Exploring the Literary Landscapes of England

29 May – 17 Jun 2019 Approximate dates

  • Region:
    • England
    • Europe
    • United Kingdom
  • Status: waitlist
  • Code: 21915
Overview

“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.” (Quote from Shakespeare’s Richard II play)

Tour Highlights

  • Lectures and site visits by Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia.
  • See places where Jane Austen lived and which she put into her novels with the President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia as your guide.
  • Take the scenic drive through the glorious Wye Valley to Tintern Abbey, listening to Wordsworth’s great poem as you travel.
  • Walk and drive through the lovely Lake District which inspired so many famous poets and writers.
  • Enjoy a theatrical performance at one of the theatres in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • Play a game of Poohsticks in the Hundred Acre Wood, where Christopher Robin and his friends invented the game.
  • Visit Bateman’s, Kipling’s glorious Sussex home.
  • Explore historic English cities such as Canterbury, Winchester, Bath and York.
  • Walk the Bronte’s moors and visit their home.
  • Dine in literary restaurants.

21-day Literary tour of England

Overnight Canterbury (4 nights) • Winchester (3 nights) • Bath (4 nights) • Stratford-upon-Avon (2 nights) • York (2 nights) • Lakes District (3 nights) • Manchester (2 nights)

Overview

Visiting places connected with literature brings the excitement of recognizing homes and landscapes long familiar to the imagination, of connecting loved novels and poems with the lives and environments of the authors and seeing first hand the countryside they described. We will visit writers’ homes, view original manuscripts and enjoy theatre performances. In gardens, ruins, castles, villages, churches and graveyards we will examine the effect of environment on a writer and investigate the role played by a sense of place in literary creation. You will discover how the elegant classicism of Bath influenced Jane Austen, how a bleak industrial landscape shaped D.H. Lawrence and what it was about the wild moors that fired the Brontës’ imaginations. The tour begins in Chaucer’s Canterbury, moves through the gentle Hampshire countryside of Jane Austen to the Dorset of Thomas Hardy. James Herriot’s Yorkshire, the lakes of the Romantic poets and Shakespeare’s Stratford are included. Special visits to homes not open to the general public are arranged. Childhood favourites are not forgotten. We visit Beatrix Potter’s charming farmhouse and play poohsticks on the original Poohsticks Bridge. Throughout the tour our exploration of literary landscapes is enriched by dramatic readings and expert guides. Discover on this tour the literary delights of ‘this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England’!

About the Tour

Once there was a Malaysian professor of English, a great lover of Wordsworth, who on visiting England for the first time was in a taxi in London when he saw some dandelions growing on a bomb site. He stopped the taxi, got out and kneeling down by the dandelions, reverently recited Wordsworth’s poem about the daffodils.

Of course, a great work of literary imagination has its own life and can be appreciated without knowledge of the objects and places mentioned in it, and yet, as this story illustrates, an understanding of the environment and experiences of the author can enormously enrich our appreciation of literature. Visiting places connected with literature brings the excitement of recognizing places we have long known in our imaginations and the thrill of gaining new perceptions into literary works.

To connect the works with the authors’ lives, to see first hand the landscapes they described, to walk through the houses in which they lived and to see the original manuscripts of their novels and poems – these can only be described as awe-inspiring and magical experiences.

This tour offers you an enriching opportunity. We will follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen, Dickens, the Brontës, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, and many other classic writers. Modern writers and film directors of popular novels have also been inspired by English literary landscape. Lacock Abbey, as seen in Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Lyme Regis John Fowles captured so memorably in The French Lieutenant’s Woman – these places have also been included in the tour. Sometimes this will be a sentimental journey as you are reminded of poems once learnt, but long forgotten, or of childhood stories. Playing poohsticks in the Hundred Acre Wood on the very bridge where ‘Poohsticks’ was invented will bring back many memories!

The tour begins in Canterbury and ends in Manchester. Literary shrines visited will be as varied as the authors themselves – homes, castles, gardens, theatres, ruins, National Parks, villages, churches and cathedrals are all included in the itinerary. In these places we will investigate the role played by a sense of place in literary creation and in an appreciation of literature. We will examine the effect of environment on a writer – just how did a bleak industrial landscape shape D.H.Lawrence? In what ways did the elegant classicism of Georgian Bath influence Jane Austen? How did a church charitable institution inspire Trollope, what was it about the wild moors which fired the imaginations of the Brontës? This will be a journey through varied physical landscapes, but also through the varied minds and imaginations of great writers.

We will be joined at different times by people who have written about great writers. Their expertise, talks and presentations will greatly add to our enjoyment. Susannah will brief us on all house visits and locations and will provide dramatic readings of poems, letters and extracts from novels, when appropriate.

Most of the great authors featured in this tour are dead, but there is nothing dead about the works they left behind them. Great literature should be a ‘live’ experience and therefore included in the tour are performances of plays and dramatic presentations. Film has brought classic novels to life for many people and so, accordingly, we will visit places used as film locations.

It is not possible to include in the tour all the literary landmarks of England. Many wonderful spots have had to be left out. The tour aims to be informative, varied and fun. You will travel in the company of people who share your fascination with good literature. Treat yourself and discover the glories of “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”!

Itinerary

The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. Furthermore, a number of the sites have not yet confirmed their opening hours for 2019. Therefore, the daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight/ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunch and evening meals as indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Canterbury - 4 nights

Day 1: Wednesday 29 May, Arrive London Heathrow, Cobham – Cooling – Rochester – Canterbury
  • Morning Tea at the Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham
  • Churchyard, Village of Cooling
  • Walking tour of Rochester (incl. Rochester Cathedral)
  • Orientation Lecture

After an early morning arrival in London, we travel to the village of Cobham and enjoy a morning tea at the Leather Bottle Inn, one of Dickens’s favourite places and a venue for some of the eating and drinking done in The Pickwick Papers. Today the walls are decorated with an extensive collection of Dickensian memorabilia including, pictures, cartoons, photographs and illustrations.

Before driving on to Rochester, we make a stop at Cooling churchyard, setting for the spellbinding opening chapter of Great Expectations. From his earliest novel Pickwick Papers to his last, unfinished, Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens made Rochester a setting for his books. We will enjoy a walk through the charming higgledy-piggledy streets of the town to see the original homes of Miss Havisham and Edwin Drood, and will see the Swiss Chalet where Dickens did much of his writing. We will also see Rochester Cathedral, and will have time to explore the local bookshops.

Mid-afternoon we continue our journey south to Canterbury, following the route taken by Chaucer’s ‘Wife of Bath’ and her fellow travellers. Leisure and relaxation after your trip is followed by an orientation lecture at your hotel. The remainder of the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Canterbury)

Day 2: Thursday 30 May, Canterbury
  • Morning Literary walking tour including Canterbury Cathedral
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Evening Welcome Meal

Canterbury, founded in Roman times, is rich with associations of Chaucer, Marlowe, Dickens, Somerset Maugham and even Rupert Bear. We commence the day with a walking tour through the literary places of Canterbury, including a guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral.

The afternoon is free for you to explore Canterbury at your leisure. You might like to visit the ancient Abbey, float down the river Stour on a boat, or explore the historic High Street. This evening we shall enjoy a performance by Teresa Gallagher (to be confirmed), followed by a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Canterbury) BD

Day 3: Friday 31 May, Canterbury – Charleston – Sissinghurst – Canterbury
  • Charleston: Home of the Bloomsbury Group
  • Sissinghurst Castle Garden

This morning is dedicated to the brilliant and eccentric Bloomsbury Group. We begin with a private guided tour of Charleston Farm and a lecture on the Bloomsbury Group members by Dr Wendy Hitchmough, author of a number of books, including The Arts and Crafts Garden. In 1916 the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved to Sussex with their unconventional household. Over the following half century Charleston became the meeting place for a group of Bloomsbury artists, writers and intellectuals, including Clive Bell, David Garnett and John Maynard Keynes, who lived at Charleston for considerable periods; Virginia and Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry were frequent visitors. Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture at Charleston. The rooms on show form a complete example of the decorative art of the Bloomsbury artists: murals, painted furniture, ceramics, paintings and textiles. The collection includes work by Renoir, Picasso, Derain, Matthew Smith, Sickert, Tomlin and Delacroix. The walled garden was redesigned in a style reminiscent of southern Europe, with mosaics, box hedges, gravel pathways and ponds, but with a touch of Bloomsbury humour in the placing of the statuary.

In the afternoon, we will travel the short distance to Vita Sackville-West’s famous garden at Sissinghurst Castle, judged by many to be the best garden in England. We can visit the superb old library and the tower room, where Vita wrote her novels and prize-winning poems, looking out over her wonderful garden. There will also be time to view the exhibition in the barn on Vita’s fascinating life and writings. (Overnight Canterbury) BL

Day 4: Saturday 1 June, Canterbury – Rye – Burwash – Ashdown Forest – Hartfield – Canterbury
  • Lamb House: Home of Henry James (to be confirmed)
  • Bateman’s: Home of Rudyard Kipling
  • Pooh Corner Bookshop and Poohsticks Bridge, Hartfield

In the morning, we will set off for Rye, Henry James’s “haven on the hill-top”, where he settled in Lamb House. In this house, which we will explore, he was visited by Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, E.M.Forster, Joseph Conrad and E.F.Benson. Rye is a writers’ paradise and a walk through its picturesque streets awakens the imagination of any receptive visitor. E.F. Benson used the town as a setting for his comic Mapp and Lucia novels, which were recently filmed in Rye, and Lamb House was home to Miss Mapp. After Henry James died, he lived in Lamb House, and after that the house was home to Rumer Godden. It is one of the most literary houses in England!

We will then travel a short distance to the village of Burwash to see Bateman’s, the mellow seventeenth century home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902-36. Kipling’s study has been kept exactly as he used it for thirty years. There he wrote If, which has been voted the most popular of all English poems. You will have time to explore the garden and walk to the old mill, look through the house and browse in the book shop.

Near Bateman’s is Ashdown Forest, better known to children around the world as ‘The Hundred Acre Wood’. A.A. Milne, who lived with his wife and Christopher Robin at Cotchford Farm, was inspired by the forest to send Pooh and Piglet hunting woozles there. We will take a walk through the wood to the original Poohsticks Bridge, where we can all play ‘Poohsticks’. If time permits we will also visit the Pooh Bookshop in Hartfield village, before returning to Canterbury. (Overnight Canterbury) B

Winchester - 3 nights

Day 5: Sunday 2 June, Winchester – Penshurst – Box Hill – Winchester
  • Penshurst Place & Garden
  • Visit Box Hill: from Jane Austen’s Emma
  • Literary Walking Tour: Keats and Watermeadow by Susannah Fullerton

After breakfast, we travel to Penshurst Place. In 1586 a brilliant man died fighting in Holland and the literary world was the poorer for his death. Sir Philip Sidney, Elizabethan courtier and poet, was a true Renaissance man in every way. Sidney’s home was Penshurst Place, seat of one of England’s most powerful families, and it is hard to imagine a more lovely home and garden for a poet. After Sidney’s death Ben Jonson paid tribute to him in a poem To Penshurst.

From Penshurst we travel through the green rolling hills of southern England to Box Hill, setting for Jane Austen’s ill-fated picnic scene in Emma. Now owned by the National Trust, the hill was well-known to Fanny Burney, Sheridan and Keats. Like the characters in Emma we will stroll on the hill and admire the superb views.

From Box Hill we continue to Winchester where we will be based for the next three nights. Winchester has many literary associations – Keats, miserable over his tuberculosis and his love for Fanny Brawne walked its streets (it was while walking through autumnal fields outside Winchester that he was inspired to write Ode to Autumn) and Izaak Walton, when he wasn’t fishing, was steward to Winchester’s Bishop. We will take a walk through the city’s picturesque streets, see the house where Jane Austen died (exterior only) and follow in the footsteps of Keats by the Itchen river. This evening we enjoy a group meal at the hotel. (Overnight Winchester) BL

Day 6: Monday 3 June, Winchester – Steventon – Chawton – Winchester
  • St Nicholas Church, Steventon (Meet Revd. Michael Kenning, vice president of the Jane Austen Society, UK)
  • Morning Tea at The Wheatsheaf Inn, Popham Lane
  • Jane Austen’s House, Chawton
  • Chawton House Library Tour (to be confirmed).
  • Dinner at Chawton House (to be confirmed).

This morning we visit St Nicholas Church, Steventon, which Jane attended regularly with the rest of the family to listen to her father preach. The tiny church is actually outside the village centre. It is a small, simple building, dating from the 12th century and retaining some fragments of medieval wall painting. A spire has been added since Austen’s lifetime, bearing a wind vane in the shape of a pen in her honour . The Steventon rectory no longer stands (it was demolished by Jane’s brother Edward who built a new house for his son, William Knight, who later took over the parish). Vice President of the Jane Austen Society in the UK, Revd. Michael Kenning will provide the group with a short introductory talk at St Nicholas Church.

The Wheatsheaf Inn is where we will enjoy morning tea. Located on the road between Winchester and London, this red brick building is where Jane Austen went to collect her family’s post.

This morning we travel to Chawton, to a modest redbrick house which was Jane Austen’s home from 1809-17. Here she re-worked and wrote her six masterpieces. We will see her bedroom and the famous squeaking door that reminded her to hide her manuscripts from prying eyes.

Following lunch, we shall enjoy a private visit to Chawton Great House and its library to view its collection that focuses on rare and unique works written by women in English during the period 1600 to 1830, such as the original manuscript of Jane Austen’s dramatic adaptation of Samuel Richardson’s novel The History of Sir Charles Grandison. (TO BE CONFIRMED)

We will enjoy an early dinner at Chawton House. (TO BE CONFIRMED)

We shall also visit Chawton church where Jane Austen’s mother and sister are buried. (Overnight Winchester) B

Day 7: Tuesday 4 June, Winchester – Lyme Regis Museum – Dorchester – Winchester
  • Literary Gallery, Lyme Regis Museum
  • Max Gate: Home of Thomas Hardy
  • Dorset County Museum

This morning, our coach drive takes us to the Dorset coast. “A very strange stranger it must be who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme”, wrote Jane Austen in Persuasion. Her memorable scene, where Louisa Musgrove falls down the steps on the Cobb, has drawn literary pilgrims such as Tennyson to Lyme for generations. We will walk Lyme’s Cobb, see the house where Jane stayed and Captain Harville’s cottage.

More recently, Lyme was used by John Fowles in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. He became a fixture there – local historian and museum curator. We will visit the recently renovated Lyme Regis Museum, which has an excellent literary gallery.

In the afternoon we will visit Max Gate, the home Hardy designed himself (he trained as an architect) and where he and his wife lived in silent hostility together. We will then drive back to Winchester via Dorchester to visit ‘The Literary Gallery’ of the Dorset County Museum which explores the lives and work of Dorset’s authors, poets and novelists. It includes a reconstruction of Thomas Hardy’s third study from his home at Max Gate. All the furniture, books and personal possessions in the room originally belonged to Hardy including the pens which he used to write Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure(Overnight Winchester) B

Bath - 4 nights

 Day 8: Wednesday 5 June, Winchester – Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester – Amesbury – Bath
  • Cathedral of Winchester
  • Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester
  • Pre-dinner drink at the Canary Gin Bar

After breakfast, we visit Winchester’s Cathedral; Jane Austen is buried here and we will visit her grave.

We next travel a very short distance to the Hospital of St. Cross, where we will receive the wayfarers’ dole of bread and ale. It was the Victorian scandal of this medieval almshouse’s wealth which inspired Trollope to write The Warden, thus immortalising the building as Hiram’s Hospital. The institution is still home to elderly gentlemen.

After a light lunch at the Hospital of St Cross, we continue via Amesbury to Bath, where we will be based for the next four nights. We begin the stay in Bath by enjoying a pre-dinner drink of gin at the Canary Bar.  (Overnight Winchester) BL 

Day 9: Thursday 6 June, Bath
  • Bath Abbey
  • Jane Austen Walking tour incl. the Gravel Walk, Bath
  • Lunch at the Pump Room
  • Time at leisure to explore Bath

Our day begins at the heart of the city with a visit to the magnificent Bath Abbey. The present building, which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 1999, was constructed over the site of a Saxon Monastery where the first King of England was crowned in 973 AD. The fan vaulting is considered to be the finest in Britain.

From the main entrance of the Abbey we commence our Jane Austen walking tour. Few cities have been visited and written about by so many writers – Samuel Pepys, Sheridan, Fielding, Dickens, Goldsmith, Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott and many more. Our walk will take us through the streets and houses associated with famous writers. We shall enjoy a pleasant stroll along the Gravel Walk, which runs along the rear of Brock Street and joins the Royal Crescent to the Circus in Bath and which is used by Jane Austen in Persuasion.

For lunch, we go to the Pump Room, one of Bath’s most historical restaurants and referred to in many of the great works of Victorian literature. Every writer who visited Bath had to be seen at the Pump Room!

At one time considered the raciest place in England, Bath offers excellent shops and excellent museums (the Roman Bath Museum, the Costume Museum, the Holbourne Museum, the American Museum, the Building of Bath Museum, the 1 Royal Crescent Museum and the Jane Austen Centre) which can be explored at leisure during the afternoon. (Overnight Bath) BL

Day 10: Friday 7 June, Bath – Nether Stowey – Exmoor – Bath
  • Coleridge Cottage, Nether Stowey
  • Guided walk and drive through Lorna Doone country
  • Visits to Exmoor towns of Porlock & Malmsmead
  • Visit to Oare Church

This morning we travel to Nether Stowey where Coleridge was resident for many years and we visit the home where the poet wrote his finest poems, Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This house is an award winning museum and it gives an all too vivid picture of what life was like for Coleridge and his wife and family.

After lunch, we visit Exmoor, an area of “outstanding natural beauty” and the setting for R.D. Blackmore’s famous novel of love and violence, Lorna Doone. We will walk into the beautiful Doone Valley and see some of the places mentioned in the novel including Oare Church, where Lorna is shot on her wedding day by the villainous Carver Doone. Note: the narrow road network in the Exmoor National Park prevents access to large coaches. We shall therefore be required to sub-divide into 2 smaller vehicles (these vehicles do not have air-conditioning).

This evening we enjoy a group meal at the hotel. (Overnight Bath) BD

Day 11: Saturday 8 June, Bath – Blaise Hamlet – Tintern Abbey – Lacock – Bath
  • Blaise Hamlet
  • Tintern Abbey
  • Lacock Abbey & Lacock Village

This morning we drive to Blaise Hamlet, which is a unique, picturesque early 19th-century housing project, located on a site which dates back to medieval times. Later in the morning we cross the border to Wales after a bit more than an hour’s drive, and visit scenic Tintern Abbey. Located on the Wye river, Tintern Abbey is one of Wales’ most significant ruins sites. The Abbey dates back to the 12th century, and in later years inspired William Wordsworth’s poetry.

After lunch, we travel to Lacock Abbey. Lacock Abbey is situated adjacent to the village of Lacock on the River Avon and is one of the few Abbeys in England left in tact, after most of them were destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII and has been the setting of films such as Harry Potter and The Other Boleyn Girl. (Overnight Bath) B

Stratford-upon-Avon - 2 nights

Day 12: Sunday 9 June, Bath – Adlestrop – Stoneleigh Abbey – Kennilworth – Stratford
  • Village of Adlestrop: meet author and historian Victoria Huxley
  • Stoneleigh Abbey

Victoria Huxley, author of Jane Austen and Adelstrop, presents us with a talk about Jane Austen’s connection to the village of Adlestrop. We see the Village Church and gain an insight into Austen’s connection with this village. Adelstrop is also the setting of a famous war poem by Edward Thomas, which begins “Yes, I remember Adelstrop…”. We will see the sign from the train station which his poem made famous, though the station itself has now gone.

Later in the day we visit Stoneleigh Abbey, which was inherited by a relative of Jane Austen’s mother, the Reverend Thomas Leigh. Jane Austen stayed at the Abbey in August 1806 and it is thought that this stately English home may have been the model for Mansfield Park. (Overnight Stratford-upon-Avon) BL

Day 13: Monday 10 June, Stratford – Shottery – Stratford
  • Walking Tour of Stratford
  • Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church
  • The Shakespeare Properties (Birthplace, New Place and Hall’s Croft)
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery
  • Evening Performance (details to be advised)

Stratford’s fame began almost the day Shakespeare died. Since then, legions of literary pilgrims have descended upon the Warwickshire market town where he grew up and retired to. We spend the morning completing a guided walk of the town, taking in the Shakespeare memorial statue and the poet’s grave with its memorable curse.

There is then free time to explore the Shakespeare properties at leisure – his Birthplace, Hall’s Croft and New Place, as well as the Shakespeare bookshops. In the late afternoon we travel a mile by coach to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery. The cottage belonged to the prosperous Hathaway family and was the pre-marital home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne. Although referred to as a cottage, it is actually a substantial, twelve-roomed, Elizabethan farmhouse. Externally the building with its low thatched roof, timbered walls and lattice windows has changed very little since Shakespeare went courting there.

This evening, we plan to attend a performance at The Courtyard Theatre. (Overnight Stratford-upon-Avon) B 

York - 2 nights

Day 14: Tuesday 11 June, Stratford – DH Lawrence – Newstead – York
  • D. H. Lawrence Centre & Birthplace Museum, Eastwood
  • Newstead Abbey

We travel north first thing to Eastwood, the “country of my heart” for D.H. Lawrence. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, a small mining town, and his birthplace is now a museum. We will also visit the D.H. Lawrence Centre with its displays on the lives of the coal miners and on Lawrence’s connections with the town.

Just north of Eastwood is the home of a very different man and writer to D.H. Lawrence. Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the Byrons and was inherited by Lord Byron when he was only ten. Here we will explore the extensive house and gardens, see the blasphemous monument he erected to his dog and the bedroom where he carried on numerous affairs (including one with his half-sister!).

We travel on to York, a magnificent cathedral city rich with literary associations. (Overnight York) B 

Day 15: Wednesday 12 June, York
  • Morning tour of York Minster & The Shambles
  • Leisure time for exploring York’s Museums

We begin our day at York’s superb Minster, northern Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral. It was visited by Anne Brontë only a few days before her death and was where novelist Laurence Sterne preached sermons.

The ancient streets were the ‘stage’ for some of the earliest plays in English, such as The York Mystery Cycle, so we will explore those streets. The Shambles, often called Europe’s best preserved medieval street, has been in continuous existence for over 900 years. The name ‘Shambles’ comes from the Saxon ‘Fleshammels’, which means “the street of the butchers”, for it was here that the city’s butchers’ market was located.

The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore York’s museums. You may wish to join Susannah for an optional evening walk to see some of York’s historic buildings lit up by night. (Overnight York) B

Keswick - 3 nights

Day 16: Thursday 13 June, York– Thirsk – Castlerigg – Keswick
  • ‘The World of James Herriot’ Centre, Thirsk
  • Castlerigg Stone Circle

We leave York and set off for the beautiful Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage area of rugged mountains, green valleys and fine lakes which has provided inspiration to so many poets. En route we call in at the bustling market town of Thirsk. James Alfred Wight (James Herriot) moved to Thirsk to work as a country vet with Donald Sinclair in July 1940. Here we shall visit his original surgery ‘Skeldale House’ located at No. 23 Kirkgate which has now been turned into ‘The World of James Herriot’ Centre.

On entering the Lake District we go to Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, consisting of thirty-eight stones in a circle approximately thirty metres in diameter. Within the ring is a rectangle of a further ten standing stones. The construction contains significant astronomical alignments. You will see why the spot appealed to Keats and Wordsworth.

We continue on to the grey-stone Lake District town of Keswick. You can enjoy a guided early evening stroll down to the lake to see Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin’s Island and the John Ruskin monument, before enjoying a group meal at the hotel. (Overnight Keswick) BD

Day 17: Friday 14 June, Keswick – Grasmere – Hawkshead – Keswick
  • Dove Cottage, Grasmere
  • Tombstone of William Wordsworth, St. Oswald’s Church, Grasmere
  • Ann Tyson’s cottage & The Grammar School, Hawkshead
  • Reception at Rydal Mount House and Garden

This morning we begin our trail of Wordsworth, supreme poet of the Lakes. We travel first to Dove Cottage where he settled with Dorothy in 1799. Built in the early seventeenth century, with its oak-panelled hall and floors of Westmorland slate, Dove Cottage remains very much as it was when Wordsworth lived there. Next door is an exhibition centre with displays on Wordsworth and his contemporaries.

In 1850 William caught a cold on a country walk, and he died on 23 April, St. George’s Day, eighty years after his birth. He and his wife Mary, who died nine years later, have simple tombstones in the churchyard of St. Oswald’s Church in Grasmere, now one of the most visited literary shrines in the world. Lunch will be taken in Grasmere.

A short drive will take us to Hawkshead, still the same tiny village of higgledy-piggledy houses, archways and squares beloved by Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Whilst at school in Hawkshead, William lodged with Ann Tyson and her husband. Ann Tyson’s cottage is a private home, which we will see during our walk around the town. We will visit the fascinating Grammar School where young William learned the classics – one of the desks still bears his graffiti. The Hawkshead legal office where Beatrix Potter’s husband once worked is now a gallery, which we can visit to admire illustrations from her delightful tales.

We then visit Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s final home near Ambleside. We might see daffodils at this time of year, and we can walk where he trod with Coleridge, see his study and walk in the delightful gardens which he landscaped and designed himself. The current owners will give us a private tour of the house and an evening reception of wine and Grasmere gingerbread. We then return to our hotel for dinner. (Overnight Keswick) BD

Day 18: Saturday 15 June, Keswick – Cockermouth – Ambleside – Hawkshead  – Brantwood – Keswick
  • Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth
  • Boat excursion on Lake Windermere from Ambleside to Lakeside on the Arthur Ransome literary trail
  • Hill Top Farm – Beatrix Potter Museum, nr. Sawrey, Hawkshead
  • Brantwood: John Ruskin’s Home (evening reception)

We begin the day with a tour of the Wordsworth House and Garden, a Georgian house which was the birthplace and childhood home of the Romantic poet. We then drive down to Ambleside for lunch, before going on a full length cruise of Lake Windermere. The town of Windermere was where Arthur Ransome, author of the much loved Swallows and Amazons, went to school. Lake Windermere inspired his famous adventure story for children.

From Lakeside, where we disembark from the steamer, we drive up to Hilltop Farm, where Beatrix Potter lived from 1905. This seventeenth-century farmhouse contains her personal furniture and china (many of these items were replicated by her in her book illustrations) and original sketches and manuscripts. Finally, we head across to Brantwood, located on Coniston Water. Brantwood is the home of influential art critic and writer, John Ruskin. Here, with glorious views of the lake, we will enjoy an early evening reception. (Overnight Keswick) BD

Manchester - 2 nights

Day 19: Sunday 16 June, Keswick – Casteron – Cowan Bridge – Haworth – Manchester
  • The Brontë Sisters and Cowan Bridge School
  • Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth
  • Haworth Church and Graveyard
  • Walk to Haworth Moor

Today we explore places connected with one of the most famous of all literary families – the Brontës. Cowan Bridge is the site of the Clergy Daughter’s School that the Brontë sisters attended and it is where they underwent harsh privations. Charlotte immortalized it as Lowood School in Jane Eyre.

We then continue on to Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters. Many parts of the village have not changed since their time – one can still enjoy a drink in Branwell Brontë’s local pub The Black Bull, visit the church, and walk the moors which fired the imaginations of the sisters and which feature so memorably in their works.

After lunch we will visit the Parsonage Museum, packed with memorabilia and treasured Brontë artefacts, and then visit the overly full graveyard to hear a selection of Brontë poems, read by Susannah. All the Brontës, apart from Anne (who is buried at Scarborough), are buried in what was the old church. This was demolished, apart from the tower, in 1879, but the Brontë family vault was left undisturbed.

If the weather is not “wuthering” we shall take one of the many footpaths that lead onto Haworth Moor. The footpaths lead to Brontë Falls, Brontë Bridge and the Brontë Stone and, eventually, to Top Withens, a ruin on a windy hillside, thought to be the setting of Wuthering Heights. It would take too long to reach those sites, but we can stroll far enough to experience the atmosphere of the moors which meant so much to the three sisters.

In the mid-afternoon we continue our journey south to Manchester. The evening will be at leisure.  (Overnight Manchester) B

Day 20: Monday 17 June, Manchester
  • Literary tour of Manchester
  • Elizabeth Gaskell House
  • Farewell Meal

The last day of our tour will be spent exploring just a few of the literary places of Manchester. In the morning we will drive to Elizabeth Gaskell’s museum for morning tea and a bespoke tour of the house. This is one of the newest of England’s literary museums and it was ‘saved’ for the nation thanks to the popularity of Gaskell’s novels as TV adaptations.

Our last meal together will be at a local restaurant.  (Overnight Manchester) BL 

Day 21: Tuesday 18 June, Depart Manchester

The tour ends today in Manchester. Participants on the designated flight will transfer to Heathrow Airport to take their flight home to Australia. B

Accommodation

21-day Literary Tour of England

ASA has selected 3- to 4-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure.

  • Canterbury (4 nights): 4-star Abode Canterbury  – featuring individually designed bedrooms, a modern hotel that is centrally located. www.abodecanterbury.co.uk
  • Winchester (3 nights): 4-star Winchester Royal – a charming hotel located in the centre of Winchester, originally built as a private house and later became a Bishop’s Residence and convent before being converted to a hotel 150 years ago. www.winchesterroyalhotel.com
  • Bath (4 nights): 4-star Francis Hotel  housed in an 18th-century townhouse and located in the historical city centre. francishotel.com
  • Stratford-upon-Avon (2 nights): 4-star Arden Hotel – an elegant and contemporary hotel, the Arden is situated in the middle of town next door to the Royal Shakespeare Company. ardenhotelstratford.com
  • York (2 nights): 4-star Best Western Monkbar Hotel – nestled alongside the city walls, a short walk from York Minster, this hotel has recently undergone a £3 million refurbishment. www.bw-monkbarhotelyork.co.uk
  • Keswick (3 nights): 3-star The Skiddaw Hotel – an historic hotel located in the city centre with views of the surrounding countryside. www.lakedistricthotels.net
  • Manchester (2 nights): 4-star The Midland a luxury Edwardian hotel whose rooms have a contemporary finish, this hotel is conveniently located. www.themidlandmanchester.com

NoteHotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

How to book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published

ASA INTENTION TO TRAVEL APPLICATION FORM

Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD$200.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD$300.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of $500.00 AUD is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.

Or

  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD$200.00 per person deposit, less a $66.00 service fee (including GST).
Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication
Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Literary Tour of England involves:

  • A daily schedule generally involving an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.30-6.00pm).
  • 2-3 site visits most days involving up to 1-2 hours of walking at each (sometimes on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and steep slopes) and/or standing, interspersed with coach travel.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 3- to 4-star hotels with six hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- to 4-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights on arrival and departure
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Evening Performance in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Tour Handbook
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-London return
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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