Forget Stonehenge: National Trust uses Giant’s Causeway to lure Chinese tourists to UK with marketing blitz in four major cities

  • There has been a 35% increase in Chinese visitors in past three years
    Tourism chiefs travelling to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou
    Audio guides and welcome maps to be distributed in Mandarin

It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, and now tourism chiefs are pushing the merits of Giant’s Causeway into the Chinese market.

Over the last three years there has been a 35 per cent increase in Chinese visitors at Giant's Causeway

Over the last three years there has been a 35 per cent increase in Chinese visitors at Giant’s Causeway

The National Trust’s World Heritage site, the only one in Northern Ireland, is currently being promoted in four major cities in China on a sales mission organised by Tourism Ireland.

Residents in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and eventually Guangzhou will be educated in the history of the famous location in County Antrim.

And with Chinese visitors to the site rising by 35 per cent over the last three years, the marketing strategy shows no signs of letting up.

Speaking to the BBC, Alexandra Mehaffy, National Trust tourism development manager for the Giant’s Causeway and north coast, said: ‘Our Chinese visitors are able to hear the stories and mystery of the Causeway landscape explained to them in Mandarin through an audio-guide and a welcome map is also available in Mandarin.

‘They are very impressed by our World Heritage site and the natural beauty of the north coast.’

It is reported that China’s outbound travel is expected to increase by 15 per cent to 114 million trips this year and estimated to reach 20 million trips by 2020.


Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd

Durham Castle and Cathedral

Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

Ironbridge Gorge

St Kilda

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey

Blenheim Palace

City of Bath

Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church

Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church

Henderson Island

Tower of London

Maritime Greenwich

Gough and Inaccessible Islands (Extension of Gough Island Wildlife Reserve.

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Blaenavon Industrial Landscape

Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda

Derwent Valley Mills

Dorset and East Devon Coast

New Lanark


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City

Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal

Frontiers of the Roman Empire (including Hadrian’s Wall)

Giant’s Causeway, on the north coast of Northern Ireland, boasts 40,000 interlinked basalt columns extending into the sea, while the area surrounding it is home to wildlife ranging from peregrine falcons to seals.

Legend has it the giant Finn MacCool built the enormous ‘stepping stones’ to Scotland to do battle with a rival there – though the more prosaic explanation is that they were formed by cooling lava 60 million years ago.

The site’s website states: ‘Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, for centuries the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists, stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it.’

Full Article in the Daily Mail: By John Hutchinson for Mailonline

The Small Group Tour Experts

England – Ireland – Scotland



2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon: Visit the Windsor Castle Exhibition this summer.

2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon.

Windsor Castle Exhibition: Saturday, 31st January 2015 to Wednesday, 13st January 2016

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

In celebration of the allied victory, George IV created the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, a grand space filled with portraits of those instrumental in the victory, among them the Duke of Wellington.

Throughout 2015, Waterloo at Windsor: 1815–2015 will combine a themed trail through the State Apartments with a display of prints, drawings and archival material that explores the battle and its aftermath.

The trail will highlight objects seized on the battlefield by the victors, including silver, furniture, weapons and the beautiful red cloak belonging to Napoleon, presented to George IV by Wellington’s ally, Field-Marshal Gebhardt von Blücher.

Windsor Castle Exhibition link

All our small group Windsor Castle tours allow time to visit the exhibition.

The Small Group U.K Tour Experts

Royal baby news: Messages of congratulations for Kate and Will flood in from around the world

Well-wishers have been sending their congratulations from as far away as Australia.

This morning it was announced that Kate Middleton had given birth to a baby girl, her second child.

The eyes of the world have been on this baby girl. Image Getty / Dailly Mirror

The eyes of the world have been on this baby girl. Image Getty / Dailly Mirror

All eyes have been trained on the door of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London today as we waited to hear more information about our new princess.

While we waited, we asked our readers to send in their congratulations for the royal couple.

Messages have been flooding in from places as close as Essex and as far afield as the USA, Canada, Russia and Australia.

Marilyn Hogan, from Australia, said: “Well done and welcome to your darling little princess, another beautiful addition to your family.”

Casey Mauzy, from Texas in the USA, kept it simple, saying: “Congratulations, y’all!”

Send your messages of congratulations for Kate and Will (Source)

Small Group Guided Tours of Great Britain

Britain’s real-life Game of Thrones

So Game of Thrones Season 5 is here at last! HBO’s colossally successful show is set to hurl us through more scenes of plotting and intrigue, bloody battles and epic twists as the fight to rule the Seven Kingdoms and secure the Iron Throne rages on.

Real-life British history

With British accents dominating the cast, it’s genuine British history that inspired the epic and often gory spectacles on the screen, confirmed by George RR Martin, the author of the books.

Britain’s history is very vivid and very visible. You can step inside castles and courtyards and wander the corridors of power in the footsteps of kings and queens or stand in the middle of ancient battlefields that saw thousands of sword- and shield-wielding warriors changing the course of history.

The warring houses of Stark and Lannister in the series are compared to the real-life 15th-century battles between the houses of York and Lancaster in the War of the Roses; a bloody civil war which thundered on for decades.

So where to see it for real

Events & Traditions

Bosworth Field Visitor Centre brings the site of one of the war’s most decisive battles to life with fascinating displays.

Struck by a rainbow 2

To the north, Dunstanburgh Castle was taken twice by the Yorkists and now remains as dramatic looking ruins perched along the Northumbrian coastline – a pristine location dotted with castles.

Head further north still and you’ll come to Hadrian’s Wall, an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site stretching right across northern England and southern Scotland. Building began back in AD 122 under the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian to separate the Romans from the Picts who were seen as “wild” and “barbarian”. Giant wall? “wildings”? Sound familiar?


And of course Game of Thrones has Daenerys Targaryen – Mother of Dragons – exiled and then building an army across the ‘Narrow Sea’. Compare to Henry Tudor who, during the War of the Roses, was over another narrow sea – the English Channel, building an army of his own.

He’d later return with his troops to Wales, the land of his birth, gathering more support before tearing into the action and claiming the throne.

Wales, a country with more castles than anywhere in Europe, has a rather iconic national flag. It’s emblazoned with an enormous snarling red dragon.

In fact, you can pretty much pick any period and place in Britain and you’ll find enough battles, seiges and conspiracies to inspire plenty more fantasy series from a land with an epic past.

View the full story and follow the excellent Visit Britain Travel Blog here

The Small Group Touring Experts

10 Amazing Day Trips You Can Take From London

It’s important (and easy) to travel around England when studying abroad in London.


Studying abroad in London is great: there are an infinite number of possibilities in such a massive city. It can be amazing but it can also be overwhelming, and sometimes you just need to get out of the city for a day. It is also important to remember to explore the other parts of the United Kingdom while you’re abroad in order to truly understand your host country’s culture. Due to my slightly unfortunate class schedule, I can’t take weekend trips, so I have been spending my weekends taking day trips around England, both to see some items on my bucket list and also to discover all the charm that England has to offer.

If you buy a 16-25 Railcard for £30 when you arrive to London, you save 1/3 on all rail journeys throughout the UK for one year. You’ll most likely make up your money within a couple of train trips. I’ve saved so much money because of my railcard and it has definitely encouraged me to take as many day trips around England as possible! Here are ten great day trips you can take around England while you’re abroad, both common tourist destinations and off the beaten path towns. England has something to offer for everyone, and everything is just a train ride away! (the ticket prices listed below are including the 16-25 Railcard discount).

St. Albans Cathedral

St. Albans is a great little town just north of London with some fabulous pubs and a beautiful cathedral. If you’re studying abroad in the fall, you can visit St. Albans near Christmas and go to their fantastic Christmas Market, which is located right next to St. Albans Cathedral (free admission). Grab a bite in the pub called The Boot. It’s incredibly charming and old and has great food. All in all, St. Albans is perfect for wandering and relaxing, especially if you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of London! Return tickets from London Blackfriars and Kings Cross are £7.90 and train rides are about 40 minutes. (Trains that terminate at Bedford call at St. Albans and are much faster than the trains that terminate at St. Albans itself!)


Love Jane Austen and green spaces? Head to Winchester to see one of the best preserved medieval Great Halls, Jane Austen’s final place of rest in Winchester Cathedral, and a lovely city with a lot of green space. You can also see some otters at one of the longest running mills in England. It’s the perfect destination on a sunny day-St. Giles Hill, which lies at the south end of the city, offers breathtaking views of the city (and good exercise). If you head to Winchester on a Saturday, wander around the town market. Return tickets are about £22 from London Waterloo and trains are about an hour and a half.


Oxford is the oldest school in the English speaking world and definitely one of the prettiest campuses there is. You feel like you step back in time upon arriving at the city. You can visit individual colleges as well as the ones that were used in the filming of Harry Potter. However, opening times listed online are sometimes not accurate and the college visiting hours are short. The best thing to do is make a list of the colleges you want to visit, and just walk to each of them while in Oxford. Also, make sure to bring your student ID in order to get student prices (usually around £1) for visiting the colleges. If you want to visit the famous Duke Humfrey’s Reading Room at Bodleian Library (where they filmed the library scenes in Harry Potter), you need to book a tour ahead of time or at the ticket booth, which will cost about £7. Off-peak return tickets are about £16 from London Paddington.



Kings College Chapel

Fancy seeing what is continually ranked the best school in the world? Cambridge is the place to go. The buildings are extravagant and the famous Kings College Chapel is a must-see. Be sure to check the opening days and times of the colleges you want to visit and bring your student ID for the student entry fees into the colleges that charge admission. Off peak return tickets are £10.90 from London Kings Cross on the weekends. Unlike most cities, the train station is about a mile from the campus, so be prepared for a short walk before you actually start seeing the colleges!


Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and full of culture. There is so much to do and see so check out my 12 hour guide on exactly how much Caridff has to offer. You can even extend your trip to a weekend excursion if you find you want to do everything on the list! It is about a two hour train ride from London Paddington and return tickets range from £28 to £48 depending on how far in advance you book!


Canterbury is a medieval town that is home to the famous Canterbury Cathedral from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It has 1,400 years of history and is the site of Archbishop Thomas Beckett’s murder, England’s most famous murder. Tickets are £9.50 for students and well worth it. Other attractions worth visiting are St. Augustine’s Abbey, founded in 597 by St. Augustine, marking the rebirth of Christianity in Southern England, the ruins of the Norman Castle, and the Dane John Gardens, which date back to 1551. Return tickets to Canterbury West are £19.80 from St. Pancras International.


Bath is home to the famous Roman Baths and the city looks like it has been untouched since the 1800s. After you see the baths (be prepared for crowds of schoolchildren), grab lunch at one of the several pubs around town (my favorite was the West Gate Public House) and then spend time at the Jane Austen Centre (Bath was the setting of two of her novels), Bath Abbey (right by the Roman Baths), and the Royal Crescent. Jacob’s Coffee House is a great place to grab a cup of tea, or if you feel the need to splurge, Bath has a wide selection of tea houses for afternoon tea! Train tickets to Bath can get quite expensive if you don’t book them far enough in advance, so be sure to plan ahead to get the cheapest tickets!


In need of a beach day? Head to Brighton! Wander around Brighton Pier, relax on the beach, and check out the flea market. Go to the Royal Pavilion, built as a pleasure palace for King George IV between 1787 and 1823. It’s a great example of exotic oriental architecture and perfect if you want to add a little history to your day trip! Return tickets from St. Pancras International or London Blackfriars are about £6.95


If you want to see Stonehenge, Salisbury is the best place from which to do it. The Stonehenge Tour company will pick you up right at the train station and drive you direct to Stonehenge and back, including admission to Stonehenge itself, for £26 (Entrance to Stonehenge is £13 if you can find your own way there and tickets must be booked in advance). The bus also takes you to Old Sarum, the site of the earliest settlement in Salisbury. When you get back to Salisbury, head to Salisbury Cathedral, which has tallest spire in England and one of the tallest spires in the world. Hitler even ordered the Luftwaffe not to bomb Salisbury because they used the cathedral spire as a marker when flying over England. The cathedral, absolutely gorgeous in itself, also houses the best preserved copy of one of the original four copies of the Magna Carta. Train tickets to Salisbury from London Waterloo are £25 and about an hour and 20 minutes long.

Windsor Castle


Fancy a visit to the Queen’s residence? Windsor Castle has been the home of kings and queens for over 1000 years, making it the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Windsor is a great destination if you’re feeling particularly #royal and want to see some of the great treasures from British history and wander through the rooms the Royal Family sometimes lives in! The Semi-State apartments are open between late September and late March, so plan your visit around that time to make the most of your Windsor Castle experience. After touring the castle, walk around the town of Windsor and grab some lunch at one of the pubs across from the castle itself. Return tickets to Windsor & Eton Central Station from London Paddington range from £6.85 to £10.40 depending on when you leave. Bonus: your castle ticket (£17.50) can be used as a yearlong ticket. Just check the website before you go to make sure that the castle and famous chapel are open! And opt for the complementary audioguide.

By Alex Mathews, Davidson College

Article source: By Alex Mathew: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/college-tourist/10-amazing-day-trips-you-can-take-from-london_b_6894136.htm

We operate small group day tours from London
The Small Group Tour Experts

The prettiest streets in Great Britain

What could be more appealing than a row of beautiful houses in a picture-perfect setting? Caroline McGhie explores the country’s roads to happiness

In the pursuit of wealth, status and privacy, we sometimes forget that some of the prettiest streets in the country are as heart-stopping as our greatest country houses and cityscapes.

Largely built many centuries ago, they make the most of local materials and topographical quirks, and the houses along them rise and fall as rhythmically as the notes in a song.

They attract house buyers as surely as bees to pollen, but prices don’t always have to break the bank.


You can’t shake off the world of E F Benson’s Mapp and Lucia in Rye: tea shops, choirs, am-dram societies and artists, and everyone knows everyone else’s business. People are drawn by the delightful Georgian and half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, pretty harbour and quirky shops. Mermaid Street is storybook lovely, with cobbles running steeply downhill and historic houses either side.

Phillips & Stubbs is selling a Grade II-listed heavily timbered house with 16th-century origins, four bedrooms, leaded-light windows and crown post roof for £1.4 million. It lies in the heart of the Conservation Area, along from the famous Mermaid Inn, which is one of England’s oldest and is stuffed with four posters and secret passageways. Turn the corner and there is Lamb House, home of E F Benson when he was writing his novels, and earlier by Henry James, who wrote three masterpieces there, The Wings of a Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl. It is now in the hands of the National Trust.


So romantic, so steep, flanked by thatch and brick and quintessentially English, no wonder Gold Hill was the backdrop for that famous Hovis advertisement (directed by Ridley Scott). It also starred in the 1967 film of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. “The value increases as you go up the hill,” says Sam Lillington of Connells. “There is a Hovis loaf monument at the top and a very good restaurant, The Salt Cellar, with fantastic views over the Blackmore Vale.”

Many houses are bought by weekenders who don’t mind the lack of parking or the sloping gardens. Connells is selling for £235,000 a three-bedroom brick semi at the bottom. On the other side of town it might be worth £35,000 less. At the top of the hill is a museum, and beyond the historic walls that enclose it is Shaftesbury Abbey, built by Alfred the Great.


“Broad Street is without doubt one of Ludlow’s finest addresses,” says Helen Lowery of Strutt & Parker.

For Pevsner it was one of the most memorable streets in England. “At the top,” says Lowery, “is the 18th-century Buttercross, built as a classical town hall. At the bottom is the Broadgate, a medieval gate with an 18th-century castellated house above. Properties on this street are often admired and therefore highly desirable, so tend to sell well and quickly.”

She is currently selling at £300,000 a four-storey building on the street, which has been used as offices but which could be converted into a stylish town house.

The town heaves with shops promoting locally sourced and artisan foods, so you can live like a king on pork pies, black pudding and handmade breads, or eat out in the Michelin-starred restaurants.


A polite Georgian street with the Nicholas Hawksmoor-designed military barracks and parade ground at the top and massive Elizabethan defensive walls at the rear, Ravensdowne represents all the charming contradictions of the town. These days it is utterly gentrified, but over the centuries it has been taken and retaken by the Scots. The massive medieval embankments were the most advanced defensive military technology of the time and are so big you can go for walks on them. Barbara Pentecost of Smiths Gore, who is selling a Grade II-listed house at £225,000, says Ravensdowne attracts a good clutch of ex-clergy, artists and musicians as well as holiday home owners. You can emerge in the morning and sniff sea salt and kippers in the air as you walk along the walls and drink in the view of the Tweed estuary, the beaches, and across to the red-and-white-lighthouse and Lindisfarne in the distance.


Church Hill begins at the Church of St Mary at the top of the hill and drops down to the ford called The Splash at the bottom. Along the way it passes pink thatched cottages and wobbly timber houses before veering off into an elbow called The Green. At the bottom is The Bell Inn, a pub that locals love, and the Church of England primary school, which Ofsted has rated outstanding.

A classic Grade II-listed village house called Green Gables is for sale in The Green, with early 15th-century origins, exposed beams and studwork and gorgeous gardens. “The prettiness of Church Hill carries on into The Green, which is a huddle of cottages,” says Caroline Edwards of Carter Jonas, who is selling Green Gables at £650,000. She says prices here can be more than in the star Suffolk village of Lavenham because it is closer to commuter stations, yet it doesn’t get mobbed by tourists in the same way.


It might be small, but it is extremely smart. The River Test glints with trout while the old Grosvenor Hotel, together with the Houghton Club, the oldest fishing club in the country, front it rather grandly. The Thyme & Tides deli, bistro and fishmonger caters for young trendies who have moved out from London, and the whole place has become a haven for foodies.

Set back from the street is Old Church House, a gem of a converted church with three bedrooms, minstrel’s gallery, office in the garden and decking over the river, being sold by Knight Frank at £1.175 million. “There can’t be many prettier streets than Stockbridge High Street,” says Tom Wood of Knight Frank. “It is surrounded by beautiful countryside with the River Test funnelling through it. There are shops which sell fishing tackle, fine butchers and dealers in game.”


Some of the colour-washed houses in Lower Castle Road have front-row seats to the sea with views towards St Anthony’s Lighthouse and Falmouth Bay. Further along the road is St Mawes Castle, while around the headland is St Just in Roseland church, which Sir John Betjeman described as “the most beautiful on earth”. The seascape is full of locally-built boats tugging in the wind, and crab boats returning with their catch. In summer the passenger ploughs to Falmouth and back.

At The Moorings you cross the road to reach the terraced gardens with steps to the water and the foreshore (which comes with the house). St Mawes is known for Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton and Idle Rocks, which attract the smart set. The Moorings has four bedrooms and is priced by Savills at £2 million. Jonathan Cunliffe, who is handling the sale, says the road commands a premium of 15 per cent to 20 per cent, plus another 30 per cent to 40 per cent at the water’s edge.


The residents of this world-famous address owe their splendid surroundings to two men, John Wood the Elder and his son John Wood the Younger. The Elder, described by Pevsner as “one of the outstanding architects of his day”, had the drive and vision to change his city through classically-inspired architecture. The resulting crescents and squares have made Bath a World Heritage Site.

The Circus was designed by the father who never saw it completed – it was finished by the son between 1755 and 1767. The idea came from the Colosseum in Rome. A recently restored five-bedroom Grade I-listed stone house is on at £4.25 million through Savills. Luke Brady, who is selling, believes the premium for The Circus is 20 per cent above the rest of central Bath.


Spectacularly atmospheric and ancient, this street is a stiff, cobbled climb to Lincoln Cathedral, a one-in-seven gradient at its steepest. It is flanked by Norman houses and clusters of drunken medieval buildings with timbering and half-jetties, all in the shadow of the cathedral. There is a wonderful mix of shops, tea rooms and restaurants, designer boutiques, antiquarian books and antique shops. A four-bedroom house is for sale through Pygott Crone at £314,950.


One of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds is Burford, on the River Windrush. The view from the top of The Hill is a great treat. The town was ranked sixth in Forbes magazine’s list of “Europe’s most idyllic places to live” and is the setting for Cynthia Harnett’s children’s book The Wool-Pack.

The four-arch medieval bridge and the water meadows haven’t changed in centuries. It was after a visit to the town in 1876 that William Morris rushed off to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

On The Hill is The Old Court, which was built as the magistrates’ court in 1869 by William Wilkinson (who is best known for the Randolph Hotel in Oxford). It has four bedrooms, a Grade II listing and is priced at £1  million by Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Full article and credit to The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/buying-selling-moving/11365629/The-prettiest-streets-in-Britain.html

The Small Group Touring Experts

Stonehenge Private Viewing Access Tours

This is a rare opportunity to visit one of the most popular and mystifing Prehistoric sites in the world. The special access tour is an early morning (sunrise) or evening (sunset) event, closed off to the general public where you will be able to walk amongst the stones and stand within the stone circle!

Visit our private Stonehenge tour page here

20150109_081514_resizedIn the evening after Stonehenge is closed to the public, or at dawn before it is open, we can arrange exclusive access for you to visit this awe-inspiring prehistoric monument and walk among the giant sarsen stones towering 6.4 m high and weighing up to 50 tonnes. Go beyond the fences & after the crowds have gone home. Walk amongst the stones & experience the magical atmosphere within the inner circle.

Normal viewing only permits access from the path that surrounds the circle. Stonehenge dates from 3100BC, and you will be walking where very few people have access. Your guide will explain some of the theories behind this amazing feat of Prehistoric construction.

A unique photo opportunity….

Explore the beautiful Wiltshire countryside in the luxury of your own private car, MPV or mini bus, enjoying the knowledge and expertise of our professional Stonehenge guide.

Our private access tours can also include Bath, Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), Salisbury Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Winchester, Avebury Stone Circle, Lacock Village, The Cotswolds and where ever you want to visit. We will help with your tour planning.

Stonehenge Private Tour Prices

We are pleased to offer this service from London, Bath, Oxford, Salisbury and all U.K airports / seaports

Please Note : this tour is subject to availability and does not operate all year round. Flexibilty in booking sunrise/sunset will increase opportunities of the tour chances

Contact us today with preferred travel dates and we will send availability and your best travel options

Welcome 2 Britain
The Small Group Tour Experts