2024-02-22T17:35:00Z By Keeley Rodgers
From historic landmarks and natural sites to top gardens and city visits, here are just two itineraries to offer you inspiration for your group trips.
Itinerary: A Royal Journey Along The Great West Way
Following a road commissioned by King Charles I, nowhere is as quintessentially English or thoroughly royal as the Great West Way, a touring route between London and Bristol following 500 miles of navigable routes, countryside, villages and towns. Here’s how to enjoy a royal journey along the route:
Day 1: Hampton Court Palace
Home to King Henry VIII and all six of his wives, Hampton Court Palace was a royal residence until 1737. Visit the sumptuous Baroque apartments, then stroll through 60 acres of beautiful riverside gardens. From here, head to Runnymede to visit the Magna Carta Memorial and Kennedy Memorial. Then take a two-and-half hour French Brothers boat trip along the Royal River Thames, admiring Windsor Castle from on board.
Stay in Windsor.
Day 2: Windsor
Start the day with a Tours2Order walking tour, before visiting Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Queen Victoria spent most of her time there and it is Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite weekend home. St George’s Chapel within the grounds of the Castle was the setting for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Tour the State Apartments and Chapel, then drive to Malmesbury for an overnight stay.
Stay in Malmesbury at either The Old Bell Hotel which is family-owned and stakes a claim to be England’s oldest. Or, Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa, a quite beautiful English manor house in a picture perfect setting.
Day 3: Malmesbury and Berkeley Castle
Explore Malmesbury, England’s oldest borough, including the 12th century Abbey where you will find the tomb of Athelstan, first king of all England. Then move on to Berkeley Castle – given to the family in 1153 by Henry II, it has received royal guests ever since and is open to visitors from April to October.
Stay in Bristol.
Day 4: Bristol
Visit Brunel’s SS Great Britain, launched by Prince Albert in 1843 and visited by Queen Victoria when it was docked in London in 1845. Then enjoy a drink at Prince Street Social, a welcoming modern-style restaurant and bar, before heading home.
Itinerary: Homes & Gardens
Wiltshire is home to some of the UK’s best historic homes and gardens, ideal for groups who love delving into history. Here’s the best of the best in the area across three days:
Day 1, AM:
Your day begins in medieval Malmesbury. Visit the magnificent Malmesbury Abbey and take a stroll around the independent shops in this pretty Cotswold village.
The Old Bell Hotel.
Day 1, PM:
On to the magnificent pastoral landscape at Bowood House and Gardens, created by master landscaper ‘Capability’ Brown.
Calne or Melksham areas (e.g The Angel Hotel, Chippenham).
Day 2, AM:
On to delightful Iford Manor Gardens, where romantic grounds evoke an Edwardian version of Tuscany.
Bradford on Avon area (e.g The Bridge Tea Rooms).
Day 2, PM:
Choose between the famous 18th century gardens at Stourhead, with their lake and classical temples. Or Longleat, where the impressive Elizabethan house is surrounded by 900 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscape.
Warminster or Salisbury areas (e.g Stonehenge Campsite and Glamping Pods or Legacy Rose & Crown Hotel).
Day 3, AM:
Cross Cranborne Chase to visit the extraordinary Victorian gardens at Larmer Tree, recognised as a Garden of National Importance.
Wilton or Salisbury areas (e.g Legacy Rose & Crown Hotel).
Day 3, PM:
Explore the 22 acres of parkland and gardens at Wilton House, also believed to be influenced by ‘Capability’ Brown. For those with more time, Chavenage House and Westonbirt, the National Arboretum are just across the county border in the Cotswolds.
Both of these itineraries have been taken from VisitWiltshire’s new It’s Time for Wiltshire Travel Trade Guide, offering groups a handy tool in planning trips to the area.