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Best day trip from London?Warwick Castle or Avebury?

Best day trip from London?Warwick Castle or Avebury?

Old Jan 17th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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Best day trip from London?Warwick Castle or Avebury?

We want to take a day trip to see the English countryside and were thinking of the Cotswolds, specifically Avebury, or Warwick Castle. We have four teenagers and will be travelling in late July. What are your thoughts??
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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It really stretches the definition to suggest that Avebury is located in the Cotswolds. Avebury is the best if your teens have a vital interest in neolithic henges. Cotswolds are the best if they have never seen wooded, green rolling hills. Warwick Castle is the best if they have nver seen a great medieval castle.

If I was your teen, I would ask to go to Brighton.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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Well Avebury isn't really in the Cotswolds -- it is about 60 miles west of London in Wiltshire. More convenient pairings w/ Avebury would be Stonehenge and Salisbury, or Bath.

Warwick Castle alone will take more than 1/2 a day and most kids are swept away by it. There is just so much to see. On a driving day trip to Warwick, you could also squeeze in a short visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, or a quick drive through some northern Cotswold villages. It is light late so even after the Castle closes you would have a few hours to drive through the Cotswolds enroute back to London.


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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 10:36 AM
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That Avebury isn't in the Cotswolds isn't just pedantry: the countryside round Avebury is relatively flat (though far from steppe-like) and little wooded. The area just doesn't feel like all those Little Bourton by the Wold places the cliche tourist books yammer on about.

And it, and the area round it, couldn't be more different from Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle is a comercially operated (by the Mme Tussauds people) tourist trap. Many rave over it: I'd pay good money never to go there again. But it's for people who want their history pre-digested.

Avebury, and the many prehistoric sites around it, are for people with imagination. It's all pretty much open sites, with virtually no signage and certainly no costumed actors. You really need at least one of you to have read itb all up beforehand. If your children have had imagination and curiosity destroyed by Playstation and the like, Warwick's better. And Brighton may well be better yet. IMHO, unless they're already old fogeys, keep them away from the real Cotswolds.

If they enjoy and appreciate Avebury, however, they're prime material for places at Oxbridge or the more academic Ivy League universities. A great trst of intelectual character.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts. Tell me more about Brighton.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 06:20 PM
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Just a comment: You might want to consider a rather close-in trip to Windsor and the castle there. It's a pleasant area, a charming village on the Thames. Brighton is certainly the "Atlantic City" of England, for all the good and bad that implies, and it would probably be fun. But if I wanted a waterfront experience, I'd probably head for the Isle of Wight instead. Lots of charming villages along the shore, and plenty of places to stop and explore.

However, if you head in the other direction to the Cotswold hills, you might consider Oxford and even farther to Cheltenham, two of my favorites. Good luck.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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Well here's my take on it.

Avebury - cute little village, but you can see it in about 5 minutes. The stones are interesting, but not a real "wow" kind of place. You have to think about what it looked like when it was complete, and the meaning behind it and all. If you don't have an interest in that time period it's probably not worth it. Surrounding area kind of boring. Stonehenge was definitly more of a "wow".

Warwick - I don't care if it is touristy, it's a beautiful castle in a beautiful setting, in a nice little town. If you don't like wax figures you can skip that part, but I thought it was rather well done. For a point of reference, I would never even think of wasting my time at Mme Troussaud's in London (or anywhere else) but I thought the display at Warwick Castle was pretty good. And the town was quite pleasant to wander around and poke in the antique shops, have tea, etc. Plus it's very easily done by train from London.

Cotswolds - lovely towns, some more touristy than others. Not sure four teenagers would find them that interesting, though I did visit the area with my daughter when she was 16 snd she liked it.

Cambridge - very interesting mid size town/small city. Beautiful architecture, some interesting shopping. But be careful - after seeing Cambridge my daughter decided THAT was where she wanted to go to college! She even got in (as an exchange student) but we couldn't afford the tuition. She's in London instead right now doing day trips (frequently) to Oxford and Cambridge. Absolutely loves it there.

Brighton - OK for a half day trip on the train from London. The Pavillion was interesting, the Pier was OK. Rest of the town wasn't anything special in my opinion.

Are you driving? How much time do you have? I'd probably concentrate on Oxford/Cambridge/Warwick - which fortunately for you are all sort of in the same area. If you are interested I have photos of all those places. You can see them at: www.pbase.com/annforcier/england&page=all
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 07:07 PM
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Warwick would be my pick w/teenagers. It's a neat castle and not really hokey. If you have a car you can visit other nearby towns. I think they would enjoy it.

Otherwise, I'd opt for a London Walks trip to Windsor & Eton. The kids can see the school we all know about and walk around the castle and you can even stay late for evensong at the church there, have dinner and take a later train back to London. That's what I did and it made a lovely day. You, of course, can do this on your own but the guide made it more interesting.

I, personally, thought Brighton was a very dumpy city (I was warned ahead of time). The Pavilion was o.k. but rather overly glitzy, walked to the beach thru a rather trashy main street but didn't go to the pier, only glanced at it. I was so disappointed; expected Brighton to be right out of an Agatha Christie novel.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 07:52 PM
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My kids went to Warwick Castle when they were 5 & 7 and loved it. It may be a bit "disney" like with characters in period costumes, reenactment of sword fights with knights in armor on horse back. Lots of hand-on activities such as cross-bow shooting and medieval games. There are also various medieval armor and helmets to try on and they are heavy! The castle itself is beautifully preserved and the route nicely guides you through the inside and outside of the castle. We had a wonderful day there. It was a easy and relaxing ride from Paddington station in London.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 08:06 PM
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Isabel: I think you may be a little confused. Cambridge is nowhere near Warwick and/or Oxford.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 09:02 PM
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isabel: pretty good "take" on the various options, except I'd rate Avebury higher for myself (but not necessarily for teenagers). Spread out enough to avoid overcrowding and allow room for mood and contemplation, Avebury can - as flanneruk says - occupy the 'thinking' person for an hour or more - unlike the fenced-off desensitised overcrowded and over-commercialised disappointment that Stonehenge has become.
But that aside, methinks teenagers might get more joy from Warwick Castle, plastic and prepackaged though it is. Sad, but there you are...!
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Old Jan 18th, 2005, 04:47 AM
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janis - I guess it depends on your definition of "near to each other". Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick are all a little north of London, as oppossed to Brighton which is south, or Stonehendge/Avebury which are west. I'm sure you know England better than I do, but if they were driving it seems like it would be possible to head in that direction and do them all. Probably not in one day, at least I wouldn't. But you do hear of people who do things like go all the way to York on a day trip, and compared to that, Cambridge/Oxford/Warwick are "relataively" near each other. Sorry to be confusing.
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