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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 incorporate it.
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 takes you.)
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 places.
Special Certificate of Completion
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.
Everything 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
Where we stay
What and where we visit
Other inclusions and features
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!
Because this tour is with a 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 joining.
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.
Rates are per person, share twin.
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 tour.
Other Price Comments
All these prices reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.
A $500 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your places on this tour.
Tour does not include the costs of travel to and from the tour start and end points, or anything not specified as included.
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 older hotels have character, and even the bad parts - such as they may be - will hopefully add to your overall experience. The newer hotels, more likely custom built as hotels, give you a more consistent experience; we have a mix of old and new hotels accordingly, and depending on what is best in each location.
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 many 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 about an 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 on this 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 pricing now.)
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 and 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 Salisbury).
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 afternoon/early evening).
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 example.
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.
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.
For more 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
Our 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.
3. There's 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 24 Dec 2017 the rate
was 1.336 and if it stays above the stated range there would be
a price adjustment when we ask for final payments). 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.