The UK Holiday Group has completed a 17-night “once-in-a-lifetime” geology tour of Great Britain for 100 travellers, in a group booking valued at more than a quarter of a million pounds.
Hailing from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, the travellers were all members of a scientific society based in the US and included world-renowned geology, paleontology and zoology experts.
The coach tour started in London and covered more than 2,500 miles, from the tip of Cornwall to the Highlands of Scotland, exploring the geology and natural history of Great Britain.
It included several behind-the-scenes visits to sites such as the Natural History Museum in London; The Sedgwick Museum and Brighton Building in Cambridge; the Oxford Natural History Museum; and the Elgin Museum. The complex itinerary was arranged by just for groups! – the group travel division of Norwich-based The UK Holiday Group – which specialises in tailor-made holidays.
Harold Burke, sales director of The UK Holiday Group, said: “This ranks as one of the most challenging tours we have ever handled – although not the biggest, as a cruise for 800 retirees in 2012 takes that honour, having had a turnover in excess of £1 million.
“This geology-themed tour was a prestigious booking for us, as the members of the society have extremely high standards and expectations. “In previous years, the society has taken members to sites such as Death Valley and Utah, or visited glaciers and whale-watching locations.“We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from everyone on the tour, as they ranked it as one of their best ever trips.”
Harold personally welcomed the tour group members as they arrived in London at a special reception. He also greeted them on the final night in Glasgow, where a piper piped them into Scottish-themed farewell gala dinner.
“This tour had been 18 months in the planning and they set us very high standards so it was extremely rewarding to hear how very impressed they all were with our service, which covered all of the transport – arranged with South Staffs Travel and Klarners Coaches – plus accommodation, entrances and guides,” commented Harold. “It has been such a success that we are already planning similar tours for 2017.”
He added: “We also had our first inbound tour group from China this year, which is another boost for our business, as the market from China is booming. “We now have a foot in that door as our reputation for tailor-made holidays goes from strength to strength.
“These specialist tours demonstrate how just for groups! has become a market leader in the domestic and inbound holiday markets.
“The US-based society wanted to focus on sites of scientific interest, including famous fossil beds and historic places associated with scientists such Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.
“They also visited famous castles, enjoyed an Elizabethan banquet and took guided tours of London, Cambridge and Edinburgh – so there was a lot to pack into just 17 days.“We like to think the tour rocked for these geology enthusiasts.”
Rock on: the 17-day geology itinerary:
Thursday, July 14
Arrive in London. Welcome reception at hotel.
Friday, July 15
Morning behind-the-scenes tour of the Natural History Museum; Lunch then afternoon free to explore London
Saturday, July 16
Full-day guided tour of London, including walking tours of Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London
Sunday, July 17
Kent and Sussex: tour of Darwin’s Down House, Sydenham dinosaurs and site of first dinosaur discovery, tour of Darwin’s ‘Down House’, Whiteman’s Green, Lunch and Birling Gap for Beachy Head views and the English coast
Monday, July 18
Behind the scenes tours of Cambridge University (Sedgwick Museum and Brighton Building) and Oxford University (Natural History Museum)
Tuesday, July 19
Dorset and Devonshire: Stonehenge; the Fossil Coast at Lyme Regis; tour of ammonite beds at low tide; historic Plymouth
Wednesday, July 20
Cornwall: Land’s End, the Cornish Geevor tin mines, and ancient oceanic crust at Coverack Beach
Thursday, July 21
Bath and Wales: Tucking Mill, the Roman Baths; the birthplace of stratigraphy; overnight on southern Welsh Coast
Friday, July 22
Southern Wales and Shropshire: over the Brecon Beacons to Blaenavon World Heritage Centre for the Big Pit coal mine and St Peter’s Church; Darwin’s birthplace at Shrewsbury; Chester Roman amphitheatre
Saturday, July 23
Northern Wales: the Snowdonia Mountains and Llechwedd Caverns slate quarry; geologic sites at South Stack on the Anglesey Peninsula
Sunday, July 24
North to Scotland, via Grantham (Isaac Newton’s home, Woolsthorpe Manor); overnight at Lumley Castle, Durham (Elizabethan banquet dinner)
Monday, July 25
Scottish Lowlands: Hadrian’s Wall and Housteads Roman fort; Hutton’s Unconformities at Jedburgh and Siccar Point
Tuesday, July 26
Edinburgh: Tour of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile; Lunch, Our Dynamic Earth Museum; Hutton’s section at Salisbury Craigs and Arthur’s Seat.
Wednesday, July 27
Full day free to explore Edinburgh. (But they all booked excursions!)
Thursday, July 28
Stirling Castle and Doune Castle; Bannockburn battlefield; Falkirk Wheel
Friday, July 29
Scottish Highlands: over the Cairngorms to Elgin Museum; Culloden Battlefield and Inverness
Saturday, July 30
Scottish Highlands: Loch Ness cruise; Fort William; Glencoe and the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond; ending in Glasgow. Farewell dinner
Sunday, July 31
Fly home from Glasgow or post tour options