbury. Here we can discuss the legend of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies, while exploring the magical hollow of Glastonbury Tor. As this is England’s New Age capital, we can explore the local goddess culture and discover the magic of the ley lines.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath, same property as above

Day 4

Thursday

 

Heale House Gardens (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) is an Arts and Crafts style garden designed by Harold Peto in 1910. Heale Garden has terraces, ponds, old roses and a landing stage by the River Avon. The owner, Louis Greville, was a diplomat and brought a tea house and bridge from Japan.

 

Wilton House (Sunday to Thursday only) is truly one of the country’s treasure houses. Here, experience nearly 500 years of history as you wander through its magnificent rooms, marvel at its architecture, soak in its fine paintings and spectacular gardens. There are 22 acres of parkland and gardens to explore, formal, Japanese and more. Wilton House is often used as a location for period films thanks to its sumptuous interiors, so fans may find some rooms a bit familiar!

 

Today also visit an iconic place of classical Britain, Salisbury, where we can pay our respects inside the stunning gothic cathedral and see one of the greatest pieces of writing, the Magna Carta. The Cathedral Close is managed like a public park, with mown grass and ornamental trees.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath, same property as above

Day 5

Friday

 

Today we focus in and around scenic Bradford Upon Avon. Here spend time wandering the winding back streets viewing cottages, churches and mills of golden Bath stone, historic bridges over the River Avon and browsing the plethora of cafes and boutiques. The ancient bridge across the Avon still retains two of its original 13th-century arches; the historical view incorporates the hill above the town, which is dotted with old weavers' cottages and 19th-century former cloth mills. Here see one of the best surviving examples of a monastic tithe barn in England, dating back to the 14th century, and one of the best preserved Saxon structures in the whole of England, St Laurence Church. A traditional market is held weekly on Thursdays and there is ‘Secret Gardens’ opened on the last Sunday of May and June. For those that wish, there is the option of a narrowboat tour to the village of Avoncliff, where the Kennet and Avon Canal crosses over the Avon on a 200-year-old aqueduct.

 

Ilford Manor – Peto Gardens (Wednesdays through Sundays only) In 1899, Harold Ainsworth Peto discovered Iford and the individuality of the garden owes everything to his inspiration and eye for combining architecture and plants. The house is built into the steep hillside, so terracing forms an important element of the design. Set in 2.5 acres this steep hillside Italian style garden affords the visitor wonderful views of the valley. Delightful features include the Loggia, the Great Terrace, the Casita and the largest of Peto’s garden buildings, the Cloisters. The current owners have restored the design and planting in accordance with Harold Peto’s vision and over the years, have transformed the area of the Oriental garden.

 

The Courts Garden (closed Wednesdays) is also on the day’s agenda. Originally created between 1900 and 1921 The Courts Garden was based on a Hidcote model, now freshened and superbly planted and maintained. It is a manageable seven acres of topiary, hedges, pools and plants in satisfying harmony. The wonderfully lopsided, bulging yew topiary, eccentric box shapes, formal pool and spacious lawns set off the flowers perfectly. There is also a canal bordered by herbaceous plants and a small pond area for wildlife.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath, same property as above

Day 6

Saturday

 

Stourhead Gardens features 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.

 

Montacute House is amongst the very few Elizabethan houses in England to have retained its setting within a compartmentalised garden, the different compartments each offer a different experience. The old walls of East Court shelter mixed flower and shrub borders, following a planting scheme devised in the 1950s by Mrs Phyllis Reiss, known for her clear colours and large groups of foliage plants. There’s an extensive lawn with a pair of tall cedars and yew hedges over 150 years old. The North Garden features raised walks with a border of shrub roses with several ancient varieties cultivated when the house was finished in 1601.

 

OVERNIGHT: Bath, same property as above

Day 7

Sunday

 

Traveling via one of “the prettiest villages of England” Castle Combe, visit another charming town, Malmesbury. Here we can see Abbey House, the labour of love created by ‘the naked gardeners’ Ian and Barbara Pollard. The 5 acre grounds of the town’s 16th century abbey has been transformed in recent years, a popular retreat bursting with a variety of colour – both flowers and the personalities of the designers.

 

The Walled Garden of Lydiard Park is a rare example of an 18th century Walled Garden. In the 1740s, the St John family built this rhombus-shaped garden used to grow flowers and fruit as well as providing a pleasant place for the family to stroll after dinner. Today the original Georgian garden structure can be appreciated. The garden is divided into six sections with wide pathways, a well and sundial. The narrow beds contain trimmed shrubs and perennial plants, alternating with individual flowers and bulbs. Traditional, organic methods are used to tend and maintain the plants.

 

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.

Inclusionsicon

What Your Tour Package Includes

# of touring days with driver/guide companion, accommodation for # of nights while on the tour including breakfast daily, entrance fees to attractions, transportation and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Dinner can be included if you wish on a custom tour.

 

Beverages and any items of a personal nature are not included in the package price

 

Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, London city tours, London attraction passes and London transport passes are not included but can be added to your package for the appropriate supplemental cost. Ask us for details.

 

SGT is at your service!

Mapicon Why SGT?icon

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!