Arrive in London and transfer to your hotel.
Those who are not too jet-lagged might like to take a leisurely stroll around the historical streets and parks of the local area.
In the evening, meet your fellow travellers before we head off for our first dinner together.
This morning you will need comfortable walking shoes as we begin exploring London in earnest. Our route takes us through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace, The Mall, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. We then cross Westminster Bridge and follow the south bank of the Thames (passing the National Theatre, London Eye and Tate Modern) and head towards Shakespeare's end of town. At Southwark we spend some time sampling the tempting array of food on offer at the Borough Market, which dates back to 1014 and is London's oldest food market. Weather permitting, we will enjoy a picnic lunch in the grounds of nearby Southwark Cathedral (Shakespeare's 'local church' in London). Alternatively, we may drop in to the George Inn (the only remaining galleried coaching inn in London) for some hearty pub food. In the afternoon, explore the Globe Theatre and Exhibition under the guidance of a local expert.
This evening you are at leisure to enjoy London as you wish. You may choose to continue your walk from Southwark towards London's tallest building, The Shard, and experience the view from its 52nd floor. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are also only a short walk away, as is St Paul's Cathedral (although it may be too late to actually tour the cathedral, an Evensong service is held each day at 5:00pm under its beautiful stained-glass dome). There are also many last-minute ticket sellers in the theatre district if you decide to finish the day with a show in the West End.
(You will be provided with maps of the tube and bus networks as well as a prepaid Oyster Card, so it will be very easy to find your way around.)
After breakfast, take the bus to the 'once village' of Hampstead (now a London suburb). Immerse yourself in one of the most picturesque areas of London while learning interesting facts and gossip about some of the famous writers and other colourful characters who have lived here.
You are at leisure to continue exploring London at your own pace throughout the afternoon. However, if you are interested in poetry, we suggest that you remain in Hampstead and spend some time at the John Keats' House Museum. The National Portrait Gallery (where you will find the only likenesses of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters); Westminster Abbey and the British Library also have fascinating literary associations and are well worth a visit.
We will then meet for an early dinner at The Swan Restaurant (the gourmet pub next to the Globe) before attending a performance in the theatre.
This morning we depart London from Kings Cross Station and head to Keighley in Yorkshire. Here, we will change trains and experience a little bit of 19th century travel as we complete our journey to Haworth on the fully restored Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway.
After transferring to our accommodation, there will have some time to relax and wander around this historic town before we meet again for dinner.
This morning we explore the village of Haworth and its immediate surrounds with our personal guide from Brontë Walks. After lunch, we will visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum and gain further insights into the everyday lives of the Brontë sisters.
There are no planned activities for this evening; however, you may like to return to one of the village's atmospheric little pubs for dinner.
This morning we don our daypacks and set off on a walking tour of the surrounding moors. In the company of an experienced, well-informed guide, we will follow in the Brontë sisters' footsteps, visiting a number of their familiar haunts. These include; the ruins of Top Withens (believed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights), the Brontë Waterfall and Ponden Hall (the model for Thrushcross Grange).
After a picnic lunch on the moors we will return to the village.
You are at leisure until the evening when we meet at the famous Haworth Steam Brewery for dinner.
This morning we leave Haworth and travel south by private coach to Stratford-upon-Avon.
After transferring to our accommodation, we meet our local guide for a private walking tour of the historic town centre, parts of which still resemble the Tudor market town of Shakespeare's era.
You are free to enjoy the local sights at your own pace this afternoon. We strongly suggest that you take the time to explore the Shakespeare Houses before wandering along the river to Holy Trinity Church, one of the most beautiful parish churches in England, to visit Shakespeare's grave. Your tour leader will be very happy to accompany you on either, or both, of these excursions.
This evening, meet for dinner at Lambs Restaurant, located in a sixteenth century building at 12 Sheep Street.
STRATFORD UPON AVON
After breakfast we head to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Theatre for a private backstage tour.
After lunch, meet by the river to board a traditional Edwardian (electric powered) motorboat for a short cruise on the beautiful Avon River. This peaceful sightseeing tour allows you to enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside while providing unique views of the RSC theatres, Holy Trinity Church and the 15th century Clopton Bridge.
This evening, enjoy a pre-theatre meal at the RSC Tower Restaurant
before attending a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in the theatre below.
This morning we travel to Bath by private coach.
On arrival, spend some time wandering Bath's Georgian streets on your own and you will begin to appreciate how this stunningly beautiful town earned its National Heritage listing.
Early this evening we meet at Bath Spa for a relaxed, self-guided tour of the Roman treasures, baths and temple complex before joining our guide at the Great Bath for a tour of the 2,000-year-old suite of bathing pools.
Today we gain some true insights into Jane Austen's Regency town of Bath as we explore the streets that feature as backdrops in both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Highlights of our guided walk include: the exterior of No. 4 Sydney Place (the house in which Jane lived from 1801 to 1804); the spectacular Georgian terraces of the Royal Crescent and the Circus as well as the Bath Assembly Rooms.
The tour concludes with two-course lunch in the famous Pump Room – a glass of spa water included!
In the afternoon you may choose to return to some locations that are definitely worth a closer look. These include; No.1 the Royal Crescent (a restored Georgian house, now a museum), the Jane Austen Centre, the Fashion Museum beneath the Assembly Rooms and Bath Abbey (the view from the tower is worth climbing up its 212 stairs!). History buffs might also like to see the house in which Governor Arthur Phillip lived after returning from NSW (he died here in 1814 and his memorial is in Bath Abbey). Alternatively, you may like to enjoy a relaxing visit to Thermae Bath Spa.
This evening you are at leisure.
WINCHESTER, CHAWTON, LONDON
This morning we travel by private coach to Winchester. It is here that Jane Austen spent her final days and we will tour the ancient Cathedral in which she is buried.
From Winchester we head to Jane Austen's House Museum at Chawton –the country cottage that she shared with her mother and sister, Cassandra, from 1809 until 1817. Regarded as 'the most treasured Austen site in the world', it was here that she wrote, revised and had published all of her novels – including the timeless Pride and Prejudice.
It is also possible to literally follow in her footsteps by walking up the drive to see the library and museum at nearby Chawton House (once owned and occupied by Jane's brother, Edward Knight) as she visited here regularly.
This afternoon we return to London by private coach and transfer to our hotel.
There will be a farewell dinner this evening.
Our literary tour concludes after breakfast.