The beauty of the landscape and the myths and legends of Southwest England will be with you forever in one of the most exciting escorted tours in England, the stunning 6-day “Best of Devon and Cornwall” holiday by Trafalgar. This tour visits Windsor, Georgian Bath, the old sea-faring port of Bristol with its strong ties with America, medieval Exeter and Salisbury, and Plymouth, from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World.
This is one of the most popular Trafalgar escorted tours in England and you can understand why when you start name-dropping some of the wonderful sightseeing experiences, such as Windsor Castle, The Roman Baths, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain luxury liner, Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Tintagel Castle, St. Michael’s Mount, Dartmoor, Exmoor... the list just keeps going.
With all this activity, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that “The Best of Devon and Cornwall” is one of the most highly rated escorted tours in England!
Another added bonus for this holiday is some start dates are for woman-only escorted tours.
The tour leaves the hustle and bustle of London and heads west out to Windsor to view the magnificent Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in England. If you see the Royal Standard flying over the castle rather than the Union Jack, then it means the King is in residence!
From Windsor the tour continues west to the beautiful city of Bath, famous for its stunning medieval and Georgian architecture, including the Abbey and shop-lined Pulteney Bridge. But the city's history goes back further than medieval times. The city actually takes its name from the historic Roman baths and the ancient spring that feeds them. Visiting this site will take you two thousand years into the past.
From Bath, it’s a short hop to the cosmopolitan city of Bristol beside the River Avon, which will be your home for two nights. Bristol was once a very wealthy maritime port and has a rich industrial heritage. There is a lot to see and do in Bristol, so you’ll have to make the most of your free time!
Tours in England - The Best of Devon and Cornwall Tour Map and Link to Trafalgar
For our American friends there are plenty of interesting connections to Bristol including: -
St Mary Redcliffe Church
During her visit in 1574, Queen Elizabeth I described the church as “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England”. Inside the church, The American Chapel contains the tomb of Admiral Sir William Penn, the father of William Penn, the Pennsylvania founder. There is also a whalebone which was brought back to Bristol by John Cabot in 1497 after he sailed from Bristol to discover North America. The story of the discovery is illustrated in stained-glass panels.
John Cabot set sail aboard the Mathew for Asia, intending to trade with the local people. However, Cabot landed on the Newfoundland coast, making him the first person to discover America. It is believed he named it America after Richard Ameryck who financed his voyage. You can see a replica of the Mathew in Bristol’s historic Harbourside area.
One of the best views of Bristol can be had from the top of Cabot Tower in the city centre. The tower is a monument to John Cabot, who sailed from Bristol and discovered America. There is a second Cabot Tower in Newfoundland.
Hollywood film star Cary Grant was born and raised in Bristol. There is a blue plaque attached to the house he lived in on Hughenden Road in Horfield.
The SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain was launched in Bristol in 1843 for luxury transatlantic journeys between Bristol and New York. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it was the first steam-powered iron ship to cross the Atlantic. It now stands in the dry dock in which it was originally built.
Blackbeard the Pirate
Born in Bristol, Edward Leach became the terrifying Blackbeard the Pirate who wreaked havoc in the West Indies and American east coast until he was captured and killed in 1718 by the Governor of Virginia. His childhood home can still be found in the harbourside and Bristol’s oldest pub, The Llandoger, claims to have been his drinking hole.
The first American Embassy was founded at number 37 Queen Square in 1792.
Today the tour goes out from Bristol into the wonderful Wiltshire countryside. First stop is the stately home of Longleat in its 1000-acre Capability Brown-designed landscape garden. This fine Elizabethan house was completed around 1570 and your day out includes a guided tour of the house and its grand rooms decorated with tasteful collections of art, antiques, and tapestries. Although it’s not included in the tour, it’s strange to think that Longleat was the first estate outside of Africa to have a safari park!
From Longleat the tour travels to the pretty village of Lacock, famous as a film location for many period dramas including Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey. Lacock Abbey was also used during the filming of Harry Potter. The National Trust owns Lacock, and they try their best to reduce the intrusion of modern life showing outside the homes and businesses within the village. It is quite an experience walking around the streets with all their old buildings.
There are a couple of optional extra excursions possible on this second day. Knowing that there are so many sites of interest in Bristol, I’d strongly recommend a guided tour of the city.
The tour leaves the Bristol hotel and heads southwest to Devon and Cornwall. The smell of the sea beckons at the English Riviera.
The first stop is the fishing town of Brixham which has one of the largest fishing fleets in England. In the busy harbour you will see a replica of Sir Frances Drake ship the Golden Hind.
From the coast, the route travels slightly inland to the castle town of Totnes on the River Dart. Here you’ll be treated to the Trafalgar traditional “Be My Guest” experience and share a cream tea with some local hosts. You just have to chose between cream first or jam first! Me, I’m a cream first person.
Your journey continues west to Buckfast Abbey, where you’ll experience the life and culture of the Benedictine Monks. The original Buckfast Abbey was established on this site in 1018 by King Cnut.
The day comes to an end in Plymouth, on the Devon/Cornwall border. This famous naval town is where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 for North America.
There are two optional extras for day 3 of your holiday. I’m not sure if you can do both, or whether you must choose between one or the other. The first option is to drive high up onto Dartmoor to Princetown and its eerie prison and on to an old inn for evening dinner while listening to stories and legends. The second option is a boat trip around the harbour and Royal Navy Dockyards.
Leaving your Plymouth hotel, the tour takes you on a grand sightseeing adventure around Cornwall and back to Exeter, the capital of Devon, where you’ll rest up for two nights. This is a day for myths, legends, and fantastic views.
The first highlight is the view across to St. Michael’s Mount, a tidal island with a seventeenth century castle. At low tide it is possible to walk out to the island from Marazion near Penzance, but once the tide is in you have to take the ferry.
From the south coast the sightseeing tour takes you to the north coastal town of St Ives. This beautiful little town has become a haven for artists and even has its own Tate Galley. There is a pretty harbour and lovely sandy beaches.
The tour leaves the beaches of St Ives and travels to mystical Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. From the rocky cliff tops here, there are stunning views of the wild Atlantic coast and over to the castle remains.
The route continues into Exeter which has an interesting medieval city centre and cathedral.
There is an optional extra to have evening dinner in a 700-year-old pub in a quaint Devonshire village. This sounds like a nice idea to me!
The day starts with a trip into the medieval centre of Exeter and a visit to Exeter Cathedral. After visiting the cathedral, the tour goes to the pretty Somerset village of Dunster. This is a lovely little village with a castle and watermill.
From Dunster, the sightseeing continues in the Devon coastal village of Lynmouth. The village is built between the sea and a rocky gorge and has a water-powered cliff railway that takes you up to Lynton, built on top of the cliff.
On the way back to Exeter, the route passes through Exmoor National Park, where you stop to have a Farewell Dinner in a traditional pub.
Sadly, it’s the final day of your Devon and Cornwall holiday which takes you back to London, but it does so with a bang!
On the way, you visit the mystical stone circle of Stonehenge. Learn about the stones, how they got there, and what they mean.
The next stop is the medieval town of Salisbury, where you can see Salisbury Cathedral, which has the tallest spire in England.
From Salisbury, your unforgettable journey comes to a close in London.
The Best of Devon and Cornwall itinerary makes it one of the more popular escorted tours in England available and the reviews tend to back this up. Please be aware that the details in this page were correct at the time of publication and may change. For full up to date details…