1905 – Yorkshire & Shropshire
AT A GLANCE
A wonderful, 10-day extended garden tour taking in some of Britain's finest gardens, three of its grandest houses, the splendour of medieval York – and a backdrop of outstanding landscapes.
Yorkshire & Shropshire
Yorkshire or, as they will say 'God's own county', England's largest and, arguably, most attractive county has just about everything, including two National Parks, a beautiful coastline, a prestigious industrial past and generous hospitality. Derbyshire is dominated by the southern Pennine Hills, the Derbyshire Dales, and is a magnificent setting for the grandeur of Chatsworth House, and Shropshire, a little more modest than its brasher neighbours, wears its charm and beauty with poise and elegance.
Since its Roman foundation, almost 21 centuries ago, York has claimed its place in European history. It is a city of extraordinary cultural and historical significance, a beautifully preserved medieval city and a wonderful place to spend the day.
Of all of York's medieval splendour, nothing is so splendid as York Minister. Building work began in 1220, to replace an earlier church, and took about 250 years to finish, it is Britain's largest gothic building and one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals.
This tour takes you to some of Britain's finest gardens, three of them – Castle Howard, Chatsworth & Tatton Park – are of a gargantuan scale, beyond our domestic comprehension, and three of them – Newby, Hodnet & Arley – are grand private gardens reflecting their owners' passions. Three of the gardens are award-winning, intimate spaces, the life's work of their owner, and the remainder a mixture of well-maintained National Trust properties, the superb RHS Garden at Harlow Carr and, of course, the bedazzling display garden at David Austin Roses.
The other attractions
Aside from our day in York, we will drive across, and stop on, the North York Moors, spend the late afternoon in Whitby, a seaside town and port, complete with dramatic Benedictine abbey ruins and connections to Captain Cook and Dracula. We will visit Ironbridge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and visit Little Moreton Hall, a magnificent early-16th century 'black-and-white' half-timbered house.
And there will other, ad hoc, stops along the way!
Sleeping & Eating
Our first four nights of the tour are in the village of Harome, North Yorkshire, at The Pheasant Hotel, a favourite hotel of ours. We spend the fifth night of the tour – the middle night – at the splendid Brocco on the Park, in transit between Yorkshire and Shropshire, a boutique hotel that blew our socks away, the first time we stayed there, two years ago. And our final four nights of the tour are in Shropshire, at Goldstone Hall Hotel, a hotel which – for reasons I hope you will learn – has very quickly become another of our firm favourites.
All the hotels on this tour are independent, family-run establishments and all are currently listed in The Good Hotel Guide, a trustworthy independent guide to Britain's best hotels.
We dine-in, for two evenings each, at The Pheasant and Goldstone Hall, enjoying the delights of their respective AA two-rosette kitchens, and we dine-in at Brocco on the Park. In Yorkshire we eat out twice, firstly at the Magpie Cafe, a famous Whitby institution, and secondly at The Star Inn, one of Britain's first Michelin-starred pubs, and all of a 5-minute walk from the hotel. Likewise, in Shropshire, we will eat out twice, once at The Cumbermere Arms, a delightful country inn and once in Shrewsbury, at The Lion & Pheasant, an excellent town dining pub.
Our hotel dining rooms both enjoy AA two-rosette status, Brocco on the Park has won several awards for its food, the Magpie Cafe serves the best Fish & Chips in Yorkshire, the Star Inn has yet again retained its Michelin star and the other two pubs are both in The Good Pub Guide with food commendations.
In York we take afternoon tea at Bettys, a Yorkshire institution since Frederick Belmont, a Swiss confectioner, opened his first tea shop in Harrogate, in 1919.
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1 – 10 June 2019 | 10 days
Gardens = GREEN Hotels & Restaurants = RED Transport = BLUE Other Attractions = ORANGE
DAY 1 – SAT 1 JUN
Tim will collect you from the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, immediately north of Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport and, once we are all together, we drive north to Hardwick Hall (pictured above), one of the finest examples of a late-16th century Elizabethan country house. Built for Bess of Hardwick in the 1590s, Hardwick Hall remained in the ownership of her descendants until the mid-20th century.
Bess of Hardwick – the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I – conceived her house to be a conspicuous statement of her wealth and power, and the saying "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall", a reference to the exceptionally large and numerous windows, is testimony to that. The house also demonstrates new concepts in late-Elizabethan domestic architecture, with the great hall on an axis through the centre of the house, rather than at right angles to it, and each of the three main storeys is taller than the one below it, the ceiling height of each storey indicating the importance of the rooms' occupants – least noble at the bottom and grandest at the top!
After lunch, we continue north to The Pheasant Hotel, Harome, where we arrive in good time to settle in and relax, before drinks and dinner at The Pheasant.
Today's driving is about 250 miles/400 kms
DAY 2 – SUN 2 JUN
After yesterday's long drive, we start our day close to home at Castle Howard (Atlas Fountain, pictured above). Forever linked with Brideshead Revisited, this fabulous house has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for over 300 years, and is currently the home of Nicholas and Victoria Howard, and their children.
The 3rd Earl of Carlisle commissioned fellow Kit Cat Club member, Sir John Vanbrugh, a political activist, playwright and society architect, to build his new house – building began in 1699, but took more than 100 years to complete. The house, one of the largest country houses in England, is surrounded by a large estate and was once served by its own railway station! We spend much of the day at Castle Howard and have plenty of time to explore the house, enjoy its grounds and its fragrant rose gardens, and have lunch too.
In the afternoon we will look for a National Garden Scheme (NGS) 'Open Garden' to visit – there is bound to be one in North Yorkshire on a June Sunday afternoon, but we won't know until February, when they publish the list – as we drive across the North York Moors, to the delightful monastic town of Whitby, for a stroll around before supper at The Magpie Cafe.
Today's driving is about 110 miles/180 kms
DAY 3 – MON 3 JUN
In a tour packed with daily superlatives, it's not easy to stand out from the crowd, but today's gardens will stand comparison with the very best. We begin the day with a visit to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden (pictured above), the hauntingly memorable ruins of a magnificent 12th-century Cistercian abbey combined with one of Britain's finest landscaped water gardens, a fascinating and historically important landscape, the whole comprising a World Heritage Site.
After lunch at Fountains, we will stop in neighbouring Ripon for a stroll and to visit its cathedral, a 7th-century foundation complete with its original 7th-century crypt, before our afternoon's visit to Newby Hall. Designed by Christopher Wren, the English Baroque architect of St Paul's Cathedral, Newby Hall is a handsome-enough house, but it is its gardens which steal the show. They flow from the house to the River Ure either side of a central, spectacular double-herbaceous border – without doubt, one of the most delightful sights in any garden, on any of our tours.
We return to The Pheasant, freshen-up and walk to the Star Inn for dinner.
Today's driving is about 80 miles/130 kms
DAY 4 – TUE 4 JUN
We spend the whole day in York for a semi-structured free day in this historic, walled-city. Founded by the Romans in 71 AD, it maintained its importance throughout Roman rule, Viking settlement, Anglo-Saxon Britain, the Norman conquest and during England's turbulent medieval years.
Especially famous for its Minster, it is also home to the National Railway Museum – for some, a cathedral of another sort – and many other attractions. We will provide guidebooks, maps and advice, but you will have the whole day free to explore this wonderful city as you please, meeting up for tea and scones at Bettys in the afternoon, before our returning to The Pheasant for a relaxing evening and dinner.
DAY 5 – WED 5 JUN
Our day starts with a drive to Harrogate, a well-heeled Victorian spa town, for a visit to neighbouring RHS Garden, Harlow Carr. One of only four Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) gardens, and the only one in the North, Harlow Carr was formerly the home of the Northern Horticultural Society, until both societies merged in 2001, and is regarded, with some justification, as the 'Wisley of the North'. It is, as you may imagine of a RHS garden, an extensive, superbly maintained garden with some exceptional features. It also boasts a branch of Bettys Tea Rooms!
We will spend much of the day at Harlow Carr, before driving south, for a brief visit at what we think will be the National Trust's latest acquisition, at Wentworth Castle Gardens, before a relaxing evening and dinner at the excellent Brocco on the Park.
Today's driving is about 120 miles/190 kms
NB. We know that our customers prefer not to have one-night stops, but such sacrifice is worth it. Not only do you get to sample the delights of Brocco on the Park, but we all have a much more enjoyable day at Chatsworth and a far less hurried journey.
DAY 6 – THU 6 JUN
We leave Brocco on the Park for the leisurely drive to Chatsworth House (pictured above), the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire and the Cavendish family home since Sir William Cavendish, second husband of Bess of Hardwick, bought the estate in 1549. Chatsworth's garden was first laid out in 1555 and, today, Chatsworth remains one of Britain's finest houses, with a garden and grounds to match – and we have the day to enjoy it.
The house is associated with many famous people, including Georgiana Cavendish, the first wife of William Cavendish, the 5th Duke, and great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales; Kathleen Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's sister, who married William Cavendish, elder son of the 10th Duke; and Deborah Mitford, who married Andrew, the 11th Duke, she being one of the Mitford girls, sister to Nancy, Diana, Pamela, Unity and Jessica.
We leave Chatsworth late afternoon and make our way across the Derbyshire Dales to Goldstone Hall Hotel, our home for the next four nights, where we arrive in plenty of time to check-in and, before dinner, to take a stroll in the superb gardens before dinner at Goldstone Hall.
Today's driving is about 80 miles/130 kms
DAY 7 – FRI 7 JUN
We have a busy day in mid-Shropshire, starting with a private visit to Fiona Chancellor's award-winning garden, Windy Ridge (pictured above). Created over the past 29 years, Fiona's garden is something to marvel at and, at less than one acre, it is on a scale that we can more easily associate with – although the 1000 species many be something with which we are less familiar!
From Windy Ridge we drive into nearby Ironbridge, birthplace of the industrial revolution and UNESCO World Heritage Centre, for lunch, a walk across the world's first iron bridge and a brief visit to one of the several excellent museums – the Coalport China Museum or the Jackfield Tile Museum.
It is then just a short drive to Preen Manor, for a private visit to this 6-acre/2.4 ha garden on the site of Cluniac monastery. Developed for over 30 years, the Trevor-Jones family don't like to stand still, and change is always in progress. The formal gardens include a pretty cottage garden, a chess garden and a pebble garden and a woodland garden.
Dinner is in Shrewsbury, the county town, at The Lion & Pheasant on our way home to Goldstone Hall.
Today's driving is about 80 miles/130 km
DAY 8 – SAT 8 JUN
We spend the day in Cheshire, starting with a brief visit to Little Moreton Hall (pictured above), one of the finest examples of Cheshire's famous 'black and white' half-timbered houses. Begun about 1504 and modified in 1610, the hall has remained largely untouched for the past 400 years!
Our day continues with lunch and the mid part of the day at Arley Hall, a garden we had long wished to visit and which had always been so highly recommended to us, and which we did finally visit, twice, in 2018 – and they were right, it is one of the finest in Europe! Created over the last 250 years by successive generations of the same family, the gardens offer an unusual blend of long history and traditional design with inspired modern ideas – resulting in a garden rich in atmosphere, interest and vitality.
It is just twenty-minutes to Tatton Park, our final visit of the day. An historic Cheshire estate, in 1795 Tatton Park covered some 251,000 acres/1,020 km² under the Egerton family, and it was the last Lord Egerton who left it to the National Trust on his death in 1958. There is much to see and do at Tatton, but we shall confine ourselves to the extensive 50-acre/20 ha gardens – restored to their former glory in the early 2000s.
We dine at The Cumbermere Arms en route home to Goldstone Hall.
Today's driving is about 120 miles/190 kms
DAY 9 – SUN 9 JUN
Our day is spent barely ten miles from Goldstone Hall, with visits to two wonderful, though strikingly different gardens, firstly to Hodnet Hall (pictured above), the family home of the Heber-Percy's. The layout of the gardens, as we see them today, is largely the work of Brigadier A.G.W. Heber-Percy, the present owner's father, in the 1920s. He set out to create a union between the old grounds of an earlier mansion and the newer gardens of the present house, resulting in over 60 acres/24 ha of brilliantly coloured flowers, magnificent forest trees, sweeping lawns and a chain of ornamental pools running along the garden valley, a haven for waterfowl and other wildlife.
Lunch at either Hodnet Hall or at The Bear, a great pub opposite the Hall.
Our second visit is to nearby Wollerton Old Hall, a 16th-century Hall House and childhood home of Lesley Jenkins, who bought the house back, in the early 1980s with her husband, John. The 4 acre/1.6 ha garden surrounds the hall, and has been developed in the English Garden tradition, with strong echoes of the Arts and Crafts movement, and a degree of formality demanded by a property of such great age. The garden is bursting with design ideas and there is much in the garden for the plant enthusiast, including significant collections of clematis, salvias, phlox and roses.
We return to Goldstone Hall for a grand end-of-tour dinner.
Today's driving is about 17 miles/30 km
DAY 10 – MON 10 JUN
After loading the minibus and saying our farewells, we set off for the world-famous rose grower and breeder, David Austin Roses (pictured), where we have the whole morning to take in the spectacle of their display garden, seek expert advice, indulge in a little retail therapy and weep at the range of roses for sale in the sales area!
Although we may be dependent upon flight departure times, we plan to leave David Austin Roses after an early lunch in their very pleasant Tea Room and then head south, directly to the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, arriving in good time for any evening flight home. For those of you staying on in Britain, and not wanting to return to either Heathrow Airport or Stansted Airport, we will assist you in getting to your next destination.
Today's driving is about 170 miles/270 kms
During our tours we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.