2021 Daily Itinerary for the Overlooked England Tour

One of the five bridges across the River Windrush in the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water

This is the day by day itinerary for our 2021 “Overlooked England” tour and is in three parts.

1.  The blue section immediately following details the optional pre-tour extensions that connect with the preceding Scotland’s Four Corners Tour.

2.  The green section in the middle is the main tour

3.  The blue section at the bottom are comments about optional post-tour extensions you could add if you wished.

The main page explaining the tour and with the joining form is here.

Sunday 5 September (or sooner) : Traveling to join the tour

You can choose your preferred airline and flights to get to Scotland and join the tour.

If you are planning to enjoy the full optional pre-tour extension, you should consider arriving in Edinburgh perhaps today.  Because the extension starts in Edinburgh after lunch on Monday 6 September, you could also travel to Edinburgh from many places on Monday morning.

If you are arriving into the UK to meet up with this extension, you should fly from the US the previous day, because most flights to the UK from the US are overnight, so you’d leave yesterday afternoon (Saturday 4 September) and therefore arrive today.

Of course, you can fly earlier to anywhere in Scotland or Britain, and travel on to Edinburgh today, perhaps by train, perhaps by plane, or get there any other way it suits you.

One last thought.  You can join the preceding Scotland’s Four Corners Tour at any time, so in particular if you wished to do the famous “From John O’Groats to Land’s End” tour, you could join us in Inverness on or before Friday 3 September.

Monday 6 September : Continuing from Edinburgh to York

Lovely panoramic view of Edinburgh from the Castle.
The ruins of Whitby Abbey tower over the town below.
A section of York's city wall and the glorious York Minster in the background.

If you are joining (or continuing on with) us, we’ll travel on from Edinburgh after a lunch break.

We travel down the east coast, cross the border into England, and then detour to Whitby, the one-time home of English sailor/explorer Captain James Cook, the mythical place where Dracula came ashore, and these days a nice fishing port and holiday resort, renowned for its fresh fish and chips.

We will break for dinner in Whitby then continue on the final part of our journey to York, through the amazing North York Moors National Park, in parts barren, in parts beautiful.

Tuesday 7 September : From York via Stratford upon Avon and Bladon to Salisbury

The timelessness of the medieval half-timbered buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, looks very modern but was opened in 1932.
This humble village church is the final resting place of Britain's greatest 20th century statesman, Sir Winston Churchill.

We continue on to Salisbury today, with a couple of interesting stops on the way.

Our first stop is at Stratford upon Avon, one time home of William Shakespeare, and terminus of the Avon Canal.  This will be our lunching spot as well as a nice town to walk around.

After lunch we go to the small village of Bladon, where we’ll stop at the churchyard of St Martin’s Church, to see the grave of Britain’s greatest 20th century statesman (actually, he was half American – his mother was American), Sir Winston Churchill.

From Bladon it is not far on to Salisbury where we’ll then enjoy three nights – this evening, then two more nights during the “official” Overlooked England Tour.

Wednesday 8 September : Main tour starts

We're not staying at this hotel, and show it merely to illustrate typical Salisbury architecture and the contradiction between the name - The New Inn - and its age.

This morning the main tour starts in Salisbury.

This is the end of the optional pre-tour.  Please now scroll down to Wednesday 8 September in the main tour (green) section immediately below to continue the tour itinerary.

Tuesday 7 September (or sooner) : Travel to Salisbury

You can fly on any of the many different airlines that go to the UK.

If you are leaving from North America, and wish to arrive into Salisbury for the official tour start date on Wednesday 8 September, you should start your travels today or (recommended) yesterday or even sooner.

Note that we recommend arriving into Britain and getting close to Salisbury a day or more earlier so as to have spare/emergency time up your sleeve, and also a day or more to recover from the flight(s) and adjust to the new time zone.  You might choose to leave home a day or two prior to today.

We can arrange a transfer from Heathrow or Gatwick to Salisbury, or you can take the various bus and/or train services.

Wednesday 8 September : Wiltshire Area Touring - Stones, Chalk figures, Ancient Castle

Stonehenge looks very different from each angle. You'll have a chance to walk all around it and see it from all perspectives.
The stone circle at Avebury is so large the village fits in the middle.
The Cherhill Downs White Horse, one of many in Wiltshire.
A "staircase" of 16 locks, all operated by hand, just out of Devizes.
The ruins of Old Wardour Castle are in a beautiful setting.

Today is the official tour start day, when we meet in central Salisbury at 8.30am.

If you’re traveling to arrive into Salisbury this morning, please be sure to leave enough time to get to the starting point by 8.30am.

We plan to beat the crush of crowds by heading first to Stonehenge.

The site is very well managed with lots of explanatory material to help ‘bring the stones to life’.  Even if you’ve been here before, the wonderful new visitors’ center makes it well worthwhile to return.

Probably everyone knows Stonehenge.  But fewer people know of the assorted other mysteries around Wiltshire, even though some of them, like the white horses, are clearly visible for miles around.

We’ll go by at least two of the white horses on our travels.

From Stonehenge we continue north towards Avebury, stopping on the way to see three mysterious ancient things that are clustered close to each other – the West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill, and The Sanctuary.

We’ll visit Avebury, which can be thought of as ‘Stonehenge on steroids’ – it has Europe’s largest stone circle, plus assorted other mysterious stone arrangements.

We then go to the ancient market town of Devizes for lunch, and make a tiny detour to see an extraordinary flight of 16 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

After lunch, we go to Old Wardour castle – mainly ruined, but perhaps even looking all the much better for it.  It also has a fascinating ‘grotto’ in the grounds.

Then one more strange thing – the Fovant Badges to complete a day of touring around the unusual, and its back to Salisbury mid/late afternoon.

Some of you may be tired if freshly arrived from other countries, so we’re deferring our welcome dinner until tomorrow, but there’ll be a welcome drink this evening.

Thursday 9 September : A Day Trip to Portsmouth, maybe also Isle of Wight

Recently re-restored, Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, looks stunning inside and out.
A very different sort of watercraft - one of the world's few remaining hovercraft services.
A view of some of Portsmouth harbor and the modern Spinnaker tower, with three levels of observation decks 330' above the ground.

After breakfast this morning we travel the short distance to Portsmouth (just over an hour’s drive) where you have a choice of three activities.

You’ll probably be able to fit at least two of the three into your day, maybe even all three.

The first choice is to go over to the Isle of Wight.  You can travel the short distance by fast hovercraft (a 10 minute journey) or slower regular ferry (20 – 40 mins), with both offering regular services throughout the day.

There’s a lot to see on the Isle of Wight, including Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle as well as the nice town of Ryde and a chance to travel around the island by bus or train.

The second choice would be to immerse yourself in the splendid Royal Navy Museum in the Portsmouth Dockyard area.  See Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, the Tudor warship Mary Rose from the sixteenth century, the gripping special feature on the Battle of Jutland, a WW2 submarine, and so much more.

And the third choice?  To simply enjoy Portsmouth as you wish, strolling around, enjoying the harbor sights, smells and sounds, the views from Spinnaker Tower, and the museums, including Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum.

However you spend the day, you’re sure to have a wonderful time.

After we get back to Salisbury, we’ll enjoy our group welcome dinner.

Friday 10 September : To Plymouth via Glastonbury and Exeter

The tor at Glastonbury, associated with stories of the Holy Grail and Arthurian legends.
Those people who believe in 'ley lines' claim there is an astonishing concentration of them all focusing on Glastonbury in general and the Tor in particular.

We travel on this morning, going first to mysterious Glastonbury, where it is believed King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried in the ruins of the beautiful Glastonbury Abbey.

If you’re feeling energetic, you might also wish to walk up to the enigmatic Glastonbury Tor, a place where some people believe there’s an unusual convergence of ley lines.

From Glastonbury, we then proceed on into Devon and to Exeter, the region’s capital and another classic English cathedral city.

After time in Exeter, we continue on to Plymouth, where we’ll stay for the next two nights.

Saturday 11 September : Devon Area Touring - Dartmoor National Park and Torquay

The Royal William Victualling Yard in Plymouth, designed by Sir John Rennie and built between 1826 - 1835.
Dartmoor and the Cistvaen Stone Circle.
The steep track down for the cable cars on the Babbacombe Cliff Railway.
Torquay from the harbor.

We spend the morning in Plymouth, where there are many things to do, with a special option being a tour of Britain’s now retired HMS Courageous nuclear attack submarine, the only nuclear submarine in Britain open to the public.

Plymouth of course has an American significance, it being where the pilgrims set sail from, and there’s the Mayflower museum in Plymouth telling the story of the English side of that great adventure that you could visit.

This afternoon we head into the Dartmoor National Park, before then traveling on to Torquay, a town located in the Devon region referred to as the ‘English Riviera’ due to its comparatively warm climate, and made famous as the supposed location of Fawlty Towers.

We’ll ride the steep Babbacombe Cliff Railway down to the beach and back again.  Maybe you might like to walk along the coastal route the sort distance from there to downtown Torquay, and/or to walk along some of the ‘Agatha Christie Mile’ (she lived much of her life in Torquay).

We then return back to Plymouth.

Sunday 12 September : To Penzance via Fowey and elsewhere

The lovely tiny town of Fowey.
Depending on tide times, we'll visit St Michael's Mount either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
We'll visit St Michael's Mount or St Ives today and the other tomorrow.

As soon as we leave Plymouth, we enter the magical world of Cornwall, a region of England quite unlike anywhere else, indeed, so different that it was formerly an independent country and has its own language, Cornish.

The region is currently seeking semi-independence, much like is experienced in Wales and Scotland.

The region has a different feel to it; we feel it is best experienced on a ‘soft’ day – perhaps with some distant mist and overcast skies, so as to accentuate its other-worldliness.

We’ll definitely visit the lovely little town of Fowey on our journey towards Penzance, and will also either visit St Michael’s Mount (tide permitting – much of the day it is possible to walk across the causeway from the mainland to the island, only a couple of hundred yards off-shore) or, if not, St Ives on Cornwall’s northern coast.

St Ives is known for its arts and culture, and regularly wins awards as being Britain’s best sea-side town.  Whether that is true or not, it is certainly very popular, even though it is far removed from the country’s main population centers.

We arrive into Penzance late afternoon, where we’ll stay two nights.

Monday 13 September : Cornwall Area Touring - Land's End, Old things, Mysterious things

Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall. We think it looks "better" in the mist than on a clear/sunny day - what do you think?
A 2018 group of Travel Insiders at Land's End.
Ruined old tin mines abound in Cornwall.

We travel around the remote tip of Cornwall today.  This includes what for some of us will be one of the two major bookend experiences of our Expedition – a visit to Land’s End.

Land’s End itself is often decried as a tourist trap, and that might be true, but it is unavoidably so because of all the people who go there to start or finish their journey between there and John O’Groats.

It actually is a spectacular location, with the waters of the Atlantic crashing into the cliffs below and the out-at-sea lighthouse nearby.

We continue touring through Cornwall, pausing at sights ranging from old (abandoned tin mines) to extremely old (mysterious stone circles and other pre-historic structures).  These include Lanyon Quoit, and the Merry Maidens.

There are some other possible stones and structures that may or may not be visible depending on vegetation/tree growth.

Depending on if we included St Ives or St Michael’s Mount yesterday, we’ll try to include them today if omitted yesterday.

Tuesday 14 September : To the Cotswolds via Port Isaac, Tintagel Castle, Boscastle and Bristol.

Port Isaac, popularized in the BBC series "Doc Martin".
Part of the sprawling ruins of Tintagel Castle, in the mist. Yes, I do like misty pictures in Cornwall!
Uneven horizontals and verticals on the old buildings in Burford.

It is time to move on again.  Our first stop this morning is the beautiful little fishing village of Port Isaac.  If you enjoy British tv comedy/drama shows, you’ll recognize Port Isaac as the setting for the long running series Doc Martin.

After the (hopefully) sunny and lighthearted feeling of Port Isaac, we go somewhere much more brooding – Tintagel and the remains of its castle, a place closely associated with the stories of Merlin, Camelot, and King Arthur – some say he was born here.

We include time for lunch in Tintagel (perhaps have a local specialty – a ‘Cornish Pasty’) and then continue our journey northeast, detouring to the tiny town of Boscastle, associated with witchcraft and the supernatural.

Continuing our journey, we pass out of Cornwall not long after.

If we’re making good time, we’ll detour through Bristol to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, originally designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also designed the SS Great Britain, the longest passenger ship in the world when launched in 1845, and now preserved on display in Bristol – we’ll go past that too.

We then complete our day’s experiences when we enter the beautiful Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and arrive in Burford where we stay for two nights.

Wednesday 15 September : Cotswolds Area Touring

The cottages on Arlington Row in Bibury date back to 1380.
The road into Bourton on the Water. Just wide enough for our coach. Hopefully!
The old mill (on the left) and houses in Lower Slaughter, on the River Eye.

Now for a problem in preparing this ‘photo itinerary’.  Today we travel around an area of so many ‘picture postcard’ beautiful villages and gorgeous rural scenes it is hard to know which images to select to illustrate the day with.

This morning we go first to Bibury and one of England’s most photographed scenes (the cottages on Arlington Row, dating back to 1380).  Some people (particularly those in Bibury, one suspects!) claims this to be the most beautiful village in the world.  Come see for yourself, and be the judge.

We next go to aptly named Bourton-on-the-Water, noted for its five bridges crossing the River Windrush as it flows gently through the middle of this town, the oldest having been constructed in 1654 (see picture at the top of the page).

Next we give you a chance to work up an appetite for lunch.  We travel to Lower Slaughter where you have a chance to walk the pathway through the fields from there to Upper Slaughter (just over one mile).  If you prefer, the coach will take you between the two villages.

Then we continue on to Broadway where we’ll stop for lunch.

After lunch we go to Moreton-in-Marsh then visit the Rollright Stones and two other adjacent similar ancient things, and then head back to Burford via one more lovely village – Stow-on-the-Wold, after a lovely lazy day of touring around the beautiful Cotswolds.

One more thing this evening.  Alas, all too soon, our tour is coming to a close, and we celebrate our shared experiences in our farewell dinner.

Thursday 16 September : To Oxford, tour ends

This pictures vividly shows why Oxford is called "the city of dreaming spires".

We travel the short distance to the beautiful city of Oxford this morning, a city closely integrated with its university, the oldest in the UK and second oldest in the world, dating back to 1096.

Our tour ends in Oxford.  You can leave in the city center, or at the bus and train stations.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Overlooked England Tour, or continue reading for some ideas on what you could do now the main portion of the tour has ended, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Thursday 16 September : Ideas for extending your time

A student bar in Oxford, offering "An Education in Intoxication Since 1381".

Want some more touring?  While our arrival in Oxford marks the end of our formal tour itinerary, there’s plenty more you can do, of course.

Our first suggestion is to consider joining us sooner, somewhere/anywhere on our Scotland’s Four Corners Tour.  Ideally, join us in Inverness in time for heading up to John O’Groats so you can do the entire journey between the two far corners of Britain.

But if your schedule only has free time at this end of the tour, the first suggestion would be to add some time in Oxford itself.

Plus, of course, why not spend a day or more in London.  It is less than an hour by train from Oxford to London.

We’ll be pleased to help you plan any additional time you wish to spend in Britain or Europe, just let us know. 

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Overlooked England Tour, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

The English can do pomp and circumstance better than any other nation.
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