Ye Olde England Tours are proud to be entered into the first annual Hertfordshire Tourism Awards. As well as our famous London and southern counties tours, we also do many great tours to our home, in the home counties. From Harry Potter to Hatfield House, Knebworth to St Albans and all the secret treasures in between. We can take you there and with a much higher satisfaction level than all the above world renowned attractions.
We treat each and every tour like it is the most important thing in the world because to us, it is and you are. It’s not how big you are, it’s how good you are that counts!
Certificate of Excellence
For the third successive year, Ye Olde England Tours has been recognised by Trip Advisor for our quality tours, staff and all round enthusiasm! Thank-you to all our guests for helping us make dreams come true, yours and ours!
Filming Trip to France and consultant to The CWGC (March 2017)
Last weekend I was delighted to be invited by the Comminwealth War Graves Commission to travel to the WW1 Western Front to present a short history related documentary that may even end up on the BBC. When not touring I write books and one that was published was Lest We Forget which relates to WW1. It’s obviously a great honour to be recognised in this way and I was more than happy to help research and present the film.
I put together the following little video on YouTube….
Obviously 99% of our tours relate to London, England and the U.K. though we also do a 3 day tour to the Western Front in Belgium and France too. You can see a little of what you’d see on our video below. So why not book with us for a friendly, private, unhurried tour by a real expert.
See our WW1 Ypres and The Somme tour page for details.
Ye Olde England Tours are now on YouTube (February 2017)
See our new YouTube channel to see (hopefully!) regular video shorts of some of the biggest sights and plenty of hidden gems around London and the UK. Subscribe to make sure that you don’t miss a thing!
Ye Olde England Tours Are Featured In Harrods Magazine! (January 2017)
We are honoured to be featured in the latest edition of Halcyon, the official magazine of Harrods Aviation who are as prestigious in the travel world as the Knightsbridge Store is in the world of shopping.
Halcyon wanted their travellers to do something special but a bit different in London and so wrote a feature on Sherlock Holmes which I helped advise them with. It’s great for us to be mentioned in such a prestigious publication. If you’d like to do a special Sherlock location tour too, then check out our Sherlock tour page.
More New Faces Join The Team (December 2016)
We happy to announce that we can welcome two new faces to Ye Olde England Tours. Alison Lewin joined us in October and has already been out and about to Bath, Stonehenge and a few beautiful country houses having brought with her many years of running guided tours for prestigious tour groups in the UK and overseas.
Also joining us is Kevin Pearman. Kevin immediately made a big impact by getting a 5* review on his very first tour and a dozen trips further on, he is definitely proving to be a big hit with our guests.
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence (October 2016)
We’re delighted to be once again awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence!
Welcome Aboard Erin Tilley! (September 2016)
It is now almost 3 years I started Ye Olde England Tours with the aim of providing a professional, friendly and totally personalised series of tours. Originally there were just 5 tours to choose from and now have 39 (with some new ones about to launch). 250 tours and many thousands of miles driven and footsteps walked later, it is time to make a big move.
As well as providing unique and high-quality tours for my very special tourists and giving me a way to pass on my love and enthusiasm for London, England and in fact the entire U.K.; I always try to give special experiences and let my tourists see the sights in a way that the big coach operators and multinationals can’t hope to reach.
I’ve been more successful than I could ever have dreamed and over 2016, I’ve been turning down almost as many bookings as I’ve accepted which I hate doing. I don’t like disappointing people making their holiday plans and obviously from a purely business point of view it is a nice problem to have but still a problem as I can only do 1 tour at a time.
For the last few months I’ve been searching for someone who can help me so that I can offer the best tours possible to the most visitors I can. Obviously, it was important to find the right person and it took a lot of searching to find someone flexible, talented, people-friendly and with more than a bit of know-how about tours and all things London/British history and culture.
I’m delighted to say that I can announce the search is over and I can announce that the wonderful Erin Tilley will now be taking some tours on a part-time basis (at least for now!!). It means I don’t have to be double-booked so much and in peak periods work every day under the sun. Also though, it makes Ye Olde England Tours twice as good as before and let’s face it… with over sixty 5-star reviews, we weren’t too shoddy to begin with.
In keeping with the ethical way I run my life, my business and treat customers, I’m so thrilled to be welcome Erin onboard. Touring is a great way to make a living and not be stuck in the usual 9-5 job and I’m sure Erin will love it as much as I do and that all our tourists will love Erin too!
Keep visiting this page for updated news from Ye Olde England Tours.
London Shopping Days Out NEW TOURS (October 2015)
There is no denying that London attracts people from all around the world, and one of the things that many people want to do is try a spot of shopping in the city that pretty much invented capitalism.
By popular demand from previous tourists, Ye Olde England Tours have created three entirely different Shopping based tours. All entirely private and personalised.
- London Shopping Experience. This tour is for those of you who want to visit some of Londons many iconic department stores. From Harrods to Selfridges, Liberty to John Lewis, Debenhams to M&S. I will meet you at your hotel and we will spend the entire day (or part of it) visiting all the stores on your must-do list. There is no hurry and I can help you find the bargains and save time getting between stores. This tour comes with a dedicated bag handler… me!
2. Bicester Village (Retail Shopping Outlet) Bicester Village is famous for offering hundreds of the very best British and International brands at prices of up to 60% off. It has long been a favourite of us locals and in recent years has attracted visitors from China, Russia and the Middle-East to London just to go shopping at Bicester. However Bicester is in Oxfordshire and not in London. I would happily meet you at your hotel and drive you to Bicester Village (Journey time about 60-90 minutes depending on traffic) and spend as long at Bicester as you’d like. You can stay all day or leave after a few hours, something impossible with the coach tours and unlike them you can bring home as much as you can carry and travel in the comfort of a luxury private car. Whether you want me to guide you around the stores or you’d like to be left to shop in peace is entirely up to you. Bicester also has many cafes and restaurants so you can truly enjoy your day.
3. London Street Market Tour Not everyone wants to shop at Harrods and you’d be missing out if you didn’t visit some of London’s great street markets. Many of them are housed in beautiful Victorian market halls and each one with its own character and goods on offer. Let me be your guide to all they have to offer whether it is just to experience the sights sounds and delicious tastes or whether you want an authentic shopping experience like us Londoners do is up to you. I’d meet you at your hotel and spend the day exactly how you want to. You might even learn some famous Cockney rhyming slang!
I’ve been very busy these last few weeks with my tours but wanted to share a little about one particular trip as it was a first, well at least for me. The last 8 days or so I have been giving a guided tour to four lovely ladies from the USA. I’ve now given over 80 guided tours and several multi day tours before but always starting and ending the day in London. This tour however was all set to be different as we would be staying at different locations around England.
The actual planning of the tour took nearly as long as the trip itself with emails dashing back and forth across the Atlantic for the last few months. There was lots to arrange, hire cars, hotels, day trips, even car-parking in the various places we visited. What was especially hard however was actually fitting everything into their schedule. There really is so much to see in England that even with a week or so, we only scratched the surface. For every place we visited, there were many more just around the corner.
My guests had a good idea of what they wanted to visit and so I put together an itinerary. After a pick-up from Heathrow we had lunch in the beautiful Cotswold village of Minster Lovell and tucked into some local food and drink in the most picturesque pub imaginable. From there it was just a short drive to Oxford where we spent the afternoon visiting the city centre and several of the famous colleges, courtyards and towers.
At the end of the day as was the case on every day, I would leave my guests at their central hotel before driving out into the country a little way to have a well-earned rest and to prepare for the next day.
Day two saw us leave Oxford at 8.30am and we took the scenic route down past Newbury and Highclere Castle, stopping for a photo-op as my guests were all big Downton Abbey fans. There were several picturesque villages on the way which we stopped to take photos of before arriving at Stonehenge. It wasn’t originally on our to-do list but we were so close so why not? Our early morning start paid off as we beat the queues and by the time we were walking around the stones, a line of traffic several miles long was forming on the A303.
Everyone enjoyed seeing Stonehenge and its new visitors centre but before long we were off once more through Salisbury Plain and its beautiful grasslands and rolling hills punctuated only by the occasional sign warning of tank crossings! Salisbury Plain was the staging ground for the Allied forces before D-Day and it remains the largest battle tank related area in western Europe which ironically helps to preserve its natural beauty from development.
Next up were my favourites, Avebury Stone Circle and Lacock Village where we marvelled at the stones, dodged sheep poop and sampled some of the local delicacies. My guests were huge Anglophiles and had a very long list of foods and ales that they wanted to try. Every single day they tried at least 2 local dishes from fish and chips to steak and ale pies, bangers and mash, cream scones, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls and a whole pile of cheeses and cakes. They were happily surprised at just how nice the food was as well as the lack of rain, just two of the very common misconceptions that many people have about the U.K.
Lacock was having a village festival and the tiny village was heaving with people which was nice to see. I’m visiting there so often that the locals are recognising me! Eventually we drove the short distance on to the Roman city of Bath. Obviously the Roman Baths are the famous highlight of Bath but there is so much more to enjoy here including the nearby Abbey, a wonderful collection of shops, pubs and restaurants as well as museums and the architectural wonders of The Circus and the Royal Crescent.
Bath is in the middle of an immense roadworks scheme and a succession of road closures led me to taking the only road in Britain that I had hoped to avoid in this epic road-trip to my hotel for the night. Between Bath and Bradford on Avon lies the eerily named Sally In The Woods road. Legend has it that poor Sally was a gypsy girl who was bricked up alive in a prominent tower in the densely wooded hills, ever since her spirit has sought vengeance on hikers and motorists with the isolated road being famed for fatal accidents as Sally jumps out on startled drivers causing them to crash. Happily though perhaps a little disappointedly, I didn’t see Sally that night or the following morning.
Day three saw us drive through the beautiful Cotswolds and the quaintly named towns of Stow on the Wold, Bourton on the Water and Moreton on the Marsh. My guests were continually astonished by just how beautiful and empty the countryside in England is. This is due to us having very tough planning laws to ensure our urban areas don’t sprawl out for miles as they do in places such as Los Angeles. It means when driving along you go from town or city to pristine countryside in just a few feet.
We stopped off to try some local produce at Stow on the Wold and walked around the main square before eating next to the old village Stocks where petty criminals would once have been pelted by the locals with rotten fruit and vegetables!
In the afternoon we went on to Stratford Upon Avon, home to all things William Shakespeare. There are so many things to see in Stratford Upon Avon aside from the Shakespeare related places that we visited. It is a relaxed but friendly town with wonderful streets and a riverside with weeping willow trees, theatres, bandstands and many traditional pubs which after visiting four of the Shakespeare properties and his grave in the local church was where my guests chose to spend their evening.
Day four was a longer day and we were to drive cross-country to the North-East of England. On our way up the motorway we passed the sign for Nottinghamshire – Robin Hood Country which led one of my lovely guests to inquire about visiting Sherwood Forest. Sherwood Forest is a huge place but I managed to find our way to the visitors centre where a 10 minute walk took us to the huge and magnificent Major Oak, said to be the tree that Robin Hood himself would spend much of his time. I hadn’t been here before and was as thrilled as my guests to visit this special place.
Onwards and upwards! I always tell my guests that the best things in Britain are outside of London and visiting London and thinking you have an idea of what the U.K. is like is impossibly far from the truth. It would be like visiting America and thinking everywhere was like New York or Las Vegas or going to China and foregoing all the great historic and scenic sights just to visit downtown Beijing but I always think my original homeland of northern England is the best place to visit.
Sadly the north is too far to visit on a day-trip, but visitors are rewarded with even more beautiful landscapes, wild scenery, castles and cathedrals and much fewer people. Could the north of England trump London, Bath, Oxford, the Cotswolds and Shakespeare country? According to my guests, of course it did!
On our way to Chester-Le-Street in County Durham we sadly avoided the beautiful Peak District but did skirt through the edge of the Yorkshire Dales to visit Harrogate on a flying visit. Here were visited the famous Betty Tea Rooms and enjoyed high tea with platters of sandwiches, scones and cakes in a beautiful room with views across the gorgeous town.
Back into the hire-car, we made our way to beautiful County Durham where my guests were to spend two nights in the haunted but magnificent Lumley Castle. I was staying just a mile or so away and was very excited to be meeting a university friend whom I hadn’t seen for 18.5 years! I drove to meet her at the train station and was immediately reminded of just how much friendlier people are in the NorthEast than probably anywhere else, at least in England if not the U.K. Strangers coming up to chat for no good reason except to be sociable. I had three people talking to me in the 10 minutes I waited for my friend to arrive.
Given that we hadn’t seen each other for nearly 20 years, we risked running and hugging the wrong people once the passengers disembarked but happily we still recognised each other and aside from a huffing steam-train, it was rather like a traditional 1940’s train platform reunion. We chatted the night away in an excellent pub-restaurant right next to my hotel and talked so much we barely remembered to eat but the food was delicious. We compared our memories of SOAS and talked about writing, work, tours and the world in general. We agreed to keep in touch and not leave it 18.5 years until next time.
Day five saw us with plans to visit Durham and Whitby but before then I used my local knowledge to visit The Angel of The North and pose for photos at this, the largest angel in the world and one of the most seen works of public art as well. Next up we crossed we travelled a few miles further north to reach our most distant point from London. Tantalisingly close to the wilds of Northumbria, instead we stopped for coffee in Grey Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, sometimes voted the most beautiful urban street in Britain. It leads up to Grey’s Monument which remembers the second Earl Grey who was instrumental in pushing through The Great Reform Act of 1823, abolishing slavery in the British Empire and of course for his famous Earl Grey Tea. We also drove around the quayside getting some great views of the galleries and fantastic bridges on the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge, the legendary precursor to its more famous imitator in Sydney Harbour.
Next up we visited Durham City. Durham is famous for its historic city centre and it’s world class University and UNESCO-protected Cathedral, high up on the banks of the River Wear. At this point we thought back at just how many UNESCO sites we had visited in a few short days before visiting the magnificent cathedral and the resting place amongst others to the Venerable Bead who completed his Ecclesiastical History of the English People all the way back in 731 AD.
We had lunch in Durham City as my guests had a bit of shopping list of English products they wanted to take home including such things as bone china, tea bags and wool and it was here that by chance I bumped into another old friend that I hadn’t seen for around 25 years and is now the Deputy Mayor of Durham. I wouldn’t have recognised him with all his medieval finery on but he obviously had no problem with me. Having now met the Deputy Mayor or Durham, a Grandson of Churchill in Lacock Potter a few days earlier, my guests were dreaming that maybe, just maybe they would get to meet Prince George back in London but sadly on my tours, have so far merely seen Prince William at Windsor Castle.
It was early afternoon when we headed off to Whitby on the East Coast of Yorkshire. About 80 minutes away by car, we headed off other the Yorkshire Moors with their foreboding and yet beautiful rugged vistas. Whitby is a place that I had always wanted to visit home as it is to the Captain Cook museum, a picturesque harbour and the ruined Whitby Abbey perched high up on the hillside. On top of all that, Whitby is home to all things Dracula as it is here that the Romanian Count first arrived in the U.K. following his sea voyage from Transylvania (well Transylvania isn’t by the sea but Brahm Stoker fans will know what I mean). Whitby is a beautiful little town with lots of narrow streets bursting with shops and pubs.
By now our tour group was one incredibly happy family so as two guests decided to do some shopping, I took two others up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey which for the last 500 years or so has been left as a magical ruin after being deliberately destroyed around 1539. For the first time rain was threatening so we ended our brief excursion with a meal at the Marine Restaurant which tastefully merges and boutique restaurant with quayside fish and chips whilst somehow fitting in a bar and piano lounge. Nice! We returned to County Durham at the end of the day all ready for our big trip back to London.
Day six and we had already reached 1,000 miles on our England Grand Tour before we had made much progress south and after 90 minutes we stopped off at the ancient city of York. York has more than enough to see to spend a week here but we just had a few hours and so we explored the medieval streets of The Shambles, saw one or two Roman Viking sights and then went inside the wonderful York Minster where some of us shopped, others visited the undercroft museum and myself and one other explore the vast Cathedral itself before taking Holy Communion.
With one last meal to be had in a very old and haunted pub, we took an ice-cream as we walked back to our car and the final longer leg back to London. Returning to London was a culture shock for all of us but the next day I led a walking tour around some of the many historical sites. From Parliament and Westminster Abbey past Downing Street, Trafalgar Square before visiting Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly, Soho and Buckingham Palace as well as a few other places such as the famous Metropolitan Police sign at New Scotland Yard. We ate at the St. Stephen’s Tavern right opposite Big Ben which is a place I seem to spend quite a bit of time at these days and we’re you’re always likely to bump into somebody famous or infamous. Finally we finished the day with a walk through some of the Royal Parks, Horseguards Parade and a visit to the Churchill War Rooms.
Day Eight was to be our final day and we were all ready feeling a bit sad the previous day that this wonder tour was coming to an end. You can tell what fun was had by all as my guests gave me a lovely card and gifts and I sent them on their way with some chocolates and copies of some of my books. We visited the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels in the morning and then walked along the Embankment through a terrific craft and street food market to Aldwych to visit the Old Curiosity Shop, as mentioned in the famous works of Charles Dickens. Two of my guests got the Eurostar for an onward trip to Paris whilst the other two treated me to another meal out before we did some shopping and found a theatre which they would be seeing a show at that night. Then the tour was over but what a time we had had.
I think it is fair to say my guests had a holiday of a lifetime and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing some of the lesser visited sites of our beautiful country. I always enjoying meeting new people and my guests last week were a lovely bunch of individuals who embraced all our foods, places, weather and old English slang. It was also nice to visit some places myself for the first time and to meet up with some old friends.
I’m going to come up with some new tours that give more prominence to outside London and the South East but if you or anyone you know is coming to London, England or the U.K. do send them to Ye Olde England Tours for both walking tours of London, day trips in and around London and southern England or visits to the regions away from the capital.
There’s always lots to do in London, and the U.K. here are some great ideas we want to share with you!
Spring is in the air!
Spring is nearly here and it is one of the best times to visit London and explore England. There are comparatively fewer tourists even at the hotspots, recently on a tour we visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the site manager said there were only 200-300 people there all day when in peak season there could be easily over 5,000.
Many of the places we visit hold special attractions for out of season visits and with the weather improving, the lambs in the fields and the flowers and trees coming out then this is the time to start planning a special day out.
For a short period only, anyone books a day tour with us will be offered a discounted walking tour of London.
450th Shakespeare Anniversary.
This week sees the beginning of a year-long special Shakespeare celebration and if you like all things Shakespeare or simply want to visit a peaceful and beautiful small English town that just happens to be the home of the greatest literary writer then why not visit Stratford Upon Avon.
This week I had the pleasure of taking Wendy from South Africa on a number of tours. We explored London, and visited the tremendous Warwick Castle with its scary dungeons, birds of prey and views of several counties from the top of the tower. However nowhere was better than Stratford Upon Avon.
The weather was warm and sunny even on the last day of April, so we took our time walking around this beautiful town. There are 5 Shakespeare-related houses in and around Stratford Upon Avon, each one different in their own way and each with beautiful old traditional gardens full of formal flower beds, roses and expansive lawns.
One of the pleasures of visiting Stratford Upon Avon is simply walking down the lovely little streets, full of interesting old shops and cafes which as Wendy and I can confirm, served the most delicious goods.
As well as the Shakespearean houses there is the original period home of John Harvard, founder of Harvard University in the USA and if you can tear yourself away from the beautiful streets and buildings then it’s always worth the effort to walk along the picturesque river through the park as the swans and boats go by until you reach Trinity Church which is, of course, the final resting place of William Shakespeare. When we visited there this week, the inside of the church was festooned with floral bouquets and wreaths for our favourite writer but of course the church is beautiful in its own right.
Instead of a rushed coach tour, why not take the time to enjoy all that Stratford Upon Avon has to offer with a private guided tour by Ye Olde England Tours.
Shout-out to Milwaukee!
A big thank-you to Pramana, Arianna and Annie who I have spent the last 9 days with in and around London. They were absolutely fantastic people to show around and I enjoyed my time with you tremendously. We spent 8 days in and around London, seeing not just the big tourist sights but also visiting some of the great markets, shops, pubs and restaurants that London has to offer plus a trip out to beautiful Cambridge. Greenwich seemed to make a lasting impression whilst Annie loved our special Sherlock and Sci-Fi day where we went round to all the Sherlock sights from the books to the current TV show as well as a trip to Forbidden Planet!
The weather held out for us mostly, and they were kind enough to bring me a large bag of goodies from Milwaukee so when they left I surprised them with one of my books and a bag full of various Cadbury Chocolates.
It was great meeting you all and sharing such good memories. I hope to have another Bubble-Milk one day soon!
A Day Out to Portsmouth Historic Dockyards.
A day out to Portsmouth isn’t always high on the agenda for foreign visitors to the U.K., but it really should be. Surprisingly to myself at least, it is our most frequently booked tour. Perhaps because it is out of the well-trodden route between London – Windsor and Stonehenge and hard to get to without private transport which is where Ye Olde England Tours comes in!
Portsmouth Historic Dockyards is possibly the number one global destination for those interested in the history of naval warfare and particularly the most famous home of the Royal Navy.
The dockyards here offer such a great day out with a visit to the flagship of King Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose which sank on its maiden voyage and spent centuries under the waves until it was brought back to the surface. After over 30 years of careful preservation works, visitors can now explore the great new visitors centre and the many thousands or relics that were brought back from the sea-floor.
The Portsmouth Dockyards have a great interactive centre for the young or young at heart and also a fantastic museum and gallery but if the weather is fair, then time really should be spent on the deck or perhaps below deck of some fine ships. HMS Warrior is the an Ironclad ship and the most powerful warship of its time in the 19th Century. Take time to explore this amazingly preserved ship.
The star attraction of Portsmouth is, however, HMS Victory. The oldest commissioned Navy vessel in the world and the flagship of Admiral Horatio Nelson who famously beat the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. There’s nothing quite walking around HMS Victory which is almost exactly as it was on that day when Lord Nelson was shot on the deck by a sniper. See his luxurious cabins and the feared sickbay and everything in between.
Portsmouth is still the main Royal Navy Base and this day out includes a cruise around Portsmouth Harbour. What you will see entirely depends on what is docked. Perhaps a few cargo vessels, some foreign navy vessels under construction or Royal Navy ships either being readied for their next mission or perhaps back from a recent tour to the Gulf or South Atlantic. Portsmouth will soon be home to 2 new Aircraft Carriers which will be amongst the biggest ships in the world.
Portsmouth Dockyard attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from all around the world and has an incredible 96% positive approval and value for money official rating.
You can’t come to Britain without seeing our famous naval heritage so for a day out you won’t ever forget, book a trip to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Christmas Seasonal Days Out
If you’re in England now or planning a winter visit to the United Kingdom then why not have a seasonal day out with us. There are numerous and memorable Christmas Markets throughout the South East of England with arts and crafts from around the U.K. and Europe. Many of these are in beautiful old market towns and cities or even in some of the historic attractions that we visit throughout the year.
For something really seasonal, why not have a day tour to Windsor old town and of course see Windsor Castle too. Another very good idea is to visit Rochester in Kent, just east of London. Most of our modern Christmas traditions come from the Victorians and one man in particular, Charles Dickens. You can’t have Christmas without the tales of Scrooge and The Christmas Carol. Rochester has many Charles Dickens related sights as well as a castle and a beautiful Cathedral. Visit the main shopping street and you’ll think you stepped back in time.