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Best countryside in England to see in 1 week?

Best countryside in England to see in 1 week?

Old Aug 8th, 2008, 12:14 AM
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Best countryside in England to see in 1 week?

My husband and I are spending 2 weeks + a day in England this fall. We plan to spend 7 days in London. That leaves 8 days in which to see some splendid English countryside and charming little towns and an old castle, perhaps. We know we want to visit Bath.

Any other recommendations on where to go? The best place/places to spend that other week? It's our first trip to England and there are so many wonderful places it's hard to choose -- the Cotswolds? Wales? Cornwall? the Lake District? I know we have to pick one or two and do them well. But which?!

I did post a msg asking for advice on Lake District vs. Cornwall, and had some helpful advice from janisj on logistics, but I'm looking for input on the places themselves. They're all worth seeing, but which is the most worth seeingest? Seasoned travelers, residents? Your advice, please!
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 01:11 AM
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I don't work for their tourist industry, honestly, but why not spend a few days in Norfolk or Suffolk?
You will certainly see some charming little towns and villages and at least two castles.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 01:14 AM
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As you say, you are spoilt for choice and your only problem is making a decision.
I live in North Yorkshire and my suggestion for you would be to visit the North Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. You would need at least a couple of days for each, although I could give you enough suggestions for things to see and do up here to keep you busy for weeks.
You would need a car to do this successfully. Both cover a large area, are National Parks and are stunningly beautiful. As well as some of the most beautiful scenery you will find anywhere there are numerous castles, picturesque towns and villages, and many ruined abbeys. Also the people are very friendly and the local food is wonderful, especially Yorkshire pudding and Wensleydale cheese.
Some highlights of this area include Fountains Abbey (world heritage site), Castle Howard, Jervaulx, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay(on the coast).
A nice thing to do is stay in a B and B on a farm, or in a small village. This website gives you lots of ideas.
Give me a yell if North Yorkshire appeals and you have any questions.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 01:17 AM
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You do not say how you are travelling. But seeing you are visiting Bath and only 7 days, then stick to somewhere like Somerset. Here you can see lots of English heritage.
Here is a good list of things to see.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 01:22 AM
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If you are going to Bath then why not Somerset/Dorset/North Devon. Plenty of countryside, old towns and villages, and a castle or two. Throw in Longleat and you even get a stately home.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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I would head to Ely for a couple of nights then head up to York, use it for a base and explore for 3/4 days. Off to Chester on the Welsh border. Explore for a couple days and then down to Bath after a drive to/in Hereford and Cardiff. But, then again, hard to go very wrong no matter what!!
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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Bath and the west/south west is wonderful of course. And spending your week in the Cotswolds/Somerset/Dorset would be great - especially since that makes it convenient to fit Bath in.

I used to live near the Cotswolds and spend some of almost every trip to the UK in/near there. I love, LOVE the area.

BUT - I might suggest doing Bath as a day trip from London. Bath is very compact and taking a morning train would let you have a full day in Bath, have dinner there and be back in London by 9:00 or 10PM. Doing Bath as a day trip frees you up to go entirely different areas for your other week. Suffolk/Norfolk (3 days) and Yorkshire (5 days) would be a nice 8 days.

Or Kent/East Sussex (5 days) and Norfolk/Suffolk (3 days). (There are more castles/gardens per square mile in Kent/East Sussex than just about anywhere else in the country).

And to muddy up the waters more - the best weather would likely be in the SW so you could do Dorset/Devon/Cornwall visiting Bath on your way back to before flying out.

You really can't make a bad choice - just don't spread yourselves too thing by trying to go too many places.

Which airport are you using? That might have some bearing on what areas make most sense.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Oh dear, I am drooling at all these suggestions. We actually tried to organize a house swap in Devon (which didn't work out) so that's very appealing, but Yorkshire has a special place in my heart, too!
Thank you for all the generous advice. Lots of fodder here -- just what I was looking for. We are going to sit down with a map and the rail web site and try and make some decisions this weekend.
We fly into Heathrow, by the way, and planned to take the train to Bath and/or Yorkshire, but could then rent a car to get around. (Though I'm a tiny bit nervous about driving on the other side of the road...)
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 08:50 PM
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i ahve yet to see a part of england that i did not love....

a nice trip might be a few days in the cotswolds where you can drive in a few hours from london...suggest picking your car up at heathrow however...

from there i would venture over to wales and wind back through devon...
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Old Aug 11th, 2008, 12:52 AM
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Fantastic coastline.
More castles per square mile than anywhere else in England.
Wonderful countryside, hill walks and history...


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Old Aug 11th, 2008, 02:47 AM
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Another vote for North Devon (which is close to Bath).

We were glad that Fodorites (especially FlannerUK) advised us to curtail our stay in the Cotswolds (one day will be enough to see half a dozen towns with honey-coloured houses) and to extend our stay in North Devon.

I am currently posting a trip report:

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Old Aug 11th, 2008, 04:23 AM
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Although we won't be travelling to the area until the fall, here is our itinerary for a week in south Devon, and a week in the Somerset/Bath area. We are renting a different cottage for each week and will be travelling about by car. You might find something in our plans helpful.

South Devon:

Friday - Train to Taunton. Pick up
rental car. Drive to cottage. On way see *Killerton (* means covered by Great British Heritage Pass). See
Bickleigh, nearby, a very pretty village and Bickeigh Mill – shops, pottery, etc. Pick up groceries.
Check into cottage.

Sat. - Market day in Totnes. Lots of secondhand bookshops. Follow self-guided walk of town from Internet. *Totnes Castle – excellent views. Go to Dartington, see Cider Press Centre – markets kitchenware, and crafts. Lunch at Cott Inn. *Coleton Fishacre House & Garden. Dinner: Green Dragon, Stoke Fleming.

Sun - Bigbury on Sea – Burgh Island. Pint at Pilchard Inn(?). Can walk across at low tide or take tractor. (Note: main bar for locals and hotel residents only). Picnic lunch at Bantham Beach. *Saltram House.

Mon – *Powderham Castle. Topsham – full of narrow streets and hidden
courtyards, rich in 18th c. houses and inns. Topsham Museum has period-furnished rooms, memorabilia belonging to Vivien Leigh. The Devon Guild of Craftsmen at Bovey Tracey and Church. Lunch/cream tea at The Old Cottage Tea Shop.

Tuesday - On drive from Dartmouth to Kingsbridge, stop at beach at Slapton sands, where they practiced the Normandy landings. Salcombe – pretty fishing village. Hope Cove. Follow some beautiful walks and beaches on National Trust website. Cockington – thatched cottages, chocolate-box village. Horse-drawn carriages take you to sea front.
Drum Inn here designed by Edwin Lutyens. If time permits visit *Overbecks Museum & Garden. Prawle Point – views are ***

Wed. - *Compton Castle. Torquay – Torre Abbey Mansion. Self-guided Agatha Christie walk. Visit beaches at Dawlish, one of UK's top 5.

Thurs. - Dartmouth, lovely riverside town, with lots of pubs,
bookshops and antique stores. Take a boat ride, passing Agatha Christie's house, return by steam train & bus via Paignton. *Dartmouth Castle for excellent views. Berry Head – views.

Fri. - Drive to Somerset/Bath area cottage. On the way see: *Cleeve Abbey and *Coleridge Cottage at Nether Stowey. Check into cottage.

Sat. - *Dyrham Park. *Berkeley Castle.

Sun - *Avebury Museum. Red Lion Pub recommended. *Lacock Abbey. If time permits, probably won't, *Bowood House & Gardens.

Mon. Park & Ride into Bath. *Roman Baths & Pump Room. *Museum of Costume. *Georgian House. Abbey. Pulteney Bridge and Parade Gardens. If time permits, *The Courts garden.

Tues. - Wells Cathedral. Bishop's Palace. Self guided walking tour of town. Lunch at Goodfellows Patisserie near the cathedral. Glastonbury Abbey and Glastonbury Tor. If time permits might see Wookey Hole Coves or late afternoon stroll around *Stourhead and dinner at Spread Eagle Inn.

Wed. - *Sherborne Castle. *Lytes Cary Manor. *Mulcheney Abbey. Dinner in Bradford-on-Avon.

Thurs. - *Montacute House. *Forde Abbey. If time permits *Barrington Court.

Fri. - Drive to Taunton. Drop off rental car. Return to London.
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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Thank you all, again, for the generous feedback and advice, and for the itineraries and helpful links. I'll owe a big debt to this group by the time we get on that plane!

So after two weeks of awful work deadlines we are back on trip detail and on the verge of making our decision! If anyone's still around, one last question: I know the weather is bound to be milder in SW England, but what's it typically like in the last two weeks of September up furhter north -- Yorkshire or Northumberland? (I suppose I should mention I'm from Canada, things always being relative...)
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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"I know the weather is bound to be milder in SW England, but what's it typically like in the last two weeks of September up furhter north -- Yorkshire or Northumberland?"

If we could tell you anything about the weather we should play the lottery

You could have absolutely anything (except snow and 90ºF) in any of those places. Don't pick your destination based on weather. The chances are it could be better down south - but no guarantees.

Wherever you choose - just plan layers since it won't be terribly cold, but it definitely can be cool.
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 09:59 PM
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My wife and I did our first trip to England in early May 2008 with my sister. Started in London, took the train to York, left York in a rental car to the Yorkshire Dales, Headed to Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay, saw Castle Howard, then on to Wensleydale, Hawes and finally ended in Manchester. We drove through the Dales everywhere and we were told it is even better in the fall. The trip was great - we used B&B's and hotels. The driving was different but we did fine. One note - when driving through the Dales many of the roads are narrow with no shoulder so you do have to take care when oncoming cars approach. The people were great! The food was great and everywhere we met very friendly people. Morgana gave us lots of good advice so ask her if you have specific questions. Oh the weather should have been cold - but it was sunny every day and the temperatures were fantastic. A perfect trip if there ever was one. Enjoy - we did!
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 04:50 AM
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Morgana and I tend to agree (I live in West Yorkshire, she in North) and the area she is talking about is dramatic by English standards. If you want more hills you need Wales or the lake district.

I push for a mixture of WEst and North Yorkshire. By Train we are only 2 to 3 hours from London. Leeds is a small central urban area with good links to York and the cathedral, while the area North of Leeds has rivers,local brewaries, small towns, villages and loads of sheep.

What more could you want
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 05:44 AM
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As far as the weather goes, please don't think about North Yorkshire being 'the frozen north' or anything like that. I was born and brought up in the south-east of England, but have lived in North Yorkshire for several years now. I experienced more snow living down south than I have ever had living up here (and you won't get snow when you plan to travel, I promise!). My family all live down south and if it is T shirt weather for them then the chances are it is t shirt weather for me too - the temperature difference will only be slight, if at all.
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 06:07 AM
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 07:58 AM
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Well, just to advance another point of view. (Actually I agree with all the other posters.)

We liked the time we spent on the south coast: Rye, Hastings/Battle, Brighton, Portsmouth. There's all sorts of things to see around there. We are interested in Roman remains and went to Fishbourne Roman Palace as well as the Roman villa at Bognor. Other highlights were Bodiam Castle and Nelson's ship, HMS Victory, at Portsmouth's Historic Shipyard. If I went again, I'd go to Leeds Castle and maybe see the Roman remains at Dover Castle.

We spent some nights at a B&B in Bosham, near Chicester. Bosham is a quiet super quaint village. Rye is bigger but equally quaint. I especially like the South Downs scenery.
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 10:19 AM
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I don't want to hijack this thread, but this is for rickmav...

I really enjoyed your report of the Christmas you spent in the north Cotswolds. I live further south but still in the Cotswolds, and would love to meet up with you when you return to England - a mini fodors GTG! You are visiting some of my favourite places too - many summers have I spent in Salcombe and the South Hams!

Perhaps when you are around Berkeley Castle, Avebury, or in Bath we could meet up? I live about 45 minutes drive from each place.

And plieasfogg, if you eventually decide on the Bath area, I'd be happy to meet you and your husband for a coffee, drink or meal.

I don't know the Lake District having only spent a couple of days there many moons ago, and I don't know the popular part of the Cotswolds very well either as I live further south, but I adore where I live, it is incredibly picturesque and really quite un-touristy.

If you are intereseted in a mini GTG then post back and I'll provide an email address.
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