Arrive in UK and transfer to the glorious country hotel;
The Vineyard. Enjoy welcome drinks followed by a fabulous
dinner. Your tour leader will meet you this evening
and give a short presentation on the tour ahead.
Overnight at The Vineyard or similar
Journey today to your first stop: the magnificent Warwick
Castle. This excellent example of English Medieval castle
was re-built in the 14th Century on the site of the
original Norman castle. After the castle passed over
to the Greville family in the 17th Century, the castle
was transformed into a great country house.
We have a number of options for a private, exclusive
tour at Warwick Castle. An extremely experienced guide
can give a two hour tour that covers the full history
of the castle. Alternatively, costumed guides can tell
‘their own story’ of the castle in their
own period. These tours include a Cromwellian soldier,
mediaeval archer and garden specialist (the grounds
were designed by famous landscape architect and gardener,
Capability Brown). This option would certainly give
an innovative and memorable slant to the castle tour!
A private 3 course lunch with beer or wine can be served
in the newly appointed Coach House.
Continue your journey north to the towns of Telford
and Ironbridge. Telford was named after the gifted Scottish
engineer Thomas Telford (1757 – 1834) who was
responsible for many of Britain’s roads, bridges
and canals. A short distance away is Ironbridge where
you will be met by a local expert. Ironbridge became
one of the most important centres for the Industrial
Revolution in the 18th Century. Thanks to the pioneering
works of Abraham Darby I, Ironbridge was transformed
into one of the world’s great iron-making centres.
Visit at least one of the several award-winning museums
that have been established here to celebrate the industrial
history of this town that is most famous (unsurprisingly)
for its iron bridge.
Continue your journey on into Wales to the lovely Seiont
Overnight Seiont Manor or similar
Today is a chance to immerse yourselves in the wonderful
history of Welsh castles. We will visit 3 castles that
will demonstrate a variety of historic periods and building
styles, from the lovely fairytale castle of Penrhyn,
to the impressive and somewhat austere Caernarfon.
Penrhyn: This fabulous fairy tale style castle is a
more recent example of how a lived-in castle would have
appeared. Completed in 1837 the present castle was built
over existing buildings, and therefore incorporates
the castle completed only fifty years earlier along
with the medieval manor house. The style is richly gothic
with a distinctly Moorish flavour. A large collection
of old masters was brought to the house in the nineteenth
century, adding to the already extensive collection
of family portraits. The collection is the finest in
Wales outside the National Museum.
Caernarfon: In contrast, Caernarfon dates back to the
13th Century and was built as the seat of government
for North Wales. The castle went into disrepair until
the 19th Century when Caernarfon was a thriving port
and the architect Anthony Salvin rescued this important
historical castle. Caernarfon Castle has been used for
the investiture of the Princes of Wales since 1301,
right up until the investiture of the current Prince
Conwy: Notable for the excellent survival of 13th Century
castle and town walls, fortified with 21 towers and
3 gateways creating an almost unbroken shield around
the old town. Conwy itself is home to a concentration
of architectural riches unparalleled in Wales and as
a result has been designated a World Heritage Site as
‘a fine example of a Medieval Walled Town’.
Your journey today will carry you alongside (or over
– depending on the date) the Telford Bridge, allowing
guests to view another infamous example of the engineer’s
works, previously encountered on the journey to Wales.
The glory of North Wales is its fabulous mountainous
scenery. Snowdonia is the mountain range that is home
to the highest mountain in Wales – Snowdon at
3,560ft. Your journey today will take you on a glorious
drive through this lovely National Park. Travel to Llanberis
and beyond, through the mountains and into the Llanberis
pass that runs alongside Snowdon itself.
Continue on to the hill walking centre of Betwys-y-Coed.
Visit the lovely Swallow Falls, learn about the enchanting
history of the bizarre Ty Hyll (Ugly House) and view
another of Telford’s creations; the Waterloo Bridge,
built to mark this famous victory against Napoleon.
Later today visit the Lechwedd Slate Caverns to the
south of Betwys-y-coed. Here you will gain a fascinating
insight into the lives of the men that worked in the
mines. Travel deep into the mines themselves to appreciate
the conditions that they worked in, and witness demonstrations
back on the surface of the various processes employed
in extracting slate.
Finally return to Seiont.
Overnight Seiont Manor
Travel today to the lovely city of Chester. First settled
by the Romans in AD79, the town is now lined with delightful
examples of timber buildings. Although the original
timber framed buildings of the infamous ‘Chester
Rows’ are mostly 19th century in their decorative
timber work, the Rows were in fact first built in the
13th and 14th centuries. Areas of Chester give the impression
of a perfectly preserved medieval City. Visit the heritage
centre to gain a broad overview of the long history
of this city and we will be sure to take in the lovely
A walk of the city walls is a must: these walls were
originally Roman built, but have been repaired and re-built
at intervals to maintain the city defences. The Roman
history of Chester is extremely important and we shall
indulge it further with a visit to the Roman amphitheatre
that dates back to AD100.
Finally, after a day packed with history and culture,
return to your hotel.
Overnight Seiont Manor.
For your final day in North Wales a visit to the bizarre
Italianate village of Portmeirion – the location
for many films and television programmes, but perhaps
most famously the popular 1960s television series The
Prisoner. Created by the eccentric Welsh architect Sir
Clough Williams-Ellis (1883 – 1978) he fulfilled
his childhood dream by building a village “to
my own fancy on my own chosen site”. About 50
buildings surround the central piazza, in styles varying
from Gothic to Oriental. Lunch will be served today
in the luxurious Portmeirion Hotel.
This afternoon visit the medieval fortress of Harlech
castle – another of the string of defensive castles
built in the 13th Century by Edward I. Built on a precipitous
cliff that plunged into the sea it nevertheless fell
to Owain Glyndwr in 1404 and served as his court until
its recapture four years later.
Later, return to your hotel
Overnight Seiont Manor
Begin your journey south once more today, leaving the
dramatic scenery of Wales behind you. There is some
distance to travel today in order to reach the airport
for your return flights. It may be that flights are
arranged for the evening, or indeed the following morning.
If a further night near the airports is required, we
would recommend a return to The Vineyard (or an alternative
hotel, preferably with leisure facilities to relax before
the return flights) for a farewell dinner. Please let
us know your thoughts on this.