Monday, December 16, 2013

Walking in a British Wonderland...

I have not blogged in awhile.  I write that up to not having a lot of free time lately, but mostly it’s just due to my short attention span!

My plans for the 2014 trip have been made, and most of the reservations settled.  It looks as if the next voyage will be a doozy!  I’m taking a travel partner this time, April Moore Fager, who is the sister of one of my best friends.  April is up for the challenge and has never been overseas before.  This will be a great adventure for both of us! 

So, with GoogleMaps in hand, I began crafting a trip.

When I asked April what she would like to do, she said she’d like to see some of the legendary sites of King Arthur.  This is one reason I’d recommend traveling with someone else:  They may give you a new perspective on things you had never thought of.  I typically go to London and to the Lakes and possibly Yorkshire… but this King Arthur thread opens a whole new world of possibilities.    I also wanted to include some things that had been on my bucket list more times than I can shake a stick at. 

Lindisfarne (the Holy Island) would be one of those things.  And since we were going to be in the Durham area anyway, why not see Durham Cathedral and go to an Elizabethan banquet at Lumley Castle?

I have several Facebook friends in the Durham area as well as my long-time friends, Kim and Greg who I hoped would be able to meet up with us.  So, I put out a call to all the folks in the neighborhood and invited them to the banquet with us.  I also asked Kim and Greg if they’d like to tour with us around and about Durham and Lindisfarne.  Sounds like a lovely time in the North!

Last year on my Trafalgar tour, we went through some amazing places in Scotland.  So I wanted to return to Pitlochry and to the Trossachs.  It’s a bit like the Lake District.  A bit like the Ozarks in America.  Very lush and green with lots of places to hike and breathe fresh air.  I had passed a hotel that looked posh beyond belief, and – just to treat myself, and because I never do go to very expensive hotels – I decided to book us at the MacDonald Resort and Spa.  It is also a perfect hub from which to see Loch Lomand and Stirling Castle.

No trip with Joy would be complete without staying several days in theEnglish Lake District.  So, we will be housed with my friends Marion and Peter at Goodwin House B&B in Keswick yet again.  It is here that I hope to meet up with all the wonderful people I saw last year and more who couldn’t make it last year to do a day hike.  Perhaps to bag yet another Wainwright or two!  And, of course, no trip would be complete without a trip to the pub afterwards.
So, with the first half of my trip planned, I was pretty proud of myself.  It’s a lot of work timing things just right for the amount of time and money we have.  But, for me, it’s definitely a labor of love.  And crafting a trip is like crafting a beautiful painting.

So what else has been on the bucket list?  The elusive Portmeirion (pronounced Port Marion) for one.  It’s so out of the way from my usual trekking, but if we’re heading south to see King Arthur anyway, why not?

So, we leave Keswick for Portmeirion to spend a couple of hours in this enchanting town.  And, with any luck, will make our halfway point to Cornwall by nightfall.  We’ll be staying in an area I’ve long wanted to see (Brecon Beacons National Park), though we won’t have any time to scout around much.  We’ll be staying at the Dragon Inn in Crickhowell.

And then, finally, we make our way to magical/mystical Cornwall.  There, to stay three nights in the town of Doc Martin fame, Portwenn (Port Isaac in reality).  We plan to see Tingagel Castle (reportedly King Arthur’s birthplace) and tour other King Arthur sites as well as taking a Doc Martin tour.  It should be great fun!

Sadly, we start heading back toward London and Heathrow not long after Port Isaac, but not before stopping at Salisbury to see the Cathedral and making a trek out to Stonehenge and the Avebury stone circles.  With luck (and a little extra time), I hope to visit Glastonbury.  It sounds like the English version of Austin, and has Arthurian links to it as well!

There you have it.  A complete tour of the outer edges of Great Britain all within a two-week period.  We’ll be driving to Heathrow to drop off the car and catch our plane.  If I’ve done my homework well, April will be hooked on England as I am, and will want to return.  As for me, I treat each trip as if it were my last.  You just never know, do you?  So, I will have enjoyed the long drive, seeing new sights, breathing fresh air, hiking, and just filling my heart with the love and wonderment I feel for England and Great Britain.  It will be glorious and surprising – as it always is.