Our top-of-the-range UK faith tour traces the Christian heritage of England and Scotland, visiting some of the finest historical churches in both countries, as well as sites that are significant to the development of Christianity in Britain. At the same time we see some of England’s most beautiful countryside and splendid city locations. With minor adjustments, the itinerary below is perfect for an Anglican, Catholic, ecumenical or general interest group; it can also be easily adapted for other denominations.
Day 1 – Depart from Malaysia: We will arrange the most convenient flight connections from your home location.
Day 2 – Arrival in London (D): Transfer to the hotel. Afternoon tour of the historic City of London taking in some sites that relate to Christianity – we visit the splendid 19th Century Westminster Cathedral, the home of Catholicism in England, and also the Anglican masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren – St Paul’s Cathedral. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 – London – Hampton Court Sightseeing (B D): Morning tour of London’s West End including Westminster Abbey. In the afternoon we visit Hampton Court Palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and principal residence of Henry VIII during the separation of the English church from Rome. You may recognise the palace as the location of the cycling and rowing events during the 2012 Olympics. Dinner at a local restaurant then overnight in hotel.
Day 4 – London – Norwich (B D): We depart London for a drive through the East Anglian countryside to the ancient medieval city of Norwich. A walking tour of Norwich city centre includes Norwich Cathedral – possibly the finest Norman building in Europe – and Norwich Market, the largest open-air market in England, which has been operating since the 11th Century. Dinner and overnight in Norwich.
Day 5 – Norwich – Walsingham – Boston – Lincoln (B D): Depart Norwich for a short drive to Walsingham, a quaint rural village famous as a pilgrimage site because of its two shrines (one Catholic, one Anglican) to Our Lady of Walsingham. After viewing the shrines and the priory, take the world’s longest miniature steam railway (April – October only) to the seaside village of Wells-Next-The-Sea. After a late lunch in Wells, drive to Boston, the centre of 17th century English Puritanism, to visit historic St Botolph’s Church, then onward to the ancient city of Lincoln for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 – Lincoln – Newcastle (B D): Enjoy tour of historic Lincoln, including Lincoln Cathedral, the tallest building in the world during the middle ages, which still keeps the pulpit where John Wesley preached. Continue to Newcastle (4 hrs approx.), passing through some of England’s most beautiful countryside. Dinner and overnight in Newcastle.
Day 7 – Newcastle – Lindisfarne – Bamburgh – Edinburgh (B D): Journey to the stunningly beautiful Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, one of the birthplaces of English Christianity. St Aidan established a monastery here in AD 636 and John Wesley preached having ‘ridden over the sands to Holy Island’. Visit Lindesfarne Castle, Lindesfarne Priory and the Lindesfarne Centre, then return to the mainland to visit historic Bamburgh Castle. Drive north over the border to Edinburgh, Scotland’s ancient capital, passing spectacular coastal scenery along the way. Dinner and overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 8 – Edinburgh City Tour & Inchcolm Island (B D): Enjoy a half day sightseeing tour of Edinburgh, a city with a unique atmosphere combining the historic old town and the beautiful Georgian ‘New’ town. Walk along the Royal Mile with its 17th century houses and visit the amazing Edinburgh Castle. In the afternoon, proceed to South Queensferry to view the oldest Carmelite church in Britain, then enjoy a cruise past the famous Forth Railway Bridge to visit the island of Inchcolm, with its spectacular ruined abbey and abundant wildlife (March-October only: enquire for winter alternatives). Dinner tonight is accompanied by traditional Scottish music and dancing. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 9 – Edinburgh – Rosslyn Chapel – Fountains Abbey – York (B D): Depart Edinburgh for Rosslyn Chapel, famous both for its decorative art and its mysterious associations with the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and the Freemasons. Rosslyn Chapel’s mysteries played a significant role in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. Continue through scenic countryside through the Scottish Borders and back into England to visit beautiful Fountains Abbey. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of England’s best preserved monastic ruins, complete with Georgian water garden and medieval deer park. Continue to historic York, England’s most beautifully preserved medieval city, for dinner and overnight.
Day 10 – York City Tour (B D): Spend the day enjoying a fascinating walking tour (with plenty of rest breaks) that takes in the most interesting sites of this unique city, including York Minster (the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe), the world-famous Jorvik Viking Centre and the award-winning Yorkshire Museum with its lovely botanical gardens. Dinner and overnight in York.
Day 11 – York – Oxford (B D): Drive through the heart of Middle England to the City of Dreaming Spires – Oxford, home of the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Take a 2-hour walking tour of Oxford, exploring the city and the university buildings. The tour concludes at Christ Church College with its tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren, after which we celebrate Choral Evensong sung by the world-famous Christ Church Cathedral Choir. Dinner and overnight in Oxford.
Day 12 – Oxford City Tour – Salisbury – Avebury – Stonehenge (B D): We travel over the beautiful Berkshire and Wiltshire Downs past the hill fort of Old Sarum, site of one of Britain’s oldest settlements, to the city of Salisbury, visiting Salisbury Cathedral to view an original copy of the Magna Carta and admire the tallest spire in Britain. After lunch we travel up the Avon valley to Stonehenge, the most mysterious and enigmatic of all monuments . Moving deeper into Ancient Britain, we pass a chalk hill figure and the West Kennet Long Barrow, a burial chamber dating back 5,500 years. The tour continues to Avebury, Britain’s largest stone circle, before returning to Oxford via the Vale of the White Horse. Farewell dinner and overnight in Oxford.
Day 13 – Oxford – Departure from London (B): After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight home (morning flight) OR free at leisure in Oxford until late afternoon transfer to the airport (evening flight).
Day 14 – Arrive Malaysia after overnight flight
Note: Visiting Edinburgh in August: We do not recommend visiting Edinburgh during August because of the difficulty of obtaining hotel accommodation during the Edinburgh Festival. If you wish to travel in August we will be pleased to arrange an alternative itinerary. If you wish to attend the Edinburgh Festival we recommend at least a week in the city, booked at least 12 months in advance. We would be delighted to arrange this for you, but be prepared for highly inflated accommodation prices.
Optional Extension: Add an extra day at leisure in Oxford or London before departure, to do some shopping and further sightseeing.
Optional Pilgrimage: To transform this tour into a truly spiritual journey, we can arrange a full pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, rather than a simple visit. The Anglican and Catholic Shrines cooperate closely and are delighted to receive Ecumenical and even mixed-faith groups; their largest pilgrimage group every year comprises British Tamils, who are 50% Christian and 50% Hindu! The revised tour itinerary for an Anglican Pilgrimage is shown below. A Catholic or Ecumenical Pilgrimage would differ only slightly in the details:
Day 4 – London – Walsingham Pilgrimage (B D): We depart London for a drive through the East Anglian countryside to Walsingham, a quaint rural village famous for having the world’s only Anglican and Catholic Marian Shrines, dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham. After viewing the shrine and the priory, we check into our accommodation. After dinner, our pilgrimage begins at the shrine with the Pilgrimage Address and Healing Ministry (Sprinkling, Laying-on of Hands, Anointing and Confession).
Day 5 – Walsingham Pilgrimage (B D): The second day of the pilgrimage starts with the Pilgrimage Mass at 11.00, with the rest of the day organised according to your needs. It can include the Stations of the Cross, private services for your group, or even your own private spiritual conference. After dinner, the pilgrimage concludes with the second Pilgrimage Address, Procession of Our Lady of Walsingham and Benediction. Overnight in Shrine accommodation. Drive directly to Lincoln the next morning.