This is a unique, magnificent and women-only luxury trip of glorious English gardens, castles, mansions, ancient cathedrals, quays, rivers, harbors and cragged cliffs in Devon and Cornwall. If you ever wanted to see the jaw-dropping coastline where Poldark was shot, discover the difference between a cream tea in Devon versus Cornwall or explore seaside gardens, Tudor mansions and dine and stay in high style – this trip is for you.
This spectacular trip through the wild and dramatic southern English seaside was created in partnership with our English friend, Amanda O’Brien, the Boutique Adventurer. The trip will be led by Doni Belau, founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond.
Arrive in London in early morning. Check into Earl’s Court in South Kensington area of London. Rest and relax having lunch on your own.
After a wee rest back at our hotel, tonight we’ll cherish a classic English pub dinner right downstairs in our hotel. The Blackbird specializes in award winning English pies and ales.
After partaking in a full English breakfast at our hotel, we will board the train from Paddington station London to Exeter in Devon County. Upon arrival we’ll be met by our driver in his mini coach who will stay with us for the entirety of our journey. From Exeter we’ll drive just 20 minutes and then hop on the Puffin Water Taxi to get to our lunch spot for the day.The River Exe café is Devon’s only floating Gastro Shed situated right on the River Exe, upstream of where it flows into the English Channel. Mussels are the mainstay here or perhaps you’d prefer to try the local crab, clams or scallops washed down by a little English cider.
Save some room in your belly because after our scenic lunch we’ll be traveling from The River Exe to Quickes Farm for a trip and cheese tasting to learn a little bit about English cheeses. After our sampling, we’ll return to beautiful Exeter, which has been an important city dating back to Roman times. Before relaxing at our hotel we’ll take a trip of the famous Exeter Cathedral, one of the truly great English Cathedrals founded back in 1050. We might pop into an award winning artisanal chocolate shop if you’d like to pick up some gifts for yourself and others.
We’ll check in and relax a bit at the luxury boutique Southern Hay House hotel located in a beautiful grade II listed Georgian townhouse, originally home to Major General William Kirkpatrick from the East India Company.
After refreshing at our hotel we’ll head out for tonight’s supper which will be taken at the charming Rendezvous Wine Bar with 60 different wines on offer and local west country fare to satisfy one and all.
Into South Devon
Today we’ll drive to Salcombe, where we’ll visit the National Trust property of Overbecks, a hidden paradise of sub-tropical gardens. This home was formerly owned by a world-class plant collector who collected specimens from around the world including as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Owing to Devon’s astonishingly mild microclimate, growing conditions for less hardy plants is possible. The house is Edwardian in character and boasts both exotic, mediterranean and more formal style gardens.
Today’s lunch will be quay-side at The Crab Shed in Salcombe. Regarding the crab that makes them renowned, their motto is from boat to quay to table. Today’s lunch will be dry because afterwards we’ll be heading to gin school.
The English and gin have had a close relationship for many hundreds of years dating back to 1689 when Dutchman William III was made King of England and introduced the Dutch-made alcohol Genever to the English. Salcombe Gin is a waterside distillery creating uniquely crafted gin using botanicals sourced from around the world. At gin school we will get a chance to create our own gin recipes choosing from an extensive range of citrus, herbal, floral and spice botanicals.
Afterwards with our driver at the helm, we’ll travel to The Boringdon Hall hotel which will be our home for the next two nights and after unpacking we’ll enjoy a proper English Devon Cream tea (if time allows us) done up in style at this elegant manor house which which belonged to Henry VIII’s crown kingdom back in the 1600’s. Read about its history here. Boringdon Hall is now an award winning 5-star hotel and spa. Take time this afternoon to walk the beautiful grounds and/or relax at the spa and indoor pool. Tonight’s meal will be a relaxing one at Boringdon’s brasserie.
Overnight at Boringdon Hall
This morning we’ll learn a bit of history on our guided walking trip of Tavistock town to the north, an ancient market town and surrounds. This is Dartmoor country in the heart of Devon and is known for the hearty Dartmoor pony, for moors and tors and rambles amidst the stunning landscape. But Dartmoor is also known for its folklore and legends which include stories of pixies, ghosts, witchcraft and weird happenings. We will have a guest guide make these tales come alive for you while we take a walking trip to discover this mysterious land.
Lunch will be at the cozy Kitchen Cafe and then we’ll set you free for a time to explore Tavistock town on your own.
This afternoon we’ll have the chance to visit another National Historic Trust property, just down the road yet over the border into Cornwall. Cotele, a Tudor Mansion dates back to 1353. This property is famous not only for its extensive gardens but for their world-class tapestry collection.
For tonight’s meal, we’ll head back to our hotel, Boringdon Hall for an elegant meal you will surely remember. Àclèaf’s chef Scott Paton will whip us up a four-course tasting menu using the finest local ingredients with wines to match.
Overnight at Boringdon Hall
Today we’ll check out of our hotel and head for an hour and a half’s journey to St Ives on the north coast of Cornwall. We should feel lucky because there is much to explore in this idyllic seaside town, the jewel of the Cornish coast and a haven for artists dating back to the era of portrait and landscape painter, J M W Turner.
Today will be art-filled with a visit to the Tate Gallery of St. Ives, which acts as a hub for the important post-war modern artists of Cornwall. We’ll follow this by a visit to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s home and garden. Ms. Hepworth was an artist of extraordinary stature, working for over 50 years on the cutting edge of abstract sculpture.
After lunch at the Portminster Kitchen, which directly faces the beach and specializes in local sustainable seafood and foraged vegetables, we’ll check out the Leach Pottery Museum and store, founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. Leach Pottery is among the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world. Don’t worry, they ship!
Check-in and settle in for the next two nights at the utterly charming Boskerris Hotel St Ives.
Tonight’s meal will be taken at the cozy gastro pub, the Halsetown Inn . Today is the summer solstice, so it should be light until 9:30 pm, prompting a second order at the bar at the very least.
The timing of the tides will determine where we head first today. An early rise is important so we can pack all the beauty in that we must see. On order is the medieval castle of St Michael’s Mount a national trust property which is an island linked to the mainland by a causeway path and only accessible at low tide. St. Michael’s oozes history dating back to the Norman Conquest through to the War of the Roses in the 15th century. It is said that four miracles have happened here between 1262 and 1263, once you hear the tales you can be the judge. In more recent times the St Aubyn family have made this rock their family home dating back to the 17th century.
Later we will explore some exceptional English Gardens near Falmouth, Trebah Gardens are subtropical Cornish gardens, which lie directly on the southern coast and are steeped in heritage as well as creativity and listed as one of the great gardens of Cornwall. Created by Charles Fox, a wealthy quaker who purchased the property back in 1838 to create a 26 acres pleasure garden, thankfully the tradition of adding and enriching the garden carried on through successive owners. The beach here even played a role in D-Day, something we’ll hear about during our visit. Depending on the tides and how our day plays out we plan on having lunch at Trebah Gardens sitting outside and taking in the sea air.
On our way back to St. Ives we’ll stop to drool over the turquoise waters of Kynance Cove which was used in the filming of Poldark and is considered the most beautiful bay in England.
Tonight’s meal will be at the Seafood Café back in St. Ives where you can choose your own fish at the fish counter before they whisk it up as a meal for you.
Evening at Boskerris Hotel St Ives
After breakfast, we’ll check out and take a drive for a morning visit to Lands End, Britain’s most south-westerly point with stunning 200’ cliffs. We’ll walk the coastal path to witness some extraordinary vistas out to sea.
After a cup of tea, we’ll head to Newquay in order to catch the 11:18 am train back to London’s Paddington station enjoying a simple lunch aboard. We’ll arrive back in London by approximately 4:30pm where we will say our sad goodbye’s. You can hop on a night flight back home or stay a while longer in London town.
Trip Cost: 5,250 English Pounds*
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If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.
If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for a non-refundable deposit, usually 35% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 place-holder deposit, if you already paid it) and your place is reserved. At this point, you’re committed to the trip, so we recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to protect you in case your plans change unexpectedly. The balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip.
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