Anyone who has an English Heritage card will tell you how fantastic its sites are across the country, but top of the charity’s list has to be its blockbuster site Stonehenge – and thanks to a host of improvements, the Wiltshire attraction is now more visitor-friendly than ever.
The World Heritage Site now has an exclusive coach park and groups-only shuttle pick up for trips to the Stone Circle, and at the visitor centre there’s a new exhibition, formed in partnership with the British Museum, which explores how our prehistoric ancestors interacted with each other by making and sharing objects. Hurry and you’ll just catch it as it runs to April 21.
Group admission operates on a timed ticket system and must be pre-booked, but get 10 friends together and you’ll get a discount at all English Heritage properties (discounts apply at all EH properties for 11 or more people, plus one tour leader and one coach driver are admitted free with each group). Find out more at www.english-heritage.org.uk
Go wild in Wiltshire
An essential on the Wiltshire tourist trail – once you’ve paid homage to the ultimate Stone Circle of course – is a trip to Longleat, be it the stately pile (pictured here) or the safari park.
Go to longleat.co.uk for the latest deals, events and offers, where you’ll also find details of nearby Cheddar Gorge & Caves
One of the south west’s top tourist attractions, the Devon-based and family-run Stuart Line Cruises has clinched bronze in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category at this year’s South West Tourism Awards, having previously won gold at the Devon Tourism Awards.
“Tourism in the south West has grown enormously over recent years, and delivering a consistently superior experience to visitors is paramount in building on our reputation as a great destination,” says Ian Stuart. “Winning this award is a great credit of all the efforts made by our team and community to be part of the continued development of the region.
Stuart Line Cruises sail all year round and offer timetables to suit your itinerary. For more information go to stuartlinecruises.co.uk or call 01395 222144.
Giving a different taste of history is wonderful Clovelly, the tiny Devon village that’s home to cobbled, car-free streets, lots of donkeys (the place is famous for them), and fantastic views over the Bristol Channel.
It’s been home to the Rous family for more than 400 years, and remains today a working fishing village. You can stay, eat and explore this tiny slice of vintage English life. Find out more at clovelly.co.uk
And continuing the animal theme, from donkeys we head to Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset, where a dedicated team work tirelessly to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia, working in conjunction with a number of foreign governments. Today the sanctuary is home to more than 250 primates, with 20 different species, including 55 chimpanzees from as far away as Taiwan and Israel, now safely under the keepers’ care.
Visitors are welcome every day bar Christmas Day to come and meet the centre’s wonderful primates and discover more about Monkey World’s vital work, see monkeyworld.org
If you’re heading for the English Riviera, the elegant Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton is the ideal base for a Devon excursion. With plenty of coach parking, a free driver place and a large number of single rooms, the team are on hand to help you plan your group trip, and the 68-room hotel’s in an ideal spot for visiting Exeter, Plymouth, Dartmouth and Dartmoor. Find out more at redcliffehotel.co.uk
Also in Devon is the TLH Leisure Resort Torquay, made up of four hotels, interlinked on a single site and offering year-round leisure and entertainment. Choose from the TLH Toorak, TLH Carlton, TLH Victoria and TLH Derwent hotels, all of which are three-star. Self-catering apartments are also available.
Themed events, including dance, bowling and festive breaks, are available, see tlh.co.uk
Over in Somerset, a warm welcome is guaranteed for groups at the Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster. It organises activity breaks for budding gardeners, walkers, artists, bridge lovers and more (see www.yarnmarkethotel.co.uk).