This is part 6 of our series about the 2020 Peter Sommer Travels brochure, which made its way to the letterboxes of our guests and friends all over the world about a month ago. The brochure is also available on our website as a pdf download or as a browsable online brochure. Together, the posts in the series present a full overview of our activities and the experiences we offer to our guests in 2020. Part 1 looks back at what we did 2019 and forward to our new plans for 2020 and beyond, part 2 showcases our cruises in Croatia, part 3 describes our land tours and cruises in Greece, part 4 does the same for Turkey, and part 5 focuses on our tours in Italy. This post is about our expert-led tours in the United Kingdom, the company's homeland.
The United Kingdom - special histories in special landscapes
Peter Sommer Travels is based in Wales, on the island of (Great) Britain, and thus in the United Kingdom. Although we initially concentrated on archaeological travel experiences in the Mediterranean, we are now entering the fourth year of offering tours in our home country, and we are very eager to show its beauties and tell its stories to our guests. Britain is an island of many beauties, studded with an extraordinary number of historic places, all embedded in a series of distinctive landscapes that have inspired admiration - even poetry - for centuries. The approach that defines our Exploring Tours elsewhere has proven itself to be highly appropriate for the United Kingdom as well, allowing us to share a series of very special experiences here. We continue to develop our repertoire of British itineraries, which currently covers parts of England and Wales.
Our UK programme starts with the week-long Exploring Hadrian's Wall: Romans, Reivers and Romantics, a tour we introduced in 2017. It does even more than the title implies, offering a truly unique and holistic view of a part of Northern England, centred on - but not limited to - the great Roman border defence works that give it its title. The most significant forts along the wall, like Birdoswald or Housesteads, make their appearance, as do semi-civilian settlements dependent on the garrisons, the most famous being Vindolanda (with a glorious museum) and Corbridge. Of course, we also trace some of the most scenic stretches of the structure itself. By following the wall and exploring how it worked, from construction to operation, we traverse landscapes of breathtaking beauty, with vast riches of historic treasures that expand far beyond the Roman era, such as the venerable priory at Lanercost or the stunning medieval castle of Bamburgh, overlooking the North Sea. Combined, they open our eyes to the many ways that the human past, its achievements and long-lasting aspects, but also its drama and conflict, has imprinted itself upon the land itself. The tour is available in June of 2020.
Following several years of preparation, in 2020 we can finally present its fascinating partner tour, Walking Hadrian's Wall, the first of our walking itineraries to be set in Britain, and our first non-cruise walking trip altogether. The week-long tour focuses on the best way to understand the 2nd century BC Roman military border that is Hadrian's Wall, namely the same way that most of the Roman troops stationed there did themselves - on foot. Our guides and guests walk along carefully selected stretches of Hadrian's Wall itself, exploring its setting in various terrains, seeing the milecastles, towers and forts, but also looking at sites beyond its immediate confines, adding perspective to the harsh reality of the Roman conquest of Britain. There is a wealth of experience on this trip: Pennine hill country and Cumbrian farmland, combined with the most scenically-set sections of the wall, such as Whin Sill, Sycamore Gap or Walltown Crags, but carefully selected additions like the extraordinary site of Burnswark (Peter Sommer Travels' very first foray into Scotland), where a Celtic hillfort and the two Roman camps built to besiege it remain clearly visible in the landscape. This wonderful tour is available in August 2020.
Exploring Wessex, from Neolithic Avebury to Georgian Bath, is a highlight among all of Peter Sommer Travels' itineraries. Set in the historic region of southwestern England, It takes in a vast scope of history, from the monumental prehistoric mysteries of the 'Wessex Culture', built five thousand or more years ago, to the era of Romanticism in the 19th century and beyond. In between those poles, it touches on the entire wealth of English history and the many people and cultural or political influences that shaped it: Celtic, Roman, Romano-British, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian, and so many more, each of them approached and discovered through physical remains, ruins and edifices, castles and cathedrals, even whole cities, set in some of the most beguiling countryside of the country. So many famous names make up the itinerary of this our: Neolithic Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill; Old Sarum and the medieval city of Salisbury; Glastonbury, where legendary King Arthur is said to have been buried, and stately Bath, where a spring venerated by Celtic tribes gave rise first to a Roman spa and later to one of the finest Neoclassical town-scapes in Europe. This itinerary , taking in so many famous sceneries and just under a week in length, gives a perfect overview of English history, set in some of the most beautiful areas of the country and presented by a tour expert who has uniquely full command of all the strands of history the tour encounters. It runs in June/July and we recommend it as an incredibly multifaceted discovery of English history.
A little further west, we are thrilled to return to Wales, where Peter Sommer Travels is based. Exploring Wales: Millennia under the Gaze of Mountains, introduced in 2019, is a one-week tour set in the southern part of Wales. Wales is the western peninsula of Britain and a constituent nation of the United Kingdom, an area of cultural depth that comes as a surprise to many travellers. Our tour covers the historic counties of Monmouthshire, Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire and delves deep into the often dramatic, sometimes tragic history of Wales. Going back to its origins in the Celtic Iron Age, shrouded in the mists of legend, continuing through the Roman conquest, the Early Christian era, a Viking interval and the English incursions and onwards, all periods are represented by archaeological and historic remains. So green are the valleys, and so much is there to see: Wales is a part of Britain that has its own identity and its own distinctive cultural flavours, and arising from them so many stories, about Roman legionaries and their families at Caerwent and Caerleon, about early missionaries at Margam or at Saint David's, about the peaceful lives of pious friars at Tintern, about the long conflict between English rule and local tradition, represented by an extraordinarily rich array of fine medieval castles, such as Chepstow, Raglan, Cardiff, Pembroke and stunning Caerphilly. We welcome you to our homeland! The tour runs in July.
These are the scheduled tours we offer in the United Kingdom in 2020. As always and everywhere, they are complemented by an array of private tours and tour add-ons that we are happy to arrange for those of our guests who want to see more. Britain is a beautiful country, and one blessed by a much more diverse history than traditional narratives suggest. There is so much to discover and our tour experts are eager to show you what they found.
Also in this series: