British Isles ~ England & Scotland

Cotswolds, Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Hebrides Islands, Edinburgh

August 6 – 16, 2023 • 11 Days • $6250

Come walk with us over stone bridges and past thatch-roofed cottages in the Cotswolds; through the green, rolling hills and stone-fenced pastures of Beatrix Potter’s beloved Lake District; over heather-clad hills and across Scottish seas to the historic, windswept Isle of Iona; and along the streets of charming Edinburgh, one of our favorite walking cities on the planet!

Tour Type: Classic Curated

England and Scotland have long been favorite destinations with Americans. Over the years, no other WAI Adventure has enticed more travelers abroad than our trips to what Shakespeare referred to as “this scepter’d isle” (Richard II). Something about the bucolic panoramas, historic sites, traditional way of life, and familiar names seems to strike a nerve in the heart of the American traveler.  So much of who we are as a nation is tied to Great Britain—we share a similar system of law and government, a common language (sort of), parallel cultures; in short, an inextricably linked heritage.

We invite you to join us in the summer of 2023 as we explore the countries that gave us Shakespeare and Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry VIII and Robert the Bruce, Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland! Come walk with us over stone bridges and past thatch-roofed houses in the Cotswolds; through the green, rolling hills and stone-fenced pastures of Beatrix Potter’s beloved Lake District; over heather-clad hills and across Scottish seas to the historic, windswept Isle of Iona; and along the streets of charming Edinburgh.

Dates for this British Isles walking adventure in England & Scotland are linked to the incomparable Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The oddly named Tattoo is an extravaganza of the performing arts, initially only drum, bugle, and bagpipes, hence the “military” label. Now it’s been expanded to include a dizzying array of performances from all points of the compass, and takes place each August as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

A significant bonus on this carefully orchestrated itinerary is zero 1-night stays. We stay in each hotel at least 2 nights!

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • Ferry roundtrip from Oban to Isle of Mull
  • Ferry roundtrip from Isle of Mull to Isle of Iona
  • 15 meals: all breakfasts and 5 dinners as denoted (BD)
  • 8 walk routes as listed
  • Walking fees for those collecting IVV Credit
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of national guides throughout
  • All tipping for guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; a limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $1,700

Activities/Visits to:

  • Clotted cream tea – Chipping Campden, England
  • Cruises on Lake Windermere – Lake District, England
  • Iona Abbey – Scotland
  • Stirling Castle – Scotland
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo – Scotland
  • 48-hour hop-on-hop-off bus pass – Edinburgh, Scotland
  • More fun and interesting stops than we can list!

Optional Excursion:

  • Beatrix Potter’s house in Hill Top – Lake District, England (DAY 5)

“Trip exceeded our expectations…WAI is a unique tour company—good blend of walking & sightseeing…Another really great experience with WAI—Thank You!”

-George & Trish N; Sequim, WA


“I thought Tim & Jeannette were great guides. I loved our time in Glencoe when Tim sang. Loved the Tattoo.”

-Rebecca H; Portland, OR


“Good walks. Good balance of planned activity and free time. Nice people. Well organized.”

-Margie H; Bellingham, WA


“Lorna, the local guide did an excellent job and Tim & Jeannette kept us in the know and on schedule.”

-Al & Sharon M; Ellicott City, MD


“Loved all the walks—even the challenges!..I love walking the trails of England—nice to be led this time. Iona was special since I hadn’t been there before.”

-Shirley L; Renton, WA


“The walks, experience with other walkers. Interesting itineraries.”

-Penny V; Colorado Springs, CO


“Loved travelling with Tim & Jeannette!!”

-Linda P; Anchorage, AK


“Great leaders, well-planned, former friends, interesting places.”

-Dick & Margaret B; Lawrenceville, GA


“I really enjoyed the variety in the hotels and how they were located in small towns (The Winnock), beautiful locations (Ballachulish), or convenient to other things (Stratford & Edinburgh)…walking through the barley fields, heather, Scottish pines, Iona, highlands, Edinburgh; loved the small group idea—so much better than travelling with 50 people.”

-Susan H; Advance, NC


“It far exceeded my expectations, and to be able to share this trip with my family was the best thing ever!! Meeting new people; great tour guides & leadership.”

-Ginny B; Tipp City, OH


“The accommodations and food exceeded my expectations. The food was outstanding. I enjoyed the meals we ate together as a group…I enjoyed being paired with my roommate. We were compatible and had come great times together.”

-Lynne B; Lewiston, ID


“Great guides, nice walks, and little extras that make a tour fun. Like minded travelers! And intelligent, well-traveled people that can deal with most anything.”

-Patty Y; Lake Oswego, OR


“All walks were wonderful. So much to explore…I particularly enjoyed the Cotswolds and Islands of Mull and Iona.”

-Sharon M; Renton, WA


“I couldn’t get enough of the Cotswold. The grains and open fields were my favorite, not to mention lunch on a hill…Love the small group. I would have felt less at ease with the usual 50+…This was a surprising value in travel—I can’t imagine trying to organize a vacation like this on our own.”

-Ben B; Tipp City, OH


“This is a smaller tour group, well organized, good guides, variety of walks/places to visit. Fun, easy-going people…What a great trip this was! Love how low key, but good natured & informative the guides were. Lovely scenery.”

-Dana N; Issaquah, WA


“Fabulous tour of England and Scotland far exceeding expectations. Thank you, WAI!…Malcolm’s hikes were fabulous. His choices were excellent making the Cotswolds a highlight…WAI guides were excellent. Nothing like touring with an owner/heir.”

-Marion N; Woodinville, WA


“Tim & Jim were wonderful. We particularly appreciated Tim’s clear & concise explanations about times, etc. He’s gifted…Loved the itinerary/very organized & well planned.”

-Ted & Mary Jo G; Haddonfield, NJ


“Highlights included Isle of Iona—just breathtaking. Tour is extremely organized; tour locations topnotch; loved hearing music while riding on bus. Great tour—hope to be able to do this again. Would highly recommend WAI!!”

-Martha T; Clemmens, NC

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

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Important Info

Group Size

Maximum 24 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

16 meals included: all breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 5 dinners as denoted (BLD)

Airfare

Not Included. This Adventure officially starts in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (closest airport is Birmingham Airport; BHX) and finishes in Edinburgh, Scotland (closest airport is Edinburgh Airport; EDI)

Transportation

Included. We use motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

WAI Guides Tim & Jeannette FriesenTim & Jeannette Friesen have been leading summertime Adventures for nearly 20 years while Tim served as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon. Recently retired, Tim has now added tour planning and adventure consulting to his WAI roles. Tim & Jeannette have led our British Isles trip many times over the past 15+ years and look forward to exploring the charms of this corner of the British Isles with you again in 2023.

Local Guide Amanda Whitehead

Mandy Whitehead is our amazing local guide on the portion of our tour spent in England. Mandy has accompanied our groups in various parts of England and offers a wealth of local knowledge and cultural info, along with a fun spirit of Adventure! She looks forward to sharing insights into this picturesque part of Great Britain with you!

Kirsten Griew - Scottish GuideKirsten Griew has worked as a qualified Scottish Tourist Guide for the last 13 years. This tour combines two of her greatest passions: walking and Scotland. Almost any moment of her spare time is spent hiking through the beautiful highlands, on remote islands or around the historic city streets of her Edinburgh home. She is excited to share her knowledge of this captivating country with WAI Adventurers!

Itinerary

Click on each day for more details.

Day 1-August 6: Arrive Stratford-Upon-Avon, England (D)

We rendezvous in merry ole England today at a hotel in the heart of Shakespeare’s home town – Stratford-Upon-Avon! Birmingham is the closest airport – about a 30-minute taxi ride away.

Early arrivals can find a host of activities to enjoy in town, including a club-hosted walk connecting many of Stratford-Upon-Avon’s points of interest.

Be sure to return in time for this evening’s Welcome Orientation at 6 pm, followed by dinner.

Day 2-August 7: Activities from Stratford-Upon-Avon (B)

Badby English Countryside Walk – 5 km, rated 2B

A few miles east of Stratford-Upon-Avon is the small, rural community of Badby. A lovely trail here through woods, over stiles, through kissing gates, and across meadows takes us to a charming country chapel with connections to the George Washington family.

A no-host picnic lunch is followed by a rest stop at Fawsley Manor, venerable home of nobility in centuries past.

At walk’s end, we return to our home in Stratford-Upon-Avon for the second night of a three-night stay.

The late afternoon and evening are free to explore, or consider the club walk in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Opportunities to attend a play in one of the Shakespearean theaters will be announced as schedules become available.

Day 3-August 8: Activities from Stratford-Upon-Avon (B)

Cotswolds Hill & Dale Walk – 7 km, rated 2B

We spend today in the Cotswolds, an area renowned for its honey-colored limestone buildings, thatch-roofed homes, and graceful stone bridges arching across lazy, wandering streams. Trekking trails abound, and we are pleased to present a delightful route through the Cotswold countryside led by local walking friends.

Following our Cotswolds walk, we dilly dally in a couple of cute-as-a-button towns with the uniquely British names of Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Campden.

The afternoon highlight is a proper cream tea in Chipping Campden, a delicious southern English novelty not available as we move north.

Day 4-August 9: Stratford-Upon-Avon – Bowness-On-Windermere (BD)

Windermere Lakeside Stroll – 8 km, rated 1B

We leave Stratford today and continue our Adventure in the beautiful Lake Country of northern England.

The quaint village of Grasmere was home to poet laureate William Wordsworth. It sits on the shore of Lake Grasmere and is our base to explore the Lake District.

Just a few miles south, Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake, and a pleasant walk along its idyllic shores, punctuated by three short lake cruises, provides this afternoon’s introduction to the Lake Country.

Day 5-August 10: Activities from Bowness-On-Windermere (B)

Bowness & Beatrix Lake Country Walk – 10 km, rated 3B

A brief morning ferry ride takes us back across Lake Windermere to start today’s hike. Our route climbs along country lanes and through tiny communities to the village of Hill Top, home of beloved children’s author Beatrix Potter.

From Hill Top, we return to Lake Windermere through more pastoral panoramas, winding past stone fences and among groups of complacently grazing sheep.

We cross the lake again reluctantly, leaving with the sense that we’ve discovered a place where time stands still.

Optional activity: A short self-guided tour (well-informed docents are on hand) through Beatrix Potter’s home and garden will likely be available mid-walk. After the visit, travelers will finish the walk or are welcome to use the public transport system to return to Bowness-On-Windermere. Estimated price: $25

Day 6-August 11: Bowness-On-Windermere – Oban, Scotland (BD)

Lake Grasmere Walk – 6 km, rated 1B

This morning’s walk circles Lake Grasmere, and offers the trademark serenity that has long drawn writers and poets like Wordsworth. Wordsworth was England’s Poet Laureate during the later years of his life, but earlier earned a reputation as one of the “Lake Poets” while living with his sister Dorothy in Dove Cottage, which we pass during the walk.

Leaving the Lake District, we head north for Scotland and a two-night stay in Oban, the “Gateway to the Isles”, situated directly on the Firth of Lorn.

Day 7-August 12: Activities from Oban (B)

An excursion to the Hebrides Island of Mull forms the centerpiece of today’s activities. A

fter a ferry crossing, we motor through remote terrain in the shadow of the volcanic peak, Ben More.

From the tiny hamlet of Fionnphort, a pedestrian ferry takes us to the historic, windswept Isle of Iona —6th century birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. Often attacked by marauding Vikings attracted by the riches of the abbey, the isle offers present-day explorers the singular sensation of wandering this beautiful, isolated corner of the Hebrides, pondering life on the edge of Scotland 1500 years ago.

Day 8-August 13: Oban – Edinburgh (BD)

Glencoe Highlands Walk – 5 km, rated 2B

Glencoe is a famous valley and village connected with one of the most infamous acts of treachery in the long history of conflict between the British crown and Gaelic residents of the British Isles. It also happens to offer some of the most stunning highland panoramas in Scotland. During our walk through the breathtaking vistas of the glen, our guide shares the tragic story of the massacre perpetrated here in 1692.

From Glencoe, we continue east to Stirling Castle to retrace the drama of the centuries-long struggle between the Scots and the English. The castle played a key role both in the story of Scottish monarchy and during the Wars of Independence, when heroics by William Wallace (Braveheart), Robert the Bruce, and many others became forever immortalized.

We continue this evening to Edinburgh for the first night of a three-night stay.

Day 9-August 14: Activities from Edinburgh (B)

Historic Edinburgh Trail – 10 km, rated 2A

Positioned on a strategic rock, Edinburgh Castle has been used as a fortress since the 7th century, bearing the brunt of this city’s turbulent history.

Our all-day walk in fascinating Edinburgh features the Castle; the Palace of Holyroodhouse; and the Royal Mile, including the John Knox House, Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, Greyfriars Bobby, and a host of other only-in-Edinburgh attractions (admissions not included)!

After dinner on your own this evening, we rendezvous to attend the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an unforgettable, outdoor cornucopia of performing arts presented on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

Day 10-August 15: Activities from Edinburgh (BD)

Arthur’s Seat Walk – 6 km, rated 3C

Enjoy this “bonus day” to explore Edinburgh using the 48-hour hop-on-hop-off bus pass that you received at the beginning of yesterday’s activities. This is a fun and efficient way to get around Edinburgh – returning to highlights you didn’t have time to visit during the walk and exploring new corners of the fascinating city.

We are here during the renowned Edinburgh Art Festival, and there is always an abundance of attractions available simply by strolling the Royal Mile. A bonus hike to Arthur’s Seat is also available today.

Later this evening, we compare notes, swap stories, and reminisce about this English and Scottish Adventure at our Farewell Dinner.

Day 11-August 16: Depart from Edinburgh (B)

Our travels together in Great Britain end this morning. We return home with new walking friends, fond memories of our adventures, and a greater appreciation of the history, culture, and scenery of the British Isles!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How Do I Lock in My Place on This Adventure?

To register, a non-refundable $300 deposit is required to hold your spot. A final payment is due 90 days before departure and is non-refundable after the due date. You will receive a prompt email from us 2 to 3 weeks in advance.

Soon after registration, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

What's a Classic Curated Tour?

With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are hand-crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.

When planning Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination–the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.

Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see but touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.

Along the way, local walking guides amplify the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Several walks on this trip are oriented more towards education, and therefore take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Nature walks, on the other hand, generally continue at a steadier pace because we’re stopping less to talk.

In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at [email protected].

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented on the table below:

INCLINE

1. Minimal hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: <200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).

How is Airfare Arranged?

This Adventure officially starts in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (closest airport is Birmingham Airport; airport code BHX) and finishes in Edinburgh, Scotland (closest airport is Edinburgh Airport; airport code EDI).

Transfers from the airport to our hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon and from our final hotel in Edinburgh to the Edinburgh Airport are not included in the tour price.

We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements.

Details about flight arrangements and recommended travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Laura Pfahler: 503-434-6401 or [email protected]
Sharon Mitchell: 971-261-2091 or [email protected]

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

Allianz
Betins
Travel Guard
Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

What if WAI Cancels the Tour?

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received.

This refund policy contains one exclusion. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Though it is rare, unforeseen circumstances can force us to cancel a tour. In cases where supplier’s non-refundable policies are imposed, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

COVID-19 Polices for This Tour

WAI has relaxed our policies and currently require no mitigation procedures (current WAI Coronavirus Policy). However, Walking Adventures International policy includes endeavoring to comply with any COVID-19 policies in place in the destinations through which we travel.

The governments of England and Scotland have now dropped all COVID-19-related restrictions. As of the date of this writing (August 27, 2022) any remaining domestic restrictions have been removed.

We are not currently aware of any COVID-19 policies or restrictions that will impact this tour in England and Scotland.

WAI will update travelers upon learning of any changes.

Travelers participating in the England & Scotland tour must agree to abide by policies in place at the time of travel.

What Happens Next?

Soon after registration, an “Adventure Advice” email will be sent with critical information on flight arrangements as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Adventure Advice email.

A final payment is due 90 days before departure (May 8, 2023) and is non-refundable after the due date. You will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around 2-3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary.  The majestic landscapes of Great Britain are something to behold.  And walking is the special ingredient for connecting with this land’s natural beauty, intriguing history, and diverse culture!  Enjoy a flight of imagination to Great Britain and consider joining us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure next summer as we explore the British Isles together!