Bath and Oxford

Old Nov 13th, 2009, 08:15 PM
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Bath and Oxford

Hello,

Can you do a tour of just Oxford and Bath? Is it doable in one day? I see group tours for Bath and Stonehenge or Oxford and Blenheim. Are they all worth seeing? Is it best to do over two separate days--they both seem like long drives from London or can you combine Bath with Oxford and just make one long day out of it?
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 09:37 PM
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"<i>Can you do a tour of just Oxford and Bath?</i>"

yes

"</i>Is it doable in one day?</i>"

no

Each city really takes a full day by itself and they are nearly 70 miles/2 hours apart.

"<i>Are they all worth seeing?</i>"

Of course, but it depends on how much time you have how much you can see/do.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 12:00 PM
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Dear Janisj,

My concern is doing two long trips out of London on two separate days may be a bit much and then go back on a very long flight back to the states. I am debating whether to make it two separate day trips to see Bath and Stonehenge and then Oxford and Blenheim or if I can just combine and spend one long day seeing just Oxford and Bath.

I have read that many people are disappointed with stonehenge because you have to see it from afar across the ropes while others say it is worth the trip. I welcome your additional comments
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 12:59 PM
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It's not necessary to take a tour. You can skip Stonehenge and just go to Bath by yourself. Maybe pick up a city tour there.

If you want to do both Oxford and Blenheim, a tour would probably more efficient than busing between Oxford and Woodstock, though that can be done. Or again just do Oxford by itself.

But I gotta agree. Both Oxford and Bath are too much for a single day. You just wouldn't see enough of either to be worthwhile.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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It really depends on your interests but having seen all these places, I would choose Oxford if I could only visit one of them. Bath is also interesting and would be my second choice. Stonehenge is not worth the trip if you are short on time though I'm sure some people find it fascinating. You need to perhaps do some reading, look at photos etc and make your choice.

Kay
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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How long do you have for your trip?

Why are you interested in seeing Bath and Oxford? Since you asked if they were all worth seeing, I guess I'm wondering if you have specific reasons for wanting to go to these cities or if it's the kind of thing where someone told you, "Oh, you must visit Bath..."

For example, we wanted to visit Oxford because of its connections with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Bath has lovely architecture, the Roman Baths, and Jane Austen connections, and Mr. Pickle wanted to go there.

Lee Ann
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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I second (or third?) the comments above that each city is worth at least a whole day; don't try to combine. Either pick one based on your preferences (literary, historical, or other) OR plan 2 trips.

And Stonehenge/Salisbury is worth another whole day! Too much to see!
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 01:13 PM
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We want to go to Oxford because son is a big Harry Potter fan and wants to see the library and great hall at Christ Church. We also read a lot about the roman baths and want to see that as well. I was thinking of hiring a driver guide since we are not comfortable with driving in the UK ourselves to take us to both those places rather than doing the bus tours which combine Bath with Stonehenge or something else.

If we take the train ourselves to Bath, would a zone 6 travel card get us there or do we need more? How close is the train station to the tourist areas of bath? How long is the train ride--1 and 1/2 hours? Does it only come back from Paddington Station? Is Paddington Station safe at night?
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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I don't know of any tours that combine both Bath and Oxford, although I suppose there might be some group nutty enough to try. You can not do both via public transportation. You need to eliminate one or do two day trips.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 02:27 PM
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"<i>If we take the train ourselves to Bath, would a zone 6 travel card get us there or do we need more?</i>"

A zone 6 travel card is just for London (buses/tube and very local trains). Bath is all the way across the country. You need to buy train tickets at Paddington - it a 1.5 hour train ride each way. About £60 return

"<i>How close is the train station to the tourist areas of bath? How long is the train ride</i>"

The train station is in the center of Bath

"<i>Does it only come back from Paddington Station? Is Paddington Station safe at night?</i>"

Yes. London is safe at night and Paddington is no different.

Now to get practical . . . Yes we may want to see and do it all. But just because we want something doesn't make it doable/possible.

• Oxford is a good day trip. And much cheaper train fares than to Bath
• Oxford/Blenheim is a doable (just barely) day trip. Due to the time getting back and forth from Blenheim, you'd really be cutting Oxford short.
• Bath is a totally doable day trip - but more expensive train fares.
• Salisbury/Stonehenge is an easily doable day trip.
• A Salisbury/Stonehenge/Bath day trip is really only practical via a guided (expensive) coach tour from London. To do it by public transport would really require an overnight somewhere.

So those are you real options . . . .

If you DID try to squeeze Oxford and Bath into one day w/ a driver guide you will pay a <B>fortune</B> and not have enough time in either place. 2.5-3 hour drive from central London to Bath. 4 hours absolute minimum in Bath (5 if you plan on eating anything), 1.5-2 hours drive to Oxford. Absolute minimum 4 hours in Oxford (5 if you plan on eating anything). 1.5 hours drive back to your hotel.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 05:01 PM
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RE
Last time I did this, I caught an 8:30 am train from Paddington, arrived in Bath shortly after 10am. After a ten minute walk from the station (exit station, walk straight on Manvers Street, turn left on North Parade, proceed past Sally Lunn’s to Abbey Green, turn right on Church Street), I arrived at the tourist info office next to the Abbey. Bought an indispensable and inexpensive town map and was in time to join a 10:30 am walking tour leaving from in front of the Abbey. I'd been to Bath before, staying a couple of days, but hadn’t been there for a long time. The 2-hour walking tour required comfortable shoes and energy, but was great.

After the tour I was back at the Abbey and had a great lunch at nearby (famous and touristy, but the food was good) Sally Lunn's. Then my map and I set out again to revisit some areas/museums I'd just seen or had seen on previous visits, Caught a 5:30 pm train back to London (there were later options, but I had dinner plans in London), tired but content.
Obviously, check train times.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 05:08 PM
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For what it is worth. We were in England this Sept. We decided to go to Bath. The train fare we paid was 19lb. roundtrip . We made reservations the end of June for mid sept. Our purpose, in addition to seeing Bath was to go on a tour of the Cotswolds. This required us to travel to Bath one day; then take a Mad Max (highly recommended) tour of the Cotswolds the next and then travel back to London on the 3rd day. I suppose we could have gone back to London after the tour but we wanted to enjoy Bath longer than that.
Bath is a great walkable city; very pretty area.
Whatever you do, you will enjoy the English countryside!
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 05:32 PM
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"<i>The train fare we paid was 19lb. roundtrip</i>"

yes, there can be bargain fares that must be booked well ahead. But I just picked a random date in Feb and the best I could get that day is £59 return (but other days could be cheaper).

I'm not sure if you posted when your trip is - normally advance purchase will save a lot of money but the best fares sell out early.

I just noticed "<i> . . . I have read that many people are disappointed with stonehenge because you have to see it from afar across the ropes</i>" No, you are not far from the stones. The distance does vary from about 25 feet to more than 150 feet from the stone circle.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Thanks Janisj and everyone for your comments.

I see from the comments that doing Bath and Oxford all in one day is not reasonable--too much driving and not enough time sight seeing.

We are going in July. How far in advance can you make train reservations to Bath? There appears to be a lot to see in Bath. We either have to choose between Oxford and Bath or make two separate day trips. I don't want to exhaust ourselves though.

Is it better to go on our own via train to Bath? I saw that Anderson tours runs a bus trip for 49£ that goes to Stonehenge for 45 minutes and then to Bath for the rest of the afternoon. That might be more economical than the 60£ train ride but then we don't have the freedom to do what we want and maximize time in Bath.

How long is the ride via train to Oxford if that is done on a separate day. I think I would stick to Oxford only and not combine with Blenheim--as you said too much in one day to conquer. If you go on your own via train how do you obtain entry into the Great Hall and the library to see where Harry Potter was filmed? I have lots of questions and I appreciate the feedback. Thanks again.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 07:23 PM
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You might consider Oxford Tube or Oxford Espress, two buses, that run from several stops in London directly to Oxford--we caught it at Marble Arch and it took about ?90? minutes. Much cheaper than train in general (I know there are some ways to save train fare). No need to book; just wait for bus. Their times, fares, and stops can be seen on their websites. The bus station in Oxford is in the center of town and therefore easy walking distance to all the "stuff" to see (well, generally speaking). This is how we got to Oxford from London in July 2008, quite happily. We road trains for 4 other day trips from London, so I can compare train with bus and say that both were great but the bus was cheaper for us to Oxord.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 01:52 AM
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We have been to Oxford (and Cambridge) a few times and you must check if the colleges and sights you want to see will be open to the public on the day you want to visit. There are times when they will be closed and if you have made a special trip it could be very disappointing. If the college you want to see is open, usually you just pay at the entrance and they will tell you where you are allowed to go. Some areas of the college will be out of bounds. Entrance is usually a few pounds.

Both Oxford and Cambridge offer guided walking tours of a couple of hours, they leave from the tourist office in the centre of town and details are on their websites. They are very interesting and get booked up quickly so if you are interested, get tickets as soon as you arrive then come back in time for the walk. There will also be a queue to buy tickets so take that into account.

Kay
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 03:54 AM
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I'm no expert on Harry Potter, but:

- the Hall in Christ Church is usually closed to visitors at and shortly before mealtimes. So it's typically not visitable from 12-2 and after 5-ish. It's rarely closed at any other time: but it's also used for civic and academic events, as well as for feeding undergraduates, so it's worth checking.
- Christ Church library is currently closed to most visitors, unless they're actually using it for study (looking at filmsets doesn't count as study). It will stay closed till mid-2010. But I don't think it had anything to do with Harry Potter films
- bits of the Potter films were shot at the Divinity Schools and Duke Humfrey's Library, both of which are part of the Bodleian Library. This is a working library, with limited access. You need to book a guided tour (about half a dozen a day)to see the interior of Duke Humfrey's Library: see www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/bodley/home
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 06:43 AM
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Sorry: I didn't read the poster's last post properly.

To see Christ Church Hall and cloisters, you need to buy a ticket to get into Christ Church (actually, you don't, quite: Christ Church houses Oxford cathedral, to which entry is free, and one way out from the cathedral is to go through the adjacent cloisters, past the side of the Hall. The
college servants, though, can smell the difference between a civilian tourist and a distinguished visiting American academic at 500 paces, even if they live next door to each other at home and stand guard to stop such abuse. But they're delighted to welcome you into their private cathedral) Ticket details at www.chch.ox.ac.uk

To see inside Duke Humfrey's library: guided tour at www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/bodley/home.

To see the exterior of the Divinity Schools, just walk to the Bodleian and look.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 09:38 AM
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KayF is correct about possible closures to visitors at the various Oxford University colleges, and note well that these closures can occur with little to no advance notice. Also, at certain times of the year (if memory serves, during exam periods and such), all the colleges are closed. If you have your heart set on seeing a specific college on a specific day, check their website ahead of time for scheduled closures -- and even after that, hope for the best.

That holds for the various Cambridge University colleges as well.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth-I have not seen Bath but did a day trip to Salisbury/Stonehenge in early Sept.{London Walks day tour}and thoroughly enjoyed it! I am really glad I didn't miss Stonehenge!
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