Unplugged in Europe’s Quiet Playground

The Channel Islands and Southern England

  • Counties Kent and Dorset
  • Jersey’s hidden villages
  • Victor Hugo’s Hauteville Manor
  • Sark and Little Sark


August 17 - 28, 2022


  • Kent's classic residences and refined countryside; National Trust properties
  • Thomas Hardy's Dorset -- idyllic villages, spilling from time-worn river fords
  • Channel Island hotels, featuring impeccable comfort, peerless settings, and tea time!
  • Jersey’s Samares Manor estate and gardens, and La Mare wine and cider farm
  • Guernsey’s World War II heritage – including the German Military Underground Hospital and other sites, a driving tour of Guernsey’s gardens, and the rural charm of the inland parishes
  • Otherworldly Sark – car-free, traditional, and boasting of dramatic geography and dark skies

Trip Description

Join a delightfully small group to explore highlights of southern England and the refined and appealing world of the Channel Islands.  Our itinerary will take us from Gatwick Airport across southern England (we’ll spend three nights and four days), as we take our comfortable touring van on board an ocean-going ferry to the Channel Islands.  There, we’ll spend two nights each on Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark – savoring the uniqueness of each island.  The group will connect from the Guernsey Airport directly to Gatwick.  Our expedition will be long on gorgeous countryside, small places, rural and coastal charm, historic homes, gardens, and outstanding cuisine.






Sark, Guernsey


Day 1 – 2

Depart the US on our overnight flight to the U.K.

Arrive at London’s Gatwick Airport, then transfer to our comfortable vehicle.  We’ll drive through the gentle landscapes of County Kent to Down House – home of Charles Darwin.  Enjoy a tea or coffee and a tasty bite . . . and an interesting tour of Down House.

Not far to the south, we’ll arrive at Hever Castle – one-time home of Ann Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I.  We’ll enjoy the fine gardens, the stately architecture . . . and the fine accommodations that will be our home for the next two nights!

As we recover a bit during the day, we’ll take in more of our immediate surroundings.  That will include a drive to Chiddingstone – just minutes away, and one of the best-preserved villages in the UK.

An early dinner and overnight in Medley Court Cottage, on the grounds of Hever Castle, Kent.

Day 3

After breakfast in Medley Court, let’s explore!  Highlights today will include a visit to Standen House – an Arts and Crafts masterpiece, designed by Philip Webb, and furnished by William Morris and Company; and a countryside ride on the Bluebell steam railway.  The railway, one of the first preserved heritage rails in Britain, will take us on a short jaunt through hill and dale, stopping at pretty preserved stations and tidy villages.  It’s a great way to see pretty West and East Sussex.

In the late-afternoon, we’ll return to Hever Castle.

Dinner nearby; overnight, Medley Court / Hever Castle.

photo credit:  Ashley Richards

Day 4

After our breakfast, we’ll depart from our Kent digs, and drive west.  We’ll arrive in the city of Salisbury for lunch, followed by a visit to the famous cathedral.  In the afternoon, we’ll drive through the rolling Cranborne Chase, to our country inn in the village of Teffont Evias, in the Nadder River valley.

Relax in the comfortable Wiltshire countryside – truly part of Thomas Hardy country.  Dinner and overnight at Howard’s House Hotel.

photo credit:  Nick Fewings

Day 5

Enjoy a countryside breakfast.  We’ll check out of the manor-inn, then drive to Thomas Hardy’s Cottage:  a National Trust property near Dorchester.  Lovely countryside; great stories on location.  Around noon, we’ll make our way to the port of Poole, where we’ll prepare for our embarkation to the Isle of Jersey.  We’ll sail during the afternoon (on a comfortable large car ferry, replete with restaurant, lounge, and cushioned interior seating).

Welcome to Jersey – a postage-stamp-sized island closer to France than England!  We’ll check into our comfortable hotel – home for the next two nights.  Dinner and overnight at Greenhills Country House Hotel, outside of St. Helier, Isle of Jersey.

photo credit:  Nick Fewings

Day 6

This morning, we’ll drive to the Jersey War Tunnels, built during World War II, and the present-day museum that chronicles the Nazi occupation of the island.  Then, let’s drive along the north coast to the beautiful cove known as La Greve de Lecq, where we’ll enjoy lunch near the ancient watermill with views into the cove.

After lunch, we’ll visit La Mer wine estate, which also features a fine manor house and apple trees in bloom.  Not far away, we’ll take a gentle walk over the headlands with beautiful views of the sea cliffs and the deep blue of the English Channel beyond.  Our return drive to the hotel will take us past the timeless St. John’s Parish Church, and its fascinating cemetery. Overnight, Jersey.

photo credit:  Visit Jersey

Day 7

Enjoy breakfast at our hotel, with views stretching out over St. Aubin’s Bay.  Today, we’ll drive around the southern coast to the Samarès Manor. We’ll then continue exploring Jersey’s east coast through charming villages to the stunning Mont Orgueil. Enjoy lunch nearby, and those who wish can visit the medieval castle, complete with a falconry. Our continued counter-clockwise cirque of the island will take us through the island’s capital, St. Helier.

Late in the day, we’ll board the ferry for the Isle of Guernsey.  Upon arrival in Guernsey, we’ll check into our comfortable inn — the Cobo Bay Hotel, overlooking the blue English Channel.  Overnight on Guernsey.

Day 8

We’ll have a delicious and fresh Guernsey breakfast this morning!  Afterwards, we’ll enjoy an orientation drive.  We’ll visit Hauteville House in the late-morning, where the celebrated French author Victor Hugo lived during his exile on Guernsey during the mid-19th century. It was here that he penned many of his best-known works, including Les Misérables.  Could there be a better place for artistic solitude and inspiration?  After a leisurely lunch, enjoy free time this afternoon to explore the charming streets of St. Peter Port. Overnight, Guernsey.

photo credit:  Fleur du Jardin

Day 9

After breakfast this morning, we’ll enjoy more time exploring Guernsey:  We’ll uncover a blend of lovely nature preserves, elegantly manicured gardens, and centuries-old fortresses.

In the mid-afternoon, we’ll board the ferry for the Isle of Sark – third of our unique Channel Islands.  Sark is the smallest of the Channel Islands – a place where the natural world and the cultivated small villages and manor houses blend seamlessly . . . and there is the noticeable absence of cars.  Upon arrival at Sark’s main port, we’ll make our way to our hotel by horse-drawn cart.  Settle into our comfortable and inspiring accommodation with a famous Channel Islands cream tea; or enjoy a simple but eye-opening stroll along the charming lanes. Dinner and overnight at beautiful Stocks Hotel on the Isle of Sark.

Day 10

After breakfast in our inn, let’s explore Sark!  We’ll make sure we leave plenty of time to discover on one’s own, as we embark on several must-see’s as a group.  One unmissable highlight is Little Sark, a remote part of the island accessed by La Coupee – a knife’s edge road cut into the rock.  Two other highlights will include the gardens of La Seigneurie (the primary manor house on the island), and the main village with its delightful mixture of boutiques, craft workshops, and the local museum.  Walking / hiking enthusiasts?  You’re in the right place!  Sark offers walks through the village lanes and along the tops of the ubiquitous cliffs (and down to the many secret harbors that ring the island).

Dinner and our overnight on the Isle of Sark.

photo credit:  La Moinerie

Day 11

After breakfast in our inn, we’ll make ready to depart by ferry back to Guernsey.  On Guernsey, we’ll drive to the airport for a connecting flight to London Gatwick (afternoon flight) — where our adventure together ends.  [Some of you may contemplate journeying elsewhere in the U.K. or Europe.  You can connect to your next destination today, or spend the night near Gatwick, and continue on tomorrow.  Explore Up Close will help / advise in regard to any travel plans.]

Rest, relax, and enjoy dinner and your overnight near Gatwick.

photo credit:  Edward Howell

Day 12

Depart Gatwick this morning for your return flight to the U.S., or your connection elsewhere.

photo credit:  Who else?  Nick Fewings

What's Included

  • Ground transportation in the Channel Islands, boat tours, and inter-island ferries
  • Accommodation in high-standard boutique hotels for nine (9) nights
  • Breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$6,454 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $1,375)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, personal expenditures, optional trip insurance, or Gatwick hotel on night of Day 11*.

*Explore Up Close will book a hotel, convenient to Gatwick, for the night of Day 11, and add the amount to the final bill for those interested.

Chumley really puts a personal touch (on) it. I don’t know anyone who takes better care of travelers.
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.
I've traveled extensively and have never had a trip that felt as intimate and custom-tailored as this. The planning, flexibility, and attention to detail were second to none. A top shelf trip of a lifetime. Thank you, Caroline and Chumley!

Trip insurance safeguards your travel investment, your belongings, and most importantly, you. Though trip insurance is optional, we strongly encourage travelers to purchase trip insurance in the event you have to cancel or leave a trip for any reason. Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing travel insurance or airline tickets. Please confirm with Explore Up Close before making any additional travel arrangements.

Once you have received confirmation from Explore Up Close, we recommend contacting a travel insurance provider directly to request a quote and compare pricing and features. You can find other providers that may fit your needs at www.insuremytrip.com, or we can gladly connect you with our travel agent.

Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.

Again, please confirm with Explore Up Close before purchasing your airline tickets or making additional travel arrangements!

Book Trip