Please be ready to depart at 7.30am from Earls Court YHA, London. Heading North from Central London, we travel into Robin Hood's country. The 450-acre Sherwood Forest is a dream to explore and with a picnic lunch you will feel like one of the Merry Men! Test your skills with our optional activity of archery before we make our way to Viking York! A chance to explore the awesome gothic cathedral (England's largest), the medieval city walls and the sights and sounds of the lively city centre. After our authentic Viking feast, experience a spine tingling ghost walk followed by a rally of traditional pubs.
Heading further North we stop in the cosmopolitan city of Newcastle. Cross the River Tyne and see the Angel of the North. From here we attack Hadrian’s Wall then a choice to cruise up the Northumberland coastal road or through the Northumberland National Park. It's goodbye to England and Scotland ahoy. A pause at either Holy Island, with its amazing history and ancient priory or Jedburgh, a historical border town, once home to Mary Queen of Scots before we get to Edinburgh. A Full walking tour & a bit of whisky tasting awaits. Explore the Royal Mile and Edinburgh castle. The evening is spent enjoying a traditional Scottish meal and a fantastic night out in Scotland's capital.
Leaving Edinburgh at 8.30 a.m. we head straight for the Highlands. First stop is Stirling and Braveheart Country (William Wallace, King Robert the Bruce and Rob Roy) – you’ll hear all the history and legends, with plenty of walks and time off the bus. Then we wind through some of Scotland’s finest glens (stunning mountain valleys – if you didn’t already know!), including Glen Garry, Glen Nevis and breathtaking Glencoe (hear about the massacre of Clan MacDonald). Then it’s onto the Isle of Skye, our home for 2 nights.
A full and active day round the Isle of Skye, with lots of walks and time to take in the magic. You’ll see the Cuillin mountains, climb to the Old Man of Storr (an incredible Jurassic pillar) where you’ll hear some amazing legends, visit Lealt waterfalls and Kilt Rock, and take in absolutely stunning panoramas in the Quirang. There are stories of old to be heard around every corner and you can’t help but feel the magic. Perfect preparation for a few wee drams in the local pub, to reflect on a day of tales and legends.
Before making our way North we will have time to go on a seal spotting trip with a local fisherman and hopefully try some seafood fresh from the water! Inchnadamph lodge (nr Ullapool) is our destination but there is much to do on the way. Take in the magnificent Corrieshalloch Gorge and then wind around the West Coastline stopping at waterfalls & golden beaches with views of the Torridon mountain range. The beautiful mountains of Assynt surround our hostel tonight.
Today we wind our way along the far North Western coast – a chance to explore the famous Smoo caves and drive/wander through some of the most remote and rugged landscape Europe has to offer. Deserted beaches, towering mountains, sparkling lochs and the wide open skies really set the tone today before we take the evening ferry to the awesome Orkney Islands.
From our base in the fishing village of St Margaret’s Hope we spend a full and energetic day today exploring the islands - it will be packed with Viking ancestry and world-renowned archaeological treasures such as Skara Brae and the Ring of Brogar. Plus a chance to gaze in wonder at the islands Italian Chapel, search for the coastal Puffins (May-July) and also walk to one of the neighbouring islands. Loads of time will be spent off the bus and much time spent walking especially along some of the fantastic beaches – a day to remember (another one!)
Another morning on Orkney witnessing locals making Orkney Cheese/Jewellery and going for some lovely walks in the area (experience a "Gloup"). This afternoon we return to the mainland visiting John O’Groats before heading south via Wick and the atmospheric ruins of Castle Sinclair. Finally another castle, Carbisdale our home for the night! A unique experience living it up in style, surrounded by the priceless art collection.
Then it is over the Moray Firth to Loch Ness for a spot of monster hunting, before taking an emotional visit to tragic Culloden battlefield (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s last stand). We recover our spirits over lunch, then really get into the spirits at Edradour Distillery, Scotland's smallest whisky distillery. Our final stop is a gentle walk through the beautiful Hermitage Forest.
Finally a short hop back to Edinburgh –a tired and happy honorary Scot!
We depart from Edinburgh to head back into England. We have request stops for Hadrian’s Wall and if we have time a quick call in at Gretna Green where the Ironmonger can perform a shotgun wedding!? From here we head for the Lake District National Park (the largest National Park in Great Britain) and try out some of our great optional activities.
Have a chance to kayak, row or motor cruise the lakes. Visit water falls, the highest pub in the Lakes, Windermere and in the summer months, the chance for a lakeside BBQ. Afterwards we travel south to the city of Liverpool and prepare to fly to Dublin. (Cost of flight not included - please ensure that flight does not depart before 21.00). On arrival you will make your own way into the city centre via the airport bus- we will book you into a central hostel to get a great night’s sleep!
Have a day in Dublin and maybe catch an open top bus tour taking in the sites including the Guiness brewery, Trinity college and both of the amazing cathedrals.
Departing Dublin we make for the ‘Rock of Dunamase’, the remains of a 12th century haunting castle perched high on a rocky outcrop! Then we head to Abbeyleix to visit ‘Morrisseys’, Ireland’s third oldest pub. From there it’s not a long way to Tipperary as we drive through the Golden vale. Onwards to the imposing but awe-inspiring Rock of Cashel, one of the most spectacular archeological sites in Ireland. Stopping over in Cork City grab the opportunity to sample the fine Murphy’s or Beamish Stout - both brewed locally.
Today begins with a visit to Blarney Castle. Climb the steps to the top and perform a strange acrobatic ritual ‘To kiss the Blarney stone’ The grounds of Blarney Castle are fairies paradise and if you don’t meet them here, you never will! After this we visit Killarney National Park and take a walk up to the stunning Torc Waterfall. We then hop back on the bus and head to Tarbert for our ferry ride across the mouth of the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland. We spend the evening in Doolin, a tiny coastal village famous for its traditional Irish music.
After breakfast its off to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher (one of the tallest in Europe), then along the coast and onto the capital of the West Galway stopping first at the ancient Burren. Explore the City of Tribes before making our way into the wilderness of Connemara, the heart of the bogs to experience bog-hopping! Then follow the stone walled laneways around lakes and through rugged mountains passes for a little visit to Leenane at Killary Harbour followed by Westport at the foot of Croagh Patrick - hearing tales of St Patrick and the Pirate Queen - Grace O’Malley.
From Westport we leave Co. Mayo on route to Sligo stopping for a leisurely climb up the Hillside Tomb of Queen Maeve. Further along, at the base of Benbulben we find the final resting place of W.B. Years before arriving in Donegal, with its stunning beaches and fairy bridges. On our route into Derry we visit the impressive fort called Griannan which overlooks Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly
We start the day with a local guide to take us walking around the old city of Derry, intriguing us with stories of Derry past and present afterwards it’s a stop is Dunluce Castle, built using every inch of available space on the cliff! From here we travel to the famed Giants Causeway built by the legendary giant Fionn MacComhaill! then our next stop isn’t far away, when we dangle high above the Atlantic on a Rope Bridge at Carrick-a-rede.
Following the Glens of Antrim hopefully get a clear view of our celtic neighbours, Scotland ( only a spears throw across the Irish Sea!) Tonight we explore the nightlife in Belfast.
This morning you have an opportunity to take the famous Black Taxi Tour (seasonal and extra cost) around Belfast where you get an insight into the recent history of this divided land. Making our way back to Dublin we first stop at Monasterboice to see some of the best examples of 10th century Celtic Crosses. After this we pass through the town of Slane, home to Slane Castle and the Boyne Valley - famous for the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Then off to the airport to catch your return flight back to Liverpool.
Back on the last leg of Road Trips Northern Exposure! After breakfast, we cross the Mersey River & down into Wales. Visit (the longest place-name in the world) Llanfairpwllgwngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch & get your passport stamped! We continue south to Caernarfon to explore the castle and town on before heading into the stunning Snowdonia National Park - (the second largest National Park in Great Britain) See Mt Snowdon (3560 ft) and visit a Welsh slate mine before a quick visit to Gellert’s Grave. Then its eastwards to Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon. An opportunity to see a Shakespeare play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (seasonal performances) or spend an evening in the famous medieval town.
The morning is spent with an optional tour of Shakespeare's houses before we meander through the spectacular Cotswold’s - spending some quality time in a Cotswold’s village. Arriving in the University City of Oxford get a full walking tour of the city's famous University colleges before heading back to London arriving late afternoon.
Hostel accommodation (except 2 nights in Dublin before and after Ireland tour) * Breakfasts * Evening meals * Entrance fees * Local tour guide * Transport (except flights to and from Dublin)
Discover the REAL England .............