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Botanica

Iconic Gardens, History & Birdlife of the United Kingdom including Chelsea Flower Show Small Ship Cruise

London to Edinburgh or Glasgow

Trip Code: BTBIC13
13 Days
23 May 2024

Trip Highlights

Hebridean Sky

Small Ship Private Charter

Cruise aboard the privately chartered MS Hebridean Sky, exploring the remote islands of the UK and Ireland.

Expert Botanical Guides

Join Expert Botanical Guides

Your expert Botanical Guides on this journey will be Colin Crosbie, Sophie Thomson and Anthea Guthrie.

The Chelsea Flower Show

Enjoy a day at the celebrated Chelsea Flower Show and enjoy a special afternoon tea at the Dorchester pop-up.

  • Trip Inclusions
  • Map & Itinerary
  • Similar Trips

Trip Inclusions

  • 10-night Botanica privately chartered cruise on the intimate MS Hebridean Sky, taking up to 100 guests
  • Two nights in London in a five-star hotel, to experience the Chelsea Flower Show
  • Airport transfers on first and last day, plus 32 meals, tipping, port taxes and porterage
  • Escorted by expert Botanical Guides Colin Crosbie, Anthea Guthrie and Sophie Thomson
  • Visit Aberglasney Gardens, made famous by the BBC television series A Garden Lost in Time
  • See Bodnant Garden, renowned as one of the UK’s most beautiful gardens
  • Explore Tresco’s subtropical Abbey Gardens on the remote Scilly Isles, home to more than 20,000 species of plants from over 80 countries
  • Spend the day in Ireland visiting exceptional gardens around the Waterford region

Map & Itinerary

Trip Notes

  • Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change
  • Fitness Rating: Medium - involves walking on uneven surfaces and stairs, and being able to stand for up to one hour, while keeping up with the pace of the group
  • Group Size: Up to 100 guests
  • Full charter of the MS Hebridean Sky
  • Prices are for land/cruise only. Flights not included
Journey Map
London to Edinburgh or Glasgow

You will be met in London and transferred to your hotel. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner to meet your fellow travellers and Botanical Guides. Hear a lecture on the Chelsea Flower Show over dinner before your visit tomorrow.

Stay: Two Nights: London, May Fair Hotel or similar

Daily :
  • Dinner

Depart early to arrive at the Chelsea Flower Show as the gates open. Explore the exhibition gardens along the main avenue with your Botanical Guides, before enjoying free time to view the extensive displays at your leisure. For over 140 years, the show has delighted visitors from all over the world. For afternoon tea, enjoy a special experience at one of London’s most recognised hotels, The Dorchester, in their pop-up restaurant at Chelsea Flower Show. This evening you are free to dine at one of London’s many restaurants.

Daily :
  • Breakfast

On the way to Portsmouth, we visit the RHS Garden Wisley, where your Botanical Guide, Colin Crosbie, was head gardener for many years. Enjoy a tour here with Colin to learn more about this garden, which is important for the Royal Horticultural Society. We then visit Painshill Garden, a beautiful landscape garden created in the 18th century by Charles Hamilton as a living painting. This afternoon, we board the MS Hebridean Sky in Portsmouth. The ship will be our home for the next 10 nights; settle into your cabin before enjoying a Welcome Dinner.

Stay: 10 Nights: MS Hebridean Sky

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Arrive this morning in Fowey, along the Cornish Coast. Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which occupy one of England’s most mysterious estates. Alternatively, visit Caerhays Estate, with its vast collection of Camellias and Rhododendrons and home to the National Magnolia Collection.  This afternoon either enjoy free time in Fowey or perhaps visit the Eden Project, an incredible garden created in an old quarry. Head back to the ship as we set sail for the Scilly Isles.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Spend the morning on traffic-free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the subtropical Abbey Gardens, home to more than 20,000 species of plants from more than 80 countries. Enjoy time to wander the paths at your own pace before sailing to Bryher Island which was the setting of the film, "When the Whales Came", based on Michael Morpurgo's novel inspired by the island. The island is home to a number of nationally recognised rare plants. We take a walk around the island in search of wildflowers, including the dwarf pansy which grows nowhere else in Great Britain.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Arrive in Swansea through a series of locks where we visit Aberglasney Gardens, made famous by the BBC television series A Garden Lost in Time, which followed the restoration of the Elizabethan Cloister Garden. There are more than 20 different garden styles from formal woodland, right through to exotic and modern. Afterwards, we travel to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where we enjoy a tour around the garden and its centrepiece, the Great Glasshouse, which was designed by Norman Foster.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Spend the day in Ireland visiting two exceptional gardens around the Waterford region. Mount Congreve Gardens is home to one of the ‘Great Gardens of the World’, including one of the world’s largest private collections of plants. Curraghmore Estate was the home of the 9th Marquess of Waterford. Explore the house and gardens, including the Shell House, and artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries. This afternoon, you can choose to take a shuttle bus from the ship to Waterford where you may choose to visit the famous Waterford Crystal Factory (own expense) or follow the Waterford Viking Triangle, whose cluster of museums detail the city’s history.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Arrive in the Dublin port of Dún Laoghaire, then travel south to Powerscourt Estate, which is comprised of a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes. Continue to Mt Usher, one of Monty Don’s favourite gardens, and a world-class example of a Robinsonian garden. This afternoon, choose to either visit the private garden of author Helen Dillon or perhaps take a city tour of Dublin.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Arrive back in Wales, where we visit Bodnant Garden, renowned as one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK. This Grade I-listed historic garden comprises formal gardens, shrub-filled glades, meadows and water gardens. Afterwards, visit Snowdonia National Park where you can take a guided hike around the hills. Alternatively, you can visit Maenan Hall Garden, the private garden of Christopher McLaren. He is part of the Aberconway family who were responsible for the creation of Bodnant Garden.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Arrive in Belfast to enjoy a tour of the city, which includes the Cathedral Quarter and St George’s Market, while learning about the layers of history that make Belfast such a compelling place to visit. We also visit the Titanic Experience to learn more about the ill-fated vessel’s history. This afternoon, visit Northern Ireland’s much-loved family home, Mount Stewart, located on the shores of Strangford Lough. The garden was planted by Edith, Lady Londonderry, who had a passion for bold planting schemes.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning you can choose to visit one of two fascinating Scottish Gardens. The first option is Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, to see Rhododendrons and azaleas in full flower. With dramatic views over Loch Fyne, the garden is set across several levels and has its own scriptorium. Alternatively visit Crarae Gardens, Britian’s finest example of a Himalayan-style garden, with tumbling waterfalls and rippling burn. The garden was created by Lady Grace Campbell, the aunt of intrepid plant hunter Reginald Farrer. This afternoon visit Ardmaddy Castle Garden set in a most spectacular setting. This garden is shielded to the north by mature woodlands, carpeted with bluebells and daffodils and protected from the Atlantic winds by the elevated castle.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Arrive on the Isle of Iona, within the Inner Hebrides. Here we visit its abbey, founded by St Columba in 563. The abbey survived several Viking attacks and once housed a community of around 1200 Benedictine monks. We then take a walk, in search of wildflowers, including wild iris and yellow bird’s-foot trefoil, along with fields of buttercups. We return to the ship, sailing to the Isle of Lunga as we enjoy lunch on board. Keep an eye out for the nesting slopes of the resident puffins. Described as ‘a green jewel in a peacock sea’, this uninhabited Island is a designated site of special scientific interest, which seeks to protect the marine life and seabird colonies of the area, as well as its rare and endangered plants, including primrose, bird’s-foot trefoil and orchids. Get up close to the island’s thousands of breeding puffins, which live on the island.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning after breakfast, we disembark the ship in Oban, then travel through Scotland’s dramatic countryside, past Loch Lomond to Glasgow where you may choose to finish the tour. Or continue across to Edinburgh where your tour concludes.

Daily :
  • Breakfast
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Everything was wonderful. There were great sightseeing trips and the guides were very knowledgeable.

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