Travel close to home, but far from the expected
With ongoing uncertainty surrounding overseas travel, many of us are choosing to holiday closer to home this year, and there has never been a better time to embrace the fascinating delights and treasures on our doorstep. Although many of us may have travelled the world, even the most seasoned travellers among us may not have taken the time to really explore the UK.
The British Isles has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered; you could head to chocolate-box Cornish towns full of local charm, explore the Lake District’s literary heritage, take a historic steam-hauled journey to Edinburgh or traverse the wild landscape of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
Our travel partner, Voyages Jules Verne, has curated a bespoke range of new tours so you can discover somewhere new that’s closer to home. These small tours start from a minimum group size of just six travellers, so they are perfect for exclusive travel with family or friends. Alternatively, you can join other like-minded guests on a small group tour as a couple. Each itinerary includes daily breakfast and unique hotels that have been selected for their striking locations and character. Here is a collection of our favourite UK tours.
The Flying Scotsman
This spectacular four-day rail journey is a luxurious way to explore some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK in true style, travelling behind the magnificent Steam Hauled Flying Scotsman. This iconic train has been described as the most famous steam locomotive in the world and stepping into your elegant Pullman-style carriage you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time to a bygone era.
Onboard, you can indulge in premium railway dining and first-class service, as you retrace the historical route that’s synonymous with this iconic engine. Board the train in London and journey towards Northumberland and Berwick-upon-Tweed where you’ll cross the famous Border Bridge. You’ll stay in the prestigious five-star Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, which has a Michelin-starred restaurant serving delectable Scottish cuisine. You can end your day with a nightcap in the bar – there are over 500 whisky varieties to choose from. On your journey back to London, you’ll follow one of the world’s most famous rail routes: The Settle Carlisle Railway, a twisting and turning track along the Eden Valley that ascends to the highest point on Britain’s railways.
Secret Devon and Cornwall
A holiday to Devon and Cornwall is all about fresh seafood, rugged coastal scenery, pretty seaside towns and sweeping golden beaches that could rival the Caribbean. This small-group tour will take you off the beaten track to visit some of England’s wildest and most dramatic landscapes such as Dartmoor with its towering tors and mystical Bodmin Moor. Visit impressive gardens blooming with exotic flora, see ancient stone circles cloaked in mystery and explore wonderful seaside locations including one of Cornwall’s most stunning villages, St Mawes. A real highlight is the scenic rail journey to the artists’ enclave of St Ives, where you can wander through the narrow cobbled streets, admiring the quaint fishermen’s cottages and colourful boats bobbing on the harbour. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to indulge in local culinary delights. Try a classic Cornish dinner of fish and chips or a Devon cream tea in a gorgeous manor house, and get hands-on during an afternoon of traditional Cornish pasty making.
You’ll split your stay between two beautiful hotels. In Devon, you’ll stay in a 16th-century coaching inn set in a picturesque village. After an exhilarating day of sightseeing, relax in front of the log fire in the cosy bar or sip local ales in the palm-fringed garden. Your Cornish accommodation is a thatched five-star inn with beamed ceilings and a gastropub which serves locally-sourced specialities.
A Jurassic Journey
This week-long tour is a perfect introduction to the outstanding beauty of Dorset’s distinctive coastline. Soak up the relaxed maritime atmosphere, in Poole, and enjoy days out visiting castle ruins, ancient forts and quaint countryside market towns with an expert local guide. As well as a scenic rail journey on a heritage railway between Swanage and Corfe Castle – an iconic survivor of the civil war – you can sample superb local wines in a rural valley vineyard, and admire the fine arts, antiques and gardens at a Venetian-inspired country house.
There’s no packing and unpacking on this tour, as you will spend six nights exploring from one of the most charming hotels in Poole, the Hotel Du Vin. Originally built in 1776, this stunning nautical-inspired retreat is nestled in the heart of the old town, just off the historic quayside. After windswept days discovering the Jurassic Coast, you can savour delicious locally-sourced dishes in the bistro and make your way through the extensive wine menu with the help of the expert sommelier.
Letters from the Lakeside
The glittering lakes, hushed mountains and timeless countryside of the Lake District have inspired many of our great writers, from Beatrix Potter to John Ruskin. This short guided tour will take you to explore these famous writers’ homeland and showcase the incredible sights and beauty of Cumbria. You’ll say in The Wild Boar, a former coaching inn that’s full of character, in the pretty market town of Kendal. After checking in, get to know your fellow travellers over a glass of wine around the open fire, before tucking into delicious country-style cooking in the Grill and Smokehouse Restaurant.
The guided itinerary is an ideal blend of unique experiences and free time. During a visit to the former home of the romantic poet, William Wordsworth, soak up the ambience as you listen to a recital of his most famous poems among beautiful terraced gardens. Then continue on to Grasmere to try a sweet treat in the town’s legendary Gingerbread Shop. Cruise around Coniston Water on a steam yacht gondola and then head to the shore for a tranquil picnic lunch. On your final evening of the tour, enjoy a farewell dinner as you relive your lakeside adventures.
In God's Own Country
Embrace a variety of wonderful landscapes and see historic abbeys, waterfalls and wildlife on this five-night tour of Yorkshire. You’ll spend your first two nights in an award-winning country spa retreat, which makes an ideal base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales. Tuck into a tasty lunch in the world-famous Betty’s tea rooms and explore the magnificent Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best-preserved Cistercian monasteries in England, in the company of a local guide. Spend some time wandering around the pristine gardens of Thorp Perrow before relaxing in the lounge for a spot of afternoon tea. You’ll then continue to the charming town of Hawes for a three-night stay in an Edwardian country house set in an acre of old English gardens. Sightseeing in the region includes a visit to the Norman fortress of Richmond Castle, cheese-tasting at the Wensleydale Creamery, and a jovial morning walking with alpacas through some of the valleys prettiest villages.