England, Scotland &
Grand Circle Travel
July 30 ~ August 13, 2014
Our next travel
adventure took us to England, Scotland and Wales. It would prove to be a
very busy travel time in these travel venues. Schools were on vacation and
visitors to England were plentiful. Most all of the sights that we visited were crowded.
Our trip started with the usual drive to Binghamton's airport.
We flew from Binghamton
to Newark and then on to London's Heathrow. As luck
would have it our Grand Circle greeter
was not at the airport to greet us. After an hour wait
we were picked by the tour company driver
and were off to the Tower Hotel.
The Tower Hotel
was a great location on the banks of the Thames
Our neighbor was the famous Tower Bridge spanning the river.
It was a very
busy area and the river and the bridge
all the time.
Just the other side of the Tower Bridge highway was the famous
That is the location where the Crown Jewels
of England are displayed.
The tour of the Tower of London
was led by one of their
Beefeater Guards pictured above. It was a very interesting
The red area in
the moat are porcelain poppies created and placed in
memory of those
English soldiers who died during World War One. August 5
was the anniversary
of the beginning of World War
Volunteers placed the
poppies in and around the Castle moat.
On a walking
tour around the area of the Tower Hotel we explored
shops and restaurants nearby. We happened upon the mooring place
the Queen's barge. It was quite impressive!
On day two we had an included panoramic our tour of London.
must note here that to see all to the sights of London in one day is
impossible. The pictures that follow are but a small sample of all the
we saw on our morning long bus ride. Fortunately we did have several
opportunities to leave the bus
for photo opts. Above is a statue of
Queen Victoria located at Trafalgar Square.
Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square
Victoria Memorial was
created by sculptor Sir
in 1911 and
erected in front of the main gates at Buckingham Palace
on a surround
constructed by architect Sir Aston Webb.
The house was originally intended as a private
retreat, and in particular for
Queen Charlotte, and was
known as The Queen's
Fourteen of their 15 children were born there.
St. James's Palace
the official and ceremonial royal residence. The house which
forms the architectural
core of the present palace was built for the first
Duke of Buckingham and
in 1703 to the design of
chosen was of a large, three-floored central block with two
service wings. Buckingham House was eventually
sold by Buckingham's descendant,
Sir Charles Sheffield, in 1761 to
George III for
£21,000 (£2,820,000 as of
The Queen was at her summer palace in Scotland, but the
changed with fewer guards
Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at
Westminster, is a large, mainly
Gothic, church in the
City of Westminster,
London, located just to
the west of the
Palace of Westminster. It
of the most notable religious buildings in the
United Kingdom and has
the traditional place of
coronation and burial
English and, later,
abbey is a
Royal Peculiar and
between 1540 and 1556 had the status
cathedral; however, the
church is no longer an
abbey nor cathedral.
Parliament of Great Britain Building.
constituted as the result of
Magna Carta, although it
did not begin to
meet regularly until the reign of
Edward III. Its power
until, during the mid-1600s,
it effectively ruled all of Britain and Ireland.
It was wound up in
1707 as part of the Union
and England and replaced by the
Parliament of Great Britain.
A statue of Winston Churchill near Parliament building.
is the nickname for the
Great Bell of the
clock at the
north end of
Palace of Westminster in
London, and is
to refer to the clock and the
clock tower. The tower is
as the Elizabeth Tower (prior to being renamed in 2012 it was
simply "Clock Tower") to celebrate the
Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
tower holds the largest four-faced
chiming clock in the
world and is the
tower. The tower was completed in 1858 and had
its 150th anniversary on 31 May
2009, during which celebratory events took place.
The tower has become one of the
most prominent symbols of the
United Kingdom and is
often in the
establishing shot of
films set in London.
Queen Victoria in 1871,
the world's leading
artists from several performance genres have appeared on its
It has become one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive
Each year it hosts more than 350 events including classical concerts,
rock and pop,
ballet and opera, sports, award ceremonies, school and
events, charity performances and banquets.
Albert Memorial is situated in
to the north of the
Royal Albert Hall. It was
Queen Victoria in memory
of her beloved husband,
Prince Albert, who died of
typhoid in 1861.
A last view of the Tower Bridge.
Note that the bridge road way
to allow river traffic to move up and down the
On our last
night of the brief stay in London, Carol and I walked
across the Tower Bridge.
It was a wonderful evening to cap off our
short stay on the Thames.
It was stay that was not long
enough to enjoy the sights of this beautiful city.
On the fourth
day of our tour, we headed to Oxford, England. Oxford is the oldest
university city in the
United Kingdom, situated
some 50 miles (80 km) to the
west of the capital
London in its own county
Oxfordshire, and located
on the rivers
Thames (the section of the Thames in Oxford is known as "The
Isis") and Cherwell. Together with
Cambridge (the second
oldest university city and Oxford's great rival), Oxford has
the English academic establishment
("Oxbridge"), a haven of tradition.
Ashmolean Museum (in full the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology)
Oxford, England, is the
university museum. Its
building was built in 1678–1683 to house the
cabinet of curiosities
gave to the
University of Oxford in
1677. The museum reopened in 2009 after a major
redevelopment. In November 2011
new galleries focusing on
Egypt and Nubia were also unveiled.
Camera (Camera, meaning "room" in Latin; colloquially, "Rad Cam")
is a building
England, designed by
James Gibbs in
neo-classical style and built in 1737–1749 to house the
One of the several colleges that make up Oxford, University.
It was Graduation Day in Oxford on this rainy day of our visit.
It is a rainy lunch time so we head for the nearest local
This sign outlines
the theme for attending this tavern in Oxford.
The spectacular Christ Church Cathedral is actually one of the
cathedrals in the country, although it should be said that this is
still a very
grand and imposing building. Dating back to the early 16th century,
cathedral has been renovated and updated many times over the years,
tremendous character. Attractions here include a tall spire, large
columns, rounded Norman arches, Gothic pointed arches, a fine
stained-glass windows and detailed stone carvings.
(Bridge of Sighs), (Hertford
College). A quaint pedestrian
for the students of Hertford College which has popularly become
known as the
"Bridge of Sighs" of Oxford.
The third stop of the day is at Stratford-Upon-Avon.
were greeted by this statue of the jester.
A visit Stratford-upon-Avon introduces
you to a market town with
more than 800 years of
history, containing not only many buildings
survive today and would have been familiar to
but also a thriving community offering
a wide variety of leisure,
birthplace is a restored 16th-century
house situated in
where it is believed that
William Shakespeare was born in 1564
and spent his childhood years.
Street mime plying this magic.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) is a 1,040+
seat thrust stage theatre
owned by the
Royal Shakespeare Company dedicated to the British
playwright and poet
William Shakespeare. It is located in the town of
Stratford-upon-Avon – Shakespeare's birthplace – in the English
River Avon. The Royal Shakespeare and
Swan Theatres re-opened
in November 2010 after undergoing a major renovation
known as the Transformation Project.
Boating on the River Avon.
Boats & Swans on the River Avon.
On our tour we had two staff members from Grand Circle,
taking photos of our group and the scenery of the tour.
pictured here with two of our tour group.
Thus ended our day.
We stayed at Cheltenham Park Hotel after
our day of
touring. We stayed at the Celtic Royal Hotel for two evenings.
Bright floral gardens greeted us when we arrived in Bath.
The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses laid
out in a
crescent in the city of
Bath, England. Designed by the architect
John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the
greatest examples of
Georgian architecture to be found in the
and is a Grade I
Although some changes have been made to the
various interiors over the years,
the Georgian stone façade
remains much as it was when it was first built.
We passed by Sally Lunn's restaurant as we toured during the
We returned there for our lunch break. Quaint atmosphere
and good food.
This has been a place of Christian worship for well over a thousand years.
However, the Abbey has undergone
many transformations and changes during this time,
and much like the city of
Bath has experienced rise and falls in fortune,
survived a number of major
conflicts, architectural and religious reforms,
and two World Wars, but still
stands proudly today
as an essential place for both worshippers and visitors.
The Roman Baths complex is a site of
historical interest in the
Bath. The house is a well-preserved
Roman site for public bathing.
Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There
are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple,
Bath House and the Museum holding
finds from Roman Bath.
The buildings above street level date
from the 19th century.
Water source for the Roman baths.
Stonehenge is a
England, about 2 miles
(3 km) west of
and 8 miles (13 km) north of
One of the
most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring
stones set within
earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex
Age monuments in England,
including several hundred
Our dinner stop was to enjoy a pint and a meal in a local Pub.
and food at The Plough Inn.
We have finally arrived in
Wales. Llangollen is a
small town and
Wales, situated on the
and on the edge of the
Berwyn mountains. It has
of 3,412. Note the Jones Traditional Family Butchers store.
The River Dee
An old stone corn mill still working today.
Ellesmere Canal was
intended to connect the
coal mines and
Wrexham to the
canal network and thence
to the sea via the
River Mersey and the
Today it has horses drawing canal boats as an tourist attraction in the summer.
We are on the road early driving through the Welsh countryside.
sharp rocks on the top of the stone wall
We are spending the night at the Celtic Royal in Caernarfon.
Caernarfon's Medieval Castle.
While in Caernarfon we had a home hosted dinner with a local Welsh family.
It was a terrific experience with great food, beverages
Today's optional tour started with a steam train ride on the famous
Railway. Our first stop on this cloudy, rainy day was at
we boarded our narrow gauge steam
train for a 40 mile ride.
A steam locomotive awaits the challenge of the Welsh countryside.
This locomotive will haul our passenger cars on our journey this morning.
Our train ride was super and ended at the Welsh village of
Ffestiniog. These slate towers greeted us to the village.
After the train ride we were bussed to Portmeirion for lunch.
is a popular
tourist village in
Wales. It was designed and built
Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an
and is now owned by a charitable trust.
The unique, privately-owned Italianate
village of PORTMEIRION is set on a small rocky
Tremadog Bay. Perhaps best known as "The Village" in the 1960s cult
British TV series,
"The Prisoner", Portmeirion was the brainchild of eccentric
architect Clough Williams-Ellis, and his dream to build an ideal village
"gay, light-opera sort of approach".
Portmeirion is also know world-wide for its exclusive china.
The Welsh flag flies high with the north sea in the background.
Welsh scenery was we drive along to our after lunch stop.
Two sheep were caught along the
road side as we drove by.
Our next stop was at the National Slate Museum Llamberis. After some
sightseeing around the museum grounds we went to the one of the
buildings for a
slate splitting demonstration. The National Slate Museum
(previously known as the Welsh Slate Museum) is located at Gilfach Ddu
the 19th-century workshops of the now disused
within the Padarn Country Park,
I was asked by the craftsman who presented the demonstration
to help him split a
slate block. Here goes nothing!
Success, I must admit that my first attempt was a split piece!
The museum is now connected to the nearby village of Llanberis by the
Llanberis Lake Railway, which uses part of the building as its workshops.
The train stop in Wales with the worlds' longest name.
Auto dealership in the town with
that longest name.
Chester Town Hall
Chester Cathedral is a
Church of England
and the mother
church of the
Diocese of Chester. It is located in the city of
Cheshire, England. The
(formerly the abbey church of a
monastery, dedicated to
is dedicated to Christ and the
Virgin Mary. Since 1541 it has been the seat of the
Bishop of Chester.
Chester Amphitheatre is a
We continued on to York.
Our hotel in York. Very modern and somewhat minimalistic
in layout and
York Castle in the city of
York, England, is a
fortified complex comprising,
over the last nine centuries, a sequence of
courts and other
buildings on the south side of the
is commonly referred to as Clifford's Tower. Built originally on
William I to dominate the former
Viking city of York, the castle
a tumultuous early history before
developing into a major fortification with extensive water defenses.
major explosion in 1684 rendered the remaining military defenses uninhabitable,
York Castle continued to be used as a jail and prison until 1929.
Another Jones establishment in York. No time to visit the store!
York Minster is a cathedral in
York, England, and
is one of the largest of
its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of
Archbishop of York,
the second-highest office of the
Church of England,
and is the
cathedral for the
Diocese of York.
Note the bicycle on the wall. York was host to one leg of the famous
de France bicycle race. Yellow bicycles were everywhere
in celebration of
The National Railway Museum (NRM) is a
York forming part
Science Museum Group of National Museums and telling
the story of
rail transport in Britain and its impact on society.
Visitors were greeted by this display of an early steam locomotive. It has
been a personal goal to visit this museum. I was not disappointed!
were excellent and the variety of locomotives and other railway
cars was superb.
Vintage Steam Locomotive
After our visit to the Railway Museum a boat ride on the River
Ouse was the last
activity of the day in York.
On day 10 of our tour we had an optional tour starting at Whitby.
a view of Whitby volunteers setting up for a community
event. Note the North
Sea in the background.
A statue honoring Bram Stoker, author of the novel
Dracula. Part of
was set in Whitby, incorporating pieces of local
folklore, including the
beaching of the Russian ship Dmitri. Stoker
discovered the name "Dracula"
at the old public library. One scholar has
suggested that Stoker chose Whitby as
the site of Dracula's first appearance in
England because of the
Synod of Whitby, given the novel's preoccupation
with timekeeping and
The hotel where Bram Stoker stayed when writing Dracula.
Captain James Cook lived in Whitby and first set out to sea, during
century from Whitby.
Captain James Cook,
November 1728– 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator,
cartographer, and captain in the
Cook made detailed maps of
Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during
he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline
Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded
Whitby Abbey is a
on the East Cliff above
Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of
After lunch in down town Whitby we traveled to the Castle Howard.
the entrance to the castle complex. In 1952, the house was opened
public by then owner,
George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe. It is
currently owned by his
son, the Honourable Simon Howard, who grew up at the castle.
Castle Howard is a
stately home in
North Yorkshire, England, 15 miles (24 km)
It is a private residence, the home of the
Howard family for more
than 300 years. Castle Howard is
not a true
but this term is also used for
English country houses erected on the site of a former military
castle. It is
familiar to television and film audiences as the
fictional "Brideshead", both in
Granada Television's 1981
adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's
Brideshead Revisited and a two-hour 2008
remake for cinema.
This is one of the more intriguing found in the Castle. There were many,
many pieces of art displayed through out the castle.
The Castle's fountain. Castle Howard was built between 1699 and 1712 to a
design by Sir
Vanbrugh for the
3rd Earl of Carlisle. The site was that of
the ruined Henderskelfe Castle,
which had come into the Howard family in
1566 through the marriage to Lord Dacre's widow of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk.
The next morning we were off across the Scottish country side.
out all over the countryside.
As part of Grand Circle Travels program, we had a "Learning and Discovery"
experience by visiting a modern-day Scottish farm for lunch.
This was a former home of author
Beautiful Scottish scenery as we bus along.
We had a travel break with an afternoon stop at the Scottish village of
Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist
destination, in the centre of the
District. It takes its name from the adjacent
lake, and is associated with the
William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for fourteen years,
as "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found".
Grasmere is the resting place of Wordsworth.
MacDonald Swan Hotel in Grasmere. Quaint and definitely not modern.
After breakfast were back on the bus heading to Edinburgh. One stop was
an area where we could visit a section of Hadrian's Wall picture above.
This section of the Wall is the longest continuous stretch still
visited. It was originally 15 feet high.
The readily available stone was
used for other building over the years.
Lanercost Priory was founded about 1166 by Henry II. When completed
canons came from the priory in Norfolk, and remained for some
370 years until
the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, by Henry VIII.
For our lunch break we stopped in Moffat, Scotland. Moffat is a historic
town in the Annandale Valley, 21 miles from Dumfries. Moffat’s wide,
tree-lined high street retains many of its original characteristics and the
has strong connections with both the Moffat and Johnstone clans.
farming town in years gone by, this history
is depicted by the Ram Statue on the
Moffat was a notable market in the
wool trade, and
this is commemorated
with a statue of a ram by
William Brodie in the town's marketplace. The ram
was presented to the town
by William Colvin, a local businessman, in 1875.
The ram is missing its ears,
and has been since it was first presented.
The Star Hotel, a mere 20 ft (6 m) wide, boasted a record in the
Book of Records as the narrowest hotel in the world.
On Day 13 we arrived in Edinburgh. Our hotel is located downtown
around the corner from the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh is full of tourists in town for the Festival,
the Fringe and the Military Tattoo.
The sidewalks are crowded and the
capital city bustles. Above is a photo of Edinburgh
Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the
main thoroughfare of the
Old Town of the city of
Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in
form most of
Holyrood Park, described by
Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill
for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its
bold design". It is situated in the
centre of the city of
about a mile to the east of
The hill itself rises above the city to a height of
250.5 m (822 ft), provides
excellent panoramic views of the city, is relatively
easy to climb,
and is popular for
Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century
for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner
until he died
himself on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known
as active oral
Edinburgh, through several books and films, and
became a prominent
The bar where
J.K.Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, did her
Walking up to Edinburgh Castle for our tour.
The Castle entrance. There
were long lines to buy tickets to
the Castle all day.
Edinburgh Castle is a formidable fort that was built by David
I on an extinct
volcano is Scotland's capital. Originally built in 1130 the
Castle represents over 800
years of Scottish history and is a World Heritage
site. St Margaret's chapel
was also built in 1130 and survives as the oldest
building in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle was home to the Kings and Queens of
staying in the city. It was not as comfortable as Holyrood
but offered far greater protection.
Edinburgh Castle is a historic
fortress which dominates the skyline of the
from its position on the
There are several building located within the
They are all of stone construction.
Cannons guard the Castle
The Royal Palace in Crown Square inside the Castle.
A lone bagpipe player playing for change donations
Royal Mile near the Castle.
After a day full of sightseeing it is time for some real entertainment!
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a spectular show held in the
Edinburgh Castle. Carol and I along with Fred Gerszewski
made this our
The Royal Edinburgh
Military Tattoo is an annual series of
British Armed Forces,
military bands and
display teams on the
Edinburgh Castle in the
Edinburgh. The event
annually throughout August.
Cannons fired as part of the
opening of the Tattoo!
Check out the smoke from the Castle ports.
The show is beginning!
Band marchers entering the Castle
The marching was done with
Another view of the pipe and drum
Closing performance by the massed performers. This was a fantastic show!
All Aboard the Britannica
Ring that bell!
The formal Dining Room aboard the Royal Britannica.
The next stop of our tour on this optional sightseeing day was at Holyrood
Queen's Scottish Castle. Above is the view of the front of the Castle.
The inner courtyard of the Holyrood Castle.
The last event of the tour was the usual Farewell Dinner.
Elaine Sloan our
Tour Director, par excellence, arranged for this
Scotch gentleman to come to our
dinner to perform the traditional Haggis ritual.
He was a character and
performed his duties with a good sense of humor.
This was a very good tour.
There is so much to see in England that a two
week venture will leave you
wanting to go back to visit other venues.
I took over 1600 photos and it was difficult to
pare them down.
I have tried
to present a brief selection that captures the
sights of England, Scotland and
Wales that we visited.
Please note that I used
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
for some of the background
information used in this web page.