For seasonal variations of this itinerary, please see notes below in blue.
Relax as we travel through the beautiful English countryside to Oxford, one of the most famous university cities in the world. Enjoy a walk among the golden-stone buildings and ‘dreaming spires’ and visit one of the university’s iconic colleges. Later meander through country lanes and quaint Cotswold villages, before reaching Kings Hotel in Chipping Campden, our base for the next two nights. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner together. (D)
Overnight: Kings Hotel (or similar)
07 Dec-15: Day 1 London – Oxford – Cotswolds
This morning is a feast for literary enthusiasts and history buffs as we visit Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon to discover Ye Olde England of the Bard’s birth and his final resting place, Holy Trinity Church. En route we stop at a thatched farmhouse where the young William Shakespeare courted Anne Hathaway. After exploring more honey-coloured hamlets we return to our delightful Cotswolds base for an evening at leisure. (B)
Overnight: Kings Hotel (or similar)
08 Dec-15: Day 2: Cotswolds – Stratford-Upon-Avon – Cotswolds
Visit the picture-perfect village of Lacock, which has been used in countless television and movie productions including Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and Harry Potter. After some time to wander the historic village streets, see the exhibitions in the museum and visit the abbey, we continue to Castle Combe, a small village in Wiltshire, where we enjoy a delicious cream tea. Later we drive to the Abbey Hotel in Bath, where we spend the next two nights. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath is truly one of Europe’s most attractive cities. (B)
Overnight: Abbey Hotel (or similar)
Explore this splendid Georgian city to learn more about Roman life at the restored Roman Baths. See the towering 15th century abbey, the fascinating Pulteney Bridge and the imposing Georgian Royal Crescent. Also visit No.1 Royal Crescent, a magnificent town house that creates a wonderfully vivid picture of life in 18th century Bath. This afternoon is at leisure. Those wishing to relax may choose to spend a few hours at the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s original and only natural thermal spa, while others may choose to explore the myriad of small independent shops, stylish boutiques and familiar high street stores. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner together. (B, D)
Overnight: Abbey Hotel (or similar)
10 Dec-15: Day 4 Bath
From Bath we drive to Longleat, an English stately home, currently the seat of the Marquess of Bath. After a behind the scenes tour of the house, which will incorporate some of Lord Bath’s personal murals, we continue to the village of Avebury to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Standing Stones, which rival Stonehenge as the largest and most complex prehistoric site in Britain. While Stonehenge attracts tourists from all around the world (and security precautions prevent you from getting anywhere near the stones) at Avebury visitors may walk freely among the stones in relative peace and quiet, away from the tourist crowds. Later today we take a leisurely drive back to London where the tour ends. (B)
Pick-Up & Drop-Off
This tour commences from the Grange Wellington Hotel, 71-72 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PA at 8.30am. Please ensure you are at the meeting point at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
The tour finishes at 5:30pm at Grange Wellington Hotel, 71-72 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PA.
Back-Roads Touring have hand-picked an extensive portfolio of quality properties across Europe and to ensure the very best experience on each of our tours hotels may vary to those listed in this itinerary.
Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility.
Finalised market dates not available at time of printing. If we are unable to visit any market listed above, due to changes in opening times, we will substitute this with an alternative activity.
“Fantastic tour, full of amazing historical features. Tour guide, Helen, definitely added to the enjoyment and deeper knowledge and understanding of the region and its heritage. Great to arrive at our hotels with enough time to unwind/explore before dinner.”
“What a wonderful experience. We would love to travel with Back-Roads again. Chris was professional, warm, helpful and ensured that the whole group was happy. Can’t wait for my next trip!”
“We first learned of Back-Roads from a couple on a European river cruise who said, if you want to visit England, you have to use Back-Roads! What an endorsement and it proved to be the case!”
"Our first group tour in many trips. Liked it a lot, well worth it for all that was included."
"Great value for time, great value for experience and great value for money. A holiday experience in professional hands! The Heart of England tour provided various environments, people and experiences. A comfortable group size. The right mix of travel with activities and breaks which maximized interest and enjoyment."
"We had a great group and it was lots of fun. Our driver, Paul, a recently retired London policeman, was terrific.
“This was exactly the trip I was hoping for! Nic was extremely knowledgeable and shared so many interesting facts on everything from history to geology. Thank you very much. We will definitely be taking another Back-Roads tour in the future.”
“We have had an amazing few days in your amazing “old” and beautiful land. Antiques Road Show and Escape to the Country tell the truth. So stylish – People, clothing and the way of life. Thanks to Helen and honourable mention to Paul.”
"We had a wonderful trip! Helen was amazing. We travelled with our 9 year old and each attraction had things for her to do. We loved the small group size and the Back-Roads aspect."
"I really enjoyed our tour. Our driver/guide went to great lengths to accommodate the varying needs and interests of the groups. Even though we were on a schedule we moved at a relaxed pace and nothing was missed. We even saw a few extras. This tour really took us 'off the beaten track' so we got a good feel for the areas...All the meals at the hotels we stayed in used locally sourced produce."
"Giovanni was an excellent guide. He is so patient and attentive, very helpful and considerate."
"Superb trip, will thoroughly recommend the tour and will look forward to our next tour with your company. Giovanni was great. His nature and kindness was outstanding and he looked after us all, nothing was ever a bother - he could accommodate all requests. Thank you, thank you! I loved travelling the back roads and going to small villages. My favourite authentic local experiences were Chipping Campden - wonderful 2 nights stay and food at the Abbey Hotel - superb."
“The whole tour was wonderful. Places I've only read about in books and at school and now I have seen it all. Thank you so much for a great trip. The back roads are so much better, I just loved it. Longleat House was amazing!”
"John was a cautious and careful driver. We felt very safe as we travelled along the 'back-roads'. His knowledge was always presented in a personable way - very enjoyable. Great tour!"
“The trip was a delight - an excellent balance of activity and relaxation. The places we visited had great interest, geographically and especially historically. Matt's driving skills and dedication to the success of the trip were greatly appreciated. I could not be happier.”