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Digital Photography in the South West: Somerset and Cornwall

Program Number: 21227RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/23/2015 - 6/2/2015;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: England, UK:England
Price starting at: $3,798.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Photography
Meals: 26; 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

Creating memorable digital photographs of natural and manmade landscapes is a true test of a photographer’s skill. Join noted photographer Jan Chipps amid the varied landscapes of Somerset and Cornwall to learn how to use your digital camera to make enduring, personal images. The tiny hamlets and picturesque villages, soaring cliffs and rugged coastlines, towering castles and ancient churches of Somerset and Cornwall provide your dramatic inspiration. For photographers of all levels, there is much to be learned to enhance your final images. Workshops on landscape photography help you make the most of two beautiful but contrasting areas of England’s idyllic South West.


• Improve your photographic skills in workshops and the field with Jan Chipps, professional photographer.
• Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Jurassic Coast and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the coastline of the Penwith Peninsula and Dartmoor National Park.
• Enjoy traditions of the South West including Morris Dancing, a Cornish cream tea and three dinners in spectacular locations.

Activity Particulars

Walk 2-3 miles on uneven surfaces; climb a few flights of stairs.

Each participant supplies personal digital camera and accessories. Full list of required items in preparatory materials.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival London, coach to Ilminster in Somerset, 3 nights; coach to Penzance in Cornwall, 5 nights; coach to London, 1 night; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.
1 night
Arrival Ilminster
3 nights

Your journey begins at the magnificent mansion and estate of Dillington House, former home to Prime Minister Lord North. The charming, quiet country town of Ilminster is set in the rolling countryside of South West Somerset. Here your digital photography experience kicks off with an interactive workshop on how to use exposure, shutter speed, focus and different types of lenses and filters to capture superior images, before you explore the beautiful grounds and put your photography skills to the test. Visit the delightful village of Hinton St. George and its 13th Century church and take in the idyllic surroundings of Cothay Manor, a 15th Century medieval manor surrounded by twelve acres of magical gardens. See a performance from a traditional English Morris Dancing side and capture some fantastic night shots of Dillington House.

Coach to Pezance
5 nights
Coach to London
1 night

Continue to Penzance, a bustling resort with sandy beaches and views of St. Michael’s Mount. En route, cross Dartmoor National Park where hut circles harken back to Stone Age man. Explore artist’s haven St. Ives and take in the incredible landscape at Godrevy Point and perfect your sunset shots at Sennen Cove. Make your way to the charming fishing village of Mousehole and visit the Minack Theatre, carved into the imposing coastline of Cornwall, before paying a visit to St. Michael’s Mount lit up against the night sky. In North Cornwall, visit and photograph the ruins of Tintagel Castle, home of the legendary King Arthur, on a dramatic headland overlooking the sea. Enjoy a traditional Cornish cream tea, then travel South to the very end of mainland Britain – Lizard Point.


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.

Ilminster: Dillington House, a 16th-century estate converted to a conference center with state-of-the-art facilities. Penzance: Three-star hotel overlooking Mount’s Bay. London: Four-star hotel close to Heathrow.
Meals and Lodgings
   Dillington House
  Ilminster, UK:England 3 nights
   Queens Hotel
  Penzance., UK:England 5 nights
   Radisson Blu Heathrow Hotel.
  London Heathrow Airport, UK:England 1 night
 Dillington House
Type: Conference Center
  Description: A stately home now a residential conference centre for professional development, adult education and the arts founded in 1949. The Main House, set in beautiful parkland and gardens, dates back from the 16th Century. Formerly the Somerset home of George III's Prime Minister, Lord North, the countryside setting is glorious and the award winning Hyde Buidling with views over the Somerset Levels mixes contemporary with historic. In the early nineteenth century, the Main House was remodelled in the so-called Jacobethan style. The Mews building was constructed in 1875, while 2009 saw the opening of The Hyde - a spectacular example of contemporary architecture, overlooking the surrounding countryside. Dillington House has been awarded Five Stars by VisitBritain.
  Contact info: Ilminster
Somerset,  TA19 9DT UK:England
phone: +44 1460 52427
  Room amenities: All rooms include a flat-screen television, a clock radio, complimentary toiletries and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Direct dial telephones. Most rooms have study desks.
  Facility amenities: Conference and meeting rooms including a fully equipped theatre. Free WiFi throughout. Sun Terrace and fountain with outside lighting, croquet lawn
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Queens Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: The Queens Hotel has been welcoming visitors to the far west of Cornwall since 1862
  Contact info: The Promenade
Penzance, Cornwall,  TR18 3AE UK:England
phone: +44 1736 362371
  Room amenities: Tea and coffee facilities, TV and Free WiFi
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar and lounge
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Radisson Blu Heathrow Hotel.
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Close to Heathrow Airport.
  Contact info: 140 Bath Road.
Hayes, Middlesex.,  UB3 5AW UK:England
phone: +44 20 8759 6311
  Room amenities: Air-conditioning. Direct dial telephone with personal number and voicemail, satllite TV and pay movies, in room safe. In room bar, iron and ironing board, tea and coffee making facilities.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant and bar. Complimentary wireless internet access, business centre, newsagents, health spa and fitness centre.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBC. For additional pre and post program accommodations, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
You will be greeted at Heathrow Airport and transferred to the Radisson Blu Heathrow Airport for lunch . At 1:30pm the coach will depart for Dillington House. You will be staying at Dillington House that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast on departure day. Breakfast ends at 10:00am and check out is by 11:00am. You will be staying at Radisson Blu Heathrow Hotel. the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. N/A.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: On departure.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ilminster
  Nearest city or town:  Ilminster.
  Nearest airport:  Bristol.
  Transportation to site: Hoppa buses available from Heathrow terminals to the Radisson Blu Heathrow. Taxis also available. We do not recommend trying to reach Dillington House by public transport as there is no train station nearby.
  From End of Program
  Location:  London Heathrow Airport
  Transportation from site: Hoppa buses depart the hotel for Heathrow Airport.
Equipment Requirements: Digital Camera, preferably SLR (required) Selection of lenses to include wide angle, circa 15mm (required) Portable storage such as a memory stick or SD card for ease of reviewing your images (required) Camera manuals and leads (required) A laptop computer for image editing and reviews (highly recommended) Tripod, portable but solid (highly recommended) Filters required: U.V filter, Polarising filter, Graduated Neutral Density filter in differing densities. It would also be advantageous to you and the rest of the group to for you to be quite familiar with the workings of your camera. If you are planning on using a new camera, take some time to practice at home and see how much you can grow your skills on the programme!
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:
(Saturday, May 23)
 Depart From: Depart the US on an overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrival day.
(Sunday, May 24)
 Arrive To: London Heathrow.
 Lunch: A light lunch is served in the Radisson Blu Heathrow hotel.
 Afternoon: The coach departs for Ilminster in Somerset. Enjoy your first views of historic Dillington House – formerly the Somerset home of George III’s Prime Minister, Lord North. Situated in stunning countryside, architectural historian Simon Jenkins has named it as one of the 1,000 best houses in Britain. Before dinner there will be a welcome meeting with Course Director Jan Chipps and your group leader. Welcome meeting at Dillington House with Jan Chipps and your group leader at 5:30pm.
 Dinner: In Dillington House.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Dillington House
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Photographic Techniques Workshop and Exploring Dillington
(Monday, May 25)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast served in the dining room of Dillington House
 Morning: Interactive workshop on Landscape Photography and Camera Techniques in one of Dillington’s charming meeting rooms. Learn about controlling the light, core techniques for successful landscape photography, exposure, shutter speeds, focus, lenses, file types, high dynamic range and filters. Maximise your camera knowledge and take it to the next level.
 Lunch: Three course buffet lunch in Dillington House, featuring mostly local seasonal produce.
 Afternoon: Put your newly acquired knowledge to the test in the grounds of Dillington. The beautiful grounds of the Dillington Estate provide a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the perfect place to practice landscape techniques and compose some beautiful shots of the gardens. After you’ve had time to fully explore the grounds your Course Director will lead the first of your photo review sessions and offer feedback and tuition to the group.
 Dinner: Table service dinner in Dillington House
 Evening: At leisure to further explore the grounds, or just relax in the hotel.
Accommodations: Dillington House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Hinton St. George and Cothay Manor
(Tuesday, May 26)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast served in the dining room of Dillington House
 Morning: Field trip to the delightful village of Hinton St. George. With its wide streets and thatched cottages, as well as the 13th Century Church of St. George, the village presents some wonderful photographic opportunities. From Hinton St. George we will then move on to Cothay Manor, considered to by many to be one of the most perfect of small, classic, medieval buildings extant in England today and another that appears in Simon’s Jenkins’ 1,000 best houses.
 Lunch: Lunch will be taken at Cothay Manor.
 Afternoon: Time to explore Cothay Manor. This 15th Century manor is one of Somerset’s finest historic houses and is surrounded by twelve acres of magically romantic gardens, all caught in an atmosphere that makes Cothay Manor seemingly beyond time. Many garden rooms, each a garden in itself, are set off a beautiful yew-lined walk and the house itself a picturesque subject for any photographer. A perfect place to practice your skills.
 Dinner: In Dillington House.
 Evening: Welcome the Crewkerne “Morris Men” for an evening of traditional English folk dance.
Accommodations: Dillington House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Transfer to Cornwall via Dartmoor National Park
(Wednesday, May 27)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in Dillngton.
 Morning: Transfer to Cornwall crossing Southern England’s greatest expanse of wilderness, the Dartmoor National Park, with its echoes of stone-age man in hut circles and scattered settlements. It is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Use your lens choice creatively for emphasis and drama and really capture the atmosphere of this magical place.
 Lunch: Taken in the Rugglestone Inn – a unique, unspoilt Dartmoor inn delightfully located in the picturesque village of Widecombe in the Moor. Originally a cottage, the Grade II listed building was converted to an inn back in 1832 and named after a local rocking stone. It is surrounded by peaceful moorland, adjacent to a pretty stream and just a few minutes walk from the centre of the village.
 Afternoon: The transfer continues. Arrival and check in at the hotel in Penzance.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: A mid-programme review and problem solving workshop with your Course Director. Ask questions, see your fellow participants’ work and further improve your photographic skills.
Accommodations: Queens Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: St. Ives and Godrevy Point
(Thursday, May 28)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Today we focus on shooting vistas and panoramas. Enjoy a relaxed, free morning before we depart for the town of St. Ives; set on its own bay and long popular with artists for the astounding quality of its light. St. Ives provides inspiration in its galleries and craft shops and is renowned as an international arts centre. Explore the cobbled streets full of history, legend and tradition winding between pretty fisherman’s cottages or perhaps stroll along the golden beaches and recognise beauty in all its simplicity. Here we have free time to explore and perhaps visit the Tate Gallery, the Cornish arm of this world famous London gallery.
 Lunch: Excluded so that you can discover and make the most of the special qualities of St Ives.
 Afternoon: Onwards to Godrevy Point, an awe-inspiring expanse of sandy beaches leading to wildlife rich headlands and the dramatic coves of the Cornwall coastline. Out to sea stands a stunningly picturesque lighthouse, a perfect subject for some dramatic shots of this most rugged part of England.
 Dinner: Taken out in the award winning restaurant, The Beach, overlooking the beach at Sennen Cove. This west-facing restaurant with its exceptional architectural design boasts a large terrace on which you can photograph and enjoy stunning sunsets over this unspoilt bay.
 Evening: Looking west we hope to capture a beautiful sunset and perfect your sunset shots.
Accommodations: Queens Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Mousehole, the Minack Theatre and Cape Cornwall
(Friday, May 29)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: We start with a review of the previous day’s photographs, before departing on a Field Trip to the tiny fishing village of Mousehole. Your Course Director will also talk to you about looking for subjects and details that characterise “place”, with tuition on shooting close up, details, patterns and some more advice on using high dynamic range. Mousehole is one of Cornwall’s most picturesque hamlets; a stunning collection of yellow-lichened houses, huddled together around the inner edge of the harbour and protected from the force of the sea by two sturdy breakwaters. Dylan Thomas described Mousehole as “the loveliest village in England”, a title that remains true to this day.
 Lunch: Taken out in Mousehole.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we head to the unique Minack Theatre, carved into the very rock face that makes the Cornish shoreline so memorable. Built just under 80 years ago, the theatre offers a truly humbling view out across the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a guided tour of the theatre and its history and use the opportunity to capture some truly breath-taking shots. We then head out to Cape Cornwall, one of the most South-Westerly points of the British Isles. Part of a UNESCO world heritage site, the Cape is adjacent to the aptly named Lands End and offers stunning views out on to the Atlantic.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: In a special night shoot we take the short journey to St. Michael’s Mount. An isolated community separated from the mainland by a causeway, St. Michael’s Mount was once – according to legend – home to a race of giants. Today, however, it is crowned by a medieval church and castle with the oldest buildings dating back to the 12th Century. Practice your skills as its lights pierce the night sky and provide a suitably dramatic backdrop to any photograph.
Accommodations: Queens Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: King Arthur’s Kingdom, Tintagel Castle and Port Isaac
(Saturday, May 30)

Note: Tintagel Castle-Wheelchair access is quite limited due to the geography of the site. Wheelchair access is available to viewing points and the visitors centre. Surfaces in the castle include grass, gravel, cobbles and flagstones. Many of the surfaces are uneven and include changes of level. No elevator.

 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Today we will be focusing on finding unusual and striking angles to tell the stories and legends as well as the use of a focal point and sense of scale. There’s no better way to do this than by exploring the lands once thought to be home to the legendary King Arthur and still shrouded in mystery and legend. Take in the mystical atmosphere and photograph the setting of the dramatic headland overlooking the sea at Tintagel Castle, said to be the birthplace of King Arthur. Set high on the rugged North Cornwall coast, dramatic view and fascinating ruins allow you to capture a history stretching as far back as the Romans. You can also visit the nearby Merlin’s Cave, located directly beneath the castle and famously described by Tennyson in his Idylls of the King, the definitive telling of the legend of King Arthur.
 Lunch: A packed lunch will be provided.
 Afternoon: We continue on to Port Isaac, a busy coastal port first established in the Middle Ages. Narrow, winding streets bordered by picturesque cottages give way to a delightful marina stretching out into the sea. Eagled eyed fans of British television will also be able to spot the home of popular character Doc Martin, perfectly positioned above the village looking out over the bay. We’ll enjoy a cream tea in the village before we make our way back to the hotel.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: An optional visit to a local pub with your Course Director. Enjoy a pint of traditional British ale and listen to some local Cornish music.
Accommodations: Queens Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Penzance and Lizard Point
(Sunday, May 31)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a free morning to explore the town and harbour of Penzance. The ancient market town is the capital of the far West of Cornwall and is set in beautiful Mounts Bay – a body of water dominated by the grandeur of St. Michael’s Mount. The market town is home to several Georgian and Regency historic houses and eleven museums. Notable amongst these is the Penlee House Gallery & Museum in the centre of Penzance which has extensive displays of local archaeological artefacts and a range of exhibits illustrating the life and social history of West Cornwall. In the gallery are examples of the work of the Newlyn School of Painting, a group of artists based in this small Cornish fishing village in the late 19th Century. They had a united ethos, similar painting style and shared subjects – primarily concerned with capturing the real lives of the fishing and farming communities in this remote part of Britain. Late morning will be a final review of photographs with your Course Director – an opportunity to look back at the scenes and moments you have captured during your time in the South West.
 Lunch: In the hotel.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we visit the very end of England, Lizard Point. The most Southerly point in Britain, imagine yourself back in 1588 sighting the Spanish Armada – one of the largest invasion fleets in history – off the coast for the first time. The clear uninterrupted views counterpoint the astonishing scenery and will make a perfect canvas for those last few photographs, putting all your newly learned skills to the test.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure to relax and pack for tomorrow’s transfer.
Accommodations: Queens Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Transfer to London.
(Monday, June 1)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: This morning we begin our transfer to Heathrow, the first leg of our journey home.
 Lunch: A packed lunch is provided.
 Afternoon: The transfer continues.
 Dinner: Say goodbye to your new found friends with a final dinner at the Raddison Blu Heathrow.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Heathrow Hotel.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Departure day.
(Tuesday, June 2)
 Breakfast: Full English breakfast in the hotel (served from 7-10am.) Transfer by Hoppa bus--the group leader will give you the GBP6 for the bus which will take you to all Heathrow terminals.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  London Heathrow Airport Central London
There are endless possibilities for an evening in London: The theater, a walk along the South Bank, guided walks, historic pubs, trend-setting restaurants, a stroll through SoHo. For additional information, visit
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.

Suggested Reading List

A Cornish Anthology

Author: A.L. Rowse



Author: Craig Weatherhill


Cornwall's Archaeological Heritage

Author: Cornwall Archaeological Union

Cornwall's Maritime Heritage

Author: A. Kitteridge

King Arthur in Legend and History

Author: Richard Barber


Myths and Legends of Cornwall

Author: Weatherhill and Devereux


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