Explore Cumbria's Landscapes & Literature past on a tour with your Group.
The first tourists to visit Cumbria were Celia Feinnes in 1698 and Daniel Defoe in 1724. They seem to have found it a rather frightening experience: Celia referred to ‘inaccessible high rocky barren hills which hang over one’s head in some places and appear very terrible’ while Defoe described the area as ‘the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even Wales itself’. Thomas West’s Guide to the Lakes (1778) really began the era of modern tourism – West refers to ‘persons of genius, taste and observation’ who have begun to tour their own country.
The visitor to Cumbria in the 21st century can expect, as could their predecessors in the eighteenth, ‘scenes that surpass all description and objects which will affect the spectator in the highest degree. Such as wish to unbend the mind from anxious cares or fatiguing studies will meet with agreeable relaxation in making the tour of the lakes. Something new will open itself at the turn of every mountain.’ We couldn’t put it better!
The recommendations of the romantic poets, most notably William Wordsworth, and the coming of the railways secured the area’s future as a must-see tourist destination. Ironically part of the original appeal was its isolated solitude! The modern traveller in search of the romantic poets can visit the school in Hawkshead where Wordsworth was a pupil and no fewer than three of his homes are open to the public - Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount and Cockermouth where there is also a brewery which offers guided tours should your group need a little light refreshment.
Literary critic John Ruskin’s delightfully located home at Brantwood can be combined with a boat trip on Coniston and the local museum ("The most thought-provoking in the Lakes" – according to The Rough Guide to the Lake District) is dedicated to his work and is home to an exhibition about Malcom Campbell’s Bluebird. Mirehouse and Gardens will also appeal to groups interested in the literary tradition of the area - ‘the house has a wealth of unique literary connections with Tennyson, Southey and Thomas Carlyle’. For fans of cute cuddly creatures Beatrix Potter’s home can be visited at Hill Top and there are related visitor attractions at Brockholes, Bowness and Hawkshead as well as the Armitt Museum and Library.
Numerous other options are possible – boat and train rides, industrial heritage sites, historic castles, geology walks, even a museum dedicated to Laurel and Hardy! And there will always be time to sample some of the local specialities – including gingerbread and sticky toffee pudding, allegedly invented on the shores of Ullswater.
Suggested 2 Day: Itinerary Literary Cumbria
Morning pick up and travel to Cockermouth
Visit to Wordsworth’s childhood home
Transfer to Grasmere
Visit the village and Dove Cottage
Check in at accommodation and evening free (optional group meal)
After breakfast depart for a visit to Rydal Mount (or choose from a wide range of alternatives)
Travel to Hawkshead to visit the village
Transfer to Ambleside
Boat trip from Ambleside to Bowness
Depart for home
If you add an extra day – or two - you can discover more of what the Lakes have to offer – perhaps focus on Beatrix Potter or include a castle or stately home such as Muncaster, Sizergh, Holker or Levens and a ride on a steam railway (Lakeside and Haverthwaite or the charming Ravenglass and Eskdale). Alternatively, include a destination outside the Lakes as a contrast – York, Liverpool or Chester are obvious possibilities. The choice is yours!
The essential place to start is surely Monet’s House and Garden at Giverny; the colourful interior of his home is surpassed only by the displays outside in his beloved garden, complete with the iconic lily pond. Examples of his art can be found in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Rouen, the medieval capital of Normandy – it was here that Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake by the English and where later Monet painted the massive gothic cathedral in many different lighting conditions.
Art lovers will not want to miss the chance to include the picturesque harbour town of Honfleur, a favourite resort of artists since the nineteenth century, the dramatic cliffs at Etretat (also the subject of several paintings by Monet) and MuMa, the Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre, a city which itself constitutes a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its post war architecture. As well as its art gallery visitors interested in contemporary architecture will want to visit the striking Église Saint-Joseph du Havre built between 1951 and 1957/58 by the chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre, Auguste Perret, teacher and mentor to the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. L’Appartement témoin Perret can also be visited – it presents a show flat furnished in the style of the 1950s.
No visit to Normandy is complete without sampling the fine food and drink of the region – especially the renowned cheeses and the produce of the apple orchards of the Pays D’Auge. Groups can visit both cheese farms and cider makers and sample Calvados, the exceptional apple-based liquor named after the region in which it is distilled.
Groups visiting Normandy may also want to take the opportunity to include some of the other iconic locations found in the region – the Bayeux Tapestry, the dramatic pilgrimage island of Mont Saint Michel, the D Day landing beaches and associated museums and cemeteries or some of the magnificent castles and cathedrals that still evoke the areas turbulent but deeply religious past. The Basilica of Sainte Thérèse at Lisieux gives testimony to a more recent instance of religious inspiration.
For a longer Impressionist Art Tour a few days in Paris can be added on so as to take in the great art collections housed in galleries such as the Musée d’Orsay. A visit can also be arranged to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent van Gogh spent his last days and where he is buried.
You may have met us in 2016 at The Group Leisure Travel Show at the NEC Birmingham or Great for Groups Central at Edgbaston Stadium. Once again we are back in the NEC, Birmingham on 22-23 March exhibiting our exciting range of Group Tours.
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A visitor to the pleasant village of Ironbridge would hardly imagine that it was here that the industrial revolution can be said to have begun. The iron smelting works at nearby Coalbrookdale developed ground-breaking techniques in the manufacturing process and provided the materials for the world-famous iron bridge across the Severn Gorge, though it nearly bankrupted the company doing so.
It is possible to visit the homes of the ironmasters, the Quaker Darby family which are located only a short distance from the remains of the blast furnaces. Other industries congregated in the now picturesque valley – potteries, coal mines, tile makers, a pipe works and even a tar tunnel. Of particular interest is the once famous Coalport China Factory where displays and demonstrations bring the history and techniques of china making to life.
The industrial legacy of the area is so rich it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site . An introduction to the whole area is given at the Museum of the Gorge while at Blists Hill an entire Victorian town has been recreated where they still charge for goods in pounds, shillings and pence.
Many of the buildings have costumed re-enactors demonstrating the lives and trades of a century ago. The local pub offers traditional refreshments and sometimes a good old fashioned sing-a-long too.
Beyond Ironbridge, Shropshire offers plenty for groups who want a more extended tour. The pleasant county town of Shrewsbury, almost surrounded by the River Severn, offers a combination of half-timbered charm and modern shopping. Home to the fictional crime-solving monk Brother Cadfael the abbey church and castle still stand and can be visited.
Shropshire offers visitors a fine selection of stately homes including Attingham Park and, across the border in Staffordshire, the magnificent Weston Park, pleasant market towns like Ludlow with its imposing castle overlooking the river and Bridgnorth , terminus of the Severn Valley Railway which will take you by steam train to the peaceful riverside town of Bewdley or on to Kidderminster, and impressive scenery – the hills of the Long Mynd near Church Stretton.
Across the valley from the Long Mynd you will find the well-preserved Victorian farm featured in the TV series. Wroxeter boasts the remains of a Roman city and a reconstructed villa and nearby a fine vineyard where tours and tastings can be arranged. A visit to Shropshire can include a chance to take in some of the industrial heritage of the Black Country or the history and landscape of the neighbouring Welsh Marches. A Galina Group Tour is an ideal way to see this fascinating area, much of which is rather off the beaten tourist trail.
With all these things to do in Liverpool, is there any acceptable excuse for not visiting?
If this is not enough to tempt you to take your group tour to Merseyside, perhaps the prospect of a ferry ride across to the Wirral for a tour of the unique model village of Port Sunlight with its Lady Lever Gallery full of masterpieces of pre-Raphaelite art will convince you. There is even a preserved U-boat to see at Birkenhead’s Woodside ferry terminal, a short stroll from one of the finest squares anywhere in the country (Hamilton Square).
Liverpool makes an excellent base to explore further afield to the Roman city of Chester where you can walk round the walls, visit the cathedral, take a trip on the River Dee or simply enjoy browsing the shops and eateries on its unique ‘rows’, to the glorious scenery of North Wales and its brooding Edwardian castles, the Lake District and even Manchester – a must for football fans but like Liverpool a city with rather more to offer than just a couple of football teams!
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Hampshire is a delightfully English county and it is a great destination for lovers of some of the most English of novelists.
A number of fascinating venues evocative of their lives and times can be included on a Literary Group Tour. You can track down the birthplace of Jane Austen, visit the cottage in picturesque Chawton where she lived in later life and stroll round the ancient city of Winchester, once the capital of England, where she spent her last days.
Anthony Trollope was a pupil at Winchester’s famous public school and some have seen in the city and the nearby St Cross Hospital the inspiration for his Barchester novels.
Not far away in Portsmouth is the house where Charles Dickens was born – within sight of the city’s dockyards which now house two of Britain’s most Historic warships, the Mary Rose and HMS Victory.
To supplement all this literature and history add a trip to the Sapphire Gin Distillery.