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Best of South England Tour 4/17

Shortest Version: Wonderful experience with a great group of people and a great guide. Weather good most of the time with a few memorable exceptions. Everyone made it through the tour Covid free. Nice variety of sights and experiences.

Longer Version:
Pretour I stopped overnight in London. I landed at Gatwick and took the train to St Pancras where I checked into the Premier Inn for the night. I had enough time and energy to do a short excursion to the British Library across the street and enjoyed viewing their treasures exhibition. The next morning I ran some errands and then boarded a high speed train from St Pancras to Canterbury West. A short taxi ride to the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge and I was ready for the tour!
Canterbury: Hotel is in an amazing location and their breakfasts are not rivaled by any other location on this tour. We had our tour orientation where I learned that 3 tour members were on their first RS tour and everyone else were veterans. One couple had done 13 previous tours! I was the only person traveling completely solo which was a bit unusual, but this friendly group always included me. We had time for exploring Canterbury, a walking tour, a tour of the Cathedral, went punting on the river and there was an optional beer tasting. The Cathedral graciously opened up the Huguenot Chapel for our group at my request due my family connections with it. Evensong was also very beautiful and moving.
Day trip Dover: Dover Castle, Secret Tunnels, The Battle of Britain Memorial, and a walk along the White Cliffs of Dover were on today’s agenda. One thing I particularly liked throughout this tour is that we were given an orientation to a sight and then allowed to explore it at our pace or focus on the parts that interested us most.
Next Day: We headed to Battle, to view where the Battle of Hastings took place. This was especially intriguing to me ever since I saw the Bayeux Tapestry in Normandy. We had time to explore and walk the Battlefield. I also strolled through the town where I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the shop windows that had been decorated to celebrate the upcoming coronation. One had a hand knit fairly large King Charles figure in it. Lots of creativity in every town and village we went to in decorating for the Coronation. The next stop was a short break at the Victorian pier at Eastbourne where the guide treated everyone to an ice cream and we walked the pier and surrounding area. Onto a highlight for me, Burling Gap and walking a section of the South Downs Way. Beautiful weather and amazing scenery. Those that did not want to hike, enjoyed spending some time on the beach there. Onto Alfristan to spend the night.
Next Day: Portsmouth and onto Salisbury. A very enjoyable time at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. A light rain off and on in the morning, but nothing that would slow anyone down. I had been here before but had not gone to the Mary Rose before so I focused my energies there. So interesting and well presented. I always get a thrill walking on the HMS Victory from the Battle of Trafalgar. On a personal note, my grandfather served in the Royal Navy during WWI and was stationed here for a short time. I love the connection with him. Next we drove through the New Forest and stopped for a cream tea at the Green Dragon Pub. We ended in Salisbury with a short orientation walk.
Salisbury: our day stated with a guided tour of the cathedral. It was interesting and included a demonstration of their very old mechanical clock and an explanation of the unique foundation of this Cathedral when the water table is just 4 feet down. The rest of the day was free so I did Laundry and took a rest. Touring can be tiring!
Continued in a post below………

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8544 posts

Next Day: Stonehenge, Charmouth, Dartmoor. Okay, I have to admit I didn’t have a great deal of expectations regarding Stonehenge. I saw it, but for some reason I just wasn’t that excited. I ended up spending a portion of our time in the coffee shop reading a book. Others on the tour loved it. We then toured the fossil center at Charmouth and spent sometime looking for fossils as well. That, I enjoyed. We then drove though the countryside to our next hotel in Dartmoor.
Next Day:Dartmoor National Park: clapper bridge, walk across the moors to Neolithic sites, a historical church in Princeton filled out the day. If you are taking this tour you should note the need for good walking shoes. I made a last minute decision to pack my walking poles and I was very glad I did! The walk across the moors is not on any established trail or path. Now I haven’t mentioned it previously but I absolutely loved coming this time of year for the lack of crowds but especially for all the baby lambs we saw in the fields each day!! Lots of blooming wildflowers as well.
On the Road: Tintagel Castle in perfect weather. The views were gorgeous. On to Port Issac which you may know from the Doc Martin TV series. We had a group dinner of fish and chips at a pub were a men’s singing group entertained us with traditional Cornish sons and sea shanties. It was so much fun!
Next Day: onto Lanhydrock, an estate with an imposing Manor House. It was an example of amazing craftsmanship, but the gardens what were pulling me. The beautiful blossoms, sweet spring scents, and constant birdsong made a perfect combination for a peaceful ramble.
Next we went to Padstow, another fishing village. Our guide added this to our itinerary since the location of our hotel did not lend itself to exploring any villages. It was interesting to compare with Port Issac. We finished our day with a walk along the headlands just past our hotel. The weather was once again wonderful.
Next day: This is England in the spring, the weather couldn’t last forever… A downpour descended upon our group as we left the bus to go to Mount St Michael. This drenching rain was evidently to make up for all the days of gorgeous weather. Our group split at this point. The hard core, “I’m climbing the Mount” half went with the guide to grab a boat to the island. The “are you crazy?” group adjourned to the coffee room of a hotel for a cream tea and to admire the Mount from a distance.. we were all happy with our choices. Next was a pasty making class that was excellent. We were able to take our creations with us and I had mine for dinner, yum,yum.
Final full day. A stop in Wells for lunch and time to explore. Then , onto Bath our final stop. A walking tour, a group dinner and the tour was over for me.
Today: Up at 5 am to catch the 6:30 am National Express Bus to Heathrow so I could be that important 3 hours early. Check in 5 minutes, security in 10 minutes. Lots of time before my flight. I know, I’ll sit in the Lounge and write my trip report……..

Summary : a good trip with lots of variety.

Posted by
33141 posts

wow. now I've seen both parts. Great.

Thanks.

You don't know if the singing group at Port Isaac was Fisherman's Friends do you? If so, I am modelling my moustache after that proudly worn by Cleavie, the fabulous bass. Not there yet, but lots of time to grow in.

Posted by
2734 posts

This sounds like a wonderful tour! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
12 posts

Carol now retired , thank you so much for your detailed informative adventure about your journey on this tour. We will be leaving for Orlando Airport in a few hours to catch our BA flight to Gatwick today. Love the variations of the trip to include discovering the beauty of the outdoors as well as the various cathedrals , castles , ships , etc. Sounds like a very well rounded trip. You have helped me get more excited than I already am lol!

Posted by
452 posts

Carol, I’m assuming you were on the first tour of the year? I, too, would rather go with less than perfect weather to have fewer tourists. Did it seem less crowded at all the places along the tour? Thanks for sharing your trip report. It makes me want to take this tour even more.

Posted by
8544 posts

No place was crowded. Stonehenge could have been but our tour guide organized it so we were on the first shuttle out to the stones.

Posted by
3312 posts

Carol NR, thanks for your report. We would love to take this tour and glad the weather was most cooperative. I know you have done a few tours, how was the guide? Were they new or been at it for awhile?

Posted by
8544 posts

@Tammy. Guide was an experienced and professional guide that did a fabulous job, Liz Boardman. It showed in so many ways. She adjusted itinerary as needed to meet circumstances and needs of the group. She established positive relationships with all guests. She was proactive in her contacts with the sites we were going to. She knew when to share info on the bus and when to just let it be quiet. I would go on any tour she was leading! She is also a partner in Seymour Tours.

Posted by
14175 posts

Carol, thanks for the TR! What a fun time you had!

Happy to hear about Liz, I’m not sure if she is co-leading a Seymour Travels tour starting next week or not!

Posted by
6364 posts

Thanks, Carol now retired. We took this tour in 2016, and enjoyed it very much. They do keep tweaking the itinerary; I'm glad they've put Battle back in.

Posted by
2494 posts

I’m on this tour right now, we are in Salisbury, our second night. We leave tomorrow for Stonehenge and Chagford in Dartmoor. We weren’t able to do the punt trip the river was way too high.

I too am the only solo. There are several friends traveling together and 2 couples with a solo friend with them. Everyone is friendly and enjoyable.

Posted by
33141 posts

curious - did either of you ladies take the single supplement or did you roll the dice?

Posted by
8821 posts

Excellent report. Sounds like you enjoyed the tour.

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
8544 posts

I always pay for the single supplement. I have too much already invested in the trip to risk unknown roommates.

I just totaled up my additional spending while on tour. I tend to eat low cost, grocery store meals when they aren’t included on the tour and I’m not a shopper. My total additional costs while on tour (13 days) $350 or around $27 a day.

Posted by
7404 posts

Hi Carol, I enjoyed reading your details! I agree about the single supplement decision. In my younger years it didn’t matter as much, but now when I sometimes have insomnia, I wouldn’t want to prevent an unknown roommate’s good night’s sleep. And I really enjoy a little quiet time late evenings and the ability to wash my clothes in the sink and hang in the shower.

Posted by
452 posts

Carol, I loved your trip report, thanks for all the information. You mentioned that you were happy you had your walking stick. How small does yours fold up and did you do carry on? Also brand info would be great. I’m second guessing myself on not taking one to Greece and we leave Thursday so I’m probably out of luck at this late date but the information would be helpful all the same.

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8544 posts

My walking poles are Montem brand and measure 15 inches long when folded. They need to go in a checked bag, however, as walking poles are not allowed in carryons by TSA.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks so much for your trip report. We are doing this tour later this month and your report was very helpful. We’re even more excited now.

Posted by
157 posts

Thank you for your reports on your recent South of England tour.
Did you happen to see the wild ponies while in the Dartmoor National Park?