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The Mature Traveler

Britain Rolls Out the Red Carpet

April 12, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

No foreign country coaxes, then coddles, the mature traveler with enticing brochures and special rates and discounts better than Great Britan.

Its latest effort is a dandy paperback, "Britain for the Very Good Years," produced by Mill House Associates Ltd. The fact-packed 96-pager was charmingly written by Peter Verstappen, Tom Bussman and Paul Strathern, and contains such travel tips as:

--How to pick up the "whiskey trail" in Scotland and freely sample six distilleries in one day . . . special over-55 rates on Sea Link to the Isle of Wight . . . where to get a fascinating United Kingdom Heritage map from Best Western (very well represented in Britain) . . . and even, in a section on the traditional fine British breakfast, "Avoid porridge, unless you're in Scotland."

Discounts Detailed

Many money-saving discounts are noted, such as BritRail's senior pass and similar but less-known senior discounts on Britain's National Bus Co. This is the BritExpress Card, which, for $10, allows those 60 or older unlimited motor-coach travel throughout Britain for one month at one-third off the regular ticket price for all trips.

Unfortunately, the term senior citizen is open to interpretation in Britain, just as here in the United States. The guide explains Britain's view this way:

"What exactly is a senior citizen? In Britain it usually means a woman age 60 or over, a man who is 65-plus, but sometimes it means over the age of 60. So ask as you go . . . your passport is a passport to cutting holiday costs. Simply show it to qualify for a raft of savings."

The guide follows with a 19-page section listing more than 80 museums, attractions, galleries, castles, parks, etc., where such discounts are available.

Most prices in the guide are given in British currency.

Plenty of General Tips

Travelers 55 to 60 may not find as many discounts readily available, but the guide has plenty of general travel tips for any age on such subjects as farmhouse holidays, home stays with British families, canal cruising, genealogy and on and on.

If nothing else, it's free and makes enjoyable reading with an insight to British humor. Some examples:

Britain's national fare, fish and chips, is "best eaten hot, straight from the paper with plenty of salt, vinegar and small cries of pain."

"Don't leave Scotland without trying haggis. Then leave."

Is Stonehenge "some kind of primitive computer or merely the supports of a long-abandoned freeway intersection?"

In addition to its other features and well-written commentary, the guide contains a small but helpful calendar of major events and five pages of addresses and phone numbers (in Britain and the United States) of people that will help plan any trip.

For a free copy, write: British Tourist Authority, 350 S. Figueroa St., Suite 450, Los Angeles 90071; (213) 628-3525.

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Mt. Robson Adventure Holidays is looking for "adventuresome seniors" (50 or older) for five-day camping trips in a secluded log-cabin village in British Columbia's Mt. Robson Provincial Park.

The five-day packages, June 14-19 and Sept. 7-12, cost $300 per person double or $350 single including accommodations, meals and activities. These include guided hikes, canoe trips--both with a gentle pace--plus campfires, nature movies and talks.

Participants are free to skip any of the planned activities and simply relax at the camp, which is at the foot of the Rainbow Range 35 miles west of Jasper, amid some of the most spectacular scenery in British Columbia.

For more information, write: Mt. Robson Adventure Holidays, Box 146, Valemount, British Columbia VOE 1ZO, Canada; phone (604) 566-4351 or (604) 566-4386.

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