Tasty Tour of the South West: A Gastronomic Getaway in England
If you fancy yourself as a foodie, this 13-day gastronomic tour of the South West of England is sure to go down a treat. From the wilds of Dartmoor and the windswept Cornish Coast to the bright lights of London, discover delicious cuisine and learn how recreate it yourself.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Stay in a quintessentially English hotel nestled in Dorset's picturesque countryside
- Learn about how wine (including sparkling wine) is produced on private vineyard tours
- Search for fossils on Chesil Beach with an expert fossil hunter
- Roll up your sleeves for a private cooking class at a wonderful organic farm
- Enjoy a private fishing excursion followed by a tasty seafood meal on the banks of the River Dart
- Meet a local beekeeper in Dartmoor National Park and learn about how honey is produced
- Forage for fresh food on Dartmoor and learn how to prepare it afterwards
- Meet the makers as you see how smoked fish, local cider and cheddar cheese is produced
- Set off on a fantastic foodie tour of London and dine in some of the best restaurants in town
- End your gastronomic getaway with a showstopping final meal at a multi-Michelin starred restaurant
When To Travel
Day 1: Fresh Fare in Dorset
Your gastronomic tour of South West England begins today. On arrival in England, you will be collected by your private driver and transferred to Dorset, a beautiful county in the South West of England known for it's stunning scenery and excellent local produce.
Your accommodation for the next few nights is a quintessentially English hotel perched on a clifftop and surrounded by rolling fields full of pigs, chickens and sheep. With its own walled kitchen garden, it's just like stepping into a location from a classic English picture book. Wind down with a wander through the property's gorgeous garden and learn about how the hotel's restaurant menu changes by the minute, depending on what the kitchen gardener deems to be in 'perfect condition' or which the forager has found on his forays into the wild.
For your first evening, you will be treated to a meal that showcases the best of British produce. True to the seasons and influenced by the surrounding environment, the menu features ingredients from the garden and beyond. Think locally sourced burrata cheese sitting alongside 'zero miles' tomatoes and polytunnel grown basil, and mussels sourced from the nearby River Fowey and cooked with Dorset Nectar Cider. You'll feel right at home and wonderfully looked after for your first night in the English countryside.
Day 2: Vineyard Tour and Beach Bliss
Enjoy a slow start this morning on the first full day of your gastronomic tour of South West England. Roll out of bed and tuck into a classic English breakfast with fresh farm eggs and home-baked sourdough.
After breakfast, your private driver will collect you and take you to visit the Langham Estate Winery. Originally established by John Langham on a very small scale, the Langham vineyard was turned into a commercial venture in 2009. With a south-facing aspect, chalk soil and a unique microclimate, the vineyard provides the perfect terroir for ripening classic sparkling wine grape varieties, and the estate is constantly working towards becoming 100% organic. All of the grapes are carefully handpicked, and rigorous vineyard selection ensures only the highest quality grapes arrive at the winery.
After tasting the various delicious vinos, your driver will take you back to your hotel so you to pack up a beach bag and head to your own private beach hut. Striped deck chairs await, and there is no better afternoon activity than gazing out across the chalk headlands - a cup of English breakfast tea in hand - pondering what you might have for pudding this evening.
Return to your hotel just in time for dinner. Take a seat in your own private thatched house with a view across to Old Harry Rocks and enjoy a feast of the chef's favourites, one delicious bite after the next.
Day 3: Chesil Beach and Cooking Class
Pack your bags this morning as you are met at your hotel and driven South towards the Jurassic Coast. England's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area stretches 95 miles from Swanage to Exmouth and is a popular spot for fossil hunting.
Your first stop today is at Chesil Beach, where you will be met by an expert fossil hunter. With years of experience in searching for these ancient wonders, he will lead you along the blustery beach in search of remnants from the Jurassic era. If you're lucky, you might just find something magical. After working up an appetite, stop for a locally caught lobster complete with garlic butter and chips; in our humble opinion the perfect lunch.
Next, your driver will take you to visit Trill Farm - a 300-acre mixed organic farm set in the rolling hills and woodlands of East Devon. The Trill Farm Garden is overflowing with fresh produce, harvesting around two tonnes of salad a year and growing numerous different vegetables - tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines to name a few. Here, you will enjoy a private cooking class, set in the Old Dairy Kitchen, where you will learn how to prepare ingredients from a traditional English garden.
After your class, you will head to your hotel for the night. One of our absolute favourite properties in England, this stunning hotel boasts the most wonderful views out across the Exe Estuary. With hand-painted wallpaper and individually designed bedrooms, the attention to detail here is second to none and you will be swept off your feet in no time. Enjoy a steamy soak in your own private outdoor tub, before heading to the dining room for a candlelit feast.
Day 4: Fishing Foray
This morning rise bright and early for a private fishing excursion off the coast of Dartmouth. Fishing is a way of life here and experiencing it alongside a local is the perfect way to get a better understanding of this age-old profession. Bobbing about in a wooden boat with a seasoned professional is definitely a moment for the memory bank and is guaranteed to be a real highlight of your gastronomic tour of South West England.
Follow your fishing foray with lunch at an exquisite restaurant that specialises in seafood and has a wonderful location on the banks of the River Dart. Tuck into some of the best fish and shellfish in the world - cooked over an open charcoal fire - and enjoy a leisurely lunch after your windswept morning at sea.
This afternoon take the opportunity to relax as you enjoy a privately guided tour of the gardens with the hotel's Head Gardener. Charming and knowledgeable, he will lead you around the flower beds, vineyards and cobbled paths, giving you an insight into what it takes to keep the grounds looking so effortlessly manicured.
As evening rolls in, it's time for another delicious dinner. We can't overstate your dining experience tonight, with food cooked by one of Britain's most celebrated and influential chefs. Prepare to be dazzled!
Day 5: Busy Bee
After a leisurely start to the day, your driver will take you to the Sharpham Wine Estate. Enjoy a privately guided tour around the vineyard, learning about the history and principles behind growing grapes in England's cool climate along the way. A scenic river walk brings you back to the winery where a glass of sparkling wine will be waiting for you, followed by a wine tasting. Tuck into a lovely lunch and then, if you wish, continue your exploring with a visit to the Sharpham Dairy to watch the traditional techniques of cheesemaking that are still employed here.
This afternoon, you will be driven to your next hotel. Classically Tudor in style, the property sits deep within Dartmoor National Park, a vast moorland in Devon with craggy landscapes defined by forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rocky outcrop).
After settling in, meet a local beekeeper who will take you to explore the hives hidden around the hotel's gardens. A fabulous insight into the world of our apian friends, it is wonderful to see nature at work producing a golden elixir that will be ready to drizzle on to your toast tomorrow morning.
Day 6: Into the Wild
Enjoy another slow start this morning before heading out into Dartmoor's rural landscapes with your private expert guide to forage for fresh produce.
There is so much to explore in this beautiful part of the countryside. From seashore to hedgerow, woodland to farmland, you will discover the hidden secrets of this wild world. Along the way, you will learn what you can eat and how to cook it, as well as gain an insight into how the land was used throughout history.
After your foraging masterclass, you will head back to the cookery school to learn how to cook a series of wild dishes which you will then gobble up for your lunch. You'll have the chance to taste anything from nettle and ricotta tortellini and seashore risotto with shellfish, rock samphire and wild fennel; to elderflower fritters and brown butter hazelnuts. Prepare yourself for a feast because this is an awakening for even the most seasoned taste buds.
After lunch, you will continue the fresh air theme and head out onto the moors for a private riding adventure. These wild lands were the inspiration for Steven Speilberg's War Horse and with the wind in your hair, you will feel like an actor in your own film as you are guided across the stunning landscapes and into the sunset. Back at your hotel, cosy up by the fire and reflect on a dreamy day in the beautiful English countryside - the perfect way to end day six of your gastronomic tour of South West England.
Day 7: A Day Trip to Cornwall
It's off to Cornwall this morning for a day trip to the Cornish Coast, a wonderful way to mark the midpoint of your gastronomic tour of South West England.
Your first stops today are the picture-perfect villages of Padstow and Port Isaac - home to some of the finest restaurants in the UK. Your private guide will show you all of the best spots, and take you on a tour of the hidden coves and idyllic harbours. For lunch, you are truly spoilt for choice. From British food heroes to the best seafood chef in the country, you could not be more spoiled for choice! We particularly love Prawn on the Lawn, a hidden gem barely big enough to notice, but packing a punch with its delicious food. Seared tuna with a soy dressing, crispy red mullet served with lemon and olive oil, or perhaps a whole Padstow lobster served hot with lime and coriander butter… what's not to love.
For those who want to improve their culinary skills, there is also the opportunity to enjoy a private Michelin-starred masterclass this afternoon. Learn to cook an array of wonderful dishes at a boutique cookery school which takes a hands-on and interactive approach to teaching - the perfect foodie experience for any budding cooks.
Head back to your hotel this afternoon for a wonderfully indulgent in-room spa treatment, before settling in to a private dinner in a candlelit wine cellar.
Day 8: Meet the Makers
Wave goodbye to Dartmoor this morning, as you are driven north towards Somerset and your next hotel. On the way, stop at a small family-run smoker. Started 35 years ago, this local establishment produces wonderful smoked eel and salmon as well as a whole range of delicious smoked foods including smoked chicken, duck, lamb and trout. Supplying some of the finest establishments in the country - such as London's iconic Fortnum & Mason - this is a stop not to be missed and it is a privilege to meet such true artisans.
Continue your journey to meet the makers with a stop at a local cider maker. Sitting among 160 acres of cider apple orchards at the base of Burrow Hill, this is a picture-perfect scene. Burrow Hill is a famous Somerset landmark with a single sycamore tree at its peak that looks out across the Somerset Levels. Set off on your own private cider journey as you explore along the orchard trail, visit the distillery and then head to the cider house for some samples surrounded by the oak vats, barrels and presses.
Tucked away in the Mendip Hills, your base for the night is another winner. The perfect example of classic countryside hospitality, sink into bed with the wonderful feeling of being in a home away from home.
Day 9: Cheddar Cheese in Cheddar
This morning enjoy a private visit to a small artisan cheddar cheesemaker - the only producers of cheddar cheese actually in the village of Cheddar itself. Few people handmake cheddar these days and the team here are doing their best to preserve and protect the tradition.
Spend the afternoon at leisure with a relaxing spa treatment, before heading out for dinner at a popular nearby restaurant. Founded on the concept of celebrating a 'sense of place', the restaurant is a wonderful example of an establishment that is connected to the native land, its history and the communities who grow seasonal food there.
Day 10: London Bound
Spend the morning relaxing before swapping cute countryside villages for the bright lights of London. You will be collected from your hotel and driven into the UK's vibrant capital, where you will be staying in one of the city's finest hotels.
On a foodie (or any) visit to London, it would be criminal not to pay a visit to Borough Market - one of the city's oldest markets and an absolute haven for food lovers. Spend the afternoon wandering around the array of stalls in this iconic part of the city, which we love for its atmosphere and charm. Let a private guide show you where to find the best sausage rolls, before heading into the country's best cheesemonger for a private masterclass that teaches you about the maturation processes behind the most exquisite cheeses (and - of course - gives you the chance to taste them too).
After freshening up at your hotel, head into Soho this evening for a casual meal. We know all of the best spots, so whether you are after traditional or contemporary cuisine, we've got you covered.
Day 11: London Touring
Begin your day with a freshly-brewed coffee at a local deli before meeting your private guide for a tour of some of London's most iconic landmarks.
Spend the day delving into the history of Westminster and the Palace District and discovering the hidden secrets and royal stories of one of the world's greatest cities.
This afternoon indulge your sweet tooth in a private chocolate making masterclass. Discover the art of bean-to-bar chocolate-making and taste and savour some of the best artisan chocolate bars from around the world.
For a bit of diversity, you'll be heading to the city's best Indian restaurant for an evening full of flavour and spice. With classic and contemporary Michelin-starred Indian cuisine - with a strong focus on chapati (flatbread) and boldly spiced sharing dishes - this evening's meal will provide an excellent contrast to the fresh countryside fare you've been enjoying on your gastronomic tour of South West England so far.
Day 12: London’s Foodie Hotspots
On the penultimate day of your gastronomic tour of South West England, you will be taken on a private walking tour to discover London's foodie hotspots. Uncover gastronomic wonders in chic Marylebone or head off the beaten track to meet London's Turkish community and feast on delicious dishes in an ocakbasi (Turkish grill) restaurant.
To end your gastronomic trip in style, we've arranged a real showstopper for your final meal. Take your seat at the chef's table at a multi-Michelin starred restaurant to indulge in a dinner of epic proportions. With a menu that reflects the chef's lifelong passion for the finest produce, the food is executed with incredible skill, giving diners a one-off experience of true culinary craftsmanship.
Day 13: Home Time
Sadly, your gastronomic tour of South West England has come to an end. This morning you will be collected by your private driver and transferred to the airport for your journey home.
Rita and Susie are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.