Tour includes a full day ticket to the new annual RHS Chatsworth Estate Flower Show
7 days/6 nights from Manchester, UK
Sunday Cheshire: Arley Hall, Norton Priory
Tour begins in Manchester from 09:00. We begin our gardens exploration with two spectacular gardens in Cheshire. Arley Hall & Gardens, home to the Ashbrook family since the 15th century, is a place of enormous character, charm and interest. The Gardens, noted as being amongst the finest in Britain, are outstanding for their vitality, variety and historical interest; they are particularly celebrated for the magnificent double herbaceous border.
The stunning 18th century Norton Priory Walled Garden offers orchards, a fruit garden and a beautiful rose walk, surrounded by woodland and a wildflower meadow. Interestingly, Norton is home to the National Collection of Quince trees, featuring 24 different varieties onsite. The quince is an ancient fruit and is believed to have originated before the apple, with some scholars positing the theory that the quince was the real forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. At the ruins area, there is also plenty to see from the medieval herb garden and labernum arch to the stream glades and a rock garden.
As time permits this afternoon, perhaps a stop in Roman Chester, famed for its unique mediaeval ‘rows,’ en-route to our base for the next few nights in scenic North Wales.
ON Llandudno/Conwy area BB
PROPERTY: Can & Bae, The Castle or similar
Monday Bodnant, Conwy, Llandudno
As garden lovers, a real treat this morning with a visit to Bodnant Gardens. Quoting from their own website, it’s “one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK”, spanning some 80 acres and is situated above the River Conwy on ground sloping towards the west and looking across the valley towards the Snowdonia range.
Nearby is the Bodnant Welsh Food, where we simply must call in for a sample or two! As Wales’ centre of excellence for food and drink, Bodnant prides itself on showcasing the finest Welsh foods and drink, much of which has been sourced from the immediate surrounding area; 2/3 of all product hails from award-winning suppliers across Wales.
The remains of the day will be spent exploring two lovely local towns, the castle town Conwy and the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno, where the pier is a lovely place for a walk, dotted with cafes and views of the water. Conwy’s wall was erected in the 12th century by Norman conquerors and with the massive castle dominating one corner, it makes this harbour town one of the most interesting in the UK.
ON Llandudno/Conwy, property as above BB
Tuesday Angelsey including Plas Newydd
Spend some time discovering the Isle of Anglesey. This ancient and mystic island offers an astounding wealth of attractions including prehistoric burial chambers, Celtic and Viking settlements, fabulous flora and fauna, and the village with the World’s longest name – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerchwyrndrobwllllandysilliogogogoch.
Spring and summer turn Anglesey into a giant rock garden, carpeted with flowers of every hue. If we’re lucky, we may just catch sight of puffins, guillemots, seal colonies or perhaps some dolphins glimpsed from the shore. Fingers crossed and cameras ready for the possibility!
Our day will include a visit to Plas Newydd Country House. From its earliest known resident in 1470, Plas Newydd passed through 500 years of a family’s increasing concentration of wealth, titles and estates, until the 7th Marquis of Anglesey presented it to the National Trust. The house is set within an outstanding park, landscaped at the turn of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With its extensive waterside location with lovely views of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia, it is the only Anglesey site to be classed as Grade I in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales.
ON Llandudno/Conwy, property as above BB
Wednesday Snowdonia including Plas Tan y Bwlch
Today we explore the heart of Snowdonia, Snowdonia National Park. This is one of dominating peaks, the highest in England and Wales, featuring narrow mountain passes, flowing streams, cascading waterfalls, sheep-covered uplands and verdant, hidden valleys. It has been claimed that these secluded valleys were home to the ‘real’ King Arthur. Certainly, an ancient Welsh culture and language still thrives here today. We’ll explore it in true off the beaten track fashion, taking you beyond the regular tourist haunts downs tracks and paths that will have you gasping!
During the day, spend some time around Plas Tan y Bwlch, a 13 acre gem inside the national park. Overlooking the garden is a dramatic Victorian-Gothic mansion, which was once home to wealthy slate-quarry-owners the Oakeley family, now home to the Snowdonia environmental cente. Much of the garden seen today was originally laid out for William Edward Oakeley by Head Gardener John Roberts in a period lasting from 1879 until 1912. In summer, shrubs, roses and herbaceous plants growing in the warm south-facing sunny borders are a delight.
ON Llandudno/Conwy, property as above BB
Thursday Chirk Castle, Tatton Park Gardens
Chirk Castle, built in the time of Edward I, has been home to the Myddleton family for over 500 years. Featuring some of the best gardens in Wales, the estate was landscaped in the 18th Century featuring a yew topiary and a 17th century lime tree arcade.
Back across the border into England, our next garden of interest is Tatton Park, one of Cheshire’s Gardens of Distinction. The 50 acres of gardens at Tatton have been developing for over 200 years, today it is presented as it would have been during Edwardian times. Enjoy the Walled Kitchen Garden, Japanese Garden, Glasshouses, maze and the arboretum, which contains almost 900 species of plants.
ON Buxton area, Peak District DBB
Friday RHS CHATSWORTH FLOWER SHOW
We will spend the full day enjoying Chatsworth Estate itself and the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. The RHS’s newest addition to their amazing flower show events is to be held on the grounds of the Duke of Devonshire’s stately home at Chatsworth Estate. Here was the real life home of Georgina, The Duchess of Devonshire, said to have been the inspiration for Jane Austen as her ‘Pemberley,’ and used as a setting for many recent period films. The RHS announced that their new flower show, “promises to be full of “innovative and fresh ideas”.”
Having evolved from over 450 years of history, the 105 acre Chastworth Gardens are now lovely maintained by a team 20 gardeners, 3 trainees and over 50 volunteers. Famed for its waterworks, Chatsworth fountains include the 300 year old Cascade, The Emperor and the Squirting Willow Tree; the extensive grounds also feature a maze, Victorian rockery, rose garden, cottage garden and a kitchen garden.
ON Buxton area, Peak District, property as above DBB
Saturday Peak District including Lyme Park
We have a full day to enjoy the Peak District and the magnificent Pennine Hills scenery. Here, where the dry-stone walls make criss-cross patterns of the sheep covered hills, we may find ancient folk customs such as ‘well-dressing’ as we wander the rural Derbyshire villages. This area is known for its treasure houses with formal garden estates.
The grand finale of our day is sure to be a visit to Lyme Park, used by the BBC for the hugely popular Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Fans may recognize the lake as well as the house itself. Here, we’ll find the Palladian mansion surrounded by a medieval deer park of almost 1400 acres, an amazing formal garden and lavish interiors.
Our tour concludes back in Manchester by approximately 18:00
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.
Your Tour Package Includes: accommodation for 6 nights in 3 and 4 star properties while on the tour including breakfast daily, 2 dinners in Peak District and group lunch at Bodnant Welsh Food. Your price includes all entrance fees to gardens and attractions while with your guide, a full day ticket to the RHS Chatsworth Estate Flower Show, mini-coach transportation, exclusive services of your driver/guide-companion, all taxes, tolls and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.
Pre and/or post tour accommodation, transfers, day tours and other optional add-ons available for the appropriate supplemental cost. Please discuss your needs with us, SGT is at your service!
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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