2001 – Cornwall & Bath
AT A GLANCE
Welcome to our perennially ever-popular 'season opener'!
We have run our ever-popular Cornwall & Bath tour every year – occasionally twice a year – ever since 2002. It is our oldest, continuously-run tour, and for good reason – it's an excellent tour!
The Cornwall & Bath tour combines a selection of the very best gardens in Cornwall, at the peak of the Cornish garden 'season', with two nights and one whole day in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath – truly one of Europe's finest cities.
And excellent accommodation, in both Cornwall and Bath, coupled with superb food – especially seafood – in the hotel dining rooms and in the local pubs and restaurants we dine-out at, combine to make this tour a perennial favourite, and we expect that our 2020 Cornwall & Bath tour will be as popular as ever.
Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, and washed by the mild currents of the Gulf Stream, England's most southwesterly county enjoys an enviable position, and is frequently a month ahead – climatically and horticulturally – of the rest of Britain. Indeed, Cornish gardens couldn't have it much better, and it is no wonder that more than a few Cornish gardens are open all year round, and those that aren't are often open as early as mid-February!
Besides its gardens, Cornwall is justly famous for its stunning rugged coastline, and it is famous, too, for its part in Britain's industrial heritage. Tin has been mined in Cornwall for thousands of years, and was traded in the Mediterranean since before the Romans invaded, likewise Cornwall's world-leading China Clay deposits gave rise to the English porcelain industry. It is home to some excellent food, especially its seafood and its dairy produce, it has a proud maritime heritage and Cornwall is fiercely Celtic, not English! All of which we will touch upon during our stay in this green and pleasant county.
Bath is quite simply one of Europe's finest cities. It is an elegant town, proud of its Roman roots, its medieval history and its importance as a Georgian spa town, in the centre of refined English society. It is the perfect place to spend a free day.
Sleeping & Eating
We spend the first five nights of the tour in Truro, Cornwall's county town and cathedral city, at The Alverton, a hotel we have used for more than ten years, and whose recent refurbishments makes a comfortable hotel, even more so. Our final two nights of the tour are in Bath, staying at the Queensberry Hotel, a wonderful hotel, right in the centre of Bath.
In Cornwall we dine-in, at The Alverton's two-red-rosette dining room, on three evenings and dine out twice, at the Star & Garter, a fantastic food-centred pub in the heart of historic Falmouth that we 'discovered' on a private family visit, and at Tabb's, where we have dined for over a dozen years, and whose owner, Nigel Tabb, has become a good friend. In Bath we dine out at The Circus, a wonderful restaurant we discovered a few years ago and dine-in, for our end-of-tour dinner, at the Olive Tree, The Queensberry's award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurant.
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15–22 April 2020 | 8 days
DAY 1 – WED 15 APRIL
Once we are all together, we head south west, for the drive to Cornwall, stopping at Stourhead, for lunch and a walk around these world-famous, eighteenth century landscape gardens, complete with its classical temples, mystical grottoes, and rare and exotic trees.
Stourhead is a little more than half-way to our hotel, The Alverton, where we plan to arrive late in the afternoon – in good time to check-in and relax, before drinks and dinner at the hotel. The Alverton is superbly located in a quiet position, just 5 minutes walk from the centre of Truro, Cornwall's county town and cathedral city.
NB. In order to be in Truro by our planned arrival time, we must leave the Heathrow area by about 08:30.
Today's driving is about 320 miles/520 km from Stansted and about 250 miles/400 km from Heathrow
DAY 2 – THU 16 APRIL
We spend the day on and around the Rivers Helford and Fal, beginning with a visit to Burncoose House, home to Burncoose Nurseries, the well-known nurseries owned by the Williams family of Caerhays Castle. These woodland gardens were completely private and rarely seen until 1984, when the Nursery opened, and much the charm of Burncoose is its informality, and the carpets of bluebells, daffodills, primroses and wild violets which grow in abundance in spring.
Late-morning we'll drive along the River Helford, for lunch and the mid-part of the day at Trebah, a magnificent sub-tropical paradise, with a stunning coastal backdrop and truly one of the Cornwall's great gardens – certainly one of our favourite gardens.
We finish the day in Falmouth, a historic port – where Nelson's body was brought home to – for a brief visit to the National Maritime Museum, and dinner at the Star & Garter, a brilliant river-side pub serving excellent food with magnificent views across the Fal.
Today's driving is about 50 miles/80 km
DAY 3 – FRI 17 APRIL
Our day starts with a private guided tour of the Northern Gardens of the world-famous Lost Gardens of Heligan, just one part of these vast and wonderful 200 acre/80 ha gardens. Rediscovered some twenty-five years ago, Heligan's historic gardens were – in common with so many large gardens – lost under a tangle of weeds, unknown and unseen since its gardeners departed for the First World War.
We will have the whole morning and lunch at Heligan, before enjoying the afternoon at Lanhydrock, a late-Victorian country house with gardens and woodland estate, and the feel of a wealthy but unpretentious family home. In 1881 the Jacobean house was devastated by fire, but the wealthy Agar-Robartes family, who had made Lanhydrock their home, rebuilt it in high-Victorian style, utilising the best in country-house design and the latest modern conveniences.
We return to The Alverton for drinks and dinner.
Today's driving is about 60 miles/100 km
DAY 4 – SAT 18 APRIL
We spend today on Land's End peninsula, firstly at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, an impressive collection of contemporary artworks, including by the internationally renowned artist James Turrell, set in a beautiful, sheltered valley overlooking St Michael’s Mount. It is still a new garden, not yet a decade old, but has quickly established itself and is a worthy addition to Cornwall's magnificent gardens, and has the merit of having a superb café!
After lunch we continue west, stopping in the market town of St Just, the most westerly town in mainland Britain, before a bracing walk on Cape Cornwall, or 'Old Land's End', just to the north of Land's End proper.
Finally, and in keeping to our costal theme, we have arranged a private afternoon visit to Chygurno, a stunningly-sited, cleverly-planted cliff-top garden with views across Lamorna Cove. From Chygurno we visit nearby Mousehole, a picturesque fishing village, for a late afternoon stroll, before returning to Truro, for dinner at Tabb's, one of our favourite restaurants.
Today's driving is about 100 miles/160 km
DAY 5 – SUN 19 APRIL
Our final full day in Cornwall is spent close to home, exploring the Roseland peninsula, its wooded valleys, sunken lanes and enjoying its wide open views, and we start the day with a visit to Trewithen, an historic private estate, internationally renowned for its collection of magnolias and camellias and, more recently, for its red squirrels.
Lunch, and yet more magnificent magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas await us at nearby Caerhays, holders of one of the National Magnolia Collections, equally as famous for its camellias, with many unusual and rare varieties, and a fine selection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas too.
If time allows, we will visit St Anthony Head, at the tip of the Roseland peninsula, to enjoy the views over the Fal estuary, before crossing the Fal on the historic King Harry Ferry, for a late-afternoon visit to Trelissick, a wonderful house and garden set on its own peninsula, with panoramic views across the Fal estuary.
We return to The Alverton for drinks and dinner.
Today's driving is about 50 miles/80 km
DAY 6 – MON 20 APRIL
Our journey to Bath is punctuated by a long-overdue and very welcome return to Castle Drogo. Built between 1911 and 1930, by the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for Julius Drewe, the hugely successful founder of 'Home and Colonial Stores', it is the last castle to be built in England. Alas, it was never watertight, its medieval-style flat roof leaking from the outset, and has been undergoing a six-year conservation project to save the very fabric of the building and make it watertight – a not inconsiderable task involving the removal of some 2,355 granite blocks weighing 680 tonnes, and removing, refurbishing and resealing each of the 913 windows!
We will have lunch at Castle Drogo and plenty of time to explore both the gardens and the newly refurbished castle before our onwards progression to Bath, where we will arrive at our hotel, The Queensberry, late in the afternoon, in time for an early evening stroll through the city, before dinner at the Circus Restaurant, just around the corner from our hotel.
Today's driving is about 200 miles/320 km
DAY 7 – TUE 21 APRIL
Bath is a truly wonderful, world-class city, but with so much to do, and so much to see, it's not easy to know where to start. For those of you who wish to, we might start with a short walk into the city centre, to the Tourist Information Centre, itself next door to the Abbey, the Roman Baths and the Pump Rooms.
One suggestion is to take an organised walking tour or an open-topped bus tour around Bath, orientating yourself to the city and seeing many of its sights – or you can even take a boat tour! It is then a case of your own priorities and preferences: everything from the Roman Baths and their modern replacement, the Thermae Bath Spa, to boutique shopping, via Bath Abbey, world-famous Georgian town architecture and Jane Austen.
Whatever you do, we will meet for a light afternoon tea of scones and clotted cream at the Pump Rooms, light enough not to spoil our end-of-tour dinner at the Olive Tree Restaurant, The Queensberry Hotel's very own Michelin-starred dinning room.
DAY 8 – WED 22 APRIL
Our final visit of the tour is to nearby Iford Manor, a beautifully-sited, classically-clad late-15th century manor house, sitting on the River Frome. Famous for its Harold Peto garden, Peto lived at Iford Manor from 1899 until his death in 1933, travelling widely and amassing an extensive collection of artefacts from abroad. His great love of the Italian garden style is plainly evident at Iford, where flowers occupy a subordinate place amongst the more structural elements.
We have a light lunch at Iford, before setting off to the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel and Stansted Airport, where the tour ends and where we will be in good time for your 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 and for those of you wanting to travel into central London, we will drop you off at Chippenham Railway Station, en route to Heathrow.
Today's driving is about 100 miles/160 km to Heathrow or 170 miles/270 km to Stansted
We endeavour to be as faithful as possible to our published itineraries, but changes do occur occasionally, either necessarily or unavoidably.