Five things you’ll see if you visit the Cotswolds…

The word Cotswolds can be loosely translated as ‘sheep enclosure in the rolling hills’. This area is home to the quintessential English countryside and is a designated place of outstanding natural beauty. If you join our Cotswolds tours here are a few things you can expect to see…

Sheep…and lots of them!

In many ways, sheep are arguably the Cotswolds’ most important feature. Yes, they are very cute, and yes there are lots of them in this part of England. But historically their importance should not be underestimated. For centuries the Cotswolds was known as an important producer of wool, dating as far back as the Middle Ages. The local sheep breed nicknamed the ‘Cotswold Lion’. Within Europe it was said that the best wool was British, and in Britain the best wool from the Cotswolds. Prosperity followed as a result, and today the region remains affluent, with sheep farming still a major industry.

Historic Cottages

As a result of the prosperity created by the wool trade, people in the Cotswolds had the wealth to construct beautiful homes made out of the finest of material; local Cotswolds limestone. Everywhere you go here you’ll see cottages that are several hundred years old: some nestled in the heart of a village, and others placed out in the middle of farmlands. Possibly the most famous cottages are those of the Arlington Row (see above) in Bibury, which were built in 1380 as wool shops and later turned into homes, which they remain. They have been visited by many, including Japan’s Prince Hirohito and Henry T Ford, and this historic terrace is now one of the symbols of the Cotswolds.

Dry Stone Walls

The art of the stone wall has been perfected in the Cotswolds; a seemingly simple but actually rather complex building process. Here there are over 4,000 miles of dry stone walls, with the stones themselves often dug up during ploughing. But building the walls themselves requires an experienced hand, as there is no binding element and the stones hold themselves together through their precise and structured placements. As the walls are built up, stones must be slotted together carefully, taking into account size, width and angle. The results are beautiful as well as efficient, with many of these walls several hundred years old.

Charming towns & villages

When you are travelling through the Cotswolds, its seems like there’s another charming village around every corner. In this part of middle England there are no large towns and most people live in small villages which are scattered throughout the region, but still have good connections to nearby cities like Oxford and Bath. The villages themselves (like Castle Combe above) are full of history, character and pretty honey-coloured cottages. There are also many historic small towns, like Stow-on-the-Wold, which is where the final battle of the English civil War took place.

Pretty countryside

England’s green and pleasant lands are typified by the gentle undulating hills that make up the scenery of the Cotswolds. This designated area of outstanding natural beauty is spread over more than 750 square miles, and lies largely within the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. The area is 80% farmland and marked as lying between Stratford-up-Avon in the north, and Bath 90 miles to the south. Due to the combination of pretty scenery and charming villages, it is one of England’s most desirable countryside areas to live, and a popular place to visit too! If you want to see the most quintessentially English countryside, then the Cotswolds is the place to come.

If you’re visiting England this year, find out more about our Cotswolds tours and see some of England’s most beautiful countryside!

The stories of London’s unmissable attractions…

by GO-tours team.

For any visitor to London, there are some places that you simply have to see, and may actually find difficult to miss! If you are joining our tours from London this year, here’s some extra info about London’s most iconic sights…

The London Eye

London UK - March 02 2017: London Eye near County Hall at sunset. View from the Victoria Embankment.
Built for the Millennium celebrations, the London Eye has become on of London’s icons.

Built to mark London’s Millennium celebrations, the London Eye has become one of the Britain’s most recognisable sights, yet it was only ever intended to be a temporary attraction. It’s idea was conceived in the 1990’s, and the initial intent was for the London Eye to be opened for the Millennium, and remain for five years only. But such was it’s popularity and success it stayed, and remains an iconic feature of central London’s skyline today. It has a diameter of 135 metres, with 32 viewing pods (one for each borough of Greater London), and takes approximately half an hour to complete a full revolution. The London Eye provides some of London’s best views for any visitor.

The Houses of Parliament

LONDON ENGLAND - MAY 3 2007: Aerial view at Westminster Palace in London England. Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
A view from above overlooking Westminster; the political heart of London.

Although it’s actual name is the Palace of Westminster, this instantly recognisable building is more commonly known as the ‘Houses of Parliament’. Inside you’ll find both the House of Lords and the House of Commons; the two houses of the British Parliament. Located next to the River Thames, the site was formerly a royal residence going as far back as William the Conqueror, but transferred to Parliament duties during the reign of Henry VIII. The current ‘Houses’ were constructed after a fire destroyed the Old Palace in 1834, and it was rebuilt in Charles Barry’s Gothic style. Probably the buildings’ most famous feature is Big Ben (real name Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben is the bell) which is currently undergoing some much needed refurbishment work!

Buckingham Palace

London, Buckingham Palace,July,28th,2017. Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster
Visit Buckingham Palace in the summer; the London pad of Queen Elizabeth.

Iconic building and principle residence of the British Monarch. Originally it was called Buckingham House, and was built in the early 18th century for John Sheffield, the then Duke of Buckingham. Once complete it was the most impressive property in central London and thus was purchased by King William III in 1762. It was then King George VI who decided that this grand house should be the premier Royal residence and he ordered a major face-lift. Unfortunately he did not live to see the work completed, and instead it was Queen Victoria who became the first monarch to move in in 1837, when the House officially became Buckingham Palace.

Trafalgar Square

LONDON - MAY 21:Tourists visit Trafalgar Square July 21, 2010 in London. One of the most popular tourist attraction on Earth it has more than fifteen million visitors a year
Lord Nelson looks over one of London’s famous centres: Trafalgar Square.

Located in the heart of Westminster, this famous square takes it’s name from the Battle of Trafalgar, a key Navy victory of the Napoleonic Wars in October 1805. The square is in the area of Charing Cross and has been a landmark of London since the 13th century and a public square since the mid 1800’s. It’s focal point is Nelson’s Column, which stands at 51 metres tall, including a five metre statue of Lord Nelson himself on top. Nelson was Admiral of the British Navy during that glorious victory at Trafalgar, although this was a battle that also claimed his life. Equally recognisable are the four lions guarding the column and the surrounding fountains. Trafalgar Square is known as a gathering point in London; for celebration, events and even the occasional protest.

St Paul’s Cathedral

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The unmistakable dome of St Paul’s Cathedral from the modern Millennium bridge.

For many Londoners, St Paul’s Cathedral holds a special place in their heart. The first Cathedral here was built in the early 600’s and the second when it was re-built later that century. The third Norman St Paul’s included the tallest spire to have ever been built, and was much larger than the Cathedral standing today. Unfortunately, this St Paul’s was destroyed during the infamous Great Fire of London in 1666, so St Paul’s had to be re-built, again, and architect Christopher Wren designed the Cathedral for which the dome became one of London’s most famous features. It was a target during the Blitz, but Winston Churchill famously declared St Paul’s must be saved at all costs. Today, the Cathedral remains a symbol of survival and hope as it looks over London.

If you’re visiting London this year, the check out our website to find out more about our small-group tours from London.

Visit a land of Celtic history and stunning scenery. Here are five highlights of our Cornwall tours…

by GO-tours team.

Join our Cornwall tours and discover a place of unique Celtic History and stunning scenery. When you’re here you’ll never be more than 25 miles away from the coast and although our Cornwall tours take in a variety of sights, here are five famous places that you’ll see…

1. St Michael’s Mount

Penzance Cornwall United Kingdom - August 9 2016: View of St Michael's Mount in Cornwall at sunset
A glorious sunset over the picturesque 12th century monastery of St Michael’s Mount.

St Michael’s Mount is one of the most iconic sights along the coast of England. Home to a 12th century Benedictine church and priory, it is one of 43 walk-able islands around Britain (walk-able when the tide is out!). The island takes it’s name from the archangel Michael, who appeared in the mist in the 5th century to warn fisherman away from mermaids who were trying to lure their boats onto the rocks. St Michael’s Mount has remained a place of pilgrimage ever since, and seeing this historic island is a highlight of any visit to Cornwall.

2. Land’s End

distance signpost at Land's End, Penwith Peninsula, Cornwall, England, most westerly point of England on the Penwith peninsula eight miles from Penzance on the Cornish coast
An iconic place on Britain’s coastline and furthest west you can go. Next stop New York!

Quite simply, the end of the land. This is mainland Britain’s most westerly point, set on a dramatic and beautiful part of Cornwall’s coastline. A famous journey is Land’s End to John O’Groats in Scotland; the place in Britain that is furthest away. This is a commonly trodden, and ridden, endurance route for people raising money for charity. From Land’s End you can gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean towards America, and on a clear day you’ll even see as far as the Isles of Scilly.

3. Port Isaac

Overlooking the harbour at the pretty fishing village of Port Isaac on the North Cornwall coast England UK Europe
Overlooking the harbour of pretty fishing village Port Isaac, where Doc Martin is filmed.

For some, this charming village may be more familiar by it’s fictional name: Portwenn, as this is where popular TV series Doc Martin is filmed! Set on Cornwall’s north coast, Port Isaac is in a designated area of outstanding natural Beauty, with origins as fourteenth century fishing port. Most of the buildings here are several hundred years old, making it one of the most idyllic places in Cornwall. The village has featured in several films and on TV, but is now iconically connected to Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes. The series started in 2004 and tells the story of London surgeon Dr Martin Ellingham who relocates to rural Cornwall, and his clash of cultures with locals often has amusing consequences!

4. Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Island Cornwall England where part of the Norman castle is located
Perched perilously on the cliff-edge are the remains of the legendary Tintagel Castle.

The place that proclaims to be the birthplace of King Arthur. The story of Arthur centres on the Castle here, which is perched atop the cliff edge of the rugged Tintagel island. After King Uther Pendragon had fallen in love the Duke of Cornwall’s wife, he attacked his castle with his forces. But the location of Tintagel castle makes in almost impenetrable, so King Uther Pendragon required a disguise (created by Merlin),  to sneak into the castle and seduce the lady of his desires; Arthur’s mother, Igraine. Today, the ruins of a castle remain, although these remains are that of the castle built in the 13th century on the order of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall.

5. Cornish Pasties

Traditional Cornish Pasty broken open
Perfectly baked and golden brown, a Cornish pasty is one of Britain’s favourite foods.

Ok, so this isn’t a place, but a trip to Cornwall is not complete unless you’ve tried an authentic Cornish pasty! Once the favourite staple food of Cornish tin miners, it was created to be easy to eat, but also to fuel the miners during their long and gruelling days. The pasty is now Cornwall’s most popular export and has a savoury pastry exterior with contents of beef, potato, carrot and onion. There are now many variations of this savoury snack, but a true Cornish pasty has to be made in Cornwall!

Find out more about our Cornwall tours and start your adventure with us now!

Seven things you should eat on our tour of ‘Cornwall and the Cotswolds’

by GO-tours team

Whilst England may not be internationally famed for its cuisine, the country is still home to some of the world’s most iconic foods. If you join our ‘Cornwall & the Cotswolds‘ tour, you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of Britain’s best loved dishes. Here are seven things we think you should try…

1) Fish and Chips

The nation’s favourite; an English institution! This perfect food marriage fuelled the industrial revolution and boosted morale in World War Two. No trip to the seaside is complete without a visit to the local chippy. We love it!

Traditional English Fish and Chips
Our favourite place for fish & chips is ‘Harbour Lights’ in Falmouth, Cornwall. Yum!

2) A Cornish Pasty

Cornwall’s most iconic export first became popular among tin miners in the 17th century as an affordable and hearty meal. Contains beef, potato, swede (turnip) and onions wrapped in savoury pastry. A must try!

3) Devonshire Cream Tea

A popular tradition among English high society, it is the county of Devon that stakes the strongest claim to its creation, with cream tea thought to have originated in Tavistock. The dish features scones with clotted cream, jam and a cup of tea. With Cream Tea in Devon correct etiquette is important, you must always apply cream first and jam second!

4) Cornish Cream Tea

Major cause of dispute with the county of Devon! For details, see ‘Devonshire Cream Tea’, except apply the jam first and cream second.

English scones with jam and tea.
A Cornish cream tea: with jam first and cream second. And a cup of tea on the side!

5) Fresh Seafood

Although Cornwall’s fishing industry has declined, the county has over 300 miles of coastline and there are plenty of places to get fresh local fish. Known historically for its pilchards (sardines) you’ll now find mackerel, hake and crab featuring in the catch of the day.

fresh cornish seafood
Fishing remains one of Cornwall’s main industries. Our favourite seafood restaurant is The Shack.

6) Bath Buns

A favourite of Jane Austen, these sweet rolls are said to have been invented by Sally Lunn although this is disputed. Some say that she never even existed, but Sally Lunn’s buns are iconic and definitely worth a taste for anyone visiting Bath.

7) Full English Breakfast

Includes; bacon, eggs, tomatoes, toast and sausages. Black pudding, baked beans, hash browns and tea/coffee are optional extras but often included. A visit to England isn’t full without a fry-up or two!

Full English fried breakfast with baked beans and black pudding
A full-English is a hearty meal and the perfect start to any day on tour!

Join us on our ‘Cornwall and the Cotswolds’ tour and explore some of the best foods that England has to offer; and try each and every one of these ‘delicacies’ in the process!

Highlights of our tours – seven reasons to explore England…

If you want to visit England and explore further than London then why not join one of our small-group tours? Here are seven great places you’ll visit on our tour of Cornwall & the Cotswolds

1) Cornwall

Unique history, stunning scenery, fantastic food and friendly locals. Cornwall has a bit of everything! The fascinating culture of this place is what makes it special, with a history stemming from its heritage as a Celtic ‘nation’. Explore beautiful and rugged coastline, visit charming fishing villages and follow in the footsteps of Poldark, Doc Martin and King Arthur.

Tour of England Highlights- The Crown engine houses near St Just, Cornwall
A snapshot of the rough and rugged coastline along Cornwall’s Tin Coast.

2) The Cotswolds

A quintessentially English landscape; with lush green countryside, gentle rolling hills and sheep farms. In the Cotswolds you’ll find picture postcard villages around the corner of every country lane. This area is famous for its production of wool and its traditional chocolate box cottages. The Cotswolds is a place of great history and outstanding natural beauty.

Tour of England Highlights- Arlington Row in Bibury, The Cotswolds
A charming scene from one of the many picture-postcard villages in the Cotswolds.

3) Stonehenge

The world’s most famous stone circle is thought to be around 4,500 years old, yet we still don’t fully understand its true meaning. Who built it, how did they build it and why? All logical questions that are without definitive answers, yet it remains a site of pilgrimage to this day. some of the suggested theories as to the origin of this mystical place include a concert venue, healing site, solar calendar and even alien activity!

Tour of England Highlights- The Stonehenge historic monument in England, UK.
The mysterious Stonehenge: the most famous pre-historic monument in the world.

4) Bath

One of Britain’s most beautiful cities, Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Legend suggests that the natural spring waters here possess healing powers, and perhaps this is what inspired the Romans to establish Bath’s original settlement; Aqaue Sulis. Today the city is equally famous for its Regency architecture, with iconic sites including the Royal Crescent and The Circus.

Tour of England Highlights- The Circus, Georgian architecture in Bath.
The ‘Circus’ is a great example of the beautiful Regency architecture Bath is famous for.

5) Salisbury

This charming medieval city is visible for miles around due its cathedral, which has the tallest spire in the UK. Inside Salisbury Cathedral you’ll find one of only four surviving copies of the world’s oldest constitution; the Magna Carta, which dates all the way back to 1215. Wander the quaint streets and visit a local pub for a traditional lunch.

The Tour of England Highlights - pectacular interior of Salisbury Cathedral
The spectacular interior of Salisbury Cathedral, home to a copy of the Magna Carta.

6) Dartmoor

Known for its Sherlock Holmes connection and home to the legendary Dartmoor Beast, here you can find beautiful scenery, negotiate narrow country lanes and perhaps spot a native Dartmoor pony or two. There’s so much history on these higher grounds, including ancient bridges and the notorious Dartmoor prison. This is also the perfect place to try a Devonshire Cream Tea!

Tour of England Highlights- A wild Dartmoor pony Dartmoor in Devon
Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot one of the native Dartmoor ponies.

7) The Jurassic Coast

With a geological history spanning some 185 million years, the Jurassic Coast is one of England’s most fascinating stretches of coastline. Located on England’s south-coast in the county of Dorset, this area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and spans 96 miles. One of the most recognisable features of the Jurassic Coast is the magnificent limestone arch of Durdle Door.

Tour of England Highlights - Stunning sunset landscape image of Durdle Door
Watch the sun as its sets over the iconic ‘Durdle Door’ of England’s Jurassic coast

Join us on a five-day adventure through ‘Cornwall and the Cotswolds’ and see some of the best that and most beautiful places that England has to offer!

Take a small-group tour from London and explore England…

by GO-tours team

London – one of the world’s most exciting iconic city destinations and the hub of life  in England is set to see visitor numbers continue to rise in 2018.

It’s not difficult to understand why. London has such a wide-ranging appeal; with history, architecture, nightlife, theatre – this diverse urban jungle has a bit of everything on offer!

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The unmistakable sight of ‘Big Ben’ and The Houses of Parliament.

Here you’ll find some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks, like the Houses of Parliament (above), enough museums to keep you occupied for weeks, a world-renowned theatre district, world-class sporting venues, cuisines from every country on earth…and the cherry on top; over 7,000 pubs!

The history of London is complex, varied and covers several millennia. It has witnessed some famous events in history; from the Roman invasion nearly 2,000 years ago, to the Great Fire of London in 1666. But like any great metropolis it continues to change and grow. Even if you’ve visited many times before, there’s always something new to see and do!

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The iconic St Paul’s Cathedral; the heart of the City of London.

Venturing beyond the capital…

While London is unquestionably one of the world’s great cities, the England that lies outside of the city perimeter also has much to offer, yet quite sometimes gets overlooked. A dilemma faced by many visitors to this bustling city is; once you’re here, how do you get out and see more of the country?

Taking a guided small-group tour is one way to ‘escape’ London and see more of what England has to offer; doing so without any stress or hassle.

Visit iconic places like Stonehenge; the world’s most famous stone circle thought to be 4,500 years old. See great cities like Bath; with its fascinating history and beautiful architecture. And traverse charming English countryside areas like the Cornwall and the Cotswolds.

The Stonehenge historic monument in England, UK.
The mysterious Stonehenge; 4,500 years old yet it’s true meaning remains unclear.

A small-group tour is a flexible but immersive way to see famous attractions but also negotiate narrow country roads to visit places that other tours can’t. With smaller group numbers, the experience is personal and authentic, allowing you to see things from a more ‘local’ perspective.

Taking a small-group tour from London with GO-tours….

All of our trips all start and end in Earls Court, central London. They include famous attractions, but will also take you along roads less travelled, where you’ll find stunning scenery and lesser-known ‘hidden gems’.

For example, join our five-day ‘Cornwall & the Cotswolds‘ tour and visit Stonehenge, Bath, Cornwall, the Cotswolds, the Jurassic Coast and much more – all in the same trip! These tours include all your transportation, four nights accommodation and are fully-guided by one of our passionate Tour Leaders.

Stunning sunset landscape image of Durdle Door
Sunset over Durdle Door, one of the most recognisable sights of the Jurassic Coast.

Join our small-group tours and combine your visit to London with a trip exploring England. Our tours will take you to famous places like Stonehenge, Bath and Cornwall, and show you some the best sights that England has to offer. We hope to see you in 2018!

Join the small-group tours that choose the roads less travelled…

by GO-tours team

Explore England; a country of complex history and great beauty, full of world-famous sights, fascinating stories and unique scenery.

For this is a nation of royalty and tradition; where the people drink tea, talk constantly about the weather and maintain a stiff upper lip; all whilst standing orderly in a queue.

When choosing to visit any country it’s natural to want to see the famous attractions; popular places that people know and love. Fortunately, England can offer many such places, from the dazzling sights of London, to historic locations like Stonehenge and Bath.

The 'Circus' is a perfect example of the Georgian architecture in Bath
The ‘Circus’ is a perfect example of the stunning Georgian architecture in Bath.

But what if you want to see something more? How do you get out and find the ‘real’ England? To see a country properly you need to absorb local culture, get to know the people and sample authentic regional flavours. A small-group tour with us is one way of doing just that.

Finding the real England…

For those who enjoy travel, the desire to explore further only grows greater. But sometimes the most difficult part is knowing where to start.

Travelling is about places, but it’s also about people. In England we follow the stories of her Majesty the Queen, the music of the Beatles, the words William Shakespeare, and Bond…James Bond. For everyone at GO-tours, ‘people’ also means local people and local characters; those with real stories.  On our tours we will follow in some famous footsteps, but also get to know the real people in the places we visit.

Arlington Row in Bibury, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England.
Another charming village scene in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside.

Our tours take in some of England’s most iconic attractions, like Bath, Stonehenge and York, but they also take roads less travelled, exploring dramatic and beautiful scenery in the Cotswolds, the Lake District and Cornwall.

Take the roads less travelled…

When travelling to an area like Cornwall, we find a place with a unique history; one based on a Celtic heritage. Here they have their own culture, their own traditions, their own food and even their own language.

On our tours in Cornwall we will take in some famous and legendary locations, like St Michael’s Mount, the Minack Theatre  and Tintagel castle; birthplace of King Arthur. We’ll also see places that have featured on our TV screens in popular series like Doc Martin and Poldark.

The rugged but beautiful coastline of Cornwall
The rugged coastline of Cornwall; take in the views and absorb the fresh sea breeze.

But we will also take the time to really get to know this spectacular place. At GO-tours we choose to take the narrow, bumpy roads in order to find the hidden gems that few others see. In Cornwall, we want to find the rugged and isolated parts of the coast and take in the breath-taking views, listen to the sounds of birds calling overhead, and absorb the cool sea breeze as it glides over the rugged cliffs.

Small-group tours of England

For us, the purpose of travelling is to experience what’s real. In Devon we want to find proper Devonshire cream tea, and in Cornwall we search for the most authentic Cornish pasty. If you want a tour that is personal, flexible and combines star attractions with lesser known gems, we hope that GO-tours can provide a solution

English scones with jam and tea.
A proper cream tea; with jam, clotted cream and a cup of English tea. Delicious!

Our trips take the time to get to know the places we visit, and to enjoy an adventure that goes beyond the standard tourist experience. One thing about our tours is that even though we know where we are going, we don’t always know what’s going to happen. And that’s the way we’d like to keep it!

GO-tours operate small group tours of England and are based in London. Our tours include transport, an expert guide and proper access to a fascinating country. For more information visit our website and if you want an adventure to see England from a different perspective, then what are you waiting for…let’s GO!