• New Year, New Tours

    8th January, 2018

    2018 is here at last and we’re welcoming in the year with many new holidays to help you make the most of it! We’ve been expanding in the UK, and adventuring abroad, with great tours from the cosy Cotswolds to the awesome Algarve. Here is a brief insight into our very newest…

    IN THE UK

    Electric Lakes

    The Lake District finally received its long-deserved position as a World Heritage Site last year, and so to celebrate we’ve developed a tour with a little twist to help you get the most out of this extraordinary area. For those wishing to experience the wonder of the lakes in a new way, we are offering a tour with electric bikes – the chance to see more, do more, and to coast down the slopes without the struggle the other side! While still challenging for the passionate cyclist, this is also the perfect chance for those with a little less experience to have a real adventure. We are very proud of the route, which offers incredible views over the greatest mountains and lakes in England, vibrant villages with rich culture (Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, John Ruskin etc.) and so much more. This is England at its wildest and most un-tampered. Visit our site to learn more about our new favourite…

    The Cotswold Way

    The Cotswold Way weaves from picturesque Chipping Campden to historic Bath, and the journey is quite spectacular. The area boasts history like no other - we will take you through ancient woodland, Civil War battlefields, castle gardens and market towns, past ruined abbeys, Jacobean manors, Iron Age forts and so much more. For those wishing to immerse themselves in the rich history of rural England, it doesn't get much better than this. We've chosen elegant and unique boutique hotels to ensure you get a real taste of Cotswolds charm - see all the details here...

    EUROPE

    The Awesome Algarve

    Portugal’s southernmost region is known for beautiful beaches and superb sun – easy to fall in love with if you’re seeking that perfect summer holiday. We’ve carefully designed this trip to give you a taste of the authentic Algarve, giving you the chance to see the stunning vistas from the clifftops and the Natural Parks, to experience the culture of the ancient towns, and the unforgettable local cuisine. This is a cycling holiday like no other. Our handpicked hotels promise luxury and style, together with an unforgettable setting. Find out more about the Awesome Algarve here…

    Everything Netherlands

    We have actually put together a trio of tours in the Netherlands this year – A Grand Tour of the Southern Netherlands, Dutch Tulips in Spring, and Hidden Gems of Holland.

    The first of the three, A Grand Tour of the Southern Netherlands, offers rural charm and local intrigue alongside spectacular landscape - those on the hunt for something a little different should definitely take a closer look. There’s history throughout; in the Burgundian villages, in the classic windmills and ancient towns. Every one of the towns you pass through has its unique style, art and culture.

    Dutch Tulips in Spring is the perfect tour to welcome in the new season; we invite you to come cycling through the tulip fields of Holland, the Botanical Gardens, picturesque villages and of course, the famous Flower Festival Week. This tour only runs from March to May, so take a peek at our website now…

    Last but definitely not least is our Hidden Gems of Holland tour. Starting in Amsterdam and taking you through the Golden Age museums, local towns with staggering Gothic Churches, the Hoge Veluwe National Park, the Baroque gardens of the Loo Palace, and on to Giethoorn, the ‘Venice of the North’. The area oozes history and culture, and with our expertise, you won’t miss a single gem.

  • Winter Warmers

    30th November, 2017

    Our little island tends to get progressively colder from October, with the days growing shorter and the constant threat of snow. However, winter does bring forth some bonuses - the Christmas spirit begins to blossom just after Halloween, and throughout the country people come together. We've chosen some of our favourite winter treats and activities to share with those outside of the UK...

    For the Foodies

    Mince pies, an English tradition since the 13th century, are a season staple. These days, mince pies usually hit the shelves around September, although some will admit to hoarding them to be enjoyed all year round. Made of minced dried fruit and spice and covered with rich buttery pastry, these pies are usually served with thick brandy cream or custard, and are simply delicious. St. John’s Bakery on the South Bank regularly rank in Londoner’s Top Five for mince pies, with another indie baker, Covent Garden’s Bread Ahead, coming close behind. Bread Ahead offers the most traditional pies of all, made to the more savoury recipe that dates back centuries. Even out of season, we highly recommend them – the head baker, Justin Gellaty, made the sourdough for Will and Kate’s Wedding! Of course, no Christmas treat is complete without a glass of something warm. Mulled cider is particularly in vogue at the moment, and most Christmas markets will give you the chance to sample some interesting varieties. Of course, the classic choice is mulled wine – rich red wine brewed with seasonal spices – that really hits the spot. Hot Chocolate is also a good way to warm up after a hard day shopping or sledding. Own of our favourites is Rumsey's - the finest place for chocolate in the Chilterns - and there selection of drinks are to die for. There are some great flavoured versions out there (a personal favourite is Costa Coffee’s Black Forest Hot Chocolate – heaven), but making your own is easy. Add a shot of Baileys for a real taste of luxury.

    For the Active

    Just because the sun stays in, it doesn’t mean you have to! There are plenty of activities to keep you busy even through the winter months. Ice Skating in front of the Natural History Museum is an unforgettable experience – skating doesn't get more sophisticated than this. The rink is open from October to January, and must be booked online. The health benefits of the fresh winter air are usually overlooked in favour of warm hearths, but walking in the brisk British winter can be surprisingly invigorating, and a walk can always be adapted to end at a particularly nice pub as that extra reward. We suggest walking the Thames Path; a scenic jaunt along the river, giving you the chance to soak up history, culture and cuisine whatever the weather. Winter wildlife can also be quite spectacular; if you are in Scotland this season, keep your eyes out for red squirrels in the snow, seals on the shores and red deer in the highlands. Eagles are also known to swoop low in search of prey at this time of year. As snow is more of a guarantee in the Highlands, we recommend that those looking to do more intense snow sports, such as ice-climbing or dog-sledding, look to the north.

    For the Festive

    Christmas Markets are one of our favourite ways to get into the Christmas spirit – fairy lights and the smell of food in the air. While travelling the UK will take you to some superb markets – we suggest Manchester and Edinburgh in particular – and it’s also a good excuse for a weekend break in Amsterdam or Paris. The market in Amsterdam runs from November through to February and has everything from an ice rink to a circus. The Light Festival also brightens up this miniature village through December and January.

    For the Not-so-Festive

    If Christmas isn’t your thing, you can always get away, travel somewhere nice and warm and wait until it’s all over – see here for our suggestions.

  • Unordinary Trip of the Month

    14th November, 2017

    A warm hello to all,

    We have just been notified by InfoHub.com that one of our tours – the 8-Day Highlands Coast to Coast Tour – has been chosen as their Unordinary Trip of the Month! InfoHub.com is the number one travel portal on the Internet specialising in the out-of-ordinary, special interest vacations.

    Because we are passionate about cycling, we are delighted with the news and see this as yet another opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and see more people pedalling on their holiday. For a little something extra, those who book the above tour before November 20th, 2017 may be eligible for a very special prize from InfoHub's sister-company GPSmyCity - publisher of travel apps for Apple and Android. The GPSmyCity app features offline city maps, self-guided walking tours and travel articles for 1,000 cities worldwide, using which you can turn your mobile into a personal tour guide. With this app in hand you can explore any major urban destination in the world on your own, at your own pace. The GPSmyCity app works offline so there's no need to worry about roaming charges when travelling abroad. The winner, chosen at random, will get a one-year full membership of the GPSmyCity app including access to all the GPSmyCity content - over 6,500 self-guided city walks and travel articles – to the total value of over $8,000! (around £6,000).

    Book now and enjoy your cycling adventure with the Carter Company!

  • The Spookiest Spots in the UK

    22nd October, 2017

    With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we'd share what we believe are the UK's spookiest spots - haunted castles, witch trails and stories of Vampires are just a part of Britain's violent and intriguing past...

    Pendle Hill, Lancashire

    Pendle Hill, which rises out of the Forest of Bowland, is the site of the notorious Witch Trials. In the seventeenth century, many suspected witches were tried and executed on the hill. The hill is now a place of pilgrimage for those with a taste for the supernatural – and while it has become quite a tourist spot, after dark, Pendle Hill is said to still ring with the screams of the Pendle Witches.

    Underground London

    While we are all familiar with the London Underground, few realise that there is a lot more under London than the tube. As well as the more mundane disused stations and air raid shelters, there are also several networks of secret tunnels; these ancient passages, such as those under Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, are known to have been used by spies, assassins and smugglers. Some, such as Dead Man’s Walk beneath the Old Bailey were used to take criminals for secret executions. There are also many that are bricked up, or whose locations are lost, and thus the use and contents remain unknown. Next time you are walking in London, consider the miles of subterranean city that lie below.

    Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

    Known today due to Daphne Du Maurier’s novel and the Hitchcock film, Jamaica Inn actually predates both by some four hundred years. An Inn has stood on the Moor near Bolventor since 1547, with the current building dating back to 1750. The Inn was a smuggler’s den and a haven for pirates and criminals for hundreds of years. While the Inn itself is fascinating, it’s the landscape around that cements its spooky reputation. Surrounded by Bodmin Moor, the Inn is often shrouded in mist, and full of travellers telling tales of the terrifying Beast of Bodmin that stalks the moors all around.

    Pluckley, Kent

    This sweet little village may seem completely innocent from the outside, but the streets of Pluckley, Kent, are reportedly plagued by ghosts. The village boasts a total of sixteen separate phantoms, each with their own tragic tale. One of the most renowned is that of a highwayman, run through with a sword and pinned to a tree, who wanders the village appearing as a shadowy figure. His favourite ‘haunting’ place is Fright Corner, the tree where he met his grisly end.

    Highgate Cemetery

    This cemetery in North London is the resting place of many notable figures, including Karl Marx and Christina Rossetti, and is well known for its gothic architecture and rows of ancient tombs. Highgate was particularly infamous in the late 1800s, with multiple people claiming to have witnessed a figure rising from the grave. It has been long believed that the cemetery is home to the Highgate Vampire, an undead menace that wakes at night and feeds on mourners who stay too long after dark…

    Edinburgh Castle

    Having stood for over nine hundred years, it would be quite surprising if the ancient castle wasn’t home to at least a few ghosts. Having stood witness to Scotland’s tumultuous history, Edinburgh Castle is considered one of the UK’s most haunted buildings, with over fifty percent of modern visitors reporting some kind of supernatural activity. As well as several famous murders, the Castle also saw witch trials, the Black Plague, and attempted English invasion.

    Culloden Moor

    Site of the brutal battle in 1746, Culloden Moor is said to still be haunted by the ghosts of the highland soldiers who fought and died for the doomed Jacobite cause. The spirits of the highlanders are said to still wander the battlefield, unable to rest. Stone cairns mark the spots where some of the famous warriors fell, but most who died in the fated battle are lost to time.

  • Notes from Madeira

    14th October, 2017

    The Carter Company is always looking for new places to explore by bike and on foot, and our latest expedition has been to the beautiful (and warm!) island of Madeira. Founder and chief route creator Wendy Carter scoped out the archipelago, finding the best spots for food, drink and sunbathing, and the routes that offer the most incredible views. She has done the hard work so that you don't have to! Here are Wendy's notes from her travels...

    • As it's October here in the UK, the first thing Wendy notes is how lovely the weather was - she reports that Madeira is warm all year round, with enough light wind to keep it from ever becoming sweltering. However, winds can pick up randomly which can cause difficulties for aircraft, given that Funchal is already a tricky landing location.

    • Madeira is a 'garden paradise', with such a range of flowers and fruits growing densely up to certain heights on every hillside. Wendy notes that one of the highlights of her trip was the Palheiro Garden, which was a 'feast for the eyes' - incredibly well kept, the garden has a superb variety of plants, including an orchid nursery. Small bananas grow abundantly, but alas are too small and curvaceous to meet EU standards.

    • The landscape of Madeira is primarily hilly, with sweeping slopes and valleys and dramatic cliffs (the tallest in Europe). Walking can be tricky in places, but is the perfect challenge for the more experienced hiker. The steep terrain can allow for phenomenal views across Madeira. Those preferring gentle walks do have the opportunity to walk along the 'levades', channels built by farmers to distribute water. While the views are less impressive, the terrain is far kinder down here! However, with steep drops often to the side of the levades, these walks are not for those who suffer from vertigo.

    • Wendy also notes how friendly the islanders were; the people she met on her travels were all attentive, hard-working, smiley and optimistic. All still basking in their Island's change of fortune since the 1974 revolution and the EU investment.

    The Highlights

    • For food, Wendy recommends Kris's Downtown and Kris's Place
    • For accomodation, Wendy recommends Reid's Palace for the wonderful service, shady gardens and stylish seafront bathing.
    • For history, she suggests exploring the network of tunnels built for the levades.
    • She also loves the pastries!