Sunday, Day 1 - London to Hampton Court Palace
Meet the Captain or a crew member at the Stafford Hotel in London at 3pm for afternoon English Cream Tea, before being transferred at 4pm to the Magna Carta. Champagne reception and welcome moored outside Hampton Court, former Tudor Palace of Henry VIII, where we remain overnight. Dinner aboard.
Monday, Day 2 - Hampton Court Palace to Shepperton
This morning we have ample time to really explore Hampton Court Palace, the most fabulous Tudor home, once belonging to Cardinal Wolsey until acquired by Henry VIII! We walk through Henry's great hall and haunted gallery and see his chapel, still used for worship today and with the finest Tudor ceiling in existence. There is much more to see including the stunning privy gardens, the oldest growing grape vine and the famous maze! After lunch we enjoy our first cruise, up through Molesey Lock and following the meandering path of the river to Shepperton. Dinner aboard.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Shepperton to Runnymede
After breakfast we cruise to Runnymede and moor at Bell Weir Lock adjacent to a luxury spa hotel where after lunch we have the option to use the spa facilities including pool, sauna and steam room. Beauty therapies, massages and other treatments are available but are best booked in advance. In the afternoon we take a short drive to Savill Gardens. These beautiful gardens have something to offer all year round and form part of Windsor Great Park. The stunning new visitor centre was built using sustainable timber from the royal estates and makes a unique architectural statement with its grid shell design inspired by leaf form. Dinner aboard.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Runnymede to Windsor
This morning we cruise to Windsor before enjoying lunch on board. Our river journey takes us through Runnymede where King John faced the barons in 1215 and was forced to put his seal on the Magna Carta, the document which was the very first Bill of Rights and from which our vessel takes its name. From the boat we see the Magna Carta memorial and Magna Carta Island where the sealing took place. Our afternoon excursion is to Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066 and lived in for over 900 years by the Royal Family. This is the largest inhabited castle in the world. We explore the State Apartments, see Queen Mary's Dolls House and St George's Chapel and enjoy the far-reaching views from its elevated fortress position. Dinner aboard followed by an optional pub night with live entertainment (all pubs are now non-smoking).
Thursday, Day 5 - Windsor to Cookham
Morning cruise to Cookham so as to moor just outside Henley. Transfer to Henley Royal Regatta. This is the second day of racing and there is plenty of rowing to watch, and the carnival atmosphere on the river is exciting, unrivalled and very buzzy. It's seriously busy with masses of both modern and traditional craft full of picnicking and partying people. There are many boats with traditional jazz bands on board, and others with anything from Scottish pipers playing, Venetian gondolas, various crazy craft and all manner of people just out to have fun. It's also a very dressy affair both on the boats and in the regatta enclosures that line the river bank, you will see the British middle and upper classes noisily cheering their favoured crews onwards; the women bedecked in peacock finery and the men in traditional blazers and boaters, all drinking copious amounts of Champagne and Pimms (the Champagne and Pimms bit is de rigueur on board Magna Carta too). Return to the barge early evening for dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 - Cookham to Henley-on-Thames
A morning cruise to the village of Hurley where we wander through Peter Freebody's boatyard and watch in wonder at the traditional craftsman at work, building and restoring wooden boats as they have been done for generations. We have time to explore the ancient 11th century village including Ye Olde Belle, reputed to be the oldest inn in the country before returning to the barge. We cruise to Henley on Thames, our final approach being along the famous Henley Regatta Course. Once we arrive in Henley we have a choice. If we were able to visit Dorney Court earlier in the week we will visit the award winning River and Rowing museum, after which there is plenty of time to explore the 18th century town. Otherwise we take a short drive to Milton Manor, an extraordinarily beautiful family home designed by Inego Jones with Gothick library, Catholic Chapel and a wealth of fine and interesting antiques. The present owner, Gwendoline Mockler-Barrett gives us a private guided tour. For our final night we enjoy the Captains Farewell Dinner aboard.
Saturday, Day 7 - Henley-on-Thames
Following breakfast, disembark the barge for your transfer to the designated drop off point.
: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks the cruise is in the reverse direction.
It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.
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