Group Tours to explore the English Countryside
By Anna Levine
Tours are a great approach to meet new people and experience one of a kind opportunities in an organized way. From the rolling hills to the timeless woodlands and twisting country roads, few things can compare to England’s countryside.
Two new tours available this winter are UK Countryside Tour’s “Telling the Stories of England” and a collection of tours from The National Trust. Both tour groups offer a unique and up-close experience of these countryside hot spots.
UK Countryside Tours
The UK Countryside Tours offer escorted group travel, designed and guided by recognized experts. The program covers ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites and seven National Parks, as well as 100 of England’s cultural heritage gems, always focusing on the stories behind the monuments, castles, cathedrals and battlefields.
This February the Tour company launched a new program offering brand new and innovative group tours. These escorted excursions provide adventure seekers with behind-the-scene experiences crafted to inspire Americans to explore Britain’s distinct regions.
The heritage and cultural tours of England are broken down into several categories including Art and Culture, History and Heritage and Houses and Gardens. There’s really something for everyone no matter what your interests may be.
Available through UK Countryside Tours, commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World. Travelers begin by visiting the villages and churches where Pilgrims William Bradford and William Brewster lived and worshiped. From there explore the coastal towns and seaports from Northern England to the South Coast.
On the way, you can see a full-size replica of the Mayflower, visit the oldest pub on the Thames and stand on the steps of Plymouth Harbor. All of this is available within the History and Heritage category of the tours.
Other tours under this section include Radical Thinkers, a tour about how the cotton industry began in Manchester and Statements in Stone which takes a look at the evolution of the English Countryside House.
Group tours are available seven days/ six nights with prices ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, with options for independent travelers and customized itineraries.
The tours meet in large, regional cities, allowing for easy transportation. On these tours travelers not only learn from their experienced guide but their peers as well, adding additional insight to these journeys.
Visiting the National Trust
Short for The National Trust for Places of History Interest or Natural Beauty, The National Trust describes itself as “a charity that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces—for ever, for everyone.”
The Trust owns over 350 heritage properties, which include many historic houses, gardens, industrial monuments, and social history sites.
The recently restored house at Mount Stewart in County Down is now available for group tours. Visitors are greeted inside with internationally significant art, furniture and silverware.
Throughout the year new spaces, such as formal rooms and bedrooms, will be opening to share stories of the past from the Stewart Family. This is one of the most beautiful places in Northern Ireland, and a must-see.
As the seasons change, hundreds of gardens across the country begin to blossom. Located in the South East of England, Polesden Lacey, one of the National Trust’s properties has formal gardens as well as an Edwardian rose garden. The pastel colored roses are a favorite to see in June when at their peak.
Garden of Stumps
Yes, you read that correctly; this garden offers more than just flowers. In Sizergh Cumbria an overgrown area of the garden has been resurrected by using more than 20 tree stumps. The stumpery showcases a selection of Sizergh’s four national Collections of Fern.
This industrial looking garden is a unique spin on traditional gardens. There are also a variety of new plants available for all-year interest.
It wasn’t until 20o6 that The National Trust took ownership of the Levant Mine, built in 1820 and closed in 1930.
This once thriving tin and copper mine is located on the Tin Coast in Cornwall.
The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site contains restored mining sites with exhibitions and a museum.
The site’s main attraction is its Cornish beam engine built in 1840 and still operated by steam on its original site.
The mine got the nickname “mine under the sea,” because tunnels were driven up to 2.5 km from the cliffs under the sea. These dark and winding tunnels are open for tours.
The National Trust offers a selection of packages and can tailor tours to meet groups needs and interests. Since completely independent from the Government, every visit supports the National Trust’s conservation work. It’s important to preserve these treasures in order for people to continue to visit.
Whether it be seeing The Mayflower (replica) up close in Plymouth, wandering around the stump garden in Cumbria or crouching through mining tunnels in Cromwall, both UK Countryside and the National Trust will help you get started on your group tour of England. Time to explore the countryside with friends and family.
Anna Levine is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She loves traveling, horseback riding, and experimenting with new foods.