Take a journey South
Day 1 – London Airport to Stonehenge to Salisbury to Southampton
After arrival at your airport in London, pick up your hire car and head off in a south westerly direction through beautiful English countryside. We would suggest stopping at Stonehenge, the most important prehistoric site in Great Britain. This megalithic monument dates back to the Neolithic era of around 2500 BC. The site was originally made up of two concentric stone circles, which formed into the shape of a horseshoe. You may also choose to continue on to the historic city of Salisbury, with its famous cathedral and 13th century spire, the highest in England. Within the cathedral there is a copy of the Magna Carta from the year 1215, which guarantees the rights of freedom of British citizens from the monarchy. You can visit the cathedral and take a tour of the spire and enjoy far reaching views, or enjoy a walk through the medieval streets of the city with its many small shops, cosy pubs and tea and coffee houses. Continue your drive south west for an overnight stay in the Southampton area.
Day 2 – Winchester to Jurassic Coast to Exeter
On your way to Devon this morning you may want to drive to nearby Winchester, founded by the Romans and made the capital of England by King Alfred at the start of the Middle Ages. Leave your car and take a walk through the town that has been named the best place to live in Britain. You may wish to visit Winchester Cathedral dating back to the 7th century and boasting the oldest medieval nave in England. The famous writer Jane Austen is buried here. Or, you may choose to visit the Great Hall, one of the few remains of the former Winchester Castle. King Arthur’s Round Table has been here for over 600 years – reputedly the table where the medieval knights met.
On your way to Exeter, you may want to drive along the south coast and stop for photos of Lulworth Cove. This almost circular bay is part of the ‘Jurassic Coast‘, an area declared as the first UNESCO World Heritage site in England due to the large volume of fossils and geological peculiarities in the area. We would recommend leaving your car in the car park, and take a short walk to explore this spectacular coastal landscape with ancient rocks, rambling routes and deep rock caves. This landscape is an area of unforgettable beauty with interesting coastal walking routes and the hinterland stretching off into the distance. Continue along the coast, your overnight is in the Exeter area tonight.
Day 3 – Exeter to Dartmoor to Tintagel to Falmouth
Today, head for the famous and wild Dartmoor National Park. The countryside is widely marked with rocky outcrops, herds of native wild Dartmoor ponies and expansive moorland. Regular spells of fog give Dartmoor a brooding, gloomy and mysterious feel, the hallmark for many a legend or ghost story. There are plenty of photo opportunities of the beautiful scenery and rock formations, known as tors. Explore the many villages with their thatched cottages and cosy tea rooms. Maybe try Devon Cream Tea; scones served with cream and jam, and a cup of tea (or coffee). From Dartmoor you can choose to head up north, to follow the scenic north coast of Devon and Cornwall. If you do, you may want to stop to explore Tintagel Castle where, according to legend, King Arthur was conceived! Take in the spectacular Cornish coastal views from here and enjoy a bracing walk along the coastal path. If you are a Doc Martin fan, you must stop in the village of Port Isaac where the TV series is filmed, and for food enthusiast a lunch stop in Padstow to sample the local seafood and fish & chips is a must. After a short journey, reach the attractive resort town of Falmouth for your overnight stay in this area.
Day 4 – St Ives to St Michael’s Mount to Falmouth
Today enjoy a full day tour of Cornwall, known in equal measure for its folklore, wonderful coastline, pretty fishing villages and open rolling countryside. Head for St Ives, an attractive harbour town on the north Cornish coast with pretty cottages, alleyways and the renowned Tate Art Gallery. Towards the end of the 19th century many artists resided in the town and today their studios and galleries still exist. Try a Cornish pasty – a local delicacy – in one of the many pasty shops, Continue along the coast to the very bottom tip of England to stop at Land’s End and admire the wild coastal views. Drive back towards Falmouth along the south Cornish coast to Marazion to see the famous St Michael’s Mount, located on a small island not far from the seashore and reachable by foot during low tide. Its history dates back to the 5th century, when a local fisherman saw a vision of St Michael. A Celtic monastery was established on the island and this became a fortress in the 15th century. If the tide is out, you can walk out to the island across the causeway. Journey back to the Falmouth area for your overnight stay.
Day 5 – Fishing villages of Cornwall to Bodmin to Torquay
Depart Falmouth and drive along the south coast of Cornwall towards your next destination, the delightful seaside resort town of Torquay. Along the way you may want to stop in one of the many picturesque fishing villages that dot the coast. For example Mevagissey, where pubs, cafes, galleries and shops cluster around the harbour walls and line the pretty streets. Named after two Irish saints, St Meva and St Issey, the village dates back to at least 1313. Or stop in the beautiful small town of Fowey, with narrow medieval streets and Georgian buildings. Lining the main Fore Street you will find many small, independent shops selling unusual gifts, artwork, clothing and books, and Fowey is also known for its seafood. Or you may choose to stop in Polperro, a largely unspoilt fishing village with beautiful cottages clinging to steep hillsides around a small harbour with spectacular views of land and sea, making it an artist’s paradise. For a change of scenery, head north to cross Bodmin Moor, where you have the option to stop and visit the majestic Lanhydrock House, a wonderful manor house which has been home to the Robartes Family since 1620 with over 50 rooms open to the public. The house is surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens which were first created during Victorian times. The gardens boast an area of some 900 hectares and feature colourful flowers such as Rhododendron, Camellias and Magnolias. Continue to your next overnight, in the Torquay area.
Day 6 – Torquay to Glastonbury to Bath to Bristol area
Leave Torquay and drive north to cross into Somerset. Here you can drive through Britain’s biggest gorge with stunning views and dramatic cliffs rising up on either side of the narrow road. Cheddar Gorge is known for its cheese, which is stored in some of the many caves in the area, and you can stop in the village of Cheddar to try some of the cheese. Close by you will find Glastonbury, a town known for its large music festival, but it also has a long and fascinating history, full of myths and legends. For example, Glastonbury is believed to be the location of Camelot from the King Arthur legend. Today it’s a bustling town with craft shops, cafes and beautiful abbey ruins. The area of Somerset is known for its cider production, and you can choose to experience the production first hand at a Cider Farm, where you will get a chance to sample some local apple cider. Travel on to Bath, one of the finest cities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a stroll around the picturesque street lined with honey coloured buildings, such as the Royal Crescent – a semi-circular row of imposing Georgian houses from the 18th century – Queens Square, the ‘Circus‘, the Assembly Rooms and Bath Abbey. If time allows, you may choose to visit the Roman Baths, a source of spring water for over 2000 years and now an award winning visitor attraction.
Overnight in the Bristol or Bath region.
Day 7 – Bristol area to Lacock to Cotswolds to Oxford to London Airport
Depart Bristol for medieval Lacock, a very picturesque village with a pretty abbey established in 1232. The religious order was disbanded in 1539 and the abbey has since been home to the Talbot family. The abbey featured in many scenes during the first two Harry Potter films as Hogwarts School and has also been a film set for some of Jane Austen’s novels. Continue through the idyllic scenery of the Cotswolds. This is a charming region with its soft rolling hills, picturesque villages of honey-coloured stone cottages, medieval churches and green fields surrounded by old stone walls. You may choose to stop in for example Castle Combe, one of the prettiest villages in England. If time permits, head to the university city of Oxford, described by the English poet, Matthew Arnold as this ‘quaint town with picture-book spires‘. The first students arrived here from France in 1167 and established the university, the oldest in Great Britain. Nowadays the city boasts 40 university colleges (almost all of which are open to the public), whose courtyards are timeless places of tranquillity. The university library is one of the best in the world and amongst Oxford’s many art galleries and visitor attractions, is the Ashmolean Museum – England’s oldest museum of art and archaeology founded in 1683.
After your visit to Oxford, return to your London airport to return your car and board your flight home.