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Our 2018 UK Trip will take us to an area familiarly known as ‘The Three Counties’. Immediately south of the region we visited in 2017 (the Welsh Marches and West Midlands), it was chosen in order to include a visit to Berrington Hall (NT) which had to be left off the planned itinerary when the hotel we had booked (Telford Hotel and Golf Resort) reneged on our reservation.
The Three Counties (Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire) lie in the fertile valley carved out by the rivers Wye, on the Welsh border, and Severn. Consequently it is an agrarian region and is specifically known for its apple and pear orchards which produce excellent ciders and perries. The landscape is mostly rolling hills with the Welsh mountains as a back-drop in the west and the scarp slope of the Cotswolds in the east. Delightful, often thatched, cottages built in the local sandstone with pretty gardens snuggle together around ancient churches in charming villages while fields are marked out with high hedges and sturdy oaks, ash and beech trees. The Three Counties Showground hosts an annual show that celebrates the countryside and rural life and draws visitors not only from all over the British Isles but from all over the world too.
We will be visiting some of the more ‘traditional’ type National Trust properties (Croft Castle, Greyfriars, Newark Park and Hanbury Hall) but also some very different ones (the Holy Austin Rock Houses, Croome Court, The Firs, Minchinhampton Common, and Chedworth Roman Villa).
The Firs is the birthplace of one of England’s best-loved composers, Sir Edward Elgar, whose music features regularly in the annual Three Choirs Festival which rotates between the cathedrals of Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford. Each of these impressive cathedrals has particular interest and we hope to visit that of Hereford home to the Mappa Mundi and one of the copies of Magna Carta, and at least one other cathedral. We last visited Chedworth Roman Villa in 2008 and made a significant donation to its restoration fund which those who work there have not forgotten. The head guide will give us a special after dinner talk on the restoration work so that we can fully appreciate the changes when we visit the site the next day.
Other highlights of our trip will include a private reception and visit of Croome Court’s Walled Garden, not NT, by Chris Cronin who has funded the restoration of these 17th century ‘Capability’ Brown kitchen gardens.
There is also a private visit by the owners and dinner in the ballroom at Chavenage House, a building which those familiar with the BBC production ‘Poldark’ will recognize as ‘Trenwith’. Other dinners eaten outside our hotel will be at the Brewhouse on Gloucester Quays and in The Manor Arms, a two-AA rosette gastro pub.
Travel to the UK will be by SN Brussels Airlines from Brussels Airport to Birmingham Airport and in England, as in recent years, we will be driven by Tynedale Group Travel. Our hotel is the 4-star Jury’s Inn Cheltenham. The trip is limited to 35 persons. Full details will be available early in 2018.
In the meantime, please address any questions or indicate your interest in the trip to Carole Ducastel, firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 0476 22 54 92.