Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge logistics

May 15th, 2008, 07:50 AM
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Posts: 24,195
Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge logistics

After a few days in London, I plan to head to Bath, Salisbury & Stonehenge for 2-3 days; staying both nights in Salisbury. This is a last-minute trip for last week of May. I'll be using public transport.

Day 1
Morning train from Paddington to Bath.
Sightsee in Bath all day
Late afternoon train to Salisbury

Day 2
Morning to Stonehenge (regular tour)
Afternoon to Wilton House

Day 3
Morning in Salisbury
Afternoon leave for Heathrow (6pm flight to US)


1. I checked that there's no left luggage facilities at the Bath train station. I emailed the Bath tourism office, and the reply I got was I could leave it at the Backpackers hostel for a fee. I have emailed the hostel and awaiting reply. Has anyone done this? Or any other suggestions as to what to do with my rollaboard that day?

2. I plan to arrive in Bath by 9 or 9:30am. Should I go visit the Roman Baths first? I assume that will be the most crowded? How long does the Baths visit take?

3. Is it possible to see the Baths, No. 1 Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, The Circus all in 1 day? What about Holburne Museum or the Costume Museum/Assmebly Rooms? Worthwhile?

4. How is the Mayor Walking tour? It is offered at 10:30a and 2pm. If I arrive Bath at 9 and go visit the Roman Baths immediately, will I be done by 10:30am for the walkign tour?

5. Is the Pump Room the place to go for afternoon tea?

6. There is a train to Salisbury at 5:30p and one at 6:30p. Any thoughts on how long a day in Bath will take approximately?

7. Since Wilts& Dorset no longer runs the No.3 bus, I'll have to take the Stonehenge tour bus.

I have decided to skip the inner circle access tour this time given the expense of taking a taxi to get to Stonehenge at such early hour.

For the regular Stonehenge tour, I've read that it will take at least 1 hour? Someone mentioned there's an audioguide, right?

8. In the afternoon I plan to visit Wilton House. It looks like I can take Bus 60, 60A, or 61 to get there.
Can someone tell me if I need to buy a bus ticket first somewhere before I get on, or do I just pay the driver?

Salisbury to LHR
9. The National Express coach timetable won't work for me, so I looked up national rail.
The result comes out as:
SW train Salisbury-Woking (departs 13:45, arrives 14:49)
Scheduled Bus Woking - Heathrow Central Bus Station (departs 15:05, arrives 15:45)

Is anyone familiar with this? I'm a bit surprised by the bus part from Woking to Heathrow. Is it a special coach? Any insights to this would be much appreciated.

Question 10:
On some of these train trips, it is a lot cheaper to buy the advance ticket thru National Rail. I understand it is nonrefundable and good for the date/time of the specific train.
Will I (living in the US) run into trouble buying them? Once I buy it, do I print a ticket at home or do I pick it up at a window at the station, or do I use some e-kiosk to print it out?

Question 11:
Suggestions for lunch dinner in Salisbury? I'll be dining alone. Prefer to be no more than 25-30 pounds (not including alcohol).

Thanks very much in advance for reading this long post and for any input you may have.
yk is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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yk is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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You know you'll be paying much more to travel early, I presume. Yes, do the baths first - they get very busy indeed. Allow 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The walking tour works out at around the same, so if you do manage to get the morning one, you'll only have the afternoon left to fit in your other attractions (though you should see the Circus during the walk). I highly recommend the walking tour. The Abbey doesn't take most people long, and nor do the Assembly Rooms. IIRC 1 the Royal Crescent is around 1/2 hour to an hour. Play it by ear to see how much time you have left. I'd skip the costume museum and probably also the Holburne (although I enoyed it) just because of the time question, especially as you're planning on tea as well.

The Pump Room has a charming atmosphere, but is very expensive, and it looks like cost is a factor in your decisions. There are other options, e.g. Sally Lunn's, and frankly loads of perfectly decent places to have tea.

Lunch in Salisbury: If you want a main meal then I'd recommend the Lemon Tree, which is very good and right around your budget:

If you'd be happy with a lighter meal (soup, sandwiches, delicious cakes), I always go to the Polly Tearooms next to St Thomas'Church, just round from the marketplace. You can't book, and there's sometimes a queue at lunch time, but it's very nice.

Bus to Wilton: just pay the driver. Having the exact change is helpful.
Nonconformist is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Only time to answer a couple of your questions right now. I agree w/ nonconformist to allow a minimum of 90 mins for the Baths and 2 hours is more like it. Go there first thing because the coach tours arrive a bit later and it gets more crowded as the day goes on.

Yes - PLENTY of time in a day to see the Baths, the Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, Royal Crescent, Royal Circus, Victoria Park, and the Museum of Costume in one day - and time to do the Guide Friday H-o-H-o bus tour too. That will get you up on to Lansdowne Crescent for a view across the whole city.

I also agree w/ nonconformist about the Pump room - you will walk through it as you exit the Baths and can taste the Bath water but I'd go elsewhere to actually have afternoon tea. The Pump Room is very nice but it seems you are on a bit of a budget and it is pretty expensive.

And yes - there is an audioguide at Stonehenge and well worth getting.
janisj is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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I checked National Rail website again. If I take the 7am (GASP!) train from Paddington, I'll get in at 8:30am. The advance ticket price for this is only £9.50.

I'm thinking,
9a-10:30a Roman Baths
10:30a- 12:30p Mayors Walking tour (as it starts right next to the Baths)
then from 1:30p to ~5:30p I'm free to see the rest.

Otherwise, the other option:
9a-11a Roman Baths
11a-2p other sites, lunch
2-4p Mayors Walking tour
4-5:30p rest of sites

Since I am not taking the Stonehenge inner access tour, should I skip it completely (save for next time) and take the regular bus to Avebury instead?

I checked the bus schedule,
bus leaves Salisbury 9:20a and arrives Avebury ~11am

Spend 1 hour at Avebury

Bus leaves Avebury ~ 12noon and arrives Salisbury 1:40pm.

if I skip lunch, I should still have enough time to visit Wilton House (closes at 5pm)?

Can anyone comment on the online purchase for National Rail?
yk is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:08 PM
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I'd like your "other option" better. It would be a shame to have to rush through the Baths to make the morning Mayor's walk if you really got into the Baths.

Bath is very compact and you can easily walk from The Abbey/Baths to the Royal Crescent in no time - it is barely 1/2 a mile. Call it 3/4 a mile if you meander up and down streets and around the Circus as you make your way.

I'd probably do the Baths/Abbey. Have tea or morning coffee/snack right out front, go to the Costume museum, have lunch and then meet up w/ the Mayor's afternoon walk. Then afterwards, you have plenty of time to see things the walk didn't cover.

As for Stonehenge -- IMO it is well worth it even w/o inner access. Don't think of the stones being fenced off. It is just a rope and in some places you get quite close to the stones.
janisj is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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I've not been to Bath, but my vote is to take the 6:30pm train to Salisbury. That extra hour would most likely be more useful to you in Bath than in the evening at Salisbury.

If you wish to go to the Lemon Tree, I'd consider booking ahead. The evening that we were there, several of the restaurants we tried were full.

I'd definitely do Stonehenge. If you get back to Salisbury another time you can do the Stone Circle access and also see Avebury. Old Sarum is something else I wish I'd seen.

noe847 is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 08:13 PM
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I'm guessing that if it's mid-week you won't have a problem with not booking the Lemon Tree, at least not more than a few hours ahead. There are other options in Salisbury. Ask at your B&B.
historytraveler is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 05:08 AM
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I'm replying to my own question after some more research.

<< Salisbury to LHR
9. The National Express coach timetable won't work for me, so I looked up national rail.
The result comes out as:
SW train Salisbury-Woking (departs 13:45, arrives 14:49)
Scheduled Bus Woking - Heathrow Central Bus Station (departs 15:05, arrives 15:45)

Is anyone familiar with this? I'm a bit surprised by the bus part from Woking to Heathrow. Is it a special coach? Any insights to this would be much appreciated. >>

According to South West Train website, this is called the Railair. The Heathrow-Woking journey is operated by National Express coach.

"On arrival by train at Woking station, follow the Railair signs to the exit on platform 5. There are lifts on all platforms. The coach leaves from immediately outside the station."

Now it makes me feel better.
yk is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 06:35 AM
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Bath is pretty compact. And you can do your own walking tour if you have a map - I found this tour here on fodors and it is pretty good...

The path at the back of the Royal Circus is signed, I can't remember what it is called, and there is a small Georgian garden just off to see as well.

Have a good time!
julia_t is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 06:47 AM
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I recently researched the exact schedule you are looking at from Salisbury to LHR via Woking. At the last minute we hired a driver (for two people the cost was only slightly more). I can't answered your question regarding the type of bus from Woking to LHR, but I'm certain the route is manageable and you'll have no problems.
historytraveler is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 06:47 AM
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Now I feel like I'm talking to myself.

Regarding the Bath luggage storage issue, I did not hear back from the BackPackers Hostel. When push comes to shove, I picked up the phone and called the Hostel. The person who answered assured me that they certainly will hold luggage for a fee of £2.50.

It was also a slight challenge in terms of buying the train tickets in advance. The routes London-Bath and Bath-Salisbury are served by Great Western train. I got some help by reading advice on Tripadvisor forum.

When I registered on the Great Western website, it wouldn't let me without having a UK postcode. I used the Salibury B&B post code and was able to register. Then I re logged in to change the address (otherwise the CC billing address would be the B&B address). After I did that, I clicked on Great Western logo to buy my ticket, but I was re-directed to TheTrainLine website (which charges a fee for purchase).

I logged out, closed the browser. Then open a new browser and logged in again at Great Western. This time I was able to purchase directly from them using my US CC and US billing address. No fees.

Also, thanks for the rec for The Lemon Tree. I probably will go ahead and make a dinner reservation. I will be in Salisbury during the International Art Festival.
yk is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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I have fond memories of a meal in Salisbury. We got prepared food from Marks & Spencer and ate on a bench on the cathedral green facing the cathedral. I distinctly remember strawberries and cream.

I hate to think of how many meals I've eaten from M&S.
Mimar is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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How funny! My memory of my first "bought it myself" meal, while on an EF tour with high school students in 2005, was of fresh fruit and a salad from Marks and Spencer in Salisbury, sitting with my DD eating on a bench, watching people stroll by. Now I'm looking forward to visiting the same MandS in late July (8 weeks from next Tuesday we leave!) with my DH this time, just for fun, when I "take" him to Salisbury and Stonehenge for the day. Those little memories from my 2005 trip of grabbing bites at odd shops and M and S are as precious to me as if I'd spent tons at an expensive restaurants.
texasbookworm is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 12:07 PM
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Why don't you rent a car and drive yourself? That way you can see nearby Avebury, as well. That's what I did back in 2002, and it made it so much easier to see everything I wanted to see. Just make sure you pay attention to what the outside of your rental car looks like (so you can find where you've parked it)---and remember that you get in and drive from the "passenger side."
carol22 is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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carol22 - I really would rather not drive. I guess i'll drive if someone puts a gun to my head.
It'll be difficult driving on the "wrong" side of the road, by myself w/o navigation, and not knowing how to drive a stick. Oh, and this will be around the Bank Holiday when the whole area gets packed with tourists.
yk is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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You can do this without a car. I think you'll manage fine. So far you've done a good job in researching information and appear remarkably capable.
historytraveler is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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RE: Bath. I have done all that in Bath, in 1 day, on daytrips from London & back by train. Have done it a couple of times. Once by myself, & then the next trip with my wife included, & then the third trip with our 2 boys included. Each trip we have done all that & a bit more, including a visit on the Pulteney Bridge & a boat ride on the Avon river. & was back in London by 8:30 - 9pm, after having arrived in Bath by train about 9:30am - 10am. So you should be able to do your touring in 1 day & be able to go on to Salisbury that evening.
Bill_I is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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yk, please accept my congratulations. It is rare to have a post so well thought out.

You can get a very good lunch at the Salisbury Cathedral as you can at many other cathedrals in the UK. I do this whenever possible.

I don't remember the name of the restaurant but we had a pleasant dinner on the terrace overlooking the river near Sainsburys. It was 4 or 5 years ago so I can't vouch for the food.
jsmith is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 04:01 PM
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Yes you can have lunch at the Salisbury Cathedral but not an especially good one. For better options try Monpesson House in the Close. They have a nice place with good sandwiches and soup. Likewise the Salisbury and Wiltshire Museum have a good cafe. In town Polly's Tea Room has good soup and sandwiches and is just opposite St. Thomas Church.
If staying at Cathedral Cottage you probably won't need much more than tea & scone.
historytraveler is offline  

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