Downton Abbey, Whisky, Chocolate, some Silver Darlings and a Wedgwood Experience | TravelResearchOnline

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Downton Abbey, Whisky, Chocolate, some Silver Darlings and a Wedgwood Experience

Welcome to another salvo of bright ideas which you’ll probably not hear about anywhere else. Among them you’ll find an update on Highclere Castle, an On Location visit to the recording of the BBC’s Antiques Road Show, a Whisky Festival, a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Poldark, some heroic gardens and an English Afternoon Tea at Wedgwood.

The really good news is that I know exactly how to piece together all of them (and many other visits) into customised and saleable UK travel experiences that will generate valuable commission for you and, because you’ve come up with the goods, further cement your relationship with your valued clients.

Here we go with:

Downton Abbey

In case some of you are still hoping to include a visit to Highclere Castle/Downton Abbey this summer, bear in mind that their short summer season finishes on Tuesday 4th September. On a brighter note, even if the castle is closed, you can still make ‘On Location’ visits to some of the picture postcard Oxfordshire Cotswolds villages featured in the different episodes and enjoy a ‘life below stairs ’visit to the kitchens beneath Petworth House.

On Location with BBC’s Antiques Road Show

Fans will be thrilled to learn that they’re recording the BBC version live from Buckfast Abbey on Thursday 13th September where they’re celebrating their Millennium. Around the same time there’s the International Antiques and Collectors Fair at Shepton Mallet (14th-16th September), Agatha Christie’s Birthday Celebrations (15th September) and the Jane Austen Festival (starts 14th September). Which combination would appeal to your clients?

Amber Nectar

With cruises on Loch Lomond, Nessy spotting on Loch Ness and visits to treasure filled Scone Palace and fairy tale Glamis Castle, use the Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival (21st-25th September) as one of the star attractions for a customised Scotland tour. Novices and connoisseurs alike will get a kick out of the nosing and tasting sessions, whisky themed events and visits not normally open to the public.

Gourmet North

Visits to chocolatiers, artisan food makers, preserve makers, bakers, breweries, vineyards, the unique taste as you go Malton Food Trail and even a tasting at a local monastery. Welcome to a deliciously memorable tour on and off the beaten track in Yorkshire and the Lake District, made more accessible than ever before thanks to the growing number of non-stop flights into the northern gateway of Manchester.

The Fleece Hotel, Richmond, Yorkshire

If the Gourmet North idea appeals to you, think about using the Fleece Hotel in Richmond, Yorkshire as your base. The totally renovated Victorian hotel has been transformed into a contemporary classic with designer accommodation, restaurant food (lots grown in their own kitchen garden) and friendly care-driven service that matches all your expectations. Adding something a bit special to a small group tour of 12-15 of your clients, I can arrange a Mad Hatters Tea Party complete with Alice and the Dormouse.

Lobsters and Silver Darlings

With many of your friends being fans of Doc Martin, Poldark (a new season starts this weekend here in the UK and with you later in the year), Lorna Doone and the myths and legends of King Arthur why not put together a tour for them to Devon and Cornwall that includes an unforgettable couple of nights in the privately owned (yes privately owned) picturesque fishing village of Clovelly. Time it to coincide with their annual Lobster and Crab Feast (2nd September) or their Silver Darlings (Herring) Festival on 18th November.

The Ultimate Rural Riding Retreat

I know conventional wisdom tells you to travel from LHR straight into London but I suggest you advise your clients to first park their jetlag in the countryside and then head into the capital. If this fits the bill, Slade’s Farm and Equestrian Centre is the ideal starting point for a UK family holiday. 45 minutes from LHR and close to the cathedral city of Guildford, it provides delightfully quirky accommodation set in farm cottages and a granary barn. After 2-3 days of bespoke horse trekking adventures and some al fresco lunches, they’re then ready for London.

Gardening On An Heroic Scale

Stowe’s famous landscape gardens have had an enormous influence on garden design from the mid-17th century onwards. Located just north of London, a special tour will reveal how it evolved from the English Baroque style into one of Europe’s foremost 18th century gardens with picture-perfect views, winding paths, magical secret corners, monuments, temples and lakeside walks that create a timeless landscape. To add even more to the experience, add visits to the nearby, award-winning gardens at Chenies Manor and the spectacular treasure trove at Waddesdon Manor.

The Wonderful World of Wedgwood

I can thoroughly recommend the guided tour of the You get to see all aspects of quality ceramic production including casting, figure making, pattern decorating and hand painting, ornamentation and gilding including the iconic Jasper pieces which showcase the pinnacle of ceramic craftsmanship. Finish with their contemporary English Afternoon Tea experience with open sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream and traditional preserves and unlimited Wedgwood Tea, all served in the finest Wedgwood china of course!


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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