Friday After a morning departure from your local area, the coach will travel direct to Warwick. This ancient Mercian town has had the bad luck to be burned down twice, but despite these misfortunes, some of the original Tudor and Jacobean buildings survive, and Warwick has been used as a film location for many period dramas. A particularly delightful cluster of buildings may be found around the West Gate, a collection of timber–framed buildings dating from the 14th century and now comprising the Lord Leycester Hospital.
Included in today's visit is admission to Warwick Castle. First built in 1068, two years after the Battle of Hastings, this castle has lived through generations of aristocratic plots, schemes, murders, wars, sieges, anarchy, beheadings and betrayal. It has been a huge tourist attraction since Victorian times and is today considered to be one of Britain's Top 10 historic houses and monuments, with lawns and gardens created in the 18th century by one of Britain's foremost landscape designers, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.
In the late afternoon we will continue to your Swindon hotel for check–in, dinner and your first night's stay.
Saturday Breakfast first, then a full–day visit to Windsor. There are many interesting shops and boutiques here, and a fine Guildhall. Shakespeare knew Windsor as a run–down slum, and may have written his play The Merry Wives of Windsor in the Garter Inn, near the castle. Nell Gwyn's house is on Church Street, reputed to have had a tunnel leading inside the castle for secret visits to Charles II. The Castle sits in the centre of 5,000 acres of former royal deer–hunting land, now known as Windsor Great Park, which includes Snow Hill, Virginia Water and the 2 ½–mile Long Walk. Admission to the castle is included in your break, and a tour takes between 2 and 3 hours.
In the afternoon we will take you for a 40–minute cruise on the River Thames to Runnymede which will offer you fine views of Windsor Castle, Windsor Racecourse and Eton College on the way. Afterwards we will return to the hotel for dinner and your second night's stay.
Please note that the morning and afternoon programmes may be reversed.
Sunday Today we visit Bath, the Georgians' and Romans' favourite spa town, with a unique geology. If you were to dig far enough down into the ground you would find the temperature hot enough to boil water, which is exactly what happens to Mendip rainwater as it sinks 14,000 feet into rock and then bursts up under pressure to form Bath's hot springs. The ancient Britons knew all about these waters, which they attributed to their goddess Sulis, and the Romans, who knew a good thing when they saw it, named the town Aquae Sulis (Waters of Sulis). Bath has never really looked back since.
The coach will tour around the city allowing you views of famous sights such as the Circus, Bath Abbey, the 18th–century Pulteney Bridge (one of only four in the world built with shops on both sides), the Roman Baths and Royal Crescent. You'll have some free time to explore the town, so you could visit the Roman Baths or the Victorian shopping arcades, or try a Sally Lunn bun in the tearoom at the oldest house in Bath. We will return to the hotel for dinner and your final night's stay.
Monday After a full English breakfast and check–out, we will travel home via Stratford–upon–Avon where you will have some time to look around the home of the Bard and have some lunch before we re–join the coach for the journey home in the afternoon.