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Cycling the Cotswolds: The Essence of England

Program Number: 3670RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/14/2014 - 6/25/2014; 5/9/2015 - 5/20/2015; 8/8/2015 - 8/19/2015;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: England, UK:England
Price starting at: $3,487.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Bicycling Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 20; 10 Breakfasts, 0 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The cities, towns, villages and countryside of Wessex, the Thames Valley, and the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire are renowned for their scenic beauty. Yet this area is also a place of living history, enriched by nature and distinguished human achievements in science, technology, architecture and the arts. Pursue these themes by bicycle as you explore charming and historic places, wildfowl and waterways, and the life and work of people such as Brunel, Jenner and Shakespeare.




Highlights

• Encounter sites associated with famous Britons from history, from the home of Edward Jenner, the discoverer of the smallpox vaccine, to the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
• Follow the River Avon through tiny country villages like Thatcham, Hungerford and Beanacre, filled with quaint homes and centuries of fascinating history.
• Explore important cities in the heart of England, including Bristol, elegant Bath and the port city of Gloucester.



Activity Particulars

This program is recommended for experienced cyclists who are comfortable biking up to 5 hours/day on varied terrain ranging from flat to moderately rolling. Participants will bike as a group 13-36 miles per day following the group leader at a rate of 10-12 miles per hour, with rest breaks every 25 minutes. Cyclists will be biking on paved and unpaved bicycle paths, in addition to biking on the LEFT side of paved secondary roads with moderate traffic when there are no bike paths available. Weather conditions, such as wind and rain may affect biking difficulty. Participants must bring and wear their own bicycle helmet.

Field trips and excursions require walking and standing up to two hours.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival London, coach to Thatcham, 1 night; bike to Hungerford, 1 night; bike to Beanacre, 2 nights; Bike to Bath, 2 nights; bike to Bristol 1 night; bike to Gloucester, 1 night; bike to Dumbleton, 1 night; coach to Stratford-Upon-Avon, 1 night; departure.



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival London, coach to Thatcham
1 night
Bike to Hungerford
1 night
Bike to Beanacre
2 nights

Your biking adventure begins in the pretty village of Thatcham. Set out on your bike and follow the Kennet and Avon Canal to the market town of Newbury, then continue to 500-year-old Hungerford, a quaint town known for its antique shops. Your path brings you periodically to both the canal and the Great Western Railway Line. Stop for a lecture on the rise and fall of the Kennet and Avon Canal, then continue to Beanacre with stops to explore some of the important engineering features of the canal. Spend two nights in a Victorian country house hotel in rural Beanacre, going by day to picturesque Corsham, the abbey of the National Trust village of Lacock and the Fox-Talbot Museum of Photography.



Bike to Bath
2 nights
Bike to Bristol
1 night
Bike to Gloucester
1 night
Bike to Dumbleton
1 night
Coach to Stratford-Upon-Avon
1 night
Departure

Following a lecture on the medieval wool trade in the west country, depart for Bradford-on-Avon for a historian-led exploration. In the magnificent city of Bath, another local historian leads you to the most impressive sites in one of England's most elegant towns, including the Royal Crescent and Circus. Pedal along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path to Bristol’s old harbor. Break for coffee and tea at the Industry Museum prior to a lecture on the SS Great Britain. Continue along the Avon northward to Berkeley Castle and the home of Edward Jenner, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, then take a field trip to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge. Upon arrival in Gloucester, visit the impressive cathedral. Depart for Tewkesbury, site of one of the best-preserved abbeys in England. In Dumbleton, take an excursion to Beckford Silk to watch the printing of silk scarves and ties. In Stratford-Upon-Avon, embark on an expert-led walk to visit many of the significant places associated with William Shakespeare, including a behind-the-scenes visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theater.




England

It was the seat of an empire on which the sun never set. It has been Merry, Dickensian and Victorian. It has given us common law, Shakespeare, tennis, the Rolls-Royce and the Beatles. England and its people have played an outsize role in shaping world history. It is a country whose past, politics, culture and characters never cease to captivate.



Accommodations
Three and Four-Star hotels.
Meals and Lodgings
   Regency Park Hotel
  Thatcham, UK:England 1 night
   The Bear Hotel
  Hungerford, UK:England 1 night
   Beechfield House Hotel
  Beanacre, UK:England 2 nights
   Hilton Bath City Hotel
  Bath, UK:England 2 nights
   The Aztec Hotel & Spa
  Almondsbury, UK:England 1 night
   The New County Hotel
  Gloucester, UK:England 1 night
   Dumbleton Hall Hotel
  Dumbleton, UK:England 1 night
   Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
  Stratford-upon-Avon, UK:England 1 night
 Regency Park Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Bowling Green Road
Thatcham,  RG14 5NU UK:England
phone: +44 01635 871555
web: www.regencyparkhotel.co.uk/
  Room amenities: Hypo-allergenic pillows and duvets, LCD TV, ironing station, room fridge, hospitality tray, WiFi, in-room safe.
  Facility amenities: Room Service, business center, laundry & dry cleaning services, fitness center, spa pool, steam room, sauna, indoor swimming pool and spa offering a wide range of treatments and products.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 The Bear Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Contact info: 41 Charnham Street
Hungerford,  RG17 0EL UK:England
phone: +44 01488 682512
web: www.thebearhotelhungerford.com
  Room amenities: TV, WiFi, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities and mineral water
  Facility amenities: Restaurant & bar, small garden and island by the river
  Smoking allowed: No

 Beechfield House Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Beanacre Road (A350)
Beanacre,  SN12 7PU UK:England
phone: +44 01225 703700
web: www.beechfieldhouse.co.uk/
  Room amenities: Digital widescreen LCD TV, hairdryer, complimentary magic potions in the bathroom, coffee and tea making facilities, free WiFi.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, spa, outdoor pool
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hilton Bath City Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Walcot Street
Bath,  BA1 5BJ UK:England
phone: +44 01225 463411
web: www.placeshilton.com/bath-city
  Room amenities: LCD TV, air conditioning, tea/coffee facilities, high-speed Internet, alarm radio, hairdryer, iron, complimentary mineral water
  Facility amenities: Restaurant & bar, fitness room, business center, free WiFi in public areas
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 The Aztec Hotel & Spa
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Almondsbury
Bristol,  BS32 4TS UK:England
phone: +44 01454 201090
web: www.aztechotelbristol.com/
  Room amenities: Free WiFi, air conditioning, fresh coffee with milk delivered daily, satellite TV,
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, fitness center, spa, indoor swimming pool, whirlpool and steam room
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 The New County Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Contact info: 44 Southgate Street
Gloucester,  GL1 2DR UK:England
phone: +44 01452 307000
web: www.thenewcountyhotel.co.uk/
  Room amenities: Tea/coffee making facilities, WiFi, telephone, LCD TV
  Facility amenities: Restaurant & bar
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Dumbleton Hall Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Manor House is set in 19 acres of private gardens and woodland with a private lake. The property boasts stunning views of the Vale of Evesham and across to the Cotswolds.
  Contact info: off Main Street
Evesham,  WR11 7TS UK:England
phone: +44 01386 881240
web: www.dumbletonhall.co.uk/
  Room amenities: Complimentary toiletries, WiFi, telephone, TV, hairdryer, radio, hospitality trays
  Facility amenities: Restaurant & bar
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Warwick Road
Stratford-upon-Avon,  CV37 6YT UK:England
phone: +44 01789 269213
web: www.bwgh.co.uk/
  Room amenities: Satellite LCD TVs, WiFi, Hairdryer, Room Service, Iron
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Lounge, Bar
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Contact IBT for rates. Please refer to the OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS section of your preparatory materials for rates.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
9:30 AM - group meets at London Heathrow Airport. You will be staying at Regency Park Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning group transfer from Stratford-upon-Avon to London Heathrow Airport based on flight departure times. You will be staying at Best Western Grosvenor Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Participants must sign and return the IBT Release and Assumption of Risk (RAR) Liability Form to International Bicycle Tours.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxi, bus & train available. Refer to Transport for London's website for specifics and to review schedules & fares: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Thatcham
  Transportation to site: Directions to the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham from London Paddington Station: board any train (departs every hour) heading towards Reading (35 minutes). Walk to Reading Town Centre, Blagrave Street (stop EM) and board a #1 jet black bus towards Newbury. Get off at Thatcham (stop Broadway). Take a taxi to the Regency Park Hotel (5 minutes) or walk 1.2 miles (25 minutes). If you are departing the U.S. prior to the group departure and plan to connect with the group at the airport on the day the program commences, be sure to be at the meeting point at the time indicated. If you plan to meet the group at the Regency Park Hotel, please notify our office prior to your departure: (860) 767-7005 or info@internationalbicycletours.com.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departure
  Transportation from site: Take a train from Stratford-upon-Avon to London Maryleborne Railway Station; approximate travel time is 2 hours. Train fare will cost about £50. Cheaper fares might be available with advance booking online. Option 1: From Maryleborne Tube Station, take the Bakerloo Line (brown) heading towards Elephant & Castle to Piccadilly Circus and transfer to the Piccadilly Line (blue) heading towards Heathrow Airport; approximate travel time is one hour. Train fare will cost about £5.70. Option 2: From Maryleborne Tube Station, take the Bakerloo Line (brown) heading towards Harrow & Wealdstone to Paddington Tube Station. Train fare will cost about £5.70. Walk upstairs to the Paddington Railway Station and board the Heathrow Express. Train fare will cost about £21 - £29; approximate travel time is 15 minutes.
Equipment Requirements: Participants are required to bring and wear a bicycle helmet while biking each day.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Overnight Flight
(Saturday, June 14)
   
 Afternoon: Board an overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrive in London / Transfer to Thatcham / Orientation / Bike Fitting & Testing / Welcome Dinner
(Sunday, June 15)
   
 Arrive To: London Heathrow Airport.
 Morning: We proceed by motorcoach to Thatcham, a small village east of Newbury, and check into our hotel.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and will review the up-to-date daily program schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Following the orientation, bicycles will be fitted to the participant and skill testing will take place.

Please be aware that indicated times are approximate and that program activities and schedules could change due to local circumstances such as weather, traffic conditions, etc. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

During free time, the Group Leader will often be available to guide informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with associated costs (if any) on your own, or explore independently.

The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to settle into and relax or explore independently.
 Dinner: The group meets for the welcome dinner in the hotel dining room. Daily dinners consist of three-course meals featuring tasty local cuisine: appetizer, entrée and dessert plus water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure. The evening is free to continue becoming acquainted with your fellow participants or take a stroll. Get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.
   
Accommodations: Regency Park Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Safety & Corner System Lecture / Kennet & Avon Canal / Newbury / Hungerford
(Monday, June 16)
   
 Breakfast: After fueling up over a traditional English breakfast, listen carefully to lectures on safety, rules of the road and the IBT corner system. Start thinking about biking on the LEFT side of the road!
 Morning: Then, mount those bicycles for the first cycle of the program. Our ride takes us along the Kennet & Avon Canal to the market town of Newbury, where we'll stop for coffee and independent exploration. The canal, which was completed in 1810, links London and Bristol by connecting the Kennet and Avon Rivers.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice. Weather permitting, we enjoy the outdoors and picnic en route. If the skies look ominous, time to take shelter en route at a local pub.
 Afternoon: Continue bicycling. Upon arrival in Hungerford, there will be ample time to explore this quaint town known for its antique shops.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure. Your evenings are free to spend time with new Road Scholar friends, relax, or go exploring on your own.
   
Accommodations: The Bear Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Kennet & Avon Canal Lecture / Crofton Pumping Station / Devizes Wharf / Caen Hill
(Tuesday, June 17)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: We leave the county of Berkshire via two-wheeler and enter the county of Wiltshire. Bicycling west, we avoid most of the hills that are characteristic of the chalk downland. Every so often we encounter the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Great Western Railway Line, competitors at one time for transporting goods between London and Bristol. En route, we stop for coffee and tea before attending a lecture on "The Rise and Fall of the Kennet & Avon Canal."
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice at a local pub.
 Afternoon: Along the way to Beanacre, a number of interesting sites are worthy of our attention. We stop for a visit to some of the important and impressive engineering features of the canal: the Crofton Pumping Station, Devizes Wharf and the Caen Hill Flight of Locks. We continue westward along the canal's towpath until we turn north to Melksham and the village of Beanacre to our Victorian country house hotel.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Beechfield House Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Corsham / Lacock Village & Abbey / Fox-Talbot Museum of Photography
(Wednesday, June 18)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Our route takes us through the picturesque village of Corsham, where the streets are lined with stately Georgian houses.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice at a local pub.
 Afternoon: There's plenty to see at the National Trust village of Lacock. A visit to the Abbey, exploration of the village as well as the Fox-Talbot Museum of Photography is on the agenda prior to returning to our hotel in Beanacre.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Beechfield House Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Medieval Wool Trade / Bradford-on-Avon Guided Walk / Bradford-on-Avon Independent Exploration
(Thursday, June 19)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Following a lecture on the medieval wool trade in the west country, depart for Bradford-on-Avon. On arrival, join a local historian to learn about the past of this delightful old town during a guided walk.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Explore the charming Bradford-on-Avon independently before joining the group to return by bicycle along the Kennett & Avon Canal to Bath.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Bath City Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Bath Guided Walk / Bath Independent Exploration
(Friday, June 20)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: The magnificent city of Bath awaits us! Accompany yet another local historian on a walking field trip through Bath to discover some of the city's most impressive sites including the Royal Crescent and the Circus.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice in Bath. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for independent exploration in Bath to do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You are free to tour the Roman Baths, visit museums and gardens or simply relax over tea at The Pump Room.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Hilton Bath City Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Bristol & Bath Railway Path / SS Great Britain Lecture / Clifton Suspension Bridge
(Saturday, June 21)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Pedal along the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, which provides traffic-free and level cycling right into the city center. Upon arrival at Bath Harbour, break for coffee and tea at the Museum of Bath at Work prior to listening in on a lecture on the "SS Great Britain," the first iron transatlantic liner driven by propeller to cross to America. Designed by the great English engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, she is now back from a watery grave in the Falkland Islands to the dry dock in which she was built over 150 years ago.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice en route. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Continue along the banks of the River Avon as we pass under the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was also designed by Brunel. Turn northward into the county of Gloucestershire and eventually reach our dwelling for the night.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: The Aztec Hotel & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Lecture on Medical Work of Edward Jenner / Slimbridge Wilfowl & Wetland Trust / Gloucester Cathedral
(Sunday, June 22)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: An early ride takes us along the eastern side of the River Severn, one of Britain's great rivers with a great tidal range creating the Severn Bore, especially on high spring tides, which reaches the city of Gloucester. A pit-stop in Berkeley offers us a glimpse of the 12th-century castle referred to by Shakespeare in "Richard II" and where King Edward II was murdered. Berkeley is also the home of Edward Jenner, who in 1796, discovered the cause and the means of protection against smallpox. At the Jenner Museum, attend a lecture on Jenner's pioneering medical work. Prior to lunch, enjoy an excursion to Wildfowl & Wetlands Center at Slimbridge, home to the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in the world.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice en route. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Follow the towpath of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal into Gloucester, a 19th-century inland port which is in the midst of being restored and turned into a delightful collection of shops, pubs, museums and of course, a harbor for all sorts of visiting boats and ships. The day would not be complete without a stop at the Gloucester Cathedral before continuing to the hotel.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: The New County Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Gloucester City & Docks Guided Walk/ "Ferry" Across Canal/ Beckford Silk
(Monday, June 23)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Join a historian for guided walk of the old city of Gloucester and the docks. There will be free time to explore the town and sights before departing for Tewkesbury, site of one of the best-preserved abbeys in England.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice en route. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Brace yourself for a short boat ride across the river. Our bikes get rowed across first and the group packs in for the next load that's paddled across the canal. En route to our next hotel, in the village of Dumbleton in the county of Worcestershire, we'll take an excursion to Beckford Silk to watch the printing of silk scarves and ties.

After check-in at the hotel, bid your trusty two-wheeler adieu and feel free to enjoy the hotel's garden or hike through its expansive grounds and countryside.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Dumbleton Hall Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Transfer to Stratford-upon-Avon / Guided Walk of Stratford-upon-Avon / Back Stage Tour of Royal Shakespeare Theatre / Stratford-upon-Avon Independent Exploration / Farewell Dinner
(Tuesday, June 24)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Board a motorcoach to Stratford-upon-Avon. Deposit luggage at hotel before embarking on a guided walk of "Stratford and the Life & Times of William Shakespeare," during which we'll visit many of the significant places associated with the Bard of Avon. A field trip through the Royal Shakespeare Theatre affords us a "behind-the-scenes" look at this world-renowned theatre company.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for independent exploration in Stratford-upon-Avon to do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants tonight at our farewell dinner in the hotel dining room. Get a good night's sleep and prepare for departure in the morning.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Program Concludes / Departures
(Wednesday, June 25)
   
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room. This concludes our program.
 Morning: Transfers to London Heathrow Airport for onward travel.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you return on more rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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