This will give you a whirlwind five-day, four-night tour of some of the very best locations in South West England, including no less than four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Let us do the driving and visit historic cities, breathtaking countryside, picture postcard villages and stunning seascapes which are all on the itinerary, to allow this car tour to give you a real flavor of the region. The itinerary is flexible but typically could include the following.
Collecting you from your hotel or morning flight into London, we’ll journey westwards along the A303 to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site on the tour and the best known prehistoric monument in Europe. Marvel at the standing stones and the engineering skills of our ancestors and learn how they lived over 5,000 years ago.
From Stonehenge make the 30-minute journey to the town of Shaftesbury in Dorset, set in beautiful countryside, the town is full of historic buildings and has great literary connections with Thomas Hardy. There are many lovely shops and restaurants and the town features one of the most recognized streets in the UK, Gold Hill, which featured in a famous TV commercial.
Leaving Shaftesbury, head south through picturesque Dorset Villages to Lulworth Cove on the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast. This stunning, horseshoe shaped bay is a must see and the coastal walks and views are equally breathtaking. Head to Weymouth, Dorchester or the Dorset Coast for an overnight stop.
After breakfast, we continue westwards, crossing into Devon to the cathedral city of Exeter, which was the most south westerly fortified town in Roman Britain. The Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th Century is impressive and after a visit make the short journey to Powderham Castle, of the Earl and Countess of Devon. The castle has been owned by the same family since building commenced in 1391!
From Powderham, head inland to the Dartmoor National Park. This wild landscape has been the stuff of legends for centuries, and was the inspiration behind Conan Doyles’ epic Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Visit the village of Widdecombe in the Moor, made famous in the song Widdecombe fair, see the Dartmoor ponies and also go to
Postbridge to see the ancient clapper bridge, before journeying to Princetown, location of Dartmoor Prison and hear the tales about some of the more notorious inmates and their daring escapes.
Leaving the moor, passing many of the impressive granite outcrops known as Tors and head to the Maritime City of Plymouth. You’ll have a guided walk around the historic Barbican area, from where the Pilgrim fathers set out for the new world almost 400 years ago and stand on Plymouth Hoe looking out on one of the world’s finest natural harbors. Here you are standing on history itself, the scene of some of the world’s most iconic voyages from Sir Francis Drake fighting the Spanish Armada, The sailing of the Mayflower to start a settlement on the East coast of the USA, The Beagle carrying Darwin on his journey to South America which led to his theory of evolution, through to Sir Francis Chichesters first solo circumnavigation of the world. Overnight stay in Plymouth.
Departing Plymouth and heading west, we cross the Tamar into Cornwall. First stop is the village of Polperro, a picture postcard coastal fishing village with tiny fishermen’s cottages and a quaint harbor. Strolling the narrow streets is a joy, and imagine life here in days gone by as the village seems mainly untouched by modern development.
Head further into Cornwall for the 1.5 hour drive to the iconic St. Michael’s Mount. This former monastery dates back to the 8th century and has been owned by the same family since 1650! The castle is spectacular and can only be reached by causeway at low tide or by boat. The sea views are some of the best in the UK.
From St. Michaels Mount, this journey takes you through Penzance, with a brief stop at Land’s End, following the coast road to Botallack, where the iconic engine houses from Cornwall’s unique mining heritage and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site perch precariously on the very edge of the cliffs.The area was used extensively for filming the BBC TV series Poldark.
From here, we continue on the coast road for the short distance to St.Ives, a long time haven for artists such as Bernard Leech and Barbara Hepworth. It is the home of the Tate modern gallery and has regularly been voted the top seaside resort in the UK. Its winding streets are full of shops, galleries and restaurants and it beaches are among the best in the country. Return to hotel in Plymouth.
Head back down to Cornwall and our first stop is at Padstow. Another pretty harbor, Padstow has been made famous by celebrity Chef Rick Stein who has a number of restaurants in the town, including his own fish and chip shop. Wander the harbor side and winding streets before a short trip further to the tiny harbor village of Port Issac. The village has been made famous worldwide as it is the setting for the hit TV series Doc Martin. We visit many of the filming locations in the village before continuing on our journey to Tintagel, site of the 800-year-old King Arthur’s Castle with its breathtaking cliff top setting. We now return to Plymouth for our final overnight stop.
An early start is needed for our journey to the City of Bath, which is a must see for everyone visiting the UK and is the fourth UNESCO World Heritage Site visited on this tour. We arrive in time for a morning walking tour of this magnificent Roman city.
Set in lovely countryside the Georgian architecture of this city is also a delight and the Royal Crescent is an iconic British image. There is unique shopping and the Roman Bath is also a must-do experience, a spa destination for the past 2,000 years!
After sampling the delights of Bath, we’ll head north eastwards through the lovely Gloucestershire towns of Tetbury and Cirencester and into the Cotswolds to see more quintessential English landscapes of honey-colored limestone villages set in a beautiful rural setting.
There are dozens of lovely towns and villages to choose from, each bursting with old world charm, chocolate box scenes and the tranquil atmosphere of a different age. The most popular are the towns of Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the Water, where we will be spending some time on the final stop, before heading back to London, arriving in the early evening.
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