Joanna Booth checks out the cream of the crop of new itineraries close to home.
Every tourist is a mix of two types: the lounger, and the explorer. Those who book escorted tours tend, by nature, to fall into the latter camp.
And though it’s easy to assume exploring must involve dashing off to far-flung places, this isn’t the case. We probably all occasionally feel as if we’re neglecting our own country, and have actually seen and know more of foreign climes than we do of the UK.
It seems increasing numbers of people are acting on these hunches. This year, Shearings Holidays has added three new UK itineraries and Journeys of Distinction introduced a UK tour due to customer demand. Titan Travel launched a new programme of UK short breaks, with a dedicated trade-friendly brochure. Great Rail Journeys has increased its range of options in Scotland, and sister brand Treyn has a new Yorkshire tour running in October to take advantage of the Pickering 1940s wartime weekend, when the town takes a trip back in time with a military parade and historical re-enactments.
Whether you have clients who want to avoid a long flight or just fancy finding out a little more about home-grown culture, consider one of the options below.
It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year, and she’s rewarded us with an extra bank holiday. It would be churlish not to make the most of the additional day off, and what better holiday to choose than one that visits Britain’s greatest royal sights.
Shearings Holidays’ Best of Royal Britain is a 12-day tour visiting Balmoral Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Sandringham Royal Estate, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and Caernarfon Castle. The price starts from £859 and includes 11 nights’ half-board accommodation and return coach travel, with departures from April to July, including one over the Jubilee bank holiday.
Journeys of Distinction isn’t a brand you might have associated with the UK, but prepare to change your mind. Due to customer demand, it has launched a Very Best of the UK itinerary, using accommodation from Hand Picked Hotels, which features one-off properties around the UK.
Beginning and ending in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown, the 11-day tour circles north, visiting historic York, taking a trip on the North Yorkshire Steam Railway to Whitby, viewing Alnwick Garden on the way to Edinburgh and spending a few days in the Lake District before heading to Chester. The tour starts from £1,299 with departures from May to October. Car parking and transfer services are pre-bookable, and there are dining packages from £159.
0161 491 7616
There’s a communal element to any escorted tour so travelling with like-minded people can make or break the holiday. While age similarity can’t guarantee friendship, it’s a good start, so for older clients consider Grand UK Holidays, a tour operator for the over-55s. It launched an upmarket Gold brand at the end of last year, with better quality hotels, state-of-the-art coaches and extras such as welcome receptions and a commemorative photograph.
There are 20 tours in the Gold selection, including a five-day break in the Severn Valley, which starts from £379 and departs July 2, August 13 and October 22. The accommodation is at the four-star Stourport Manor Hotel, and the tour includes a journey on the Severn Valley Railway and visits to Wenlock Edge, Ludlow, Worcester and Evesham.
Why choose between the Ring of Kerry and the Giant’s Causeway when you can have both? Titan Travel’s eight-day The Best Of Ireland tour visits both Northern Ireland and the Republic. It moves at a relatively leisurely pace, with two nights in most hotels, but still covers a lot of ground.
In addition to time in Belfast and Dublin, the trip visits some of the best of the beautiful countryside that makes Ireland famous, from the Cliffs of Moher in Cork to the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin. Though it moves at a relaxed pace, this trip includes a fair bit of walking, so isn’t one for those who struggle to get around.
Flights are with BMI from Heathrow, and Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service will get clients to the airport. Hotels are four-star, and the price is based on accommodation with breakfast. There are departures in June, July, September and October and prices start from £1,095.
0800 988 5166
There’s a lot to recommend the UK, but the weather isn’t one of those things. For a more reliable dose of sunshine, clients can fly to the Channel Islands, which are at the same latitude as northern France. Insight Vacations has a new tour of the islands this year, inspired by comments from past guests and tour directors on the Travel Forum area of its website.
The seven-day East Pace Channel Islands tour runs from May to October and is relaxed, but still manages to pack a lot in, from Guernsey’s green fields, medieval castle, boutique shops and Second World War fortifications to car-free Sark, where guests take a horse and cart ride. In Jersey, the group stays in St Helier, but also visits the Jersey War Tunnels, and the Mont Orgueil Castle at Gorey. The tour starts from £1,425, land-only.
020 7468 4335
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