Excursion One - Montacute House & Cheddar Gorge
We head to Montacute House which stands resplendent amidst a sprawling landscape park. We enjoy a guided tour of this splendid Elizabethan mansion of golden stone with its oak-panelled rooms, period furniture and the longest gallery in England crammed with treasures including Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Montacute was also used as a film location for the BBC's adaption of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall.
We continue on to the magnificent limestone Cheddar Gorge. Classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Britain's largest gorge has dramatic cliffs rising up 450ft and caves with spectacular formations of stalagmites and stalactites. We explore the hidden chambers of Gough’s Cave with audio guides which tell the fascinating story of its Ice Age creation, Stone Age occupation and Victorian exploration, followed by tea and cake in the café.
Excursion Two - Tyntesfield & Bristol Docks Cruise
We visit Tyntesfield, one of the National Trust’s more recent acquisitions and once a much loved family home. This eccentric house is a fabulous Gothic Revival confection of turrets and ornate stonework. Its construction was financed by less romantic means, however – the Gibbs family business of importing guano from South America.
A boat cruise of the historic Bristol Docks is next. We take in the sights and sounds on a round trip of the harbour which offers a fascinating way to see the city from a completely different perspective.
Excursion Three - Bath, Roman Baths & Dyrham Park
Once home to Jane Austen, Bath has remained faithful to its Regency roots, with an abundance of elegant terraces, circuses and squares in a picturesque valley setting. The city’s central square is home to the ancient Roman Baths, built around Britain’s only hot springs. We visit the extensive remains of the great temple and bathing complex with audio guides.
Built in the late 17th century, Dyrham Park is a spectacular Baroque house set in over 250 acres of ancient parkland. The house contains a range of fine textiles and paintings and reflects a number of styles, from the original 17th-century, Dutch-inspired interiors to Victorian refurbishment.