Unfortunately I cannot tell you much about our exciting Late Summer Mystery Away-Day in September, as of course it’s supposed to be a lovely surprise – from start to finish. NO bribes accepted I’m afraid!
I CAN tell you that our Mystery Tours are never the same but are normally FULLY INCLUSIVE and although the price has had to rise along with everything else, they do include all entry fees & tour guides (if required), perhaps some breakfast treats, especially if it’s an early start, included tea or coffee, a 1 or 2-course meal of some sort, with wine/beer/soft drink and maybe an afternoon or cream tea somewhere, somehow – but you really never know! Most of all, they are still great value ….. and they are great FUN!
If you are interested in joining us, but would like to see where we’ve been since our first one in 2015, have a peep below ….
For everyone’s comfort, numbers for this Mystery Tour are limited to 30 pax, so as it’s always such a popular Away-Day, it’s always best to book EARLY!
MOBILITY: Please note that the Mystery Tours are not suitable for those with limited mobility, as there will always be some walking. Our tours are not purely ‘on the coach’ as many other coach companies offer. Our Mystery Tours could include a guided walking tour, a short/long walk from the ‘legal’ coach drop-offs and the venues/destinations may have steps, stairs or steep gradients. With this in mind and especially to ensure you have an enjoyable, relaxing day, the ability to manoeuvre various gradients, terrain and distances without difficulty, should be taken into consideration before booking.
Included Winter Warmth Lunch – February 2024
Soup of the Day (V)
FIILLED JACKET POTATOES served with a dressed salad
Cheddar Cheese & Coleslaw (V)
Prawns with Fresh Dill Mayonnaise
Glass of wine | Beer | Ginger Beer | Soft Drink of your choice
NB. FINAL details appertaining to this February Mystery Tour will be finalised on a pre-event postcard sent by email 7-days beforehand
0830 Stokes Bay–sailing club bus shelter
0840 Pick-up at Lee on the Solent – seafront shops
0850 Pick up at Stubbington – Red Lion
0900 Pick up at Fareham – Peak Lane
Put on your thinking caps and guess where we might be going as the weather cools down ready for winter. There’s always a prize for who hits the spot, or, perhaps who gets near enough!
1800/1830 Arrive home area
The above itinerary is always provisional, but will give you an idea of the time schedule expected.
Coach seats are allocated on a first come first served basis, after Club-21 Members. Couples & friends will always be seated together if booked at same time. Larger parties will be seated together as far as possible. Preferred choice of coach seating area will be taken into consideration, but cannot be guaranteed.
Solent Events & Leisure reserve the right to alter the final tour itinerary as necessary if circumstances change beyond their control.
NB. Please do not ask us to pick-up or drop-off at stops not specifically listed above, as unfortunately we are unable to do so!
Wednesday 06 September 2023
Another lovely sunny day was enjoyed for our 3rd Mystery Tour of 2023. A sunny day was definitely required as our first stop was a wonderful, lazy Horse-Drawn canal boat cruise on the Avon & Kennet Canal at Kintbury! We met some lovely people during our time on board an at the Lock – either live-a-boards or holiday makers. We then travelled the short journey to the countryside Half-Way Inn, Hungerford for a delicious home-cooked 2-course meal served by the attentive co-owner Jo & Nick (the chef) and their friendly team. (Unfortunately this unique, delightful, independent inn had to close a month later on 4th October due to the same reasons so many pubs, inns & restaurants have had to close on a daily basis this year (see the note below).
Of course, the Mystery Tour did not end there! Our final visit was to Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere, where we enjoyed the knowledge of a National Trust volunteer to inform us of the origins of the beautiful visionary 1st World War wall paintings by Sir Stanley Spencer.
A Cream Tea was then served with beautiful countryside views from the coach at Cheesefoot Head – a large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot just outside Winchester – complete with free-standing Loo with a View in the trees!
NOTE: In the words of Nick (co-owner of The Halfway Inn) “We are heartbroken to announce that as of 4th October 2023, The Halfway Inn will close. Why? Because, ‘IF’ every day was like a Saturday & Sunday. ‘IF’ wage costs & demands were not spiraling out of control. ‘IF’ there were a plethora of good quality chefs without huge wage demands, we could have opened seven days a week. ‘IF’ utility costs had not risen to such ridiculous amounts. ‘IF’ prices of products had not risen so high, we may have been able to stick to our goal of great local produce. IF only…”
It’s so sad, as we had one of most delicious of lunches and the best service you could wish for at The Halfway Inn.
Monday 22 May 2023
Wow! What wonderful weather we were once again blessed with, for our May Mystery Tour! With blue skies and warm sunshine, it was the perfect backdrop for the gorgeous views and the special places we visited on the Isle of Purbeck. Never heard of it? Just think ‘Swanage’ in Dorset. It’s a really beautiful area and just a one hour drive from our final pic-up in Fareham. Purbeck is a peninsula with water on 3-sides – the English Channel to the south & east, where steep Jurassic cliffs fall into the sea and the marshy River Frome & Poole Harbour to the north. With panoramic views across the Purbeck Hills to the Jurassic Coast, we had these stunning views from ‘The Isle of Purbeck Viewpoint’ (known locally as the Creech Viewpoint).
Our fully-inclusive Mystery Tour Away-Day began at the entrance to Upton Country Park, where guide Andy of Jurassic Jaunts, joined us to show us the spectacular sights of Purbeck. Our wonderful day included: light breakfast treats en route to Dorset; a guided tour of the Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum at Norden; a delicious lunch with wine at The Halfway Inn, Wareham; Purbeck Viewpoint; a drive through Swanage; Durlston Country Park, Durlston Castle & The Great Globe – with stunning views of the Great Harry rocks & The Needles; an exciting Steam Train journey from Swanage to Corfe and finally, a yummy cream tea at Corfe Model Village.
Congratulations to our prize winner – Club-21 Member, Chris Adlam, who guessed EXACTLY where we were going when she jotted down ‘Swanage Railway’ on her ‘Where are we going’ slip’, completed as we left Fareham and before we joined the M27. Well done Chris – for reading my mind !
Monday 20 February 2023
Our first Mystery Tour Away-Day of 2023 was a great start to the Away-Day season after our excellent 14-day Winter Warmth in the Canaries Cruise with Fred Olsen Cruises! Starting with a lovely drive across the South Downs countryside, with the first signs of spring and hedgerows full of sprouting bushes, snowdrops and wild daffodils, we stopped for coffee and a wander at RHS Wisley. What a difference from a few years ago! It has now become very commercialized, with a large sectioned tarmac car-park, enormous buildings with café, shop and plant centre and loads of people!
We were back on the coach by 12 noon, when everyone was served with a delicious packed lunch of sandwiches (no crusts!), choc roll, fruit, a chocolate pancake (Shrove Tuesday was the next day!) and a chilled bottle of water. So where we go next they were all asking themselves …… surprise, surprise, we ended up on the outskirts of London city at Battersea Power Station for an exciting ride up to the top of the north-east chimney on LIFT109! The views from the top were absolutely amazing, especially as true to Solent Events form, the sun shone all around us! There was also time given for browsing & shopping in the huge Shopping Mall, which was full of expensive shops and restaurants. Most managed a coffee or cocktail before strolling around the outside of this impressive renovated building and newly built millionaire’s apartments! We left London at 4pm and headed back down the A3 to ‘Clanfield in the countryside’ for our third and final stop of the day – a delicious 2-course dinner with wine and coffee at The Red Lion, Charlton.
Yet another successful Mystery Tour Away-Day – and no-one, not anyone guessed this time!
Tuesday 11 October 2022 – Lin’s Birthday Mystery Tour!
The weather for this October Mystery Tour exceeded all expectations! Bright blue, clear skies and an unseasonably mild temperature was just the perfect setting for a Poole Harbour Boat cruise amongst the little islands off Brownsea Island, famous for its Red Squirrel habitation and Lord Baden Powell, where he tested his ideas for the book ‘Scouting for Boys’. Enormous cookies & coffee were served en route by a dedicated, friendly crew whilst a total of 36 Solent Events guests enjoyed the captain’s amusing commentary as we cruised the harbour on what appeared to be a summer’s day! After boarding the coach we travelled the short distance to our next Mystery location – the RNLI College, just 5-minutes away! A delicious chicken and fish lunch was served from the top floor restaurant with great views over the harbour. Divided into two groups, we were then guided through the college with expert information about the daily lives of the RNLI crews and the training facilities for new recruits. We were even ‘treated’ to a ‘shout’ in the Lifeboat simulator. Hair-raisingly real, to say the least!
Our day ended with a scenic drive through the New Forest and a celebratory birthday tea of Prosecco, cheese straws and cupcakes with a candle in – and the sun was still shining!
31 March 2022 – When we had have 4 seasons in just one day – what a mystery that was!
The gods were with us once again! Although we had sun, rain, snow and a bit of wind we had the most wonderful day visiting brand new places for some and a favourite place for others! Although the main roads also had to be used, driving through countryside and little villages was a breath of fresh air …. with a short blizzard included!
Our first stop for coffee homemade cookies and entry to the excellent museum and gardens was to GILBERT WHIITE MUSEUM. The quaint little village with its world famous pottery, St Mary’s Church and historic cottages was an absolute delight in the snow storm ….. and then even better in the sunshine! Onward and upward – north – to READING. “Whatever is there to see in Reading?” was buzzing around the coach ….. until we stopped outside the elegant Roseate Hotel for a soup & sandwich buffet with wine!
Lunch over and one of our favourite guides, Graham, met us for an afternoon of wonder and amazement during his amusing but interesting tour of the Abbey Ruins, Gardens, Prison, Maiwand Lion & Trooper Watts statues and the Kennet & Avon Canal – in the sunshine and snow showers! The Abbey Ruins are right in the centre of town but no-one even knew they were there!
After boarding the coach and saying goodbye to Graham, the perfect end to a perfect day was a Clotted Cream Tea with homemade scones and jam …. in the comfort of the Caversham Lady River Boat for a leisurely cruise along the Thames … under blue skies and gorgeous sunshine!
22 February 2022 – After the Storm Eunice, a perfect day in the Test Valley
Against all odds after storm Eunice ravaged the south, we had a wonderful day meandering through our beautiful Hampshire countryside, to our first mystery stop for coffee at Milestones Living Museum, Basingstoke. We met our expert guide, Graham of Tours2Order, at New Alresford, who then guided us through pretty Candover villages with quaint thatched cottages, ancient churches and historical memorials. Whilst listening to stories, anecdotes and historical notes from Graham, we spotted snowdrop lined verges, trees blossoming numerous pheasants, squirrels and wildlife, along with fields of black sheep, white sheep and enormous dirty pigs! Exploring Milestones Museum brought back many memories of life at a slower pace, with the families on half-term awarding us a joyous atmosphere not often experienced at the moment. Out next stop was a delicious 3-course lunch with wine at The Hatch, Old Basing. Christie, Sarah & staff were excellent, as was the food, so highly recommended! After lunch and under sunny blue skies, we continued our mystery tour through the pretty, historic town of Odiham, past a spectacular chalk quarry, RAF Odiham with its chinook helicopters and through Alton to our next mystery stop ….. at the spectacular 19th-century country house-mansion on Northington Down – Northington Grange where, surprise, surprise, Pippa & Michelle of Chocolate Craft, Old Alresford were there to meet us. (We couldn’t get to them for a full demonstration, because a large tree was still blocking the road by their farmyard workshop, so they came to us!) The chocoholics among us were in chocolate heaven, especially when we were all presented with goodie bags and a pop-up shop in such a stunning setting! They supply Fortnum Mason, so we knew they would be yummy! A welcome stroll around the mansion house followed, with a tasty Cream Tea being served on the coach – the perfect end to a prefect day in perfect weather.
Note: Northington Grange is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in Europe. First built in the 1660s as a Palladian brick mansion, it was transformed in the early 19th century into a magnificent neoclassical residence resembling a Greek temple, complete with resplendent Doric portico. After years of neglect, the house was dramatically saved from demolition in 1975 when it was taken into state care, and now provides a striking venue for an annual festival of opera.
24 October 2021 – A Magical Day in Bristol!
In short …… after early morning breakfast treats en route,, coffee and danish pastries were served in the comfort of the coach at the Moto Leigh Service Station on the M4. Well they weren’t expecting that!
Arriving in Bristol we boarded the Bristol Packet ‘Bagheer’ river boat for a delicious 2-course Lunch Cruise in gorgeous sunshine. Heaven! They weren’t expecting that either. Dropping us off at Broken Dock, the Bristol City Centre, we walked across the road and entered our Magical Mystery Tour venue …. Smoke & Mirrors for a welcome glass of Prosecco. Drinks were followed by a hilarious – and for some invited on to the stage, a slightly embarrassing (!) magic and comedy show, delivered seamlessly by owner Mark Bennett, a member of the Magic Circle. Copious amounts of popcorn & peanuts were consumed in abundance, but were no doubt walked off after a stroll around the corner to visit a piece of work by the the famous local artist Bankey – ‘Well Hung Lover’. They weren’t expecting THAT either!!!
It was a great day with lovely weather and somewhere no-one ever imagined we’d be going!
25 August 2021 – A day of surprises! Beaconsfield, Missenden Church, Butlers Cross & Hellfire Caves
After an early start, we travelled to Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield to meet our Blue Badge Guide, Graham, who guided us through country lanes and leafy dales to our coffee & pastries stop at a gorgeous little country pub, The Harte & Magpies. Stories of times past from our knowledgeable guide, took us through beautiful areas of the Buckingham countryside to Little Missenden, a pretty little village most famous for the set of the Vicar of Dibley and Midsomer Murders. St John the Baptist church boasts wall paintings that date from the 12th to 17th centuries. Another little gem to add to our collection! The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and the parish church is even older, dating back to between AD 950 & 1000, in the late Anglo-Saxon period.
A delicious lunch was taken at The Russell Arms t Butlers Cross, before heading past the Prime Ministers’ country pad, Chequers, a lone windmill and RAF Wycombe, situated in the village of Walters Ash, housing the Air Command Headquarters, but originally designed for the 1930s RAF Bomber Command.
Our final destination was the Hellfire Caves, a network of man-made chalk and flint caverns which extend 260m underground and situated above the village of West Wycombe, at the southern edge of the Chiltern Hills. The Hellfire Caves is like nowhere we had ever been before! Built in the 17th century we travelled deep underground, led by a great guide who was dressed and performed in the ruse of the 17th century! Dug by hand, to house the ‘Hellfire Club’, the caves are often regarded as “an incredible feat of engineering”. Interested? Read all about this fascinating and extraordinary history of luxury, seclusion, women and wine … in mammoth proportions! www.hellfirecaves.co.uk/history
A cream tea of homemade scones, jam and clotted cream, served by the enthusiastic and friendly café staff in the sunny courtyard, was a welcome treat and the perfect end to another perfect Mystery day!
15 October 2020 – London – with a difference … and just BEFORE we were in Lockdown again!
Our October Mystery Tour was the one postponed from 28 May, during Lockdown.
It was a great opportunity to venture into an empty London (people wise, but not traffic unfortunately!)
After an early start, breakfast treats were served on board (in Covid-safe personal treat bags) and with 37 guests on our 54-seater coach, seated singularly offside and couple/friends/bubbles nearside) and donned with the obligatory facemask or faceshield, everyone felt safe.
Our first stopfor coffee, biscuits and to meet our guide Martin, was Knights Templar off Fleet Street. A really interesting guided tour followed, when the history of east London was brought to life, still without anyone guessing where we were going!
Our tour took us to the Tereza Joanne ship, moored on the Thames at the end of City Airport runway, which of course was eerily quiet, for a delicious 2-course lunch with wine & coffee! From one ship to another – the Woolwich Ferry – to our final destination – Crossness Sewerage Works! An absolute marvel of Victorian architecture and an excellent place to have our cream tea before heading off home. A very exciting day – and no-one guessed where we going – well who would think we were off to The Great Stink for the day – you just wouldn’t would you?!
11 September 2019 – Setley Ridge Vineyard & Bucklers Hard
Coffee & cake at Setley Ridge Vineyard in the New Forest; guided tour of the grapes & wine tasting by owner Paul Girling, followed by a tour to Bucklers Hard with guide Frances; lunch at the Master Builder Hotel by the Beaulie River; a river boat trip up to Gin’s Farm; tours of the Bucklers Hard cottages & museum; guided tour of the picturesque New Forest with the ponies, donkeys & the hidden Portuguese Fireplace; cream tea was served on the coach watching the Heavy Horses at Boulders Wood. Just perfect!
14 June 2019 – Chavenage House of Poldark fame & Sally Dunns, Bath
Breakfast Treats en route to Chavenage House, near Tetley (where Poldark was filmed) with eccentric resident family members, Caroline & Robert Lowsley- Williams as guides for a humerous tour of the fantastic medieval house; coffee and lunch were served in the Ballroom. On to Bath to meet guide, Nick, for a guided tour of Bath including the River Avon, the Guildhall, Royal Crescent; a Bath Bun Afternoon Tea at the oldest Tea Shop in Bath – Sally Lunn’s – the biggest and lightest buns you have ever seen! Delicious!
05 March 2019 – Henley-on-Thames River Cruise & Midsomer Murders Trail
Coffee & cake aboard the Hobbs of Henley ‘Waterman’ for a River Cruise at Henley on Thames with guide Graham – in bright sunshine; guided tour follwoing the trail of the Midsomer Murders film sets; Dorchester Priory visit with lunch at the 16th century White Hart Hotel; a delicious cream tea back at Henley on the coach – in the rain! C’est la vie!
04 October 2018 – Bluebell Steam Train & Hever Castle
This was to be a countryside journey with colourful Autumn vistas en route to Heaven Farm, near Uckfield. A beautiful little farm with chickens running around and a great farm shop with fresh produce. After coffee and meeting guide Liz we went back through Sheffield Park, for ride back in time on the Bluebell Railway from Sheffield Park Station to East Grinstead; Lunch at the end of the line was at Old Dunnings Mill, ending our day with a guided country tour en route to Hever Castle. It proved to be a fantastic Autumn day in Sussex!
16 May 2018 – Jurassic Coast & Etches Fossil Museum
We met guide Andy for coffee at The Haven Hotel, Poole; crossed the chain ferry to Swanage; toured the villages and beaches of the Jurassic Coast with an olde worlde Fish & Chip lunch. We also visited the fantastic Etches Fossil Museum and a personal guided tour with owner Steve Etches; Lawrence of Arabia grave at Moreton with St Nicholas’ Church and its 13 gorgeous etched glass windows, engraved by the poet and artist Sir Laurence Whistler. Afternoon Tea was taken in the adjacent Walled Garden. Heaven!
01 June 2017 – Sussex & Prairie Secret Garden
Our special Solent Events breakfast treats were served as we crossed the South & North Downs before meeting our guide in an olde worlde pub in the pretty village of Steyning for coffee & biscuits; a guided tour of the countryside, Shipley Windmill and village with its beautiful medieval church of St Mary. Lunch was taken in the village of Bramber with our final stop at the amazing Sussex Prairie Secret Garden on the 1st day of opening for its summer season. The Afternoon Tea was excellent, especially being able to eat outside in the sunshine. A magical day was had by all!
04 May 2016 – Downton Abbey Tour & River Cruise
Meeting our blue-badge guide for coffee and homemade apple cake at Cogges Manor Farm (the Downton Abbey Kitchen House) we enjoyed guided tours of the Downton Abbey village & its famous church, hospital and cottages at Bampton. We also passed Brize Norton, just as a plane was landing … well not quite, as it immediately took off again! Our delicious Carvery Lunch was served at The Windmill, before travelling on to the outskirts of Oxford for an exciting River Boat cruise from Godstow Lock to Folly Bridge culminating in a cream tea at the Kings Head & Bell, Abingdon. Shame about the ‘flat as a pancake’ Abingdon scones though – which we fondly named our Brize Norton hand-grenades! A very memorable day for the diary!
28 April 2015 – Bibery & Broadway
We met our guide, the amusing Lee of Kooky Cotswolds Tours for coffee & cake at the Olde Worlde pub & hotel, The Swan followed by a country & village guided tour, ending with a little free time and included lunch at Broadway. Gliding once again through the countryside with stories of old and interesting places to view, we eventually landed at Cheltenham Race Course – for a cream tea on the Cheltenham to Teddington the Steam Train. Our very first Mystery Tour – and what a fun day it was. We’ll have to do it again!
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