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Maritime Britain


Greenwich, Chatham Docks, Portsmouth, Bath, Bristol, Plymouth and the West Country



Part of Mayflower 2020 celebrations

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.



Day 1 ND

Our adventure begins! Today is a day around Maritime London, traveling on foot, by boat and public transport in the company of your tour guide.


Take to the river for a scenic cruise to Greenwich, a World Heritage site with much to discover. Explore what life was like on board the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper; enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views across London from Royal Greenwich Park; discover about Britain's encounter with the world at sea in the National Maritime Museum. Learn about the life of great British hero Admiral Horatio Nelson and the Royal Navy, see the uniform he wore when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.


Also during the day, a walking tour around London’s Southwark. The 'Las Vegas' of its time, Southwark was well known to Shakespeare and later Charles Dickens. Here is the pub where Shakespeare supped, on the banks of the River Thames, and a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship The Golden Hynde.


It was from the neighbourhood of Rotherhithe that the pilgrim ship The Mayflower began its journey, and later ended it. See St Mary’s Church, a memorial to Capt Christopher Jones and the only place in England where you can buy American postage stamps.Here is The Mayflower Pub, where the group can enjoy a meal together.


This evening is free for individuals to enjoy the nightlife independently, perhaps a play at The Globe or one of the West End musicals.


Stay: London

Day 2

Today we begin with a tour into the scenic county of Kent. Chatham Historic Dockyard is a maritime museum covering over 80 acres located on part of what was the Royal Navy's main docks for several hundred years. The museum is a collection of several historic buildings and museums including 3 Naval warships, a recreation of working life on the docks circa 1758, a Victorian rope factory, a lifeboat memorial with 17 historic vessels and an old smithery. Fans of the BBC show Call the Midwife might find the area familiar as this is where much of the series is filmed, the docks 'playing' London's East End of the 1950s.


Later, the wind in our sails turns southwest to Portsmouth, our base for two nights.


Stay: Portsmouth

Day 3 ND

Today is a full day in Portsmouth to spend at the Royal Historic Dockyard.


Don’t miss the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ‘first love,’ which for the first time ever provides unrestricted views of the ship and life-sized projections of the crew. See the extraordinary collection of Tudor artefacts recovered from the sea after nearly 500 years. There’s Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory, the world’s most celebrated warship. Visit the Victorian powerhouse HMS Warrior 1860, the world’s first iron-hulled armored warship, as well as unique WWI Gallipoli Campaign survivor HMS M.33. Boathouse 4 is a great new family attraction within the Historic Dockyard, featuring hands-on children’s activities and a brand new indoor Mast & Rigging experience. You can get out onto the water with a harbour tour and use the water bus to get to the Gosport-based attractions, which include the only remaining Second World War-era submarine the HMS Alliance and the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower which tells the exciting story of naval warfare, home to a unique collection that includes torpedoes, modern missiles and even a nuclear bomb. Spoilt for choice!


Stay: Portsmouth

Day 4

Southampton is steeped in maritime heritage and today is known as the ‘cruise capital of Europe.’ The city has a vibrant atmosphere, top shopping opportunities and a trail noting Jane Austen’s inspiration for her novel Mansfield Park. The Mayflower based here before continuing to Plymouth then across the Atlantic. Many of the buildings and streets familiar to the Mayflower Pilgrims then still exist today. The Mayflower is not the only voyage the city is well known for, The Titanic set sail from Southampton White Start Dock in 1912.


See the scenic West Bay in Dorset, which has been featured recently in the popular TV series Broadchurch.


Lyme Regis is an interesting place, part of Britain’s ‘Jurassic Park’ so perhaps the very lucky might find a fossil along the shoreline. This was a popular sea spa town during the Regency period and was often visited by Jane Austen, some sites from Persuasion are recognizable.


Stay: Exeter

Day 5

Today and tomorrow explore the stunning, dramatic West Country coastline! We have much to discover, the specific route is up to your guide, dependent on the day’s weather and of course the interests of the specific guests on board.


A sure inclusion is Plymouth. Plymouth’s waterfront has been a port of call or point of departure for adventurers, emigrants, merchant traders, soldiers and sailors for over a thousand years. This is, of course, the departure point of The Mayflower, marked by the Mayflower Steps.


The Cornish coastline is another scenic location. Attention fans of Poldark, we will visit Charlestown, which will be recognisable to fans! Here find the interesting Shipwreck Centre, built around the cave passages used to ship out trade to China and elsewhere. The tall ships and jetty may seem familiar, as this is a popular place for films and tv. We can route along the scenic coast, another fishing village is Looe. The Jolly Sailor Inn was a favourite haunt of pirates and smugglers - 'haunts' indeed, legend has it that this is one of the most haunted pubs in the country!

Stay: Exeter area, same property as above

Day 6

Today is another day to discover the coastal wonders of the West Country. Torquay has been a very popular seaside resort for decades! It is the birthplace of Agatha Christie and you can explore a bit of her life and times, settings for her 'Miss Marple' novels, and her home. This is the centre of the 'British Rivera' and is the quintessential English seaside town.


Dartmouth is situated on the bank of the River Dart. This is a truly picturesque town combining a rich maritime heritage and a vibrant waterfront hosting an active sailing community; it is home to Britannia Royal Naval College. Here both The Mayflower and its companion ship The Speedwell had to dock for repairs. Access the pituresque village via a lovely ferry ride. Also here is the 14th Century Castle and 16th Century Cove Fort.


Stay: Exeter area, same property as above

Day 7

This morning, we will make our way into the neighbouring county of Somerset. Along this northern coast was the area of inspiration for Samuel Coleridge and discover his ‘great works of the sea’ such as Kubla Khan and Rime of the Ancient Mariner.


This afternoon, arrive into Bristol. Bristol’s past is awash with nautical goings-on! Ever heard the saying ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’? That goes back to when sailors here had to keep their cargo neat and tidy, on their impeccably crafted ships, to prevent them tipping over when the tide went out as Bristol has the second biggest tidal range in the world. The city's significance as a trading port goes back to Anglo-Saxon times, and since then its played host to some true characters of maritime history, from Samuel Plimsoll – a social reformer for safety at sea - to Blackbeard – a pirate who lit fuses in his hair to strike terror wherever he roamed – to the characters of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Bristol also boasts both Tudor and Georgian houses, and the lovely area of Clifton with its magnificent suspension bridge over the Avon gorge and John Wesley's original Methodist church.


There are several ships to explore during our time here. See Brunel’s handsome ss Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner. Imagine what it was like for the pioneering Victorian passengers sailing to Australia. Or hop aboard The Matthew, a replica of the ship John Cabot accidently sailed over to North America in 1497, landing at 'New Founde Land,' whilst trying to find Asia.


Modern Bristol is well known for its art galleries and street art, definitely something to check out during your stay! This evening, perhaps you will choose to dine on one of Bristol’s fine floating restaurants. There is also the option of taking a harbor cruise or an evening ‘Pirate’ walking tour. Another place where you’re spoilt for choice!


Stay: Bristol

Day 8

From our Bristol base, spend a full day in and around the classic splendour of Bath, where your guide will take you on an orientation tour. 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 or simply wander the lovely tea rooms and antique shops – the choice is yours! Those that wish more time in Bristol can do so.


Stay: Bristol

Day 9

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.


On our maritime theme, 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.


We will travel via the ‘olde’ coaching road, passing through some lovely villages as time permits back to the capital. The tour concludes in London this evening.


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!


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