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Special interest holidays
|Price range||From £395|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
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Lundy and Scenic Journeys of the West Country
- 3 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the Holiday Inn Taunton, Taunton (or similar). All rooms have private facilities
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Full day trip on MS Oldenburg to Lundy; one way excursion on the West Somerset Steam Railway line; visit to SS Great Britain; a journey on horse-drawn barge
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager
We depart by coach from London, Reading, Swindon and Bristol, where we break our journey with a visit to the SS Great Britain, the world's first iron-hulled, propeller-driven, steam-powered ocean going ship. From the outset, the SS Great Britain was unique. Widely regarded as one of IK Brunel's finest works, she was built to serve the burgeoning transatlantic passenger trade. On 26 July 1845, the ship undertook her maiden voyage to New York, a journey completed in an astounding 14 days. This achievement marked the beginning of a rich nautical history, and the Great Britain is now widely recognised as one of the technological forerunners of much modern shipping. The museum that has been built around her is one of the most innovative in the UK and has won a host of awards in recognition of the way in which it celebrates and interprets this icon of the Victorian age. From Bristol we continue into Somerset and our comfortable hotel, the Holiday Inn Taunton. All rooms have en-suite facilities. Dinner is served in the evening.
Saturday 29 June 2013
Today following breakfast we travel to Ilfracombe in North Devon, the departure point for our cruise to Lundy aboard the MS Oldenburg, a graceful motor vessel, fast, comfortable and built on traditional lines. Below decks she retains her original panelling and brass fittings, but has been skilfully modernised to provide heated saloons, bar, buffet, shop and information centre. The island of Lundy, whose name derives from the old Norse for ‘Puffin Island’, is a granite outcrop a mere 3 ½ miles long and ½ a mile wide noted for its abundant birdlife, including guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and of course puffins. Look out too for seals and the occasional basking shark. After our passage of just under two hours across the Bristol Channel we will have a few hours ashore on the island, time to look around the shops or the old church or, for the more energetic, take a walk along the cliffs to view the noisy and continually active seabird colonies. Refreshments (not included) are available in the pub, including cream teas or perhaps a glass of cool cider. We sail back to Ilfracombe in the afternoon and return by coach to our hotel in time for dinner.
Sunday 30 June 2013
After breakfast this morning we travel to Tiverton, where we board the ‘Tivertonian’, the horse-drawn barge of the Grand Western Horseboat Company. The Grand Western Canal dates back to 1814, when it was built as part of a major transportation plan to link the Exeter Ship Canal to the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, thus avoiding the long and dangerous voyage around Lands End. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Horse-drawn Barge was one of the cheapest and fastest means of commercial transport and the Canal worked commercially for 130 years. However the Canal also witnessed the intrusion of the Railways with the building of the Aqueduct and then the opening of the Tiverton Branch Line in 1838, which resulted in the Canal's decline, whereupon it was sold to the GWR. The ‘Tivertonian’ is one of only a handful of horse-drawn barges left in England today, and as our powerful four-legged friend plods resolutely along the towpath we will be transported to a slower, quieter age. We return to our hotel for dinner.
Monday 1 July 2013
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and travel the short distance to the station at Bishop’s Lydeard, the starting point for our journey on the West Somerset Railway. This is a true country branch line of the old Great Western Railway, with ten stations linked by a wonderfully scenic 20-mile line, which makes it the longest Steam Heritage railway in the UK. The steam locomotives are mainly ex-GWR types, lovingly painted in their traditional green livery, offset by gleaming brass and copper, and there is also a sizeable stud of ex-Western Region diesel types. Many of the coaches are painted in the much-loved chocolate-and-cream livery so we can expect to steam out of the station in true Great Western style. Our journey of just over an hour to the seaside at Minehead takes us through some lovely countryside: the gently rolling Quantock Hills and distant Exmoor, unspoilt villages and farms nestling in leafy lanes. On arrival at Minehead there will be time for lunch (not included) and a stroll around this pleasant resort before we re-join our coach and travel through the Exmoor National Park and the Brendon Hills and continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original departure points early evening.
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