Discover quintessential England's rolling hills of this patchwork countryside and its historic houses, enchanting gardens, and rich traditions. This nine-day itinerary through the middle of England takes you to the iconic university city of Cambridge, through majestic Fenlands, and allows you to linger like a local in tiny counties and quaint country pubs. Fall in love with the fairytale-worthy limestone villages and thatched-roof inns of the Cotswolds and watch Shakespeare come to life in Stratford-upon-Avon, the bard's birthplace. Complete your journey in the charming Chilterns, exploring the historic and intriguing Buckinghamshire and Thames river valley.

Highlights

  • Take a journey of historic discovery through quintessential England
  • Visit the first established national park and an operational Royal Castle
  • Explore the charming university city of Cambridge
  • Stay in outstanding country hotels set in the most scenic pastoral settings
  • Taste regional specialties featuring the best local ingredients

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Cambridge Cambridge
Days 2-3 Norfolk & Rutland Rutland
Days 4-5 The Peak District Bakewell
Days 6-7 Cotswolds & Stratford-upon-Avon Broadway
Days 8-9 Buckinghamshire & Windsor Burnham

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Cambridge

College forecourt
College forecourt in Cambridge

Your adventure begins in the glorious university city of Cambridge, where you'll wander a labyrinth of cobbled parades and squares - just as many prime ministers, poets, and thinkers have done through the centuries. Marvel at the intricate architecture of world-renowned colleges; after touring Kings College, stop into the Chapel in time for the remarkable daily Evensong choir service.

If history is more your thing, opt for the Cambridge Museum, housed in a quaint tinder-framed building, before strolling along the Backs, the picturesque parklands behind the university - and a perfect picnic spot for lunch. After, take a punt along the River Cam, where you may even be pushed along by a local student. Travel onto the Suffolk town of Newmarket, the birthplace of horseracing over 350 years ago; should you end up catching a race, it'd be a lucky end to your day indeed. 

Days 2-3: Norfolk & Rutland 

Stretch your legs!
Stretch your legs as you amble through the Fens

On day two, you'll travel north through the ancient towns of Ely, Downham Market and Kings Lynn, a gateway to the mysterious and magical Fens. This seaport town boasts three fine medieval Gothic churches, and the coastline here is so cherished that it’s home to Sandringham House, a favorite retreat of the Queen.

Explore the estate and storied private home of England’s monarchs before relaxing in the nation’s smallest—and arguably prettiest—county of Rutland. Linger over perfectly poured pints in traditional country pubs, enjoy your afternoon tea in quaint villages and walk the shores of Rutland Water. You can also visit Burghley House, one of England’s greatest Elizabethan homes, with its breathtaking staterooms, Tudor kitchen, and the extensive deer park and gardens, largely designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century. 

Days 4-5: The Peak District

Sunset
Sunset in the idyllic Peak District

Next, you'll travel onward to the Peak District, one of Britain’s most ancient landscapes: a vast expanse of hills, forests and patchwork fields, crisscrossed by stonewalls and rivers, dotted with lakes and reservoirs. Visit the picturesque market towns of Bakewell and Ashbourne, wander the river's edge, crossing stepping stones at Dovedale, or hike to the summit of Mam Tor for panoramic views across the rugged terrain. Meander through Winnats Pass, a dramatic limestone valley created by melting glaciers.

You can also climb to imposing ruins of Peveril Castle, a 12th century Norman fortress; once you've reached the top, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views over Hope Valley and the pretty village of Castleton. After you've tasted the great outdoors, explore the magnificent Chatsworth House and its gardens, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire: its 30 rooms are home to one of Europe's most significant art collections, encompassing Old Masters to contemporary ceramics.

Days 6-7: Cotswolds & Stratford-Upon-Avon

Thatched cottage
A charming thatched cottage in the Cotswolds

Travel back in time on day six when you visit the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, dotted with ancient honey-hued limestone villages and market towns that date back to the middle ages. Scale a unique Capability Brown folly, Broadway Tower perched on the Cotswold escarpment with unrivaled views. Explore the Cotswold Way and its delightful scenery to stumble across historic thatched inns that offer the best of local hospitality, washed down with the finest English ales, of course.

Be sure to visit some of England’s finest gardens—like Snowshill Manor and Garden or Hidcote. The next day, experience Olde England at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Embrace the great bard with the help of the revered Royal Shakespeare Company, whose actors and theatre spaces are some of the finest in the world. 

Days 8-9: Buckinghamshire & Windsor

Windsor cottage
Windsor cottage

Finally, you'll head to stately Oxfordshire and the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire. Stumble across quintessentially English villages like Hambledon and Turville—think thatch, brick and flint cottages that skirt picturesque squares and medieval churches. Don't miss Great Missenden, a charming village that was once home to Roald Dahl, providing the backdrop for his classics Matilda and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Discover historic Cliveden, famous for the Profumo affair, Stowe House and its sensational gardens, not to mention the historically significant Bletchley Park, the secret base for British codebreakers. As your trip winds down, relish your remaining time with your choice of spectacular riverwalks: the Thames, Great Ouse, and the Grand Unions. Bid a royal farewell to England on your last day when you'll explore the famed Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. End your day—and trip—with one last luxurious cup of tea and soak up the warmth of England's classical charm. 

Map

Map of English Heritage Tour: Cambridge, Norfolk, the Peak District, Cotswolds, Buckinghamshire & Windsor - 9 Days
Map of English Heritage Tour: Cambridge, Norfolk, the Peak District, Cotswolds, Buckinghamshire & Windsor - 9 Days