Seascapes are stunning coasts, quaint fishing villages, the best of Maritime Britain!
8 days from London
Enjoy the timeless landscapes of time gone by...This is a true feast for all of the senses!
Part of the Mayflower 400 Celebrations
This tour begins and ends in London.
Depart our Central London base early, 08:30. A rare bit of motorway driving will bring us to the Royal Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth. We will spend ample time here to explore the amazing ships! 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 too.
Later, 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.
Stay: Chilworth Manor/similar
West Bay, Lyme Regis
Today we begin exploring the stunning, dramatic West Country coastline! We have much to discover. 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.
Our base tonight is Exeter, rich with heritage and centred around the ancient cathedral.
Dartmouth, Plymouth, Charlestown
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 picturesque village via a lovely ferry ride. Also here is the 14th century castle and 16th century cove fort.
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. We will explore the cobbled streets and have time in the Mayflower Museum.
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!
Our base for these next few days is the Cornish fishing port of Falmouth.
Poldark coast/Lizard Pennisula
There is so much to see and do around Cornwall! Today and tomorrow we delve deep into the local sites, meandering the countryside and especially along the gorgeous coast, magnificent sea-scapes! Options for stops include the prehistoric village at Chysauster, the famous open-air Minack theatre, mining museums and of course, Land's End itself.
And YES this is Poldark country so there are several coastal walking options, including one of the former tin mile heritage sites and another a quiet cove where our hero was seen swimming.
Levant Mine houses the only existing working steam beam engine and is directly on the coast, where one can stand and feel the spray on their face from the crashing waves below. Once a thriving fishing cove, the beautiful Porthgwarra boasts a peaceful existence surrounded by wildflowers and birdlife. So much to discover!
Stay: Falmouth, same property as above
St Michaels Mount and Land's End
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.
Later we can route via the charming seaside hamlet of Mousehole (pronounced "Mowzel,") a stunning collection of homes made of yellow granite from the local quarry. This fishing harbour is quintessentially Cornish! Of course we can have the obligatory photo op at Land's End - which is of course suitably scenic.
Stay: Falmouth, same property as above
Discover the quaint fishing villages of the north Cornwall and Devon coast.
One choice is more Poldark at the National Trust’s St Agnes Heritage Coastal Park. We also have options of Port Isaac of TV show Doc Martin fame and rugged Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, which sits high on top of the wild cliffs accessible only by walking.
This afternoon we turn inland, edging Dartmoor to maritime Bristol, our next base.
Full day 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, same property as above
Bath, Bradford Upon Avon
Another amazing adventure for our final day! Spend time in the classical splendour of Bath. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for many writers. 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.
Our final visit is scenic Bradford Upon Avon, featuring winding back streets, quaint cottages, churches and mills of golden Bath stone, and a 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. 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.
Finish tour in 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.
8 touring days with your driver/guide/companion, accommodation for 7 nights while on the tour including breakfast daily. Your price also includes entrance fees to listed attractions, transportation, services of driver/guide-companion and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.
Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, city tours, attraction passes and transport passes are not included but can be added to your package as you wish. Ask us for details. 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!
At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!