Britain Grand Expedition - June 2018
Travel the length and breadth of Britain
from Land's End to John O'Groats, visiting special places
often overlooked by regular tours.
Part of the tradition is to get a matching pair of photos showing
yourself at both points. This is my Land's End
This is a rare chance to
conveniently achieve a major bucket list experience - the
"From Land's End to John O'Groats" grand tour of Britain.
something most British people aspire to do, but which few
have ever completed.
The tour is personally escorted by me -
David Rowell, the Travel Insider. I've done this journey
several times before and would love to share the experience
with you now.
To make this kaleidoscopic tour of
Britain even more memorable, we
mix some 'must see' sights with some 'off the beaten track'
special treasures, taking you to places you might not
otherwise think to visit or know about.
We arrange the tour to be as convenient as possible, and
if you could only do part of it, we can customize your
participation to allow you to join and leave at the times
that are best for you.
A generous amount of free time, and an avoidance of such
awful things as mandatory group meals at set dining times,
plus a small size group of well traveled fellow Travel
Insiders means you don't feel like a prisoner in a
traditional coach tour. Instead, you're enjoying a
special experience with new friends.
So come and collect your own matching pair of pictures -
and probably hundreds more inbetween!
And here I am at the other end - John O'Groats.
Here's a very special opportunity to achieve
one of the 'Bucket List' wishes that many people have - to
travel from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of
Better still, in doing so, we have designed a route that avoids the tourist traps and the
places you've probably been to before. Instead we go via
interesting and distinctive towns and villages, enjoying
wonderful sights and scenery and experiencing quintessential
English and Scottish things as the locals would. Plus we
promise never to have you stay in a generic international brand
franchise hotel on the outskirts of a town!
We'll take you to traditional pubs, not modern characterless
bars. We'll show you stone circles every bit as mysterious
as Stonehenge, but not crowded out by busloads of tourists - and
where you can actually touch the stones rather than being
required to keep well clear of a fence line. And if the
schedule permits it - and most days, it will - if there's
somewhere else you want to stop at, or something else you wish
to do, as long as the group as a whole concurs, we'll try and
Start Date and Options
If you choose to join us at
the formal start of our tour, then you should be in either
Salisbury or Exeter on Sunday 10 June 2018.
(We can help you get to either place from wherever your flight
If you're traveling from
North America, you'll probably take an overnight flight which
means you arrive into the UK the day after your flight takes off
from your home airport. So you'd want to leave home at
least one day before the tour starts - we recommend arriving
early to give you some 'emergency time' and a day or so to relax
after the long international flight.
We also offer optional touring
around the Salisbury region for one, two or more days before the
official tour starts on Sunday morning in Salisbury (or Sunday
afternoon in Exeter).
End Date and Options
Our tour ends in either
Edinburgh or Glasgow, on the afternoon of Tuesday
26 June. If you're planning on returning home at
that point, we
recommend you stay overnight and schedule any flights or
trains the next day so there is no concern about
making/missing flights on the day the tour ends.
You are of course welcome to
stay on in Britain and Europe in general as you wish.
Design Your Own Tour and Dates
Maybe you don't have
sufficient time to do the complete Grand Expedition, or maybe you just wish
to do part of the tour.
That is possible, too.
You are free to choose whichever day you wish to join the tour
and whichever day you wish to leave the tour again.
As a quick rule of thumb,
the tour price will decrease by almost 5% for each day of tour
you omit. When you know exactly when you'd like to join
and leave, we can give you a more exact quote, and of course
give you the exact details of when and where you could join or
leave each day, and suggestions of how to get to/from such
Special Certificate of
You'll be joining an elite
group of people who have traveled between Land's End and John
O'Groats, and so to attest to that, you'll be presented with a
special certificate (suitable for framing if you wish) signed by
both of us and recording the daily details of your journey -
miles traveled per day and overnights stops, etc.
A whisky tasting or two
is always a firm favorite. We
carefully choose all inclusions for their interest and appeal.
We've carefully designed
the Grand Expedition to balance your individuality and personal preferences
on the one hand, and to optimize shared group experiences and added value on the
reasonably flexible about adding to or varying the tour
'real time' as we are traveling. As long as the
group as a whole agrees and the schedule allows, we're
happy to make changes to enhance the experience for all
Accordingly, while including
touring and some sightseeing, accommodation every night, breakfasts and
three dinners, we've left plenty of time open
for you for exactly the experiences, meals, and other
activities you personally wish.
is optional, so if you want to spend a lazy day strolling around
one of the lovely towns we stay in rather
than an active day out and about sightseeing, that is of course
totally possible. It is all up to you.
Some of what the
tour includes comprises
On the Coach
Large luxury coach (38 seater
if 25 or fewer group members, 49 seater if 26-30 members) so
there's always an average of at least 1.5 seats per
person, giving you best
views and comfort while touring
Bottled water available
for purchase at modest price
rest-room, reclinable seats, plenty of space for luggage and
Ultra experienced coach-captain
Jim Morrison plus David Rowell (the 'Travel Insider'
himself) as tour leader
Copious commentary while
Occasional additional local
expert touring commentary too
on aspects of England, Wales and Scotland - their history and
culture, even some careful discussion on their politics
Where we stay
One night stay in
Exeter, a cathedral city and capital of Devon
Two night stay in Penzance at
the foot of Cornwall
One night stay in Bristol,
home of Britain's own 'Leaning Tower of Pisa'
Two night stay in a quaint
One night stay in the ancient
walled city of Chester
One night stay in the
beautiful Lake District
One night stay in
cosmopolitan Glasgow (or optionally at a 700 yr old castle
less than an hour out of Glasgow in a beautiful countryside
Two night stay in the lovely
little highland town of Beauly
One night stay in Thurso,
the most northerly town in Scotland
Two night stay in the Orkney
Islands north of the Scottish mainland
One night stay in Elgin in
the heart of Scotland's Speyside whisky region
One night stay in Scotland's
third city of
Aberdeen on the North Sea coast
Most meals are open
and unscheduled so you can eat what you wish, how and when
Breakfasts every morning
are included - usually hot cooked 'Full English' (or
A group welcome dinner
to accelerate the getting to know each other process, with a
drink or two also included
Midway group dinner
(also with a drink or two)
Toasting Celebration for those who visit both it and
Land's End on the tour
Group farewell dinner -
a sad experience for sure, but we try to make it as
convivial as possible, and, yes, of course there'll again be
a drink or two on offer
What and where we visit
In addition to the time
in the destinations we stay overnight at, we also have stops
in the following places.
is not a complete list. We will add, and you can request, stops as the
schedule allows - let us know if there's something or
somewhere you'd like us to stop at
Visit to Wells, time for a
suggested walking tour including the Bishop's Palace
Visit to Glastonbury and
admission to Glastonbury Cathedral, time to walk to the Tor
Tour of Exeter Underground
Ride the Babbacombe Cliff
Railway in Torquay
Visit to Plymouth
(where the Mayflower pilgrims came from)
Possible tour of
the British nuclear submarine, HMS Courageous
(if enough group members wish to experience this)
Stop at Land's End (of
Tour of Geevor Tin Mine
(including optional underground experience)
Visit to mysterious Lanyon
Quoit and 'The Merry Maidens'
Time in St Ives,
considered Britain's best sea-side destination
Visit to St Michael's Mount
Visit to Port Isaac (where
the Doc Martin tv series is filmed)
Time in Tintagel including
Visit the Clifton Suspension
Bridge in Bristol
See the Temple Church in
Bristol (with its leaning tower)
Two days touring through
beautiful Cotswold villages and countryside
A generous half day visit to Oxford
giving you lots of choices and possibilities
See the three parts of the
Rollright Stones mysteries
Sightsee Stratford upon Avon
Stop in the historic
market town of Shrewsbury
See and even walk on the extraordinary Chirk
and Pontcysyllte aqueducts in Wales
Time to see the walled city
of Chester, dating back to Roman times
Tour around the National
Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port
Visit to the planned town of
Port Sunlight (yes, as in the soap brand!)
Visit Liverpool, once
mightier than London and birthplace of The Beatles
Travel through (and stay
overnight in) the gorgeous Lake District
See the beautifully located
Castlerigg Stone Circle
parts of Hadrian's Wall and adjacent Lanercost Priory
Optional overnight in a
700 yr old castle just north of Glasgow
Visit sombre Glencoe
You decide - Loch Ness
lake cruise, Urquhart castle tour, or Nessie exhibition
Walk around Culloden
moor, where the final battle between England and Scotland
was fought in 1746
Visit to Inverness,
capital of the Scottish Highlands
Visits to Dingwall
and Strathpeffer, where Scotland's 'Nostradamus' lived
Visit to Castle of
Mey, home of the former Queen Mother
Travel to Dunnet
Head, the true northernmost point of Scotland
Stop at John
O'Groats (of course!)
See Scapa Flow,
former home of the British Grand Fleet
See the Ring of
Brodgar stone circle (and at least one less well
known circle too)
Castle and Falconry Display
Spend time in the
town and on the beach at Banff
Visit the fishing
towns of Fraserburgh and Peterhead on the Aberdeenshire
Visit the Aberdeen
Maritime Museum and its three-storey high model of an
Spend time in
Arbroath, famous for its 1320 Declaration affirming
Scotland's independence and a model for the American
Declaration of Independence
Castle, said to be Scotland's most beautiful castle and
the setting for Macbeth
Stop in Dundee,
Scotland's fourth largest city
English Heritage nine day
pass (upgradeable to 16 days) - could be used for extra
Two distillery visits and
much of the stunningly scenic NC500 route in Scotland
Short stops in other towns
and areas - feel free to ask us to add other photo type
stops along the way, if our schedule and itinerary allows,
of course we'll be pleased to do so
Options to join or leave the
tour at key points along the way so you can customize your
tour to exactly suit your requirements
recording your journey between Land's End and John
O'Groats with daily details and attestation
Of perhaps equal importance in
understanding the distinctive and special nature of this tour is
not just what the tour includes, but also what it omits.
What the tour proudly
does NOT include!
NO Early starts
NO Crowded coaches
NO Characterless hotels on the
outskirts of cities
NO Long days of endless travel
on a bus
NO Huge groups being rushed
through tourist trap after tourist trap
NO 'Shopping opportunities' at
over-priced trashy souvenir shops
NO Group meals, at fixed times,
with limited fixed menus, in generic cafeterias
NO Regimented inflexible
schedules and mandatory events
NO Obnoxious inexperienced 'out
of their depth' first time travelers
NO Crowded schedules leaving
no flexible free time
is an extensive tour - we're calling it an 'expedition'.
If you do the full tour, you'll start in Salisbury, then
travel down all the way to the southwest corner of
Britain at Land's End.
Then, with nowhere further to the southwest, you
naturally start heading northeast. After spending time
in Devon and Cornwall, we head up through the Cotswolds,
Chester and the Lake District, then on up through the center
of Scotland and to the northeast corner of Britain, at John
That's not all! We also go further north, to the
amazing Orkney Islands, and then tour down the east coast of
Scotland, before the tour ends in Edinburgh or Glasgow.
You're free to do as much or as little of this Grand
Expedition, and you can
see the full day by day details of the tour here.
Because this tour is
small group, and because it has a substantial fixed cost (ie coach
and driver/guide), the cost
per person significantly varies based on the total number of people
Rather than choose a price and
either make an undue profit (or loss) depending on the number
who participate, we're setting the price on a variable scale,
depending on the total number who sign up.
Our 2017 tour to Scotland ended
up full with 28 people and the tour before that was full with 24 people so we
hope to have 20+ people again in 2018.
$4295 if the group is 14
- 16 people
$4195 if the group is 17 - 19
people (As of 15 Sep, we have
18 people so far)
$4095 if the group is 20
$3995 if the group is 25 - 28 people
$3945 if the group is 29 or
30 people (max size)
Rates are per
We'll update this page as/when the
group size grows and the price per person falls.
A single supplement of $1195
is available. We will also help to match together singles
if you'd like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.
Shorter Tour Price
If you decide to join us
somewhere else on a later day, and/or leave us prior to the
final day, of course the tour price will reduce.
As a quick rule of thumb, if
you estimate the tour will reduce by about 5% for each day you miss,
that will help you to calculate the cost of a shorter tour.
We'll of course give you a firm price when you apply to join the
Other Price Comments
All these prices reflect a 3% discount
A $500 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your places on
Tour does not include the
costs of travel to and from the tour start and end
points, or anything not specified as included.
Far from a cookie-cutter
generic international franchise hotel! Every room
is different, and all are full of character, in hotels
such as this one in the Cotswolds.
A Note about the Hotels
The usually small
towns we are staying in do not have large five star hotels.
They have smaller hotels, and in some cases even a group as small
will be filling the entire hotel, or will need
to be split over two hotels in a town.
The hotels are not generic
faceless chain hotels. They are standard class
hotels, often full of unique individuality and character,
and are usually converted buildings rather than custom designed
as hotels to start with.
They are generally
rated at three stars.
The hotels are the best
that are sensibly available in the places we have chosen, and
while the rooms may be small, they are clean and reasonably
comfortable, and all rooms have their own private bathroom.
The hotels have
character, and even the bad parts - such as they may be - will
hopefully add to your overall experience.
We make these comments not
to apologize for bad hotels, because none of them are bad, but
simply to explain about where we'll be staying and what to
expect. I've stayed in most of them myself and used
them on previous tours, and been
happy in all cases. If you, for example, look on TripAdvisor, you'll see that these hotels (and the ones we don't
use as well) tend to get a wild swing of reviews from five out
of five down to one out of five - we feel the reason for
this is whether people have a realistic expectation and a
positive attitude or not.
For example, if you treat
the staff politely and in a friendly manner, they will be polite
and friendly back, but if you treat them rudely, they'll
probably be rude back to you! So our interpretation is
that the number of stars given by each reviewer is as much a
reflection on the reviewer as it is on the place stayed at.
Some (but not all) of the
hotels have upgraded rooms available for an extra price.
Upgraded rooms may be larger
than standard rooms, may have a higher standard of fittings and
furniture and amenities, sometimes have a bath as well as
shower, and may have better views.
We offer two upgrade options
- one is to upgrade from the standard hotel rooms to the next
category of rooms (where available), and the
second upgrade is to upgrade, where available, up two categories
of rooms in the hotels.
To upgrade from standard to
the first level of superior category where available would be
extra $450 per person (share twin)
To upgrade from standard to
the second level of superior category where available would be
about an extra $600 per person (share twin).
What about the Air Fare?
You will save money and gain
flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel.
These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and
sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions
to the tickets!
You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Where in Britain Should I Fly
To and From?
Most people will choose to
fly to London, because there are the most flights to London (either Gatwick or Heathrow airport is fine to choose).
London is also the most
convenient major airport gateway if you are joining the tour at
or near its beginning. Of course, if you're considering
joining later in the tour, maybe Manchester, Edinburgh or Glasgow might be
convenient airports to fly to as well.
To get from (eg) London to the
place you'll join the tour, we suggest you take a train.
Train travel can be directly booked at the best prices
website but note they only accept bookings and show schedules
for 60 days in advance. (You could look at any date,
but on the same day of the week, to get an idea for schedules and
If you prefer - perhaps
because you can get a special low airfare, or maybe because
you're trying to cash in frequent flier miles - you can of
course fly to any other airport in Britain.
We're happy to help you arrange trains so that you join the group.
Note that most airlines
allow you to fly into one city and out of another, so for your
departure from the UK, you might find it easier to leave from Edinburgh
or Glasgow rather than returning back to London.
Joining and Leaving the Tour
Joining the tour is simple
straightforward. We'll give details of how to join the tour
depending on the day and place you join us.
If you're doing the entire
tour, please be at the Salisbury train station by 9.00 am on
Sunday 10 June (even better would be to spend Saturday night in
If this doesn't work
conveniently for you, you could instead join the tour any time
on Sunday afternoon/evening in Exeter, at our hotel where we'll
be spending that night.
As for leaving the tour, you
can of course leave at any time and any place on our itinerary.
On the final day, you can
get off the coach anywhere on its route to and via Edinburgh (we stop at the main Waverley Railway station
mid/late afternoon) and on
to Glasgow (we stop at Glasgow Central station late
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour.
You can spend more time
in Britain before the start of this tour, and/or anywhere else (eg
in Europe) too. We recommend that you arrive into
Britain (or Europe) a day or more before you
join the tour, so as to give yourself a chance to relax after the
flights and at least partially pre-adjust to the time zone
changes and jet lag.
During the tour, all of the
day touring is of course optional and you can substitute your
own activities if you prefer.
After the tour (or after the
tour options), you can
spend more time in Scotland, or travel on anywhere else in
Britain and/or Europe. Most people can easily fill in a
day or two in and around Edinburgh - touring down to mysterious
Rosslyn Chapel, just 40 minutes south of the city center, or
visiting the former Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Leith Harbor, for
So, you have many choices
about adding extra time and sightseeing. We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
possible, and will be pleased to help you with your pre or post
tour planning - please don't hesitate to ask.
We also offer a Travel
Insider pre-tour option.
An interior view (for a
change) of glorious Salisbury Cathedral.
Pre-Tour Option in the
We are recommending you
should arrive into Salisbury at least one day early. This
gives you some time to catch up from the long flight(s) and jet
lag, and some extra time in case your bags miss a connection and
If you're going to
spend some extra time in Salisbury, we have some
interesting touring options available for you while
We have full details
about our pre-tour options in Salisbury
on our itinerary
We recommend you should
consider travel insurance as prudent protection. Rather
than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may
not suit your needs, we recommend you go to
this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons
between something like 100 different policies offered by 18
different insurers, giving you all the options you need.
information about travel insurance than you probably ever
thought you'd want to know, please click the link to read our three part series
on the subject.
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Feel free to
send us an email, or call us at (206)337-2317.
As soon as your
application is accepted,
you will be asked to send in your $500 deposit within seven days.
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. Deposit is
required within seven days of your participation being
confirmed. Full payment is due on or before Friday 9 March, 2018.
2. US, Canadian, and
many other citizens require a
current passport that will not expire until
after the date of their planned return from the UK in order
to be admitted to the UK, but do not require a visa. Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to the UK to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
plenty of room in the coach's luggage bays for as much luggage
as you choose to bring, but few hotels provide porterage.
Note that airlines charge massively for extra luggage and
without porterage always available, we recommend you limit your luggage to
one major suitcase and a carry on per person.
4. Tour price is based
on a wholesale UK/US exchange rate in the range of 1.275 - 1.325
(as shown, eg, in Yahoo Finance/Money - on 31 Aug 2017 the rate
was 1.293 - if this number goes below 1.275 then the tour price
will drop). If the
exchange rate moves outside this range, and prior to full
payment having been received by you, we will adjust the price up
or down to reflect the change in underlying tour costs. If the tour price increases by more
than 10%, you may cancel without penalty and receive a full
refund of your deposit. Tour price is locked in place once
full payment has been received.