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SW England tour with Seymour Travels 2 weeks

Trip report for our two weeks with Mark Seymour Tours for SW England May 20-Jun 2, 2023.
Note: I love Mark's style of touring (small group ). Mark and Liz are so wonderful, knowledgeable and delightful. They DO take care of you and help out any way possible.

FLIGHTS/TRAINS
Our flight to Tulsa-Denver and Denver- London Heathrow were fine, no issues. Left a day early before start of the tour. Then ending tour at Portsmouth. We were going to take train to Glasgow for our second part of the journey but due to train strikes we ended up taking a flight from South Hampton to Glasgow, no issues here. But upon arrival to Heathrow, took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Boy was is crowded and crazy. Evidently there was a train accident with pedestrian on our route. We were redirected to another train that was packed. Everyone running to the train to get on. We barely made it on, tight squeeze. Unfortunately, we had to stand the entire trip from Paddington to Bristol for about a little over 2 hours (start of tour). Arrived at train station and caught a cab to our hotel.

HOTELS
Mark's tours usually stay in hotels for 2-4 nights. Sometimes we are lucky to stay a week depending on the type and where the tour is going and doing. They are quite charming, and location, location, location is always brilliant!
First Hotel was Hotel Du Vin Avon Gorge. Only spent one night (for tour purposes) here because we were off and running the rest of the two weeks.
Second Hotel was Hartland Quay Hotel (3 nights) in North Devon. Cozy and quaint room. Restuarant and Pub is a plus. Views were spectacular.
Third Hotel was in Mawgan Porth at Bedruthan hotel and spa (4 nights). This was probably my favorite hotel. Had a spa treatment 1.5 hour massage on a free afternoon. Another hotel right on the beach and with amazing views.
Fourth Hotel was in Plymouth, Grosvenor (2 nights). Another great hotel
Fifth hotel was in Portsmouth (3 nights). Queens hotel. Restuarant and Bar. Very nice.
The hotels in bigger cities/towns were easy walking distance to our activities. Others that were tucked away in the beautiful England countryside had a restaurant and bar to fill us up with food, drinks and scenery. In these locations, our activities took us off in the vans for our adventures.

FOOD
The food at all stops, hotels, and restaurants that the tour included were fantastic. I usually don't eat much fish products at home. Can't get good product here in Oklahoma. But on our trip what I ate was great. Sausage restaurant in Bristol (favorite). Fish n Chips at Rick Stein in Padstow. Others..... Smoked salmon, mussels, shrimp scampi, chicken and pizza. The tours covers about half of the meals or maybe a tad more. We eat at wonderful restaurants, picnics on the mors & tors, and even pick up snacks at Tesco for an evening meal if you don't want to go out. Other lunches are sometimes at the museums, castles, or sites if they have a cafe' or in the small village at a local pub or wee restaurant.

TEMPERATURES
The temperatures were pretty warm (at least for me). I don't think it even rained during our stay on this trip. If it did anything, it could of sprinkled a tad at one time. There were cool breezes if we were on any part of coast. But inland, it was warm.

CLOTHES
Well, unfortunately, this was the first trip in a while that I did not pack very well. We were gone for 41 days in UK (England, Outer Hebrides, and London). May 18 thru June 27. I packed for cold, cool and warm, not HOT!! I was thinking that in Scotland it would be much cooler, but it was just like SW England on the coast, hot in London. I used by puffy vest and light jacket very little. Did not use gloves, merino wool head band, rarely used my scarf I take on every trip. Last year in Scotland and Iceland around this time, we used it all. But we survived and dealt with it.

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1019 posts

CREDIT CARDS
On my last trip in November '22, my tap stopped working at the Christmas markets. I should have called my credit card company and requested new cards before we left for this trip. The chip worked, but everytime I used my credit card I had to sign/verify. It got to be a pain in the tush!
Did not spend or use the credit card on this tour except for food that was not covered on tour, few gifts family or purchases for me. It got to be pain when we were in London because we paid for everything. I did take out some cash at the ATM. My experience that most people wanted payment via credit card, some did not even take cash. Sometimes fees were added for paying with credit card. So advice, use tap or sign up for apple pay. I broke down and added apple pay when I got home. Have several purchases and works brilliantly.

TOUR MEMEBERS

Small group. 11 of us plus our Brillant guides. 6 of us were from Oklahoma (but did not know them personally at the time). Ended up of one the ladies went to my high school and i graduated with her brother, she graduated with my sister, small world).

It was a great group.

I will get back later to do a breakdown of activities/itinerary.

Posted by
8888 posts

Care to share the tour price? Comparable to
RS tours? More? Less?

Posted by
2925 posts

So sorry you had CC problems. It makes travel and life difficult.
I always travel with three credit cards, all are tap to pay. Primary is linked in Apple Wallet. Secondary is just that. Third is from my brokerage firm in case there is a problem with the other two which are from the same bank (BAC, no fee). Third card has 1% fee so it’s emergency only.
I only take one debit card, linked to “travel” brokerage cash account. I used so little cash the past trips that I didn’t need a back up. If something goes wrong, I can use the CCs.

I’m curious if you were able to carry on only. Or did you pack more and have to check luggage.
Can’t wait to read the rest of your report.

Posted by
7033 posts

Kim, it sounds wonderful! I'm planning on taking one of his tours in late 2025 and cannot wait! And btw, you are making me very hungry reading about your meals!

Sorry your packing did not work out like you had hoped, but better not to have to add clothing you have, than to need clothing you don't. :) I can't wait to hear about your activities - looking forward to it!

Posted by
1019 posts

Mardee… thanks. It all worked out. 😊. I hear thru a couple of birdies that we are on the same tour in 2025.

Yes Claudia…. Just check out his website. No single supplements added either.

Getting other stuff done tonight. I try tomorrow for our activities

Posted by
1019 posts

One other quit thought…. Anyway newbies….. get an oyster card if you don’t want to use your credit card. I preferred the oyster card. Did not want to dig out credit card. Anyway tap did not work , so cc would either in the tubes.

Plus we picked up iPhone uSB-c for uk . They worked like a charm with our phones

Posted by
3365 posts

Loved reading your report Kim, thanks for taking the time. I’m glad your travels worked out better this year, than last. BTW, your profile needs your updated travel. What do you have planned for 2024?

Posted by
1019 posts

Tammy… I know , neither David or I got sick nor Covid. I got Covid when I returned from our Danube Christmas market cruise last November.

We are going again this year with mark and liz and in November for 12 days of Christmas tour.

2024 …. Thru work and fellows stitchers and some with our husbands on ama waterways cruise down the Rhine Basel to amsterdam. Staying over somewhere for another week. Either Belgium or my other tour guide we know…. Back to Iceland.

Then in September 2024 east coast cruise Boston to Canada

2025 Egypt in February and France in October with mark

That’s all I know so far

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1019 posts

Trip report for our two weeks with Mark Seymour Tours for SW England May 20-Jun 2, 2023.

ACTIVITIES

After our short meeting in Bristol, we took off for the suspension bridge and quick walk around our area in the hotel and to dinner.

Next morning headed off on SW England whirlwind tour. I will list what we saw and explored.

Day 2
Dunster Castle - located in village of Dunster, Somerset England. An ancient castle and home a country home for the Luttrell family. Has beautiful gardens and windmill. Had free time to explore the grounds. lunch in town, stepped inside a local church.
At our hotel in Heartland that evening most of us walked up the path to top of a hill and watched one of the most beautifull sunset and glass of wine to toast our travels.

Day 3
Clovelly - it is a priviately owned, cliffside village, cobble stone path leading down to the waterfront. Owned by John Rous. It has a visitor centre at top. There is a charge to get into the village but is helps keep the village running and intact. While I was here, I ran into a friend and past co-worker who actually is British but lives here in my town. She was on holiday and with her husband.
Convenience stop for break, lunch and ICE CREAM!! in Appledore.
Picked up food for picnic dinner at our hotel instead of eating in the pub.

Day 4
First stop was in Tavistock for a quick break and convenience stop. They had a nice Market area. River Tavy runs thru the town. Nice walking path from car park to town. After getting picnic supplies, the we arrived in Dartmoor Nationl Park. Mark gives you an excellent story of the lives of people who lived here and thoughts of where, what, why! Be careful, he likes to incorporate some drama into his presentation. I was his subject to help tell the story on the mors & tors!!
Clapper bridge photo!! in the Dartmour, along with seeing some ponies.
Next stop Merrivale another prehistoric bronze age settlement with stories to tell. Stone rows and circles. Tressa and I tried our best to go back and see Jamie at the standing stones. Mark loves to talk about stone, bumps and humps!
Stopped for Ale and rest stop at a nearby pub before heading back to hotel.

Day 5
We are headed to Cornwall... Don't tell Mark he is a Devonian!!

Tintagel castle home of the legendary King Arthur. Lots of walking and climbing hills. It has a dramatic cliffs and rugged coastal line. Had to build a more modern bridge to reach parts of the castle that has been worn by the sea. Very beautiful place. Take your photo with the the bronze Gallos sculpture. Several hours to explore and lunch in the cafe'.

For Doc Martin fans.... stopping in Port Isaac. The surgery building, Ms. Tinshell's pharmacy, Louisa's school. Stroll thru the town. Maybe we can see Doc!

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1019 posts

MORE

Day 6

Trip to the Eden project. Six brave souls (me included) experienced Zip flying across the Eden Project. What an adventure. Eden project is located still in Cornwall, on a china clay pit. Consists of several covered biomes....indoor rainforest and mediterranean. Several hours here to enjoy plus our lunch break.
Off to Pencarrow House and Gardens... still in Cornwall. Gorgeous estate house and gardens home of the Molesworth-St Aubyns family for over 500 years. Had tour of the house and then free time to explore the gardens which were spectacular.

Day 7
Today we learn about tin mining at Chapel Porth by St Agnes. It sits right on the Celtic Sea with brilliant views . Again, Mark tell us the stories of what the miners and families had to endure living and working the mines.
Closeby is our lunch, etc break by Portreath. We learn about Pasties from Liz. Plus our guides gave us a lesson on the beach!! on how to play cricket. Lets say it is hard to run from wicket to wicket on the sand with hiking boots!! I was told by my husband that I had a wicked pitch.

Will try to finish up later tonight

Gotta go watch end of Tour de France

Posted by
14293 posts

Sorry to put a break in the middle of your narrative but...I had no idea Clovelly is privately owned! Interesting!

And you were so brave to do the zip line at the Eden Project!! I loved Mark's FB post on his "fly". I am such a chicken.

Also .... so funny you ran in to a friend! On the Northern England tour one of the tour members ran in to a guy she knew in high school (50 years ago!) in one of the castles we visited. So surprising who you will see.

What a fun time you had. I'm sure the Christmas trip will be awesome!

Thanks so much for posting!

Posted by
7033 posts

Sounds fantastic, Kim! I think that's hysterical that you ran into a friend from home!

Posted by
2499 posts

What a brilliant trip report! Did you tour the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth? One of my favorite places on my RS Southern England tour this April!

Posted by
1019 posts

Trip report for our two weeks with Mark Seymour Tours for SW England May 20-Jun 2, 2023.

DAY 8
Headed off to Lanhydrock 19th century stately home. It is a beautiful estate with large grounds for walking and gardens. Spent most of the mid-morning thru lunch. Had lunch here. Located in Cornwall. Arrived early back at Bethruthan where I had the most wonderful massage. Stroll on the beach. Then we all went into Padstow for fish n chips at Rick Stein's shop. Had take away and we found a stop to eat along the boat harbor. Everyone was out and about.
DAY 9
Left and headed straight to Plymouth. Dropped our belongings at hotel, then took off for a tour around the Plymouth Hoe, Citadel and Barbican as well as ending at the of Mayflower steps. Short break for lunch. Gathered up again for a tour of Plymouth Gin distillery. Stopped at Tesco for snack for dinner. Group on our own for dinner.
DAY10
Took a steam train at Paignton to Kingswear, then return trip. Group was free for two-three hours to meander the town and grab lunch. Met back up for a trip to a winery Sandridge Barton. Tour the winery and had tastings and snacks. Back to Plymouth and dinner on our own.
DAY 11
Moving again to final location to Portsmouth. On our way we ventured back into South Devon and Dorset. Headed to the Jurassic Coast in search of fossil finding and history of this area at Charmouth. Ready for some more rock history at Maiden Castle. An iron age fort. Another lesson about this settlement. Arrive at our final destination Hotel Queens. Lovely place. We gathered for drinks then some of us went out to eat together.
DAY 12
Today we get a little Roman history and going to visit Portchester Castle. A 3rd century fortress. After exploring for a couple hours. ICE CREAM again here and off to Winchester Cathedral. Winchester has a park and drive lot to help alleviate congestion with vehicles in their town. Pretty easy to park and ride. We were free for a little while to pick up lunch before meeting up to go thru the Cathedral. Few of us picked up food and had a picnic on the Cathedral grounds. After going thru Cathedral, went to cafe' for a snack.

Headed back to Plymouth and out to eat dinner. Several good restaurants and pubs around the Hotel.
DAY 13
Our last day together..... walking with group to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. After a quick orientation, we were set loose to explore. Mary Rose exhibit was fascinating. Very informative and brilliant exhibition. Then the Victory, other ships. Cruise around the dockyards was included in our ticket. Lunch here and had most of the day here. After we were done, we walked back to our hotel. Our final dinner together at the Queens hotel. Dinner was great.
DAY 14
We all depart to our next journey or return back to the states. Our journey was a driver to take us to Southampton airport to catch Loganair flight to Glasgow for our 2nd adventure.

Posted by
1019 posts

JudyB - We loved the Mary Rose . I think we stayed in there for quite a while

Posted by
14293 posts

I can tell Mark was leading this tour as there were stops for ICE CREAM, lol!! He got me hooked on the treat called an Oyster in spite of the fact I don't usually eat dairy, hahaha!!

What a fun time you had! Thank you for taking us along!

Posted by
1019 posts

Thanks all!! Had grands here. Hard to work on it.

Pam —. You will have ice cream stops one the Orkney/shetland tour. I am jealous. I want to go again

Posted by
7033 posts

2025 Egypt in February and France in October with mark.

Kim, I'm going to be in Egypt in February of 2025, too. I'm taking an OAT tour - heading to Jordan in late January, the early February will be in Cairo and beyond. And I'm planning the France tour as well. GMTA! :)

Posted by
1019 posts

Mardee-

My Egypt trip is with a cruise on AmaWaterways, per tour going to Jordan. Can’t decide if post tour to Israel. We don’t know dates yet.

I think 6-7 of us are on the Seymour October tour in 2025. Jane. & Stan, David & I, Pam , you, judyb? and maybe another. At least I have good start on tour mates names! Lol

Pam is on Orkney/ Shetland tour now. We did that last year , what fun!!!

K

Posted by
3267 posts

Funny, I'd been looking at that Seymour Tour for 2025...but a UK walk just appeared so that is teasing at me for that same approximate time period. What a fun time you should all have!

Posted by
3267 posts

Mardee, It looks like you all have taken over that October 2025 tour. It's all sold out!

Posted by
7033 posts

Really? The one for 2025? That seems odd - I haven't even been asked for a deposit yet. I know he reserves spaces, but I didn't see anything about it being sold out on the website.

Posted by
3267 posts

Mardee: According to the 2025 tour calendar it is all sold out, the October tour.

Kim, I love this report. I'm getting inspired.

Posted by
7033 posts

Oh, I forgot about the calendar! That's too bad. Did you sign up for the UK walk you were interested in?

If not, and you're interested, you should ask about getting on the wait list. You never know!