ALL PRICES ARE PER CAR i.e. TWO PEOPLE SHARING
Includes full detailed road books, entrance to venues, souvenir awards, ferry (if applicable) and dinner, bed and breakfast each night.
NEW FOREST/ISLE OF WIGHT TOUR
SATURDAY 6th APRIL
A clockwise tour of the new Forest visiting the picture postcard villages of Burley, Woodgreen and Nomansland, passing the Portugese Fire Place and visiting the Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum.
O/N ELMERS COURT, LYMINGTON
Ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, then an anti-clockwise tour of the island via Ventnor, Sandown and Bembridge before going cross country to Newport and back to Yarmouth for the return ferry.
O/N ELMERS COURT
£549 inc 2 nights dinner b+b for 2, (Sat and Sun, Friday optional extra) plus ferries and entry to venues.
Option to carry on as below;
TOUR OF WESSEX
We leave Lymington and head west via Milford on Sea before turning inland to follow the River Avon to Ringwood then north through the forest to Cranbourne Chase, passing Blanford Forum to a coffee stop at the picturesque ancient village of Milton Abbas. From here we head west via the Cerne Abbas Giant and Beaminster and back to the coast. We then spend the first of three nights at our comfortable hotel in Sidmouth.
Today we head north, skirting Honiton to meander through the East Devon Hills and on to the Black Down Hills. We then turn east again to a coffee stop at the impressive Harrington Court. From here we cut across country through much flatter scenery to lunch at the Fleet Air Arm Museum near Yeovilton. After lunch we head south west through more hilly terrain to a stop at the Cider Mill at Dowlish Wake. The final leg takes us back through the Devon Hills to Sidmouth.
The morning route takes us along the coast via Seaton and Lyme Regis and on to Weymouth and the spectacular Chesil Beach which brings us to Portland Bill for lunch. In the afternoon we turn inland through Weymouth to Winterbourne St Martin and via ‘The Hardy Monument’ and the Roman Road which takes us into the hills and valleys around Powerstock. We then follow the Wessex Ridgeway and on to a tea stop at Ford Abbey. More undulating country through the valley of the River Varty brings us back to Sidmouth for our final night.
£849 includes 3 nights, dinner b+b for 2, plus entry to venues.
COMBINED TOURS ABOVE £1,349
WESTERN ISLES TOUR
SATURDAY 11th MAY
Introductory dinner at Crooklands Hotel.
SUNDAY 12th MAY
We start from our local base at the Crooklands Hotel near Kendal and head north through the Cumbrian hills via Appleby and Talkin Tarn to Brampton. As we head further north through the vast expanse of Kielder Forest we cross the border into Scotland. We continue north to the borders town of Hawick before cutting cross country via Alemoor Loch and into the Ettrick Valley and onto our first night stop at the splendid Cardrona ‘Golf Hotel’, near Peebles.
Today we head for our first island destination but not before traversing some spectacular border’s countryside around the Talla Reservoir. We head west through the slightly more populated area around Kilmarnock on the way to the ferry at Ardrossan. On arriving on Arran we cross the island to our hotel at Blackwaterfoot.
This morning we do a ‘figure of eight’ run around the island before taking the ferry from Lochranza to the Mull of Kintyre. Once on the mainland again we do a circuit of Kintyre stopping for lunch in Cambletown. We then head north, making a little detour via the Crinan Canal and then into the forest around the pretty but remote, Loch Avich to our hotel near Oban.
We have a leisurely morning to make the short journey into Oban for the ferry to Craignure, but first we visit another island, although this time we only need a bridge not a ferry. The intriguingly named ‘Atlantic Bridge’ takes us onto Seil Island. The next island is the largest of our tour, and arguably the most scenic – Mull. The afternoon route takes us across the island then all the way around the beautiful north west coast via the white sands and green sea at Calgary Bay before we cross the mountain road past the Mishnish Lochs on our way into the picture post card capital of the island, Tobermory. Here we will stay for two nights in the majestic Western Isles Hotel overlooking the harbour.
O/N WESTERN ISLES
We need an early start this morning in order to drive the full length of the island, a surprising 60+ miles to the southern tip at Ffionphort. Here those with good ‘sea legs’ can take a boat trip to Staffa with the famous Fingals Cave and the Puffin Colony. Those not such good sailors may like to opt for a short ferry (foot passengers only) across to the atmospheric Holy Island, Iona. The return afternoon run will take us along the south west coast via the awesome Gribun Rocks where we drive along the cliff edge above the sea with spectacular views out to the other Western Isles scattered in the Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see. O/N WESTERN ISLES
We leave Mull by the small ferry from Fishnish to Lochaline and follow the beautiful coastal road along Kingairloch. We then have to cross another small ferry across Loch Linnhe at Corran. From here we head south via the Ballachulish Bridge and follow the coast back to the Falls of Lora. We don’t stop here this time as we turn inland and take the pretty Glen Orchy road passing the rapids and waterfalls along the river. We reach the main road at Bridge of Orchy and head south via Lochearnhead and into the Trossachs. Here we pass Loch Vereca before tackling the wonderful Duke’s Pass with its many twists and turns and fantastic views of lochs, forests and hills. We spend the next three nights at the sumptuous Forest Hills Hotel on the shore of Loch Ard.
O/N FOREST HILLS
We still have one more island on the itinerary so today we head towards Glasgow, taking the Erskine Bridge across the Clyde and along the coast to Wemys Bay. Here we catch the ferry to the Isle of Bute. After docking in Rothesay it is a short drive to lunch at the amazing Mount Stuart, the home of ex-F1 driver, Johnny Dumfries. In the afternoon we leave via the small ferry at the north of the island and take the road around the stunning ‘Kyles of Bute’ which provides amazing views over the island. We then head north along the coast of Loch Fynne to the famous ‘Oyster Bar’ of that name at the head of the loch for an early evening meal. There is still a substantial distance to cover back to the hotel which takes in the equally famous ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ Pass and the shores of Loch Lomond. O/N FOREST HILLS
A final day to relax before the journey home. A drive up the road from the hotel takes us into some of the best scenery of the tour – and that is saying something! After a few miles through a lovely forested valley we come to the tranquil Loch Arklet with a spectacular ‘backdrop’ of mountains beyond Loch Lomond. At the T-junction at the end of the road we can turn right for ½ mile to the head of Loch Katrine. Unfortunately whilst there are boats on the Loch they operate from the other end so it isn’t practical to take a trip from here. However if we turn around and go the other way at the junction, after following Loch Arklet for a mile or so we drop down through the woods to the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Here we can take a boat trip around this most famous of Lochs. There then just remains the farewell dinner back at Forest Hills. O/N FOREST HILLS
£2,275 inc. 9 nights dinner b+b, ferries to Arran, Mull and Bute, sailing to Staffa and cruise on Loch Lomond plus entry to venues.
OPTION FOR 7 NIGHTS ONLY finishing at Forest Hills, i.e not including Bute and Loch Lomond. £1,925
6 NIGHTS £1,799 As above but not including 1st night before start.
£599 LOCH LOMOND/BUTE TOUR 3 NIGHTS plus ferries.
Friday night dinner, then Saturday and Sunday itineraries.
CIRCUIT OF BRITAIN
A new venture inspired by the legendary 1000 MILE TRIAL of 1900. Our route will not attempt to follow all of that original route which took 19 days, but it will take in most of the National Parks in England and Wales with one or two exceptions that cannot conveniently be fitted into the route. There will be the opportunity to just do the sections you prefer without having to complete the entire route.
FRIDAY JUNE 21st
Introductory dinner and overnight in Stratford upon Avon.
DAY 1 SATURDAY JUNE 22nd
We leave Stratford and head to the pretty villages of the Cotswold Hills an area we haven’t visited before. We will meander through this picture postcard country towards Cirencester and by-pass Stroud and Dursley on our way to the outskirts of Bristol. Here we take to the motorway for a while to cross the mighty River Severn by the northern most bridge into Chepstow. After a stop at Tintern Abbey we head north through the beautiful Wye Valley following the Welsh border through Monmouth and on to Offa’s Dyke and the Black Mountains to the ‘Book Town’ of Hay on Wye for lunch.
In the afternoon we head south again to the edge of the Brecon Beacons taking the ‘Heads of the Valley’s’ road west towards Merthyr Tydfil. We then head north passing the picturesque Pontsticil reservoir as we make our way back through the atmospheric mountains to the town of Brecon. From here we travel across country to our hotel in Llandrindod Wells.
DAY 2 SUNDAY 23rd
Today we head back to the Brecon Beacons, this time skirting the edge of the vast military ranges on Myndd Epynt. We skirt the mountains and head further into South Wales taking the mountain roads around Treherbert with their spectacular hairpin bends affording views of the valleys below. We then turn west to the Vale of Neath where we will have lunch at Aberdulais Falls. This spectacular site includes the tin mining museum, the largest electricity generating water wheel and the ‘Old School’ café.
In the afternoon we return north through the mountains to skirt the western side of Myndd Epynt, and make a detour via Tywil Forest and the beautiful Lyn Brianne Reservoir, before returning to Llandrindod for our second night.
DAY3 MONDAY 24th
A spectacular day ahead as we make our way north to Snowdonia. First we drive through the picturesque scenery of the Elan Valley and climb over the mountains to Devil’s Bridge for coffee. We press on further north passing the spectacular Nant-y-Moch reservoir and descend into the beautiful Dovey Valley with panoramic views over the river with the mountains in the background. We continue north through Machynlleth and Dolgellau passing the Cadair Idris mountains and on into Snowdonia proper.
Lunch will be at the pretty harbour town of Portmadoc, headquarters of the famous Ffestiniog narrow gauge railway. From here we traverse the Aberglaslyn Pass at the foot of Snowdon on our way to Betws-y-Coed and onto the impressive Lyn Brenig in Clocaenog Forest for a stop for tea. There is then a final cross country run to our hotel near Chester.
DAY 4 TUESDAY 25th
After some long driving days we have a ‘day off’ to explore the ancient city of Chester – or simply relax in the hotel.
DAY 5 WEDNESDAY 26th
This morning we have to travel across country through several small towns on the Cheshire plain before we reach the edge of the Pennines and the ‘Cat and Fiddle Pass’. We stop for coffee at the pub of that name at the summit, before descending some way again to turn off the main road and head through quiet lanes to the exotically named, Chapel en le Frith, on our way into the High Peak and Glossop. From Glossop we cross another pass, Woodhead on our way into ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ territory where we can stop for a lunch at Holmfirth where much of the TV series was filmed.
Yet another pass follows as we cross Saddleworth Moor and then head north skirting the edge of the Manchester conurbation, staying on the moorland roads near Ripponden and Hebden Bridge as we make our way to Bronte country for a tea stop at Howarth. We then cross the moors overlooking the Ribble Valley on our way to our hotel near Settle.
DAY 6 THURSDAY 27th
Today we are in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. First we climb through the narrow lanes past the impressive Malham Cove, skirt the tarn of the same name and drop down into Ribblesdale via the flanks of Pen-y-ghent.
We then head up the valley past Ribblehead viaduct and onto Hawes in Wensleydale for lunch and the Buttertubs Pass.
The pass is one of the highest main road passes in England and used to be a favourite of Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team. Once over the top we drop down into Swaledale, but it isn’t long before we climb out of the valley northward to the highest pub in Britain, Tan Hill. A stop here is optional!
From this remote hostelry we cross the bleak countryside of Stainmore to Barnard Castle and head north to Middleton in Teesdale. A little further up Teesdale we come to High Force, the highest waterfall in England. We suggest you stretch your legs for the short walk to this fantastic spectacle, before taking lunch at the nearby hotel.
The afternoon run takes us across more moorland to Weardale and the fascinating Killhope Lead Mining Museum. A trip down the mine is optional but refreshments will be available. The final leg takes us further north through the moors to Alston, the highest market town in England and the over Hartside Pass which gives stunning views over the Eden Valley to the Lake District Hills and the Solway Firth in the north (on a clear day). Finally we follow the beautiful shores of Ullswater to our sumptuous hotel on the lake shore. O/N LEEMING HOUSE
DAY 7 FRIDAY 28th
The route starts by going into the heart of the Lake District through some of the most spectacular scenery on equally spectacular roads. We leave the shores of Ullswater and head north into the quiet and lesser know Mungrisedale Valley with views of Helvellyn and Blencathra ahead. We head west towards the mountains along the A66 for a short while before turning south into the dramatic scenery of St John’s in the Vale. This leads us down to Thirlmere where we follow the quieter west shore on our way to Dunmail Raise. As we descend towards Grasmere we can see the unusual rock formation of ‘The Lion and the Lamb’ as we enter Wordsworth country. We follow the shores of Grasmere and Rydal Water into Ambleside before reaching the picture post card scenery of Tarn Hows. We then have a stop for coffee on the shores of Coniston Water.
This refreshment stop prepares us for the main challenge of the day (and the tour!) as we head into the narrow lanes of Little Langdale which bring us to the infamous Wrynose Pass. The pass climbs to over 1300ft a.s.l. passing the Three Counties Stone before descending into the remote valley at Cockley Beck. On this occasion we will turn left to avoid the ‘sister’ pass of Hardknott, and travel the full length of the Duddon Valley, something we rarely manage when using both the passes. The lunch stop will be in the pretty market town of Broughton in Furness.
‘Fed and watered’ it is back into the mountains with Coniston Old Man ahead, Black Combe to the left and the Duddon Estuary to the right. We then follow the shore of Coniston Water to some quiet little country lanes through the unspoilt South Lakes to Grizedale Forest. There will be chance to stop at the forestry visitor centre in the heart of Grizedale before continuing to Esthwaite Water and on to Windermere. There will be a stop for tea at the excellent Lakeland Motor Museum and Campbell Exhibition. The final run of the day takes us over Kirkstone Pass and along the full length of Ullswater back to our hotel. O/N LEEMING HOUSE
DAY 8 SATURDAY 29th Pennines and Moors
It is ‘East through Eden’ today as we head through the picturesque Eden Valley towards the North Pennines. We will stop for coffee at Brough Castle. We then cross the moors to Hamsterley Forest and lunch at Raby Castle.
The afternoon sees us crossing the northern reaches of the Vale of York and onto the moors. We pass through the pretty village of Stokesley and climb to the viewing point on the edge of the moors overlooking the jagged shaped hill at Roseberry Topping. We cross the moors in a southerly direction towards Helmsley before returning north via Blakie Ridge which gives awesome views over the moors in every direction. We finally descend form the moors to our hotel at Gisborough.
O/N GISBOROUGH HALL
DAY 9 SUNDAY 30th
More of the Moors today, but first a visit to Whitby with its charming harbour and atmospheric ruined Abbey with Dracula connections! From here we head south passing the striking Hole of Horcum, a deep glacial valley below the main road. We pass through Pickering and Malton on our way to lunch in the Wolds, at Sledmere House.
We cross some surprisingly spectacular and yet hardly known countryside as we head south to the mighty Humber Bridge. Once into Lincolnshire the scenery and the roads change dramatically. Whilst we still manage to find some higher roads that give us the best views the scenery from here is generally much flatter than anywhere else on the whole trip. The roads down to Lincoln are also much straighter than we have encountered before but we still keep to the quieter B Roads and pleasant countryside. From Lincoln the roads are still fairly straight as we skirt the Fens and then suddenly we encounter more rolling countryside as we enter Rutland. Our final night will be on the shores of the picturesque Rutland Water. O/N RUTLAND
£2,499 inc. 10 nights dinner b+b and entry to venues.
£475 Cotswolds and Brecon Tour 2 nights dinner b+b.
£599 Cotswold and Wales Tour 3 nights dinner b+b.
£599 Peaks Dales and Lakes 3 nights dinner b+b and entry to venues.
£795 Lakes and Moors 4 nights dinner b+b and entry to venues.
DAY 1 WEDNESDAY JULY 17th
We start from the attractive spa town of Buxton (where overnight accommodation prior to the start can be arranged) and head out into the picturesque Goyt Valley. From here we climb up to the Cat and Fiddle Pass, passing the pub of that name at the summit, before descending some way down the other side. We then turn off the main road and head through quiet lanes to the exotically named, Chapel en le Frith, on our way into the High Peak. After a spectacular descent into Edale we circumnavigate the Lady Bower Reservoir and tackle the infamous Snake Pass to Glossop. From Glossop we cross another pass, Woodhead on our way into ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ territory where we can stop for a coffee at Holmfirth.
Yet another pass follows as we cross Saddleworth Moor and then head north skirting the edge of the Manchester conurbation, staying on the moorland roads near Ripponden and Hebden Bridge as we make our way through Lancashire. Another smaller pass, the ‘Nick of Pendle’ takes us over Pendle Hill, famous for its witches, before we head further north into the Bowland Forest and a stop for lunch at the pretty riverside village of Slaidburn.
As we cross over Lythe Fell into Cumbria we get stunning views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks ahead before we make our way to the Crooklands Hotel just outside Kendal. This is our base for the rest of the tour.
DAY 2 THURSDAY 18th (Little Devils Tour)
Today we follow the route of last year’s Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club Devils Own Rally. The ‘Devils’ as it is commonly known, takes its name from Devils Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale, and in the ‘hey day’ of road rallying attracted some of the best names in British motorsport, such as Russell Brookes and Tony Pond not to mention HRH Prince Michael of Kent in 1973! So you are following in auspicious wheel tracks.
The morning route takes us past the strikingly beautiful Killington Lake with a backdrop of the Howgill Fells as we make our way into the Lune Valley. We descend into the spectacular Lune Gorge via the main road but then turn back south along the other side of the valley along ‘The Fair Mile’. This single track road hugs the eastern slopes of the valley on the edge of the Howgill Fells and provides stunning views over the river (Lune) below, with the railway, the 2 carriageways of the M6 motorway and the road we have just come along, all tiered above each other on the other side.
We then cross the almost impossibly narrow Crook o’ Lune Bridge before we head into the Dales for a coffee stop in the delightful cobblestone streets of Dent Village. After this welcome breather we continue up the valley passing under the imposing viaduct at Dent Head which carries the Settle-Carlisle railway high above the road. We come out onto the main road and turn towards the market town of Hawes and after squeezing through the narrow streets we head to a ‘surprise view’. A short climb over the hills brings us to a relatively un-known ‘gem’ in the Dales scenery. The tranquil and remote Semer Water is suddenly visible below us. From here it is a short journey to another impressive water feature, Aysgarth Falls (where Kevin Costner’s version of Robin Hood was filmed) where we can have lunch at the visitor centre.
After lunch it is back onto the fells on the north side of Wensleydale and real James Herriot country as we pass through Askrigg and then climb to the imposing cliffs of Oxnop Scar. We now drop down into pretty Swaledale and follow the valley westward passing more waterfalls and climbing over the moor to a panoramic view of the Eden Valley.
We cross the valley through Nateby and take the ‘Tommy Road’ past Pendragon Castle, to a tea stop at the Fat Lamb Hotel. All that remains is a very pleasant run through the Cautley Valley to Sedbergh and a back to the Crooklands via the main Kendal road which affords views of the Lake District mountains to the west and Morecambe Bay to the south. O/N CROOKLANDS
DAY 3 FRIDAY 19th (BAR ‘T AT AND BRONTE TOUR)
A different direction today as we leave the Crooklands and head south on the main Kirkby Lonsdale road to Ingleton. From Ingleton we revert to quieter side roads to Clapham (no not that one!) and Austwick as we make our way into the southern Dales. We cross Ribblesdale and head into the Pennines via the awesome Yew Cogar Scar with its huge drops into the parallel valley and views of Littondale below. We then make our way down Wharfedale to a coffee stop at the picturesque Bolton Abbey.
The next leg takes us on to the famous Ilkley Moor (bar t’at or not!) and then through a more built up area on the way to Howarth for lunch. Howarth village offers a variety of pubs and cafes on it’s steep cobbled streets and there is the Bronte Parsonage Museum for the literary minded – or the loco sheds of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway for the more mechanically minded.
The afternoon run takes us back across the moors to Wigglesworth and Gisburn Forest. We actually cross Stocks reservoir before climbing over the hills to Bentham and more views of the Three Peaks. It is then a short run up the lower Lune Valley for tea in the charming market town of Kirkby Lonsdale. There is then just a 6 mile run to the hotel.
DAY 4 SATURDAY 20th (THE HIGH ROADS TOUR)
Today we see where the tour really gets its name from!
First we go across country into the Lune Valley once again (but a different part), by-pass Kirkby Lonsdale and take the main road to Ingleton again. This time though we head north to the impressive Ribblehead viaduct standing 100ft above the head of the valley (the highest viaduct in England). From this road we can see the Three Peaks close up. We will have a stop for coffee here. After travelling further up the valley we turn down Dentdale again, doing a reverse run of Friday’s route under the viaduct before turning off onto the infamous ‘Coal Road’. This narrow strip of tarmac climbs up a set of tortuous harpins to Dent Station (the highest main line railway station in England – and only 4 miles from the village it serves!), with views down Dentdale and across to the viaducts we have just passed. The road continues to climb beyond the station to a height of 1700ft before descending abruptly into the next valley, Garsdale.
We now continue into Wensleydale again for lunch at Simonstone Hall which sits at the foot of the Buttertubs Pass. The pass is one of the highest main road passes in England and used to be a favourite of Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team. Once over the top we drop down into Swaledale again, but this time it isn’t long before we climb out of the valley northward to the highest pub in Britain, Tan Hill. A stop here is optional!
From this remote hostelry we cross the bleak countryside of Stainmore to Barnard Castle and head north to Middleton in Teesdale. A little further up Teesdale we come to High Force, the highest waterfall in England. We suggest you stretch your legs for the short walk to this fantastic spectacle, before taking lunch at the nearby hotel.
The afternoon run takes us across more moorland to Weardale and the fascinating Killhope Lead Mining Museum. A trip down the mine is optional but refreshments will be available. The final leg takes us further north through the moors to Alston, the highest market town in England and the over Hartside Pass which gives stunning views over the Eden Valley to the Lake District Hills and the Solway Firth in the north (on a clear day). We haven’t quite finished yet as there is still the run over the infamous Shap Fell back to Kendal and the hotel.O/N CROOKLANDS
DAY 5 SUNDAY 21st OPTIONAL
For those not in a rush to go home there will be a short run to the edge of Lake Windermere and the fascinating Lakeland Motor Museum and Campbell Exhibition.
£749 inc 4 nights dinner b+b and entry to venues.
(Tuesday night at Buxton and Sunday night NOT included)
EAST OF BRITAIN TOUR
Saturday AUGUST 10th
Introductory dinner at our 4 star hotel just off the A1 north of Newcastle.
O/N LINDEN HOUSE
DAY 1 SUNDAY 11th
Today we head north along the beautiful Northumberland coast with its spectacular castles and pretty harbour villages. First we pass through Amble with its sheltered harbour and lighthouse and Coquet Island just out to sea. The similarly picturesque village of Alnmouth provides us with a pleasant stop for coffee. We continue along the coast to Bulmer, the base of the RAF Rescue Helicopters, and on to the secluded harbour at Craster and nearby Dunstanburgh Castle. We won’t visit this castle as there is bigger and better to follow! After passing through Seahouses we reach the imposing sight of Bamburgh Castle, where we will stop for a visit.
Tides permitting, we will then continue to Holy Island, Lindisfarne for lunch. After re-crossing the causeway we head inland with spectacular views of the Cheviot Hills ahead. We pass through Wooler and head south skirting the foot hills of the Cheviots through wonderful un-spoilt countryside and then return to our hotel via picturesque Coquetdale. O/N LINDEN HOUSE
DAY 2 MONDAY 12th
We leave Linden House and head north again to the fascinating Cragside House and grounds. This was the first house in Britain to be lit by electricity and as well as being in a beautiful hillside setting it has a wealth of fascinating historical innovations.
From here we head west over the Otterburn Army Ranges and on into Kielder Forest. Lunch can be taken at one of the Lakeside Visitor centres. We will continue around the northern reaches of this vast forest (the biggest man made forest in Europe) to the ‘official’ border crossing between England and Scotland at Carter Bar where there are panoramic views of the Borders countryside.
As we head north into Scotland the road sweeps down some spectacular bends with views of the countryside ahead and below – but beware speed cameras. There will then be a stop for tea in Jedburgh with the impressive ruined Abbey - and Scottish woollen mill. Finally there is a cross country run through Selkirk to our new hotel at CARDRONA near Peebles.
DAY 3 TUESDAY 13th
We leave Cardrona and head north over the moors to Edinburgh and the famous Forth Bridge. Here we can make a little detour. After crossing the road bridge we can drive right down to the arches of the railway bridge at North Queensferry.
From here we follow the coast out to Anstruther before cutting across the headland to St Andrews, famous for its golf courses and University. Here we will have a coffee stop before crossing the mighty Tay Bridge into Dundee and visit ‘Discovery Point’, where you can learn all about Scot’s expedition to the Antarctic. We can also have lunch here.
The afternoon route once more follows the coast through another famous Golfing resort, Carnoustie and then turns north and inland at Montrose. We now follow Glen Dye into more mountainous scenery and make our way across country to our hotel at Pitlodrie, north west of Aberdeen. O/N PITLODRIE
DAY 4 WEDNESDAY 14th
Today we take in some more new ‘territory’ heading north through Old Meldrum and upto the coast west of Fraseburgh to the picturesque village of Pennan, where the film ‘Local Hero’ was made. We then follow the cliffs and bays west to a coffee stop at the little harbour town of Banff. The route then takes us further west along the coast passing more picturesque little harbours until we reach the fishing village of Buckie which still has a busy harbour and ship building industry. We then follow the River Spey to Fochabers where we can have lunch at the ‘Baxters Village’ visitor centre. Baxters being the famous soup makers we should be well fed!
The afternoon run is relatively short cross country back to Pitlodrie.
DAY 5 THURSDAY 15th
Whisky country and the mountains. We start with a short run to Alford for a stop at the small but fascinating motor museum before we head into the Grampian mountains. We pass through Cock Bridge on our way to ‘The Lecht’ ski resort climbing some severe gradients despite being on a main ‘A’ road. However we are rewarded with spectacular views over the mountains from the summit. We then descend to the ancient village of Tomintoul before making a detour through picturesque Strathaven and past the Glenlivet Distillery on our way into Speyside and a host of other distilleries. We will resist temptation though until we reach one of the most famous, Glen Fiddich, where we will have lunch before a tour of the distillery. We cannot ‘imbibe’ too much however as there is still a 30 mile return journey along the edge of the mountains back to the hotel.
DAY 6 FRIDAY 16th
It is south and homeward today. First we set off in a similar direction to yesterday but by-pass Alford on our way to Ballater and then down the valley to a coffee stop at Balmoral Castle. After some ‘regal relaxation’ we tackle the mighty Glen Shee, passing the ski resort at a little under 3000ft a.s.l. and descending ‘The Devils Elbow’ before turning west through Pitlochry to lunch* at another ‘royal’ venue, the famous Queen’s View on Loch Tummel.
After lunch we continue along the loch and turn south to the pretty village of Kenmore at the head of Loch Tay, before traversing the spectacular Glen Quaich which affords views of the high mountains to the west and tranquil Loch Freuchie below us. The beautiful scenery continues as we pass through Sma Glen and onto Crieff and a stop for afternoon tea at the magnificent Glen Eagles Hotel. (*Warning! Do not have a large lunch as the afternoon tea at Glen Eagles is quite comprehensive.)
All that remains is a short run through Glen Eagles, past the Knochill race circuit and down the motorway over the Forth Bridge to our final hotel and farewell dinner at Houstoun House.
O/N HOUSTOUN HOUSE
£1950 Inc. 7 nights, dinner, b+b, Glen Eagles tea, entry to venues.
Northumberland Tour Sunday & Monday only
(includes Saturday night accomodation) £799 - 3 nights dinner b+b + entry to venues.
THE SOUTH WEST IRELAND TOUR
DAY1 MONDAY Sep. 16th
Afternoon Ferry, from Holyhead to Dublin . Exact times and ferry line to be confirmed. Approx. 2 hour crossing.
On arriving in Dublin we leave the port and follow the famous River Liffey out through the town for the short run to Naas. Our hotel will be the sumptuous KILLASHEE HOUSE set in its own grounds in open countryside.
DAY 2. TUESDAY 17TH Dublin to Limerick.
This morning we have a short run out to the ‘GORDON BENNET’ Circuit which held one of the first ever motor races in the British Isles. However as the full circuit is over 50 miles in length and some is now unrecognisable under the modern roads, we will only drive a short section on our way to visit the Irish National Stud. Here we can have a leisurely coffee and see some of the impressive horses and learn about the history of horse racing.
After coffee we return to the Gordon Bennett Circuit for a while as we make our way south west before making a detour into the Slieve Bloom Mountains. This mainly forested area is also one of Ireland’s largest areas of peat bog. As we climb over the highest point of the hills known as ‘The Cut’ we get superb views over the forest and beyond.
We then descend to the small town of Roscrea with its ancient castle where we can have lunch at the Bistro next door.
In the afternoon we have a main road run before turning off into the rolling hills of the Slieve Felim Mountains on our way to Limerick. We ‘circumnavigate’ the city and take the motorway north to the nearby village of Bunratty, where we will stay in the impressive Castle Hotel. The actual castle is just across the road but is now a theme park. However, the Woollen Mills and ‘Durty Nelly’s’ pub are next door!
DAY 3.WEDNESDAY 18TH Limerick to Killarney
Today we follow the banks of the mighty Shannon River almost all the way to the sea before taking the ferry across to the small town of Tarbert. There will be chance to have a coffee before catching the ferry – so long as you are early enough. The ferries run every half hour.
Once across the Shannon we head for the seaside resort of Ballybunion where a stop is optional, and then onto Listowel where we will stop for lunch at the intriguing Lartigue railway. This peculiar restored line is the first and possibly the only steam monorail in the world!
In the afternoon we loop back to the banks of the Shannon to visit the impressive Flying Boat Museum with a café that specialises in Irish Coffees.
The final run south uses main roads for much of the way but there is one last diversion to the ‘Crag Cave’ where you can have afternoon tea, a tour of the cave or possibly, depending on the time, a falconry display.
We then make our way through Killarney town to our hotel for the next four nights, The Killarney Lake Hotel, set in its own grounds with views up the lake to the MacGillicuddy’s Reeks (mountains!).
DAY 4. THURSDAY 19TH Dingle Peninsula
This morning we have a short run north to Tralee and on to the tiny harbour at Blennerville with its atmospheric Windmill museum. It is from here that many thousands of Irish people emigrated to America during the potato famine. Sadly the steam railway which ran between Tralee and Blennerville, terminating at the harbour, now seems to be derelict, although there have been various attempts at re-instating it.
After coffee we follow the shores of Tralee Bay before climbing over the hills to the other side of the peninsula and the shores of Dingle Bay. We follow the main road into the pretty harbour town of Dingle where there are numerous fish and chip restaurants for lunch as well as an interesting aquarium and “Fungi Trips” are available. ‘Fungi’ is the resident dolphin in the bay and the local fisherman run trips to see him – I’m not sure we will have time – its upto you.
The tour route continues even further west from Dingle onto the spectacular Slea Head Drive with views over the beautiful turquoise sea and sandy beaches. We make our way right around the headland with the Blasket Islands visible to the west eventually heading east again and completing the full circle back to Dingle. (You may prefer to go back into the town for lunch at this point).
From Dingle we head north again to the infamous Connor Pass. The southern side of the pass seems quite ‘tame’ with a good two lane road which climbs steadily into the mountains with nice sweeping bends until you abruptly reach the summit viewpoint. The views (on a clear day) are spectacular in either direction, looking back to Dingle Bay from where we have come or over the summit to the rugged mountains and peat bogs far below on the north side. From here the road suddenly becomes single track and clings to the cliff edge high above the valley below. This is a relatively short stretch and the two lane road soon begins again as we get panoramic views of Tralee Bay once again.
We follow the main road along the coast eastward, but as you would expect CCT(MK) never do the obvious and we soon cross the peninsula again via a narrow un-named pass which brings us back to southern shores again with views right across the bay to the Kerry mountains. A slight preview of what is to come later in the tour.
The run back to Killarney is on ‘ordinary’ roads.
DAY 5. FRIDAY 20TH Gap of Dunlow/Rest day
After all this driving you may prefer something different. Killarney itself is a bustling town with a busy shopping centre and of course plenty of charachterful pubs. (No! I haven’t personally tried them all --- just a few!).
You may like to make a trip to the Gap of Dunlow. This stunning valley is a very popular tourist destination and so can be very busy, hence we don’t suggest driving it during the middle of the day. You can comfortably drive as far as Kate Kearney’s Cottage and then take a ‘Jaunting Cart’ through the pass, or simply take a walk so far. There are various ‘packages’ available and you can even get a coach from the hotel – but it is quite expensive. Some packages include a boat trip on the lakes as well. Alternatively it may be possible to drive through the pass tomorrow evening at the end of our day’s run.
DAY 6. SATURDAY 21ST Ring of Kerry
Once again we heed north through Killarney, passing the Gap of Dunlow road and follow the famous ‘Ring of Kerry’. Obviously we don’t stick to the traditional route which uses only the main road. We make a few diversions onto ‘Kirk Roads’ just to make things more interesting, and to get to the heart of the superb scenery.
First we do almost a complete circuit of the tranquil and un-spoilt Caragh Lake, before we stop for coffee at the remote Climbers Inn. This is definitely not a 4-star establishment, but it is full of character! From here we continue into mountainous country through the Ballagnasheen Pass, passing Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrountoohil, before cutting across to the coast and the traditional ‘Ring Road’.
We now follow the recognised route anti clockwise along the coast with Valencia Island visible to our right. We then make another detour to hug the coast along the ‘Skellig Ring’ passing some of the highest cliffs in Ireland. There is the opportunity to stop and take a walk to the cliffs but it is quite some distance. For the less energetic the road climbs to an impressive summit and then plunges down to some beautiful little sandy coves where a photo stop might be necessary. We will also stop for lunch along this pleasant quiet stretch of coast.
Ironically when we return to the main road the surface becomes unpleasantly bumpy. Obviously worn out by all the tourist traffic! However the views are some compensation and the Scariff Inn boasts the best view in Ireland – and who am I to argue? So, you may wish to postpone lunch or have an additional stop for tea along this picturesque coast.
Further on we detour into the hills again and pass the ‘Pancake Cottage’, another possible tea stop, as we make our way to the famous Moll’s Gap. This is a road junction at the top of a pass with literally a gap in the rocks to drive through. However, we won’t go through the Gap today as we turn back towards Killarney with stunning views over the Lakes on the way.
You may also turn off here to drive through the Gap of Dunlow, south to north. This will add about 20 miles to the day’s route – but is one of those things that ‘should be done while you are there’. (Of course if you visited the Gap yesterday then you have been there done that!)
DAY 7.SUNDAY 22ND Killarney to Clonmel
We leave the hotel and turn the other way this morning. The route starts with a reverse run over Moll’s Gap, but this time all the way through the gap and down the other side to the prettyharbour village of Kenmare.
After a stop for coffee we stay on the main road through the awesome CARHA PASS with its amazing series of tunnels which bring you out high above the adjoining valley. This is Alpine like territory, not what you might expect in Ireland.
The scenery soon becomes more familiar as we descend to Bantry Bay and Glengariff where we pass a pub with pints of Guinness painted on the wall, ranging from full to empty!
From here we head inland through the Shehy Mountains and the Pass of Keinmagh. We then enter more rolling countryside as we make our way across country to Blarney. Here we will have lunch and you may take the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney castle and visit the vast woollen mill opposite.
From Blarney we make our way north west through more rolling countryside and the intriguingly named Knockmealdown Mountains, on our way to Clonmel – the home of Magners or Bulmers Cider. (Depending on whether you are in Ireland or England!) Tonight we stay at another stylish hotel, the HOTEL MINELLA, overlooking the River Suir.
DAY 8.MONDAY 23RD Carrick to Dublin
Unfortunately we cannot have a tour of the cider factory as it is a huge industrial style complex, but, we can visit the local transport museum before leaving Clonmel.
Today’s route is mainly cross country on quiet back roads with pleasant but not spectacular countryside. We do cross the Blackstairs Mountains as we make our way north but we do not reach the final ‘sting in the tail’ until we enter the Vale of Avoca. The village of Avoca was the location for the TV series Ballykissangle. We follow this wooded valley, passing the ‘Meeting of the Waters’where two rivers join to make the River Avoca, before heading into the Wicklow Mountains through another secluded valley. After several miles of deserted countryside we suddenly come to the Glanmalure Lodge Hotel situated in an idyllic setting in one of Ireland’s longest glacial valleys. A tea stop may be welcome here.
The final leg of our tour takes us further up into the mountains with panoramic views of the valleys below. We cross the Wicklow Gap before descending to a last ‘surprise view’. The vast expanse of the Pellaphuca Reservoir suddenly comes into sight as we leave the mountains, and we actually drive right across the water (on a bridge!) before following the shores in a large loop which brings us to within a few miles of our hotel where we started a week ago, The Kilashee House.
DAY 9. TUESDAY 24TH Ferry to Holyhead
(8.45 OR 14.30 or possibly 11.30)
We are still researching the best options with the ferries, but if you would like some time in Dublin in the morning then the mid afternoon ferry would seem to be best, but this gets you into Holyhead at approx. 5pm, perhaps a little late for the drive home. There may be a mid morning option which will allow all afternoon to get home or if you are an early bird there is the morning ferry, but you would have to negotiate Dublin in rush hour (not fun!) and leave the hotel very early.
We will have more information about ferries soon.
IF ANYONE HAS BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS TOUR BUT NOT CONTACTED US SO FAR --- I WOULD WAIT NO LONGER, WE ARE ALREADY WELL INTO DOUBLE FIGURES AND WILL SOON REACH THE POINT WHERE NO MORE ROOMS WILL BE AVAILBLE IN THE CHOSEN HOTELS.
Full cost; for 2 people sharing, 8 nights dinner, b&b £2499 inc ferry
AUTUMN RUN TO THE SUN
COSTA BRAVA TOUR
Having recce-ed the proposed Montjuic Revival/Barcelona Tour, and due to unfortunate unforeseen events there, plus customer feedback, we have decided to bring our Spanish Tour forward in the year to October. This should ensure warmer weather, although it wasn’t bad in December in Barcelona, and snow free mountain roads. The Montjuic Revival may still take place in some format in December, BUT, the same organisers are also responsible for the Costa Brava Historic Rally in October. This is based at Lloret del Mar, which is conveniently on the route we had recced. Therefore the ‘petrol heads’ or rally fans can still get their fill of some exciting action and some exotic cars (Lancia Stratos and 037’s, Porsches, Audi Quattros, Gp4 Escorts, Renault Turbos etc. etc. The event is a round of the FIA EUROPEAN HISTORIC CHAMPIONSHIP), while there will still be time to spend some time in Barcelona sightseeing/sun bathing? Or even early Christmas shopping!
Therefore we propose to run the original planned route, with just an extra stop over in Loret.
MONDAY October 7th
Overnight ferry, Portsmouth to Caen.
TUESDAY October 8th
. A cross country run to the Loire Valley avoiding the dreaded toll roads. There will be a coffee stop in the ancient town of Domfront, with time to have a walk around the cobbled streets below the Chateau. It is then quite a long run down to the banks of the mighty River Loire, so you can stop for lunch at a place of your choosing or carry on into Saumur. We follow the picturesque banks of the river until the imposing Chateau at Saumur comes into view. We then cross the river to our hotel. As it should still be early afternoon you may like to visit the Chateau and/or the fascinating Musee des Blindes (Tank Museum).
WEDNESDAY October 9th
. We start by following the river eastward to the fairy tale Chateau Usse. After a ‘photo stop’ we will continue to the walled town of Richelieu (made famous by the Cardinal of that name) for coffee. We now head south and into the valley of the River Vienne, passing the Circuit Val de Vienne on our way to Rochfoucald with its impressive Chateau. We will spend tonight in the pretty town of Brantome, ‘the Venice of the Perigord’.
THURSDAY October 10th
. Today we head through the Dordogne, following the river past Beynac, and stop for a coffee within sight of yet another superb hill top Chateau. It is then onto the spectacular mediaeval town of Sarlat for lunch. The afternoon run then takes us to Rocamadour, the village built into the side of a sheer cliff! There is still quite a lengthy run to our next overnight stop in the town of Millau. On the way into town you may just get a glimpse of the towering supports of the famous viaduct.
FRIDAY October 11th
. Our first stop today is the visitor centre at the southern end of the viaduct. If you want a better impression of the height of this engineering marvel there is the option of a short run down into the gorge below where you can look straight up at the highest support, taller than the Eiffel Tower. We next head off into the mountains through some spectacular scenery to a coffee stop in the small town of Lacaune which nestles in a pretty valley below the hills. We then head towards Carcasonne, but a stop at a small village restaurant for lunch may be welcome. We then skirt Carcasonne and head onto more mountainous roads before following a deep gorge towards the coast and our overnight stop in the seaside town of Perpignan.
SATURDAY October 12th
. From Perpignan we follow the coast south towards the Spanish border. Here there is an optional diversion onto what some people will no doubt describe as a “Kirk Road”, This single track road climbs from sea level to over 2000ft via a series of hairpin bends through the vineyards with spectacular views down onto the coast – if you dare look over the edge! (For the less adventurous there is a straightforward main road alternative.) We stop for a coffee at the very pretty seaside village of Cerbere before crossing into Spain. Now there is another option. i.e. continue to the hotel in Lloret del Mar via the “Road of the Year”. So called because it allegedly has 365 corners in 12 kms, as it winds its way along the hillside overlooking the Mediteranean. OR – make a small diversion into the hills to watch one of the Special Stages on the Costa Brava Historic Rally.
SUNDAY October 13th
For the enthusiasts, there will be time to watch more of the rally in the morning before taking the motorway straight into Barcelona. If ‘barking exhausts and screeming tyres’ are not your thing then you can go straight to Barcelona for an afternoon on the beach/shopping/sightseeing – whatever! We will all meet up again for dinner at our hotel in the city.
MONDAY October 14th.
A ‘free day’ to do as you wish. Take a sightseeing bus around the city, stop of at the harbour for a beer? Continue to the iconic Cathedral, still not complete after 250 years – or go shopping. (Sorry guys! But I’ve go to get the ladies interested so we can go and look at the rally cars!!).
TUESDAY October 15th
We leave Barcelona and head west along the edge of the Pyrenees. This is probably one of the most spectacular days for scenery as we climb steep grades, navigate hairpin bends and try not to look at the sheer drops (there are crash barriers!), on our way to the Col de Montllobar. We then drop down to the shores of the picturesque lake, ‘Embalse de Grado’, passing through a tunnel before following the lake shore with an impressive Monastery on the opposite shore. We stay in the mountains tonight beyond the head of the lake near the small town of Ainsa.
WEDNESDAY October 16th.
It is straight into more mountain passes this morning climbing higher than the summit of Snowdon – before coffee! After coffee down in the valley we take the main road for a while before turning off into the mountains again following a deep gorge with huge rock formations and massive caves around each corner. We stop for lunch in small village at the head of the gorge before descending into the next valley. We now come into completely different scenery, very flat with irrigation canals and vineyards as far as the eye can see. We are heading into Rioja country and will spend the night at a spectacular hotel – adjacent to a ‘bodega’ or winery.
THURSDAY October 17th.
Before leaving the hotel it would be rude not to have a tour of the winery --- but don’t get the taste too seriously, there is still a long way to go. The first part of our final day is relatively un-eventful, except for the huge bulls visible on the roadside. As we head towards Santander on the main road we turn off to take the scenic route through another impressive gorge but then it is more flat land until we get to a small village for lunch. From here we have a surprise ‘sting in the tail’. After crossing what appears to be open moorland, (not unlike Cumbria!), the road suddenly drops off a precipice into a deep valley with breathtaking views. Once down in the valley we have not finished yet. There is one more mountain pass to climb, but from the top you can see the Atlantic and the port of Santander. There is then just a short motorway run into the port to catch the overnight ferry home.
FRIDAY October 18th
We arrive in Portsmouth at 17.30 and say our farewells. (24 hour crossing)
FULL COST; i.e for 2 people sharing, 9 nights dinner, b+b and ferry each way = £2749
AUTUMN LAKES + “Route 66”
Due to changing the date of our Barcelona Tour we have had to re-think our Autumn Lakes Tour. To make things simple we will revert to our mainly Lakes format but with a new “Route 66” extension. The A66 runs directly across the northern lakes through the area we normally visit, but it also extends almost to the East Coast passing through the North Pennines and the edge of the north Dales on the way. Therefore we have extended our tour to cover these areas also. The A66 actually ends in Middlesborough which isn’t ideal touring country so we will divert slightly south to the edge of the North Yorks Moors instead. This means we can base the entire tour at one of our favourite hotels, Leeming House on Ullswater.
DAY ONE –FRIDAY October 25th.
From our ‘home base’, the Crooklands Hotel near Kendal, we immediately head off into some pleasant country lanes which ultimately give us panoramic views of the Lythe Valley before we head up the valley with the Lake District mountains ahead. We soon change direction though and head south west over Gummers How which looks down on Lakeside on Windermere. We stop for coffee and a look round the intriguing Lakeland Motor Museum before heading further west.
Rather than head back into the heart of the Lakes we continue on the main road for once but still in magnificent scenery. The Lakes mountains are always visible and suddenly as we descend Grizebeck Hill we are treated to the panorama off the Duddon Estuary with Black Combe beyond. We skirt Black Combe taking the Corney Fell Road, which in turn gives us views over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man on a clear day, not to mention a view of ‘the other side’ of the Lakes Mountains. A stop for lunch at Muncaster Castle will no doubt be welcome by now.
The fantastic views from Muncaster include the Eskdale Valley with Hardknott Pass at the head. However on this occasion we only briefly visit this beautiful valley and avoid the infamous pass by heading north to the stunning scenery of Wastwater and its impressive scree slopes, which plunge 100’s of feet straight down into one of the deepest lakes.
From here we continue north onto the open roads of the unfortunately named Cold Fell. Despite the inhospitable name the fell gives us views over the Irish Sea to the west, the Solway and Scotland to the north and some of the highest mountains, including Scafell, to the east. Descending from the fell we make a small detour to take in a view of the remote and lesser know Ennerdale Water before reaching the beautiful scenery around Lowes Water ,Crummock Water and Buttermere, which bring us to the awesome Honister Pass. Tea in Borrowdale follows this epic run through the best of the Lakes scenery.
It is not all over yet though, as after tea we take the Cat Bell’s road high above Derwent Water and then follow the shores of Bassenthwaite before climbing over the fells on the northern edge of the Lake District. A pleasant run through the quiet villages of Caldbeck and Heskett Newmarket brings us to arguably the most attractive lake of them all, Ullswater and our hotel for the weekend, the sumptuous Leeming House.
O/N LEEMING HO.
DAY 2. SATURDAY 26TH
Today we follow a similar route to last year, heading back into the heart of the Lakes. First we travel down the dramatic St John’s in the Vale to the west shore of Thirlmere. After following the entire length of the lake we traverse Dunmail Raise and descend into Grasmere. We pass the lake at Grasmere and Rydal Water on our way into Ambleside and on to the picture postcard scenery of Tarn Hows. We then have a stop for coffee in Coniston.
The second leg takes us the full length of the east shore of Coniston and into the heart of Grizedale Forest where there will be an optional stop at the Visitor centre before we cross the forest to the shores of tranquil Estthwaite Water and then south to lunch at the brilliant Lakeland Motor Museum.
After lunch we head back up the west side of Windermere and take the ferry across the lake. All that remains is the spectacular climb over Kirkstone Pass and the full length of Ullswater back to the hotel.
DAY 3 SUNDAY 27TH ROUTE 66
Again today’s route starts similar to last year with a run through the Eden Valley to Brough. However this time we don’t stop for coffee yet as we have a long way to go. We cross the moors to Middleton in Teesdale and then onto the Pennines to coffee at Raby Castle.
From here we descend to flatter countryside north of Scotch Corner and across to Croft before lunch in the charming village of Stokesley.
The afternoon route then takes us abruptly onto the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors with a stop at the viewpoint overlooking the exotically named and unusually shaped hill, Roseberry Topping. We then head south along the edge of the Moors for a short distance before turning off onto minor roads which provide stunning views over the Vale of York and north to Middlesborough. We then meander our way across country to the pleasant town of Richmond as we head back into the Dales. From Richmond with its impressive castle we head into iconic Dales countryside, through Reeth and on to Tan Hill for tea.
The descent from Tan Hill gives us dramatic views of the Eden Valley before we pass through Kirkby Stephen and another dramatic descent over Ash Fell. We then pass the Sunbiggin Tarn bird sanctuary with the Howgills in the background and our final leg takes us on an intriguing road which runs in the middle of the M6 motorway!
LAKES AUTUMN WEEKEND TOUR £749 inc 3 nights dinner, b+b.
“Route 66”Sunday only/ one night dinner b+b £275