Stride climate

Trip Type : Group Tour
The Best of England and Wales: Shakespeare to Snowdonia, Castles to Colleges tour

The Best of England and Wales: Shakespeare to Snowdonia, Castles to Colleges

Road Scholar Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
91%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
14 days
From: $ 3,999 $ 286 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Discover Oxford’s soaring spires, lovely landscapes and intriguing lore with university insiders.
  • Walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps and see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform in one of England's iconic theatres.
  • Experience the dramatic mountain environment of Snowdonia National Park in Wales.

Short Description

Timeless villages, bustling cities, grand manors, renowned universities, beautiful natural areas — explore all of these and more on this jolly good jaunt through England and Wales. Outstanding local experts tell the stories of royals, poets and commoners and illuminate the essence of Britain as you explore Windsor, Oxford, the Lake District, the Cotswolds, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and the rugged coast of Wales.

Stride Take

TBD

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Windsor
End City Manchester

Trip Includes

  • 12 nights of accommodations
  • 5 expert-led lectures
  • 18 expert-led field trips
  • 2 performances
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • The Road Scholar Travel Protection Plan, 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance coverage
  • Taxes

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Itinerary

Day 1: In Transit to Program

In Flight

Day 2: Arrival Day, Windsor

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Ye Harte & Garter Hotel

Lunch: In the hotel dining room for those arriving by lunchtime. A light lunch with coffee, tea and water. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arrivals continue, with free time for those who have already arrived. At 5pm we will have an Orientation in the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a series of Study Leaders who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities and answer any questions you may have. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: A seated dinner will be taken in the hotel dining room with coffee, tea and water. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Free time to unpack, relax and prepare for the program ahead. You may also wish to join your Group Leader for an orientation walk.

Day 3: Windsor Castle

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Ye Harte & Garter Hotel

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room. A breakfast buffet with a range of hot and cold items, as well as coffee, tea, water and fruit juices.

Morning: Begin your morning with a walk from the hotel to Windsor Castle – a remarkable building that has been shaped by the Kings and Queens of England for over 1,000 years. It remains the weekend residence of Her Majesty the Queen and is still used for ceremonial and state occasions, whilst also being home to some of the greatest paintings and works of art in the world. From within the castle we will be able to watch the famous Changing of the Guard, a procession of active Household Guards and a marching band. Please note, the Changing of the Guard may not be available on every departure as schedules are released at very short notice for security reasons.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: Free time. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions should you wish to further explore Windsor.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: Free time.

Day 4: Transfer to Stratford-Upon-Avon: The City of Oxford

Stratford-upon-Avon.  B,D  Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We board the motor coach for our transfer to Stratford-upon-Avon, with a visit en-route to Oxford – the city of “dreaming spires”. Your Oxford expert will meet you in the morning for a refreshing cup of coffee and an introductory lecture, before we set off to explore this fascinating city on foot. Expect to see such sights as the Radcliffe Camera, the Clarendon Building and the Bridge of Sighs, and discover the contrasts of the Classical and Gothic architecture in discussion with your expert as you walk.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: This afternoon we go behind the scenes at Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most famous, and indeed most traditional colleges. Enjoy the secret garden, the famous water meadows and a panoply of buildings from different periods in the city’s history; from Henry VIII and Wolsey’s Tudor Kitchen to the Great Hall and the classical Peckwater Building. From Oxford we will then continue onwards to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

Day 5: Stratford-Upon-Avon & The Royal Shakespeare Company

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy an introduction to Stratford-upon-Avon, before we begin today’s activities with a front of house tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s building and theatres. Your Group Leader will then provide you with a city sightseeing pass, which allows you to visit all of the famous properties associated with the Great Bard, William Shakespeare. You are then free to explore at your own pace.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time, perhaps to continue your independent exploration.

Dinner: Served at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s rooftop restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre. Performance details will be available in your second set of preparatory materials.

Day 6: The Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Today’s field trip takes us by motor coach into to the picturesque Cotswolds countryside. Board the motor coach and set off to explore the quintessentially English villages of Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Campden. Noted for its elegant High Street dating back to the 14th Century, Chipping Campden is lined with traditional Cotswold honey coloured limestone buildings housing some delightful specialist shops and inns. At its centre stands the 17th Century Market Hall, the grand early wool church St. James and a vast and extravagant monument to local wealthy silk merchant Sir Baptist Hicks.

Lunch: Served in a traditional inn.

Afternoon: We continue our exploration of the Cotswolds before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: Free time.

Day 7: Transfer to Deganwy: Chester & Its Grand Cathedral, Deganwy, Conwy

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We transfer by motor coach to our next base, Deganwy. Perched at the mouth of the River Conwy, it sits across the bay from Conwy itself - an historic walled market town on the north coast of Wales. On the way we will visit the ancient city of Chester, where we will meet a local expert to take a walk through 2,000 years of history. Originally a Roman fortress and settlement known as Deva Victrix, we’ll see how Chester has grown and evolved from these foundations into a fully walled city before finishing at the spectacular Chester Cathedral.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Our transfer to Conwy continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

Day 8: Conwy Castle & Town: Deganwy, Conwy

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning your Study Leader will give you a potted history of Wales, telling you everything you’ll need to know about this fascinating and ancient country. We will then board the motor coach to explore Conwy Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the city walls. Conwy Castle sits above the town, and still dominates the skyline with its rugged stone and imposing fortifications. It was originally built by Edward I as part of his “iron ring” of castles in an attempt to contain the rebellious Welsh, and furthermore to provoke a humbling reaction – something it still manages to do to this day. We’ll follow this this with a walk of Conwy’s ancient circuit of walls, guarded by no fewer than 22 miles and stretching over three quarters of a mile in length.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Your Study Leader will lead you through some more highlights of this city and orientate you to its many and varied attractions, followed by free time.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Wales is famous for its mellifluous music, and this evening you will be able to experience this with a traditional Welsh musical performance.

Day 9: Snowdonia National Park: Deganwy, Conwy

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We board the motor coach for a full day expert-led excursion into Snowdonia National Park. Spanning over 800 square miles, it was the first of three National Parks in Wales, officially inaugurated in 1951. Snowdonia boasts, amongst other things, the largest mountain in Wales, the largest natural lake in Wales and a wealth of charming villages. The area is rich in culture and history and more than half of its participants speak Welsh.

Lunch: Taken out in a village in the Snowdonia National Park.

Afternoon: The field trip continues through landscapes of stunning natural beauty.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: Free time.

Day 10: Transfer to The Lake District: The City of Liverpool, Keswick

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel

Breakfast: Full Welsh and continental breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: This morning we transfer by motor coach to the Lake District, via the city of Liverpool. Home to the Beatles, the world famous Liverpool Football Club and the bustling Albert Docks, Liverpool was once one of the busiest port cities in the world. Known for its rich architectural heritage, it is home to many buildings regarded as amongst the greatest examples of their respective styles in the world and several areas of the city centre were granted World Heritage Status in 2004. We will stop at Albert Dock, constructed in 1846 and today comprising the single largest collection of Grade I listed building anywhere in Britain. The dock houses restaurants, bars and shops as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum and a museum dedicated to The Beatles. Art lovers may wish to visit Tate Liverpool, which houses a large collection of modern and contemporary greats.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: The transfer to the Lake District continues, followed by an illustrated talk and Q&A session with your Study Leader for this section of the programme.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time, or join your Study Leader for an optional walk of the local area.

Day 11: Castle Cottage & Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, Keswick

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: A unique opportunity to hear and learn about the real Beatrix Potter as we board the motor coach and travel to the village of Sawrey. Here the new tenant of Castle Cottage, Beatrix Potter’s former home and now a National Trust property, will show us around the cottage, the garden and the historic barns before treating us to tea and coffee, served with traditional Lake District treats. Following this we will take a gentle walk through Sawrey and on to Hill Top Garden, a beguiling space full of flowers, fruits and vegetables before exploring the village of Hawkshead – home to a young William Wordsworth during his schooldays.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Enjoy a different perspective on the Lakes as you take a steamer ride from Lakeside to Ambleside, with an opportunity to visit ancient Castle Rigg stone circle along the way.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: Free time.

Day 12: Bowness-on-Windermere, Coniston & Brantwood, Keswick

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Once aboard the motor coach, we’ll take a scenic lakeside drive to Bowness-on-Windermere and the Arts & Crafts style Blackwell House. Here we will receive an introductory talk from a local docent before exploring the many fine pieces on display.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: This afternoon we travel by launch across the picturesque and serene Coniston Water, to pay a visit to Brantwood House & Gardens. Home to the great Victorian and man of letters John Ruskin, it is one of the most beautifully situated houses in the Lake District. The house itself is both a treasure trove of historical importance and a lively centre of contemporary arts and the environment. Displays and activities in the house, gardens and estate reflect the wealth of cultural associations with Ruskin’s legacy – from the Pre-Raphaelites and Arts & Crafts movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State. We’ll return to the hotel via the Langdales, a pair of valleys dramatically cut through the very heart of the Lake District.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

Day 13: Transfer to Manchester: Kirkstone Pass & Holker Hall, Manchester

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Today we transfer by motor coach to our final destination, Manchester, via the dramatic Kirkstone Pass – the highest pass open to motor traffic in the Lake Distrct home to some truly spectacular views. As we travel onwards we’ll stop at 16th Century Holker Hall and Gardens, contemporaneously described as “the grandest building of its date in Lancashire, by the best architects living in the country”. We’ll have time to explore the house, as well as the gardens which seem to merge into the very hills themselves.

Lunch: Taken at Holker Hall.

Afternoon: The transfer to Manchester continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time to pack and say farewell to your new found friends.

Day 14: Program Concludes, Manchester

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: In the hotel. Some participants may depart prior to breakfast.

Morning: Transfer by Shuttle Bus to Manchester Airport (MAN) for onward flights. Your Group Leader will assist you in making arrangements. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future.

Availability

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Price Per Day: $ 286 per day
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Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

45 Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings

91%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 38
Great 3
Average 1
Disappointing 1
Terrible 2
Value
4.6
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.5

The Best of England and Wales: Shakespeare to Snowdonia, Castles to Colleges

Write a Review

Best trip I ever took!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Loved the variety of different hotels, the expertise of the individual tour guides, the meals and especially the beautiful countryside. All 17 of us on the t rip got to know each other well, thanks to the kindness, the personality and the organizational skill of Mark, our tour director. Keep up the good work!
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Company Reviews

Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals3.0
This was my wife's and my first trip with Road Scholar. At the time (April, 2012), it was not possible for Americans to directly visit Cuba. You had to do it with a cultural/educational group, often associated with a university. Or, you could fly to Canada, Mexico, or Europe first and then get a flight to Cuba from there (while risking a ~$10,000 fine from the US Government). We opted for the legal route with Road Scholar.

It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
https://vimeo.com/41612444

While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.

The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.

After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!

Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!

Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
https://vimeo.com/43273083

Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!
Read more

Sunrise, Sunset, Learning Photography

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals4.0
Road Scholar offers many tours starting in Utah. The one I took focused of photography of the National Parks in Utah, with a professional photographer traveling with us. The schedule was set up such that we would get "the golden light" at each of the parks. Those not familiar with the term must know that the best light occurs at either sunrise or sunset, when the impact of the sun on objects is diffused by having to travel through the earth's atmosphere on a diagonal rather than vertically.

As such, you can now expect that sleep will be an issue as you will get to bed late and rise early. But the territory is beautiful at all times, and more so illuminated by the golden light.

In order to maximize your sleeping ability, the tour is only offered in the spring and the fall. Doing this in the winter would be pretty cold and require special equipment to traverse the snow. Doing it in the summer would basically mean no sleep as the daylight is so long.

A great learning experience in beautiful territory.
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Thank you Road Scholar

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Thank you Road Scholar Staff for planning a wonderful introduction to Cuba today. My previous knowledge was from people who felt they had to leave Cuba more than fifty years ago. I learned from qualified professors, tour guides and from talking to Cuban people from different parts of Cuba who work in different kinds of jobs. I could see how the Cuban people have come together to meet the challenges of the past and to prepare for a brighter future.
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Thank you Road Scholar!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Road Scholar tours are the best bang for your buck

Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

Accomodations

Ye Harte & Garter Hotel: 2 nights  Berks

Two minutes from Windsor Castle in a striking contemporary townhouse with spectacular views of the Changing of the Guard.

 

Alveston Manor: 3 nights  Warks

Situated in the heart of Shakespere country, the historic Alveston Manor Hotel is set in its own grounds just 5 minutes walk from all the cultural attractions of Stratford-upon-Avon and retains some 16th century original features. Most bedrooms are in the modern wing.

 

Quay Hotel and Spa: 3 nights  Conwy

Set on the idyllic Conwy Estuary, the Quay Hotel commands awe-inspiring views of the most magical scenery in North Wales and is located within easy reach of Snowdonia National Park, the neighbouring medieval town of Conwy and Victorian Llandudno.

 

Skiddaw Hotel: 3 nights  Cumbria

The three-star Skiddaw Hotel is set in the picturesque market town of Keswick, this Keswick hotel is the ideal base to enjoy the area and all it has to offer with stunning lakes and fells on the doorstep.


Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport: 1 night  Manchester

The Crowne Plaza Manchester hotel boasts a gym, stylish restaurant, high speed WiFi and new meeting rooms. The hotel also has airport parking with a free shuttle bus to Manchester airport and the airport train station. Superbly located on the Manchester Airport complex, the four-star Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport Hotel offers you fantastic accommodation with easy access to the M56, M60 and M62, as well as Manchester City Centre.

Guides

Conway Davies

Conway Davies earned a degree in history at Bangor University, a master's from Cardiff University, and is completing his Ph.D. at Swansea University. Conway has extensive knowledge of the Welsh language and the history and culture of both North and South Wales. He is the author of two books, "The History of Poor Law Provision in South Wales" and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: the History of Mental Health provision in South Wales."

Trip ID#:

BesEngRoa

Meals Included:

12 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches and 8 Dinners

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