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Day trip from London to Blenheim palace & Cotswolds

Day trip from London to Blenheim palace & Cotswolds

Nov 2nd, 2009, 05:56 AM
  #1  
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Day trip from London to Blenheim palace & Cotswolds

We are planning a trip for next year and would like to do a day tour from London. Unfortunately with our time table we would like to do it on a Thursday. However, all the tours I have found on the internet seem to do them only on Wednesday and Friday. Is anyone aware of a Thursday tour company. I know we could just take the train to Oxford and the bus to Blenheim, but the cotswolds area is another 30 minutes. Any suggestions?
Thanks
ReillyQ is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Have you checked www.walks.com explorer days?
jamikins is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 06:50 AM
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jamikins - London Walks doesn't seem to have a Blenheim + Cotswolds Explorer Day, but they do have Blenheim+Oxford and Oxford+Cotswolds. The Oxford/Cotswolds trips are on Wednesdays, unless they change the schedule for next year; I took that one in June and really enjoyed it as a good overview of the area and town. But if the OP is locked into Thursday it may not work. I'm not sure what day the Blenheim/Oxford day is; they only have one trip listed on their web site right now.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:26 AM
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IMO cannot do Blenheim and Cotswolds by public transportation in one day - not a feasible day anyway. Blenheim is easier by public transport - buses from Oxford to Woodstock are frequent. Otherwise to Cotswolds you have to pick one wool town like Stow-on-the-Wold if going by train and perhaps hop a bus to another one with train service to return to London.
Palenque is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:58 AM
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There are actually several Cotswolds touring companies.I've never used any of them as I've always had a car. I don't know if any will work out for you but have a look.

www.madmax.abel.co.uk
www.cotswold-tours.com
www.cotswoldvillagetours.com
historytraveler is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Sorry that should have been www.cotswoldvillagestours.co.uk
historytraveler is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 08:46 AM
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Re historytraveler's links:

• MadMax leaves from Bath so not convenient for the OP.

• Cotswold Village Tours doesn't do Cotswolds/Blenheim on Thurs so won't work for the OP

• Something like Cotswlod-Tours is probably your best bet -- a private-hire tour guide.
janisj is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 09:13 AM
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"cannot do Blenheim and Cotswolds by public transportation in one day"

Since it's a few hundred yards from Blenheim's NW (Ditchley) gate to the first "The Cotswolds start here" sign , that obviously depends on what you mean by "do"

Why bother with a tour? Either:

- buy a copy of the OS 180 map and walk the 7 miles from Blenheim (starting off on Akeman St, the Roman road that runs through the park of Blenheim), through Coombe (for its medieval wall paintings), South Leigh Roman villa and Stonesfield (where the first dinosaur ever to be identified was excavated) to Charlbury. Get the train from there back to London, or
- get a taxi the 12 miles to Burford, do the stuff there, do the circular walk to Widford and Swinbrook (Britain's finest short country walk) then get a taxi back to Charlbury (or the Swanbrook bus to Oxford if the timetable suits) for the train back.

You'll see tons of Cotswolds and scarcely a single charabanc of bored tourists.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 10:11 AM
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To see Blenheim and much of the Costwolds in one day isn;t realistic. You can probable see one town - but to see "the Cotswolds" is at least 2/3 days by itself.

If you really want to do Blenheim and one of the closer towns I would just rent a car for the day and do it on your own schedule.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 11:40 PM
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The Cotswolds run NE/SW for about 50 miles, so you are going to be highly selective and miss nearly everything anyway, so do try and make the best choices! It is full of magnificent houses, gardens, picturesque villages, great pubs and churches, and the walks are superb. I live here, I know.

The tours the OP speaks of only visit those (few) destinations with a large coach park, and they are precisely the places we locals generally avoid unless we want an overpriced cup of tea in a sweaty cafe and a souvenir teddy bear. The nicest places are down narrow lanes with parking for a few cars.

I'd say, do either Blenheim or Oxford in a day (Oxford, by the way, is a very crowded town with most of the gems hidden behind high gated walls, and unless you visit when some of the finest colleges are open (e.g. New College, Magdalen, Christ Church, Merton), you'll wonder why you went). And you need time to savour the place, which means some walking down the river(s) and maybe hiring a punt for an hour, and/or sussing out the more interesting "inner city" suburbs like Jericho or the Cowley Road.

Blenheim Palace is a moneyspinner for the Duke of Marlborough so he's dead keen to keep you in the palace grounds and park, which are fantastic, but the adjoining little town of Woodstock in fantastic too and surprisingly laid back. The coach will park in the palace coach park: the bus every 30 mins from Oxford will drop you in the town.

If you do try and cover more ground in a day (must you!?) then see if the Traveline website can plan bus journeys for you. There is no need to taxi from Oxford to Burford, for instance, despite the advice above, and there is no train station at Stow on the Wold. I think you are trying to plan the impossible, but whatever you come up with, you will enjoy it. And I agree the walk that flanneruk suggests is a great way to spend the day, and it's easy going.
charlburylocal is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:04 AM
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"There is no need to taxi from Oxford to Burford, for instance, despite the advice above"

No-one gave any such advice. There's no alternative - other than walking - to a taxi from Blenheim to Burford
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:26 PM
  #12  
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Hi Everyone
Thanks for all the help and information. We have always done independent traveling in 4 trips to Europe (the last in 2003) and this website was always a great help (especially when faxes and the internet were not as readily available 25 years ago on our first trip, as they are now). This trip in the middle includes a 13 day escorted tour (did not want to deal with a stick shift "on the left")but we are doing extra days on the front end in London and the back end in Ireland. The tour actually will go to part of the cotswolds and Stratford, but we wanted more. The London walks looks wonderful. I contacted them, but it is too early to know if they will do Blenheim next year. The easiest solution is add another front end day so we will be there on Wednesday if London walks does have it and if not we can find another tour that day.

Thanks again for the input and links,
ReillyQ is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Just to clarify - the Wednesday walk I was talking about was Oxford and the Cotswolds, but did not go to Blenheim. That doesn't mean they won't have a Blenheim trip on Wednesdays next year, of course (and I did enjoy the Oxford/Cotswolds tour), but I wanted to make sure my meaning was clear!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:45 PM
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flanner on other threads has said in no uncertain terms that Blenheim is a blight - an awful pile of architecture - a waste of time and on and on and on.
Palenque is offline  
Nov 6th, 2009, 04:05 PM
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There were a couple of supporters for seeing Blenheim. In "10,000 places to see before you die" they call it Britain's most perfect Baroque Palace, with the grounds being a major draw. Rick Steves also thought it worthy of a visit. It seemed a nice stopping place with Oxford and the Cotswolds.
ReillyQ is offline  
Nov 6th, 2009, 04:57 PM
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Ya gotta understand -- flanner is a next door neighbor (or practically so) to the Palace. He has strong opinions about the place.

I personally love Blenheim - but that is not a universal opinion. I think the interiors are amazing and the grounds/lake are lovely. For others it is very much of a much -- an over the top monstrosity.

I certainly would not go based on Rick Steves recommendation . . .
janisj is offline  
Nov 7th, 2009, 03:48 AM
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For the record:

Flanner has never said Blenheim is a waste of time.

Like most of Marlborough's contemporaries (and most of the Churchills' current neighbours, I think the place is hideous, a criminal destruction of good landscape, a monument to the corruption of Queen Anne's court (particularly disgraceful since both she and her predecessor were, in a sense, local girls) and testimony to the first Duke's successors sharing his bad taste, greed and egotism - without any of his redeeming features. (I said successors. NOT descendants)

Its gardens AREN'T like that. They're pleasant, though, unlike almost every other garden in Britain for the past 300 years, crassly insensitive to the landscape they've been imposed on. But they scarcely differ in any significant way from every municipal park in the English-speaking world - in fairness, because those parks ultimately got most of their ideas from the Blenheim garden designer's.

Others, I believe, see things differently. This Mr Steeves person occasionally crops up on this forum - always, as far as I can see, displaying remarkable ignorance of life in Europe. Is he some kind of PR hack Europe's more cliche-ed rotten sights pay to drum up trade?

The Palace most certainly isn't a waste of time, since awfulness on such a scale is almost unheard of elsewhere in Britain. It IS Britain's most perfect Baroque palace, since Baroque isn't a native British style (the Catholic church at its authoritarian nadir invented it, and Protestant England saw it as representing all the reasons they were right to reject the Papacy). After seeing Blenheim no-one with any taste here saw any point in importing it again so if you're in England and want to see worthwhile Baroque: take a cheap flight to Rome

Blenheim IS, though, in my view, an incomprehensible waste of time you could spend seeing Oxford properly. Since you've got to get to Blenheim (the Palace is at least 45 mins from Oxford station, and buses are only half-hourly, so it's an hour, on average, from train platform to Palace door and an hour again back) and then trapise round the whole place, you're writing off at least four hours. That means on a daytrip you'll be running round Oxford for little more than a couple of hours.

You could spend that easily in Oxford's Ashmolean museum, which re-opened this morning and is without doubt the finest museum in Britain for a quick visit. Think of a British Museum miniaturised so it's possible to go round the whole thing in a morning, and in most places well-enough lit you don't feel your head's bursting afer two hours' viewing.
flanneruk is offline  

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