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21454
England/Wales

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

Enjoy a comprehensive exploration of England and Wales as you discover the spires of Oxford, mountains of Snowdonia, cobbled streets of Windsor, Conwy castle and much, much more.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21454RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
850
England/Wales

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

Enjoy a comprehensive exploration of England and Wales as you discover the spires of Oxford, mountains of Snowdonia, cobbled streets of Windsor, Conwy castle and much, much more.
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
850
Program No. 21454 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 10 - Aug 23, 2021
Starting at
4,199
Sep 21 - Oct 4, 2021
Starting at
4,199
Oct 5 - Oct 18, 2021
Starting at
3,999
May 10 - May 23, 2022
Starting at
4,349
Jun 14 - Jun 27, 2022
Starting at
4,349
Aug 9 - Aug 22, 2022
Starting at
4,349
Sep 27 - Oct 10, 2022
Starting at
4,349
Oct 11 - Oct 24, 2022
Starting at
4,349
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Aug 10 - Aug 23, 2021
Starting at
5,199
Sep 21 - Oct 4, 2021
Starting at
5,199
Oct 5 - Oct 18, 2021
Starting at
4,999
May 10 - May 23, 2022
Starting at
5,199
Jun 14 - Jun 27, 2022
Starting at
5,199
Aug 9 - Aug 22, 2022
Starting at
5,199
Sep 27 - Oct 10, 2022
Starting at
5,199
Oct 11 - Oct 24, 2022
Starting at
5,199

At a Glance

Timeless villages, bustling cities, grand manors, renowned universities, beautiful natural areas — explore all of these and more on this jolly good jaunt through England and Wales. Outstanding local experts tell the stories of royals, poets and commoners and illuminate the essence of Britain as you explore Windsor, Oxford, the Lake District, the Cotswolds, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and the rugged coast of Wales.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles per day. Some stairs without railings in historic buildings.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

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

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Conway Davies
Conway Davies earned a degree in history at Bangor University, a master's from Cardiff University, and is completing his Ph.D. at Swansea University. Conway has extensive knowledge of the Welsh language and the history and culture of both North and South Wales. He is the author of two books, "The History of Poor Law Provision in South Wales" and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: the History of Mental Health provision in South Wales."

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Conway Davies
Conway Davies View biography
Conway Davies earned a degree in history at Bangor University, a master's from Cardiff University, and is completing his Ph.D. at Swansea University. Conway has extensive knowledge of the Welsh language and the history and culture of both North and South Wales. He is the author of two books, "The History of Poor Law Provision in South Wales" and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: the History of Mental Health provision in South Wales."
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Beatles in Liverpool: The Stories, the Scene, and the Path to Stardom
by Spencer Leigh
This slim biography explores Liverpool’s influence on the young Beatles and charts the seminal moments of one of history’s most revered rock bands.
Slow Cotswolds
by Caroline Mills
Connect with the people, places, environment and heritage of the Cotswolds and discover for yourself the well-known sights and the unsung delights of the English countryside -- not to mention the foibles of the locals -- in this personable guide.
The British Isles, A History of Four Nations
by Hugh Kearney
The Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans and modern immigrants all make an appearance in this Canto Classics edition of Kearney's elegant and revisionist history of not just the English but also of the Scots, Welsh and Irish.
Kingdom by the Sea
by Paul Theroux
This time, the prolific writer recounts a coastal journey around the British Isles in 1982, displaying his occasional ill temper alongside his celebrated ability to combine social history with a good old-fashioned traveler's tale.
The Story of England
by Christopher Hibbert
Beautifully illustrated with color pictures, chronological charts, royal genealogies and maps, this popular history of English politics, economics and culture from the Neolithic Age to the 1990s is an excellent travel companion.
Angry Island, Hunting the English
by A. A. Gill
The splendidly irreverent London critic A.A. Gill includes scathing chapters on voice, humor, drink, animals, garden, sport and class in this comic manual to the English.
At Home with Beatrix Potter, The Creator of Peter Rabbit
by Susan Denyer
A photographic tour through Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's beautiful home in England's Lake District.
The English Cathedral
by Peter Marlow
In this photographic tribute to each of England's 42 Anglican cathedrals (including the great UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Durham and Canterbury) award-winning photographer Peter Marlow evokes the greatness and humbling power of each magnificent building.
A Concise History of Wales
by Geraint H. Jenkins
This brief, authoritative history of Wales and Welsh identity from prehistory to the present is by Garaint Jenkins, longtime director of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies.
Cider With Rosie
by Laurie Lee
In this memoir of growing up in a small, remote village in the Cotswolds -- set against the backdrop of the First World War -- Lee captures an all-but-vanished rural way of life. Originally published in 1959.
Shakespeare, A Life
by Park Honan
A delightful, informative and up-to-date biography of The Bard, his life, work and times.
The Shepherd's Life, A Tale of the Lake District
by James Rebanks
The owner of a family farm in the Lake District, James Rebanks covers the shepherd's way of life that he inherited from his father and grandfather, giving voice to his unique connection to the land and its history. Rebanks is a graduate of Oxford and an advisor to UNESCO.
The Wild Places
by Robert Macfarlane
MacFarlane climbs, walks and swims by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods in this marvelous exploration of the nature of the British Isles.
Eyewitness Guide Great Britain
by Eyewitness Guides
With 1,400 photos, maps and excellent introductory chapters, this guide offers both a general overview of Great Britain and a region-by-region look at its attractions.
Oxford, A Cultural Guide
by Martin Garrett
In this entertaining and brief guide to Oxford, Martin Garrett focuses on what makes Oxford -- Oxford. He takes readers from Oxford's days as an Anglo-Saxon outpost through the 20th century.
Londoners
by Craig Taylor
Drawing on the unforgettable stories of nearly 100 Londoners, Taylor provides a rich and vivid kaleidoscopic view of modern-day London through the diverse voices of those who, regardless of whether they love or hate it, capture the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest cities.
Great Britain and Ireland Map
by Kunth Verlag
A nicely detailed map showing both Great Britain and Ireland at a scale of 1:800,000.
A Writer's House in Wales
by Jan Morris
In this extended essay, Morris uses her much-loved 18th-century house as a point of departure for a meditation on Welsh identity.
In Search of England
by H.V. Morton, Jan Morris (Introduction)
The much-beloved, enduring account of Morton's ramblings through the English countryside in the early days of the motorcar. Morton charmingly mixes a deep appreciation of the art, culture and history of the place with his own keen observations.
Looking for Class, Days and Nights at Oxford and Cambridge
by Bruce Feiler
A witty, charming and astutely observed account of an American graduate student's year spent in the halls of England's most prestigious academic institutions.
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14 days
13 nights
25 meals
12 B 4 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Day
Windsor
L,D
Macdonald Hotel Windsor

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

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

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

Evening: At leisure to unpack, relax and prepare for the program ahead. Elective: Our Group Leader will lead an orientation walk for those of us who wish to explore Windsor this evening.

DAY
3
Windsor Castle
Windsor
B
Macdonald Hotel Windsor

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

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

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

Afternoon: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. Our Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions should you wish to further explore Windsor.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Transfer to Stratford-Upon-Avon: The City of Oxford
Stratford-upon-Avon.
B,D
Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach for our transfer to Stratford-upon-Avon, with a visit en-route to Oxford – the city of “dreaming spires”. Our local expert will meet us for morning tea in central Oxford, and will lead us in exploring this fascinating city on foot. We will see such sights as the Radcliffe Camera, the Clarendon Building, the Sheldonian Theatre and the Bridge of Sighs, discovering the contrasts of the Classical and Gothic architecture in discussion with our expert as we walk.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

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

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Stratford-Upon-Avon & The Royal Shakespeare Company
Stratford-upon-Avon.
B,D
Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: At the hotel we’ll enjoy an introduction to Stratford-upon-Avon, and our Group Leader will provide us with city sightseeing passes which allow us to visit the famous properties associated with the Great Bard, William Shakespeare. You are then free to explore at your own pace.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: The afternoon begins with free time to continue independent exploration. At 3:30 p.m. we’ll reconvene to begin a walk to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s building and theatres, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit.

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

Evening: We'll enjoy a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not available. When confirmed, the information will be posted on the Road Scholar website under this program number and will also be included in preparatory materials sent following enrollment.

DAY
6
The Cotswolds
Stratford-upon-Avon.
B,L
Alveston Manor

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: Served in a traditional inn.

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

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Transfer to Deganwy: Chester & Its Grand Cathedral
Deganwy, Conwy
B,D
Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Our transfer to Conwy continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

DAY
8
Conwy Castle & Town
Deganwy, Conwy
B,D
Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Our Study Leader will lead us on foot through some more highlights of this market town, including a Tudor townhouse, and orientate us to its many and varied attractions. This is followed by free time for independent exploration.

Dinner: In the hotel.

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

DAY
9
Snowdonia National Park
Deganwy, Conwy
B,L
Quay Hotel and Spa

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach for a full day expert-led field trip through Snowdonia National Park. Spanning over 800 square miles, it was the first of three National Parks in Wales, officially inaugurated in 1951. Snowdonia boasts, amongst other things, the largest mountain in Wales, the largest natural lake in Wales and a wealth of charming villages. The area is rich in culture and history and more than half of its residents speak Welsh. Slate quarrying was one of the most common occupations in the area during the Industrial Revolution, and the landscape bears testament to this history today. We’ll explore this aspect of Snowdonia’s heritage this morning at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, and during a visit to a slate face.

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

Afternoon: Our field trip continues through landscapes of stunning natural beauty. We’ll take the motorcoach to Blaenau Ffestiniog to begin a journey on the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway, originally used to transport slate from the quarries to the coast, in carriages drawn by a historic steam locomotive. This train will take us along a scenic winding route through the National Park to Porthmadog, where we’ll rejoin the motorcoach for our journey back to our hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Transfer to The Lake District: The City of Liverpool
Bassenthwaite
B,D
Castle Inn Hotel

Breakfast: Full Welsh and continental breakfast in the hotel.

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

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: We’ll complete our transfer to the Lake District. After checking in to the hotel, our Study Leader will lead a walk through the local area.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: After dinner, we’ll gather for an illustrated talk and Q&A session with our Study Leader for this section of the programme.

DAY
11
Castle Cottage & Beatrix Potter’s Lake District
Bassenthwaite
B,D
Castle Inn Hotel

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: We'll enjoy a different perspective on the Lakes as we take a steamer ride from Lakeside to Ambleside, with an opportunity to visit ancient Castlerigg stone circle along the way.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Bowness-on-Windermere, Coniston & Brantwood
Bassenthwaite
B,L,D
Castle Inn Hotel

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

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

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Transfer to Manchester: Kirkstone Pass & Holker Hall
Manchester
B,D
Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport

Breakfast: In the hotel.

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

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: The transfer to Manchester continues.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure to pack and say farewell to your new found friends.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
Manchester
B

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

Morning: Transfer by Shuttle Bus to Manchester Airport (MAN) for onward flights. Your Group Leader will assist you in making arrangements. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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