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|Price range||From £395|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
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The Gardens of North Wales
Further highlights include Plas Newydd, a grand and historic house and garden overlooking the Menai Strait; Bodnant Garden, with a range of beautiful plants from all over the world, and Portmeirion, the eccentric and rather surreal Italianate village which has been enhanced in recent years with improvements made to the gardens.
- 3 nights dinner and bed and breakfast at the Best Western Bulkeley Hotel, Beaumaris.
- All rooms have private facilities
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Visits to the gardens of Bodnant, Plas Newydd, Portmeirion, Plas Cadnant, Dorothy Clive and Arley Hall
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays Representative
We depart by coach from our local departure points and head for Wales, breaking our journey with a visit to the gardens of Dorothy Clive, near Market Drayton. Whatever the season, this garden's 12 informal acres are worth visiting for the wonderful woodland garden; alpine scree; gravel garden; fine tree collection and spectacular flower borders. Lunch is available here (not included). We continue to North Wales and our accommodation at our comfortable hotel, the Best Western Bulkeley Hotel, Beaumaris, Anglesey. This is a handsome Georgian building dating from 1832 in the centre of the historic little seaside town of Beaumaris, with its medieval castle and Victorian pier. The bedrooms are all with en-suite bathrooms, TV, hairdryer and trouser press. The hotel is noted for its fine dining, with 'Taste of Wales' menus and a good selection of real ales. Dinner is served in the evening.
Following breakfast we depart for our visit to Portmeirion, the famous Italianate village. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis acquired the site for Portmeirion in 1925 for less than £5,000 as it was then "a neglected wilderness - long abandoned by those romantics who had realised the unique appeal and possibilities of this favoured promontory but who had been carried away by their grandiose landscaping and 'improvement enthusiasm' into sorrowful bankruptcy." Over the course of 50 years the village was developed in a unique and wonderfully eccentric style, while at all times staying in harmony with the natural surroundings. Much work has been carried out in recent years to improve the gardens, enhancing the beauty of the architecture. We will take a walk in 'The Gwyllt', a display woodland where the major concentrations of Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia were planted, with a wide variety of choice trees. Refreshments (not included) are available in the Portmeirion Hotel, the Town Hall self-service restaurant and Cadwaladers Ice Cream Parlour. In the afternoon we visit Plas Newydd. Set amidst breathtakingly beautiful scenery on the Menai Strait, this elegant house was redesigned by James Wyatt in the 18th century. The 1930s restyled interior is famous for its Rex Whistler association, containing his largest painting, a magnificent trompe l'oeil mural. A military museum contains relics of the 1st Marquess of Anglesey, who commanded the cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo. There is a fine spring garden and Australasian arboretum, with an understorey of shrubs and wild flowers, a summer terrace and massed hydrangeas, which give autumn colour. A woodland walk gives access to a marine walk beside the Menai Strait. We return to the hotel in time for dinner.
This morning, after breakfast, we travel to Colwyn Bay where we visit Bodnant Garden situated above the River Conwy spanning some 80 acres looking across the valley towards Snowdonia. The garden has two parts - the upper garden around Bodnant Hall, which consists of the terraced gardens and informal lawns, and the lower garden - known as the 'Dell', formed by the River Hiraethlyn and containing the wild garden. Bodnant has a range of beautiful plants from all over the world, particularly China, North America, Europe and Japan, that are suited to the Welsh climate and soil. Care has been taken to ensured that they enhance each other and contribute to the general beauty of the garden throughout the seasons. If we are very lucky, we will be able to see the stunning Laburnum arch in bloom, which has graced many a postcard and calendar. Lunch is available here (not included). In the afternoon we visit Plas Cadnant, a hidden historic garden which is slowly being uncovered - a Welsh 'Lost Gardens of Heligan'. Three different gardens have been discovered, including an unusual walled garden with curving walls and pool, a secret valley garden with three waterfalls and river, and an upper woodland garden with stone outcrops and the remains of a 19th century folly. Work started on restoring the gardens and grounds in 1997, this was a huge undertaking as large areas had not been maintained for over seventy years. In 1998 the area immediately behind the main house became a 'herb garden'. The following year the sheltered courtyard between the cottages was planted as a garden. Since then large parts of the gardens have undergone a spectacular transformation and have been restored to their former glory. A tour of the gardens and refreshments are included.
This morning, after breakfast, we will leave the hotel and head for home, breaking our journey with a visit to the gardens of Arley Hall, near Northwich. A pair of herbaceous borders was laid out here in 1846 and they survive to this day, beautifully maintained - one of the great garden sights of England. There are also old walled gardens with good mixed borders and a simple terraced walk above a ha-ha. Still in private hands, Arley Hall preserves the atmosphere of a garden kept for its own delight. Arrival is due back at our original departure point in the early evening.
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