Classic & Luxury itinerary day-by-day
1. Day one
Arrive in London and check into your hotel located in the centre of this great metropolis. The day is yours to explore London in the way you choose. We will provide you with our top 10 suggestions for seeing the best sights associated with our famous writers and discovering what's traditional and what's less known but inspirational in real London.
2. Day two
London to Alton
Today you pick up your hire car and head out of London to Alton in Hampshire. It's about an hour's drive door to door. After checking in at your hotel, head to the nearby village of Chawton, which was home to Jane Austen and where she wrote or revised many of her best works. After lunch, take a guided tour of the home where Jane's brother lived and where she herself spent much time: the 16th Century Chawton House. A particular highlight is the library, and the garden is lovely too. Take a stroll around the village afterwards, and discover more about the people and places in Jane's life.
1 hour drive
3. Day three
Alton to Dorchester
Start today with a visit to Jane Austen’s own house, now a museum. Then head out of the village on a walk that the author often took with her sister to meet friends who lived in Upper Farringdon. Passing through copses and open fields with springs and ancient Yew trees, the walk takes in the village church, farmyard and inns that featured in Jane’s day. Return to Chawton along a disused railway. At your leisure, drive (1.5 hours) south to Dorchester and check into your hotel located in the heart of the town where Thomas Hardy lived almost all his life. A short stroll from your hotel lie two landmarks of The Mayor of Casterbridge.
Optional 4 or 7 miles (6 or 11 km) walking and a 1.5 hour drive
4. Day four
Dorchester to Laugharne
Today's charming circular walk leads from your hotel in Dorchester along water meadows into the woods and to the cottage where Hardy was born and lived until he was 34. This is unspoilt rural Dorset and the views from the windows are little changed from his day. Enjoy the villages and landscape that inspired Thomas’ Wessex and the church at Stinsford, central to Hardy family life. Before departing Dorchester, visit Max Gate - the house Hardy and his wife designed and lived in until his death in 1928.
You then drive (3.5 hours) to the small village of Laugharne on the south Wales coast where you stay the next two nights. The route takes you close to Bath where there is the option of breaking your journey and adding a night’s stay. Bath was often visited by Charles Dickens but is more famously associated with Jane Austen who lived there for several years. It served as a setting for two of her books and houses a permanent exhibition to the author.
Optional 7 miles (11 km) walking and a 3.5 hour drive
5. Day five
One of Wales’s greatest writers Dylan Thomas lived in Laugharne, ‘there is nowhere like it anywhere at all...’ he wrote. He died just 60 years ago and so the families and landmarks he knew are still there for you discover as you walk through the village down to the sandbanks and estuary. The shorter walk today is known as The Birthday Walk and if you plan the day to coincide with your special day then the village will celebrate with you by giving you several free Dylan loved treats – a bag of chips, a pint of beer, a coffee and Welsh cakes and more. In 1944, Dylan wrote 'Poem in October' about his birthday walk, from The Boathouse where he lived overlooking the sea to the shoulder of Sir John's hill. The poem is simply about his love of Laugharne - the estuary sounds and the memory of the herons awaiting the tide. The longer walk leads along the magical cliffs and sandy beaches of the South Wales Coast Path to Saundersfoot with a taxi back. Spend a second night in Laugharne.
Optional 2 or 11 miles (3 or 17 km)
6. Day six
Laugharne to Stratford on Avon
Today you head back into the heart of England through the Cotswolds to spend the night in Stratford on Avon. The drive (3 hours) takes you close to the Cotswold village of Slad where there is the option of breaking your journey and adding a night’s stay. Slad was loved by Laurie Lee and its inspiration lives on in his book Cider With Rosie. You will also pass close by Oxford, home of the Inklings Tolkien and CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll and Philip Pullman. An additional night here opens up a treasure trove of literary associations. Stratford on Avon needs no introduction –Shakespeare was born here, lived and died here. As the town houses four of the dwellings lived in by the bard and his family you can enjoy a fascinating walk today around these well preserved houses and cottage, gathering a glimpse of the life he led. Top the day off with a live performance by The Royal Shakespeare Company just around the corner from your hotel.
Optional 3 miles (5 km) walking and a 3 hour drive
7. Day seven
Stratford to Haworth
This morning there is a very peaceful stroll along the charming Stratford Canal that leads from the heart of the town past weirs and locks into the countryside at Wilmcote. Here you visit a real working Tudor farm, the childhood timbered home of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden.
Returning to Stratford you then drive (3 hours) to the north of England to the Yorkshire moors village of Haworth where the Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne lived in the parsonage. Settle into your hotel and savour a completely different scene of steep lanes, dark Yorkshire stone buildings and friendly but locally accented residents.
Optional 6 miles (10 km) walking and a 3 hour drive
8. Day eight
Haworth to Hawes
Today you walk in the footsteps of the Brontes, beginning near the church, which contains the family vault and ending at the museum in the Rectory that was their home. The village is situated high on the moors so that there is no significant climb to be done - a gradual ascent to the valley that the sisters loved is followed by another to Top Withins, the supposed setting of Wuthering Heights. Enjoy the fabulous views, Pennine streams, craggy moorland, heather and the occasional bog!
After the bracing walk you deserve a cream tea before driving (1.5 hours) further north into the wondrous Yorkshire Dales. Take in Skipton and Grassington both loved Dales centres before checking into your hotel in the town of Hawes at the head of Wensleydale. This dale was one of James Herriot’s favourites as he - Alf Wight in real life - travelled around the area as a country vet. His love affair with the Yorkshire Dales is vividly portrayed in his books and films.
Optional 8 miles (13 km) walking and a 1.5 hour drive
9. Day nine
Hawes to Bowness on Windermere
Step out today from Hawes, home of the Dales Countryside Museum onto the Herriot Way and along Wensleydale – a gently sloping green valley with swelling hills dotted with dairy farms and woods. Cross the river and enjoy a short detour to the dramatic waterfalls at Hardraw Force. Narrow stiles, stone lined fields with sheep and wonderful views lead you on high above the valley into woods before dropping down to your destination at Askrigg. This village with its stone lined houses was the set for Darrowby, the fictional town where Herriot was based. Return to Hawes – the set for Darrowby’s market, by taxi and sink a well earned pint.
A short drive (1.2 hour) west will take you into the glorious scenery of the Lake District and to Lake Windermere which provided inspiration for both William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Your hotel is in Bowness on Windermere where you will spend the next 3 nights.
Optional 9 miles (14 km) walking and a 1.2 hour drive
10. Day ten
Wordsworth thought the Vale of Grasmere 'the loveliest spot that man hath ever found' and today you can discover if you agree on this easy and beautiful circular walk. Take in the shores of the mile long Rydal Water where Wordsworth often sat, his early home at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount where he spent the last 30 years of his life. Enjoy Grasmere village in its idyllic surroundings of fells, lakes and tarns before returning to your hotel.
Optional 6 miles (10 km)
11. Day eleven
Your final magnificent day of walking follows in the footsteps of Beatrix Potter. Start from the museum about her in Bowness, cross Lake Windermere by ferry and walk up through the lakeside woods, fells and pastures to her home at Hill Top. There are stunning views of this the longest natural lake in England at 10.5 miles long and you pass a number of landmarks that feature in Potter’s books – Pigling Bland corner for one. The walk is very flexible with a choice of routes and lake ferries to suit everyone. Return to your hotel for your third night in the Lake District.
Optional 4 - 13 miles (6 to 21 km)
12. Day twelve
Bowness to Edinburgh
Your final drive sees you heading north once more (3 hour drive) to Scotland’s great capital Edinburgh. The day is yours to explore in the way you choose. We will provide you with our top 10 suggestions for seeing the best sights associated with our famous writers and discovering what's traditional and also less known but inspirational in real Edinburgh. Enjoy the last night of the trip in your hotel in the heart of the city.
3 hour drive
13. Day thirteen
Return your car to our base in the city and depart at leisure.
cross Windermere by ferry and walk up the woods to Potter's home