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WLMIV Feb 2nd, 2016 07:03 PM

Day trip suggestion from London

I will be in London on part of my trip to Europe this summer. I would like to take a day to get out of the city and see some the English countryside before traveling northwards to Carlisle and Scotland. I have been searching the topic of solo day trips from London and I mostly get big tours through Viator. I am not sure I want to spend a day on a big bus although I am interested in some of the sights they go to. This leads me to my question. Can anyone suggest a possible day trip where I could possibly take in some history and see the countryside by bike or by foot? I expect I would arrive at my start destination by rail. I did find one article about hiking in Hastings. That seemed pretty neat. If I were to do that walk, is there a train to Hastings? Also, is it possible to get to Bodiam Castle from Hastings? The tour I imagine includes the countryside, a village, some water (a canal?), and maybe a castle. Is this fantasy? I do know that London Walks has a tour to the Cotswalds, but I think I am little more adventurous than what that tour offers. Thoughts? I will check back this weekend. Thanks...

texasbookworm Feb 2nd, 2016 07:53 PM

Hiking the White Cliffs at Dover can be spectacular. Easy train ride; LONG steep up and down hike from station to the National Trust area entrance to the paths along the Cliffs, but worth it (and see the castle, too)

DD and I had the MOST wonderful day with a train ride to Chawton to see Jane Austen's home and then from there we took a long walk as a loop from that house and back through wonderful country side views. A highlight of several trips to England.

Oxford is wonderful and you can walk around a lot in the city--of course, this isn't country walks, but it's close and so beautiful and full of history.

DH and I even did a day trip to Chatsworth--it was rather stressful getting to the right bus to get us there and we almost missed the last bus from the house back to the train station (well, we were at the bus stop on time, but it was totally packed, unexpectedly). Had a lovely but warm walk through the grounds to the House and then all around it and its beautiful gardens--worth the effort.

One time, after we'd gone to Bodiam via a car, I looked at getting there by train--there's a train station within sight of the castle, but it may be a limited special vintage one or something. Worth checking out, though. Or maybe someone will know more details and post.

janisj Feb 2nd, 2016 07:54 PM

It would be very easy to take a train to Hastings, rent a bike there and ride anywhere. It is a little over 10 miles from Hastings to Bodiam Castle.

Or you could take a train to Canterbury - where you could ride out to Whitstable/Herne Bay.

Or to Salisbury and ride out to Stonehenge and Old Sarum.

Or lots of other places.

Nelson Feb 2nd, 2016 08:34 PM

+1 for Salisbury, it's one hour thirty minutes by train from Waterloo. Fantastic cathedral (book tower tour in advance, well worth it), lots of walks right around town or slightly farther afield.

I went there a few times for the day on weekends when I had business trips in Portsmouth, never tired of it.

flanneruk Feb 2nd, 2016 10:51 PM

The best sources for your idea are the Time Out Books of Country Walks (The TOCW1 and TOCW 2 tabs at )

60 planned walks starting and ending at stations about an hour's journey from central London. The tabs take you to brief summaries: the actual walk routes you can get either by buying the book, or by googling.

Of your brief: "the countryside, a village, some water (a canal?), and maybe a castle", I'd be leery about castles in SE England. Apart from Dover, they're mostly either tiny, almost unrecognisable, ruins or relatively modern houses with battlements.

Most daytrips to towns (like Oxford), however pleasant and interesting, mean you simply won't have time for villages or much countryside. There are walks around Salisbury (which, though pretty around its cathedral, has little else to offer - and its externally stunning cathedral has less inside than most) taking you out into the countryside, but trips to the other main heritage towns mostly don't.

There's very pleasant walking around Hastings. The town itself however - apart from a couple of streets endlessly featured, after a lot of tarting up, in Foyle's War - is underwhelming.

welltraveledbrit Feb 2nd, 2016 11:16 PM

I've been to Bodiam castle several times but have no sense for how to get there on public transport, sorry.I agree the Time Out walking guides are very helpful and quite detailed, lots of suggestions. In Cambridge you could do the walk along the river from Cambridge to Granchester meadow, it is very lovely, we always walk my brother's dogs here and you'd get a sense for a more rural setting. In the summer you can stop at The Orchard to have tea in a deck chair as Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf did. I'm not sure on the details but if you Google it there should be lots of details on the walk.

If you're looking for a day out there are also options closer to London.
Last time we were there I made a list of day trips I wanted to make and there were quite a lot of nice properties out in Richmond. Have a look at the national Trust site. You can walk to a number of these along the river. I know several looked at were Ham House and Marble Hill House

Here's a description of a short walk in this area

Richmond to Hampton Court could be a possibility, this would also take in Wapole's Strawberry Hill.

Lots of other London ideas on my blog...

Hope these suggestions help!

flanneruk Feb 2nd, 2016 11:43 PM

A small warning

The area within London's one hour train journey isochrone is just about the most densely populated 10,000 square miles in the developed world. Our unique planning laws mean an extraordinary proportion of that area isn't built on - and we've got surprisingly few roads. Our dense railway system was designed for moving millions a day into and out of London - but not for other journeys within the area. Our unique footpath system plus our planning laws make much of those 10,000 sq miles a delight to walk across.

But, taken together with our predominantly undulating countryside, that all means the area's lethal at worst and downright miserable at best for cycling. Our few - universally twisty - roads are usually congested - and walk or cycle along them even when they seem empty and you realise why cycling is now the most dangerous form of transport in Britain.

A driver on any country road in Britain has almost no time for taking evasive action once he sees a cyclist - and most evasive action risks hitting an oncoming car. This isn't a universal law, and there are cycle-friendly areas: around the New Forest for example. But I'd strongly disagree that "it's easy to cycle anywhere".

Especially if unused to driving on the proper side of the road, I'd say it's foolhardy for anyone without experience of our roads - and especially of our rural roads, where a larger proportion of seemingly minor accidents turn out fatal than anywhere else in Britain - to rely on bikes. SE England has been designed for visiting on foot, by public transport, car - or on horseback, if horses and riders are taught (as most here are) how to deal with rural vehicles.

bilboburgler Feb 3rd, 2016 05:45 AM

How to get around by public transport

where the trains go to

WLMIV Feb 5th, 2016 06:06 PM

Thank you for the real helpful advice. I am going to study the links you all have given me.


MmePerdu Feb 5th, 2016 10:34 PM

One of my favorite walks involves a train to either Bath or Bradford-on-Avon and the walk between the 2 along the Kennet & Avon Canal. You can't get lost, just follow the canal which passes very near both stations and both the town of Bradford and the city of Bath are pretty, interesting places to wander at either end. The walk is about 9 miles, station to station. I've it done, I think, 3 times, both ways. There are locks on the canal in Bath and 2 aqueducts along the way carrying the canal over the river, along with the path. Beautiful countryside, an interesting walk and 2 towns for your time and money.

ChgoGal Feb 6th, 2016 07:06 AM

Flanner, thanks for the link to A new one for me! Looks helpful for planning.

welltraveledbrit Feb 6th, 2016 09:28 AM

Mme Perdu we were in Bradford on Avon last year and I'm sorry we missed your recommendation, but I appreciate it for next time. It's a lovely part of the country and 9 miles is a good distance for a day hike, I'm not inclined to go much further.

MmePerdu Feb 6th, 2016 09:54 AM

Those 9 miles are also almost entirely flat, wtb, the advantage of walking along waterways. I gave up hills, for the most part, after a painful few days several years ago but there's no shortage of canals & rivers to enjoy. I'll be back for a section of the Thames Path in May, almost finished, and then for next time have just several days at the Reading end of the K&A Canal, while I can. But the end of my walking days seems to keep moving forward, along with the feet.

Another nice walk is along the River Avon, from Stratford to Bidford-on-Avon, not on a canal with a towpath so more variety on the ground while still not many hills. There are local buses to get to or from Bidford.

I'm constantly amazed at the opportunity to enjoy these paths, for the most part, entirely alone. Even between places crowded with visitors, as Bath & Bradford often are, one meets very few along the path. The occasional dog walker and passing boats but long periods of solitude between. Wonderful.

welltraveledbrit Feb 7th, 2016 04:45 PM

I agree the walking paths in England are fantastic and it's amazing, with the exception of the Cotswolds, we hear very little about it on the board

MmePerdu Feb 7th, 2016 05:20 PM

Interestingly, even in the Cotswolds, if you leave the "Quintessentials", not even far, one is again alone. I don't know where all the people are who say they're walking but the paths there are as empty as anywhere, dog walkers aside. And not many of them.

WLMIV Mar 10th, 2016 06:56 PM

Is there a walking day trip from London to see Warwick castle?

janisj Mar 10th, 2016 07:15 PM

>>Is there a walking day trip from London to see Warwick castle?<<

You can simply take the train From Marylebone to Warwick and 'walk' it on your own.

WLMIV Mar 10th, 2016 09:37 PM

Can you confirm if this walk works?

It includes a castle, canal, countryside, and a town.

MmePerdu Mar 10th, 2016 10:40 PM

The odd thing about the walk on your link is north is to the left instead of at the top. So, for me, it's disorienting. However, you can still compare it with the OS map shown on - print them both so you can compare and get a better sense of it.

Once on Streetmap, put Warwick Castle into the search & check "place name". It'll ask you "Warwick Castle, Warwickshire (place of interest)"? Click on it and you'll have the map with north in the usual direction, up, and you should recognize it. For "zoom control" 3rd up (1:25,000) I find best, showing paths, and using the larger "map size" helps. I'd be very surprised if the walk didn't work.

janisj Mar 10th, 2016 10:43 PM

I guess I don't understand -- that is not a tour. It is simply a 'walk'. Like thousands of others all over the UK. If that is where you want to walk -- through and around Warwick -- then yes, it 'works'.

You do have to travel to Warwick.

BTW -- the 2 hours time listed is <u>just</u> for the walk -- not for visiting the Castle, or the Lord Leycester Hospital, or St Mary's Church/the Beauchamp Chapel. If you include those - it will take about 6 or 7 hours or more.

flanneruk Mar 10th, 2016 10:56 PM

"even in the Cotswolds, if you leave the "Quintessentials", not even far, one is again alone."

Even at lunchtime on the fairest Easter bank holiday, even starting just 150 yards of central Burford or Bibury, we rarely meet more than one or two other people in a four hour walk.

The nonsense about the crowded Cotswolds is a delusion peddled by people too lazy and incurious to venture even a yard away from the charabancs they were trucked in on.

The paths are (almost) used only by those who live here. And since the area's charm - ultimately - stems from its staggeringly low population density, I have those paths virtually as an exclusive domain for me and my dogs

MmePerdu Mar 10th, 2016 11:09 PM

It certainly doesn't have to take "6 or 7 hours". It looks fine and you can stop where you like for as long as you like, needn't linger for hours. Many people love Warwick Castle. I don't and, if it's a nice walk you're looking for, there are thousands of great ones, literally everywhere. But if that one appeals to you, it'll take as long as you want it to.

If you find it taking longer than you want, or decide to spend your time visiting places along the way, you can always cut the walking short by taking a quicker route. I do it all the time. Just have a better map with you than the little one in the description, like the Streetmap version or buy the "suggested map" if you like maps.

janisj Mar 11th, 2016 09:31 AM

>>It certainly doesn't have to take "6 or 7 hours".<<

Of course the <u>walk</u> doesn't take 6 or 7 hours. It will take 2 hours at a reasonable speed. But it does not include visiting Warwick Castle or anything IN the town. So thinking one would travel all the way from London to walk 2 hours and miss everything else doesn't seem reasonable. If one is planning this as a day trip -- then 6 or 7 hours 'on the ground' is about right.

And IF one <i>isn't</i> interested in exploring Warwick/the Castle and is going only for this walk . . . there are hundreds of other/better 2 hour walks a lot nearer to London than Warwick.

MmePerdu Mar 11th, 2016 10:26 AM

My point was to consider, as you plan for a walk, whether walking in a beautiful place is your priority, or is walking in Warwick in particular, or in a place where you can stop in to visit something, important to you. Deciding on an emphasis, and how long you'd like to spend doing it, will make all the difference in your choice of place.

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