22185
England
A Walking Exploration of England’s Ancient Footpaths
Walking the verdant fields, forests and foothills of England is a tradition as ancient as the paths themselves. Come walk through history on this quintessentially English adventure.
Rating (4.33)
Program No. 22185RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
4,999
Flights start at
800
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14 days
13 nights
25 meals
12 B 7 L 6 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Salisbury.
D
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in 3:00 p.m.

Lunch: Excluded.

Afternoon: Orientation at 5:30 p.m.: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Salisbury Cathedral, Old Sarum
Salisbury.
B,L,D
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: 3 mile hike, 4 miles total walking. Negligible ascent.

Breakfast: Full English and continental breakfast in the hotel. Your choice of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, cereals, toast, yoghurt, pastries, juice, tea and coffee.

Morning: We’ll begin the day with a walking exploration of Salisbury and the Cathedral with a local expert. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe and after the tower of Lincoln Cathedral burned down in the 14th century, it held the distinction of being the tallest building in Britain until the last century. It holds one of the original copies of Magna Carta. We’ll then return to our hotel for lunch.

Lunch: Taken at the hotel.

Afternoon: We’ll walk out of Salisbury to Old Sarum Castle, where we’ll enjoy a visit led by a local expert. Old Sarum was a Bronze Age and Iron Age hillfort, utilised by the Romans and then subsequently the seat of the Earls of Wessex and the site of the original Salisbury Cathedral. After the Norman Conquest Old Sarum became a significant Norman ‘keep’ with great symbolic significance, as it was the castle of the defeated Harold. It was the site of the unveiling of the Domesday Book, another piece of Norman symbolism and propaganda. Interesting myths and legends are attached to Old Sarum. We’ll then walk back to our hotel in Salisbury. Historical periods covered: Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Maiden Castle, Cerne Abbas to Stratton
Salisbury.
B,L
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: 5 mile hike, 6.5 miles total walking. Grassy terrain. Height gained 400 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 45 miles to Maiden Castle, approximately 1.5 hours; about 10 miles to Cerne Abbas, approximately 1/2 hour; about 2 miles to Upcerne, approximately 1/4 hour; about 45 miles to Salisbury, approximately 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll travel by motorcoach to Maiden Castle near Dorchester, for a walk around the grassy ramparts of this huge Bronze Age hillfort (1.5 miles) with a local expert. Maiden Castle is Britain’s largest ancient hillfort, impressive enough on its own, but has a deeper tale to tell. Within the safety of its earth banks and palisades was a town (huge by the standards of the day). We’ll investigate the surprising reasons for the collapse of this community and the subsequent Iron Age and Roman occupations of the site. We’ll then take the motorcoach to the medieval village of Cerne Abbas, famous for its distinctive hill carving.

Lunch: Taken at the Giant Inn, Cerne Abbas.

Afternoon: We’ll take the motorcoach to the small hamlet of Upcerne, with a short detour to allow a view of Cerne Abbas’ cheeky hill carving. From Upcerne we’ll begin our walk to Stratton, 5 miles. This is a gently undulating walk along a broad grassy ridge with far-reaching views across the rolling green hills of Dorset, before a steady descent through the banks and ditches of an Iron Age hillfort. With plenty of visible history in the landscape we will learn about varying land use through the ages. The grassland here has never been subjected to agro-chemicals, so the flora is outstanding. Once we reach Stratton, we’ll return to the hotel in Salisbury by motorcoach. Historical periods covered: Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Medieval. Other learning: flora, fauna, ecology, landscape protection.

Dinner: Excluded so that you can experience some of the city's pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Avebury UNESCO World Heritage Site
Salisbury.
B,L,D
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: 4.5 miles total walking. Height gained 300 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 35 miles to Avebury, approximately 1.5 hours; about 35 miles to Salisbury, approximately 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach and head for Avebury through the Savernake Forest and Marlborough. After an orientation at the Avebury site, our walk takes us to the magnificent Neolithic chambered tomb of West Kennett Long Barrow, passing the ancient and mysterious Silbury Hill on the way. We’ll then walk back to Avebury.

Lunch: Packed lunch.

Afternoon: The afternoon will be spent further exploring the Avebury World Heritage Site with a local archaeologist. In addition to the stones themselves there is an excellent interpretive centre, a museum of archaeology and, from a more recent period, a medieval manor house and church. The oldest remains around Avebury date back to 11,500 BC, so this is truly a walk through an ancient landscape. Elective: Those in need of more walking may join our group leader for an afternoon walk up nearby Windmill Hill, a hill which gave its name to an entire civilisation (the Windmill Hill People). We’ll then return to the hotel in Salisbury by motorcoach. Historical periods covered: Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Medieval. Other learning: flora, fauna, protecting our visible history.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Woodhenge to Stonehenge, Wiltshire Museum
Salisbury.
B
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: 3 miles total walking. Height gained 300 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles to Woodhenge, approximately 3/4 hour; about 18 miles to Devizes, approximately 3/4 hour; about 25 miles to Salisbury, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll take the motorcoach to Woodhenge near Durrington, from where we’ll walk the 3 miles to Stonehenge. Our walk takes us from the site of Woodhenge, through Durrington Walls (earthworks of Neolithic settlement) and across the rolling green landscape to ‘The Avenue’, the processional route for Bronze Age pilgrims approaching Stonehenge. Durrington Walls was a substantial Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement which has been extensively researched by archaeologists in recent years.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like at Stonehenge.

Afternoon: We’ll travel by motorcoach to Devizes, to visit the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes where we will enjoy a private viewing of the galleries led by the museum’s Director. For the first time in many years some of the “crown jewels” of Stonehenge can be viewed in state-of-the-art exhibition cases. The museum includes the largest collection of Early Bronze Age gold ever put on public display in England. We’ll return to the hotel in Salisbury by motorcoach.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Salisbury.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Ridgeway National Trail, Uffington Castle, Free Time
Salisbury.
B,L
Red Lion Hotel

Activity note: 6 mile hike. Height gained 600 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 45 miles to Idstone, approximately 1.5 hours; about 45 miles to Salisbury, approximately 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach and head for Idstone in Oxfordshire, an attractive village nestling in the folds of the Oxfordshire Downs. From Idstone, we’ll walk to Kingston Lisle along the Ridgeway National Trail. Our walk takes us along the Great Ridgeway, the oldest route in continuous use in Europe. The ridge crest along the chalk downs of southern England provided a safe dry route with good visibility for travellers and traders from the Stone Age onwards. This is a walk through the earliest settled landscape in Britain. Iconic prehistoric sites abound on this walk, including Wayland’s Smithy, the Uffington White Horse, and Dragon Hill. The walk finishes near the Blowing Stone, a holed stone with which King Alfred reputedly summoned the local populace to fight and defeat the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown. Historical periods covered: Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval.

Lunch: We will eat our packed lunch on the grassy ramparts of Iron Age Uffington Castle, looking down on Dragon Hill (where, legend has it, St George slew the dragon).

Afternoon: We’ll return by motorcoach to Salisbury for some 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. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Salisbury.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Glastonbury Abbey, Wells Cathedral
Bath.
B,D
Francis Hotel Bath

Activity note: 400 foot ascent & descent. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 55 miles to Glastonbury, approximately 1.5 hours; about 7 miles to Wells, approximately 1/2 hour; about 21 miles to Bath, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll transfer by motorcoach to Bath today, with field trips to Glastonbury Abbey and Wells en route. We’ll begin with an expert-led visit to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, one of the cradles of early Christianity. Elective: those with a head for heights may join our Group Leader on a walk to the summit of Glastonbury Tor, a 400-foot climb rewarded with a stunning all-round view over the ancient county of Somerset. Those who prefer not to hike to the tor’s summit may take some time to explore the town. The earliest Christian settlement at Glastonbury was established by Joseph of Arimathea (the uncle of Jesus Christ). At the time Britain was a Roman colony and the Roman Empire had not yet converted to Christianity. Before the Somerset Levels were drained by the monasteries (in order to increase grazing land), Glastonbury was one of a number of islands in a wetland. Glastonbury was the Isle of Avalon (an actual place, not a myth). It was on neighbouring Athelney that Alfred the Great famously ‘burned the cakes’ whilst disguised as a beggar in an attempt to escape the Danes.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Glastonbury.

Afternoon: Our transfer by motorcoach to Bath continues, with our next stop en route at the tiny ‘city’ of Wells. Wells has a stunningly beautiful cathedral and a medieval Bishop’s Palace, surrounded by a moat (where the swans ring a bell to be fed!). Wells Cathedral was built with the purpose of luring the Bishop of Bath and Wells away from Bath Abbey. This was achieved by building a palace that no Bishop could possibly refuse! Historical periods covered: Romano-British, Late Antiquity, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval. We’ll continue by motorcoach to Bath and check in to our hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Roman Bath, Bath Abbey
Bath.
B
Francis Hotel Bath

Activity note: 2 mile walk in town, some cobblestones.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll walk from our hotel to the Roman Baths that give the city its modern name, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit. In Roman times Bath was known as Aquae Sulis, Sulis being a native deity syncretically identified with the Roman goddess Minerva. The hot springs here were dedicated to this goddess before the Roman occupation, and Roman authorities encouraged this worship. The baths complex that grew around the springs has provided a wealth of insight into Romano-British life and language, in the form of a collection of inscribed curse tablets that were cast into the sacred spring by people seeking divine justice for everyday thefts and slights.

Lunch: On your own to choose from the plentiful eateries in central Bath.

Afternoon: We’ll explore Bath Abbey and central Bath with a local expert, followed by free time for further independent exploration.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Wessex Ridgeway
Bath.
B,L
Francis Hotel Bath

Activity note: 6.5 mile hike. Height gained 500 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 21 miles to Sack Hill, approximately 3/4 hour; about 24 miles to Bath, approximately 1 hour.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll begin our field trip by travelling on the motorcoach to Sack Hill near Warminster. From Sack Hill we’ll walk to Knook along the Wessex Ridgeway. Our walk takes us across the Iron Age hill forts of Battlesbury and Scratchbury, and past the Bronze Age burial mounds on Middle Hill and the Neolithic flint quarry and Bronze Age mounds on Cotley Hill, walking on flower meadows all the way.

Lunch: Taken in the historic Angel Inn, Heytesbury.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our walk along the banks of the idyllic River Wylye to the medieval village of Knook, where we’ll meet our motorcoach for the journey back to Bath. Historic periods covered: Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Cotswold Way National Trail
Bath.
B,L
Francis Hotel Bath

Activity note: 5 mile hike. Height gained 500 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 26 miles to Nympsfield, approximately 1 hour; about 16 miles to Cirencester, approximately 3/4 hour; about 37 miles to Bath, approximately 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll take the motorcoach to Nympsfield near Stroud in the southern Cotswolds, where we’ll begin our walk to the village of Uley. Our walk takes us from Nympsfield Long Barrow to Coaley Peak Long Barrow, and then follows the Cotswold Way National Trail past the ancient monument of Hetty Pegler’s Tump before reaching the Iron Age hill fort of Uley Bury.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy a pub lunch at the Old Crown in Uley.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach and travel to Cirencester, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit to the award-winning Corinium Museum. We’ll then return by motorcoach to Bath. Historic periods covered: Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Castle Combe, Cotswold Way to Bath
Bath.
B,L,D
Francis Hotel Bath

Activity note: 6 mile hike. Height gained 600 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles to Castle Combe, approximately 3/4 hour; about 12 miles to Lansdown, approximately 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll travel by motorcoach to Castle Combe, where we’ll have some free time for independent exploration of this attractive village, thought by many to be England’s prettiest. Much of the village is medieval, including the old market cross.

Lunch: A traditional English Sunday roast at the Castle Inn, Castle Combe.

Afternoon: We’ll take the motorcoach to Lansdown (scene of a famous battle during the English Civil War). From Lansdown we follow the Cotswold Way National Trail along the escarpment, passing the Bronze Age remains at Kelston Round Hill and Penlea Hill. From Penlea Hill the path descends gradually to Bath through Royal Victoria Park, a great walk to round off our adventure. Historic periods covered: Medieval, Bronze Age, Anglo-Saxon, Iron Age, Early Modern.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Dyrham Park
London Heathrow Airport
B,D
Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 8 miles to Dyrham Park, approximately 1/2 hour; about 95 miles to Heathrow, approximately 2 hours. Cobbled courtyard, gravel paths and grassy terrain at Dyrham Park.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: We’ll begin our transfer to Heathrow by motorcoach with a leisurely start to the day at Dyrham Park, the 270-acre grounds of a 17th-century baroque mansion, which feature an ancient deer park and landscaped gardens.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like at Dyrham. There is a tea room for light lunches and snacks.

Afternoon: After some more time for exploration at Dyrham Park, we’ll continue our transfer to the hotel at Heathrow in the mid-afternoon. Upon arrival at the hotel we’ll check in and have some time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel, enjoy our farewell dinner and share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Transfer by hotel shuttle bus to Heathrow terminals. Your group leader will give you the fare for the shuttle.






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