British Isles ~ England & Scotland
Cotswolds, Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Hebrides Islands, Edinburgh
August 6 – 16, 2023 • 11 Days • Approx $6300
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!
NOTE: Details presented below are from the most recent edition of this tour in 2020. Final details will be available soon, along with a priority invitation to register for those who JOIN THE LIST in advance. To get your name on the list to receive this advance invitation to register, click the blue JOIN THE LIST button to the right and enter your contact information and tour of choice.
Great Britain has long been a favorite destination with Americans. Over the years, no other WAI Adventure has taken 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 2020 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, one of our favorite walking cities on the planet!
- The Cotswolds – with its thatched-roof villages, picturesque stone bridges, and panoramas of rolling hills and quiet woods
- Lake District – green mountains and placid lake scenes have long been favorites to vacationers, walkers, and noted English writers such as Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth
- Scottish Highlands – hiking through heatherclad hills, taking a pedestrian ferry to the historic, windswept Isle of Iona, then wandering the streets of charming Edinburgh to witness the Adventure’s finale at the worldfamous Edinburgh Military Tattoo!
- All land travel as outlined
- One group transfer to airport on last day
- 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
- 16 meals: all breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 5 dinners as denoted (BLD)
- 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 $1,100
- 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!
- 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
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Tim & Jeannette Friesen currently lead summertime walking adventures, primarily in Europe. During the school year, Tim serves as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, while Jeannette works part time in the WAI office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping the rest of us organized. They’ve led our British Isles trip in years past and are looking forward to strolling the rolling green countryside of England and exploring the streets of Edinburgh with travelers again in 2020.
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 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!
NOTE: Information below comes from the last edition of this tour and will be updated closer to the time of registration.
Click on each day for more details.
Day 1: 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: 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: 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: Stratford-Upon-Avon – Grasmere (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: Activities from Grasmere (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. Price TBA
Day 6: Grasmere – 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: Activities from Oban (BL)
An excursion to the Hebrides Island of Mull forms the centerpiece of today’s activities. After 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: 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: 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: 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: 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!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $500 deposit as soon as possible! We’ll take 24-28 travelers on this tour and offer a guide to traveler ratio of 1:9.
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 are not included in the tour price. On the last day of this Adventure, one group transfer will be provided from our hotel in Edinburgh to the Edinburgh Airport. We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and 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!
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Walkers will encounter stiles on our English nature walks, and should be comfortable making their way up and over fences, and using various types of steps. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are guided group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
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 below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
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).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
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 of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email: [email protected] -OR- call 503-434-6401). For those of you who purchase airfare through Laura, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. 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:
- 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). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.
Other Planning Considerations
More information to help you plan will be included in the much longer Tips & Tidbits factsheet that is mailed out about four months before the trip.
What happens next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An email with critical information on flight arrangements and the Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the 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 we think you’ll agree that walking is the special ingredient for connecting with this land’s natural beauty, intriguing history, and diverse culture! Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure next summer as we savor the British Isles together!