Greenwich, Chatham Docks, Portsmouth, Bath, Bristol, Plymouth and the West Country
6 days/5nights from London
Part of Mayflower 2020 and The Great West Way
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.
Our adventure begins full on! Firstly a short panoramic drive around London’s Southwark/Rotherhithe area. 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 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 pub that is the only place in England where you can buy American postage stamps.
Greenwich is a World Heritage site with much to discover. Explore what life was like on board 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.
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 our first two nights.
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!
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.
Bovington Tank Museum is also on our agenda. This exhibition tells the story of armoured warfare from WWI to the present day, these vehicles have seen action in all the major wars of the 20th century. This unique collection of over 300 vehicles is regarded as the best in the world and includes the first ever tank “Little Willie.”
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.
Today 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.
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. Scenic West Bay has been featured recently in the popular tv series Broadchurch. At Slapton Sands there stands a corroded Sherman tank, dredged from the bay where it sank. It's a memorial to the young Americans who died in an incident that is a sad footnote in the epic D-Day story of WWII. Another option is Dartmouth, 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.
One sure inclusion today 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. Including of course the departure point of The Mayflower, marked by the Mayflower Steps.
This morning, we will make our way into the neighboring county of Somerset. Along this northern coast was the area of inspiration for Samuel Coleridge, visit his home 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. Brunel’s handsome ss Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner where you can 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!
This morning, more time to experience the attractions in Bristol.
Later, explore part of “The Great West Way” back to London. In Bath, 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!
We will travel via the ‘olde’ coaching road, passing through some lovely villages as time permits. We will return to London this evening.
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.
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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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