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Daytrip from London into the "Countryside"?

Daytrip from London into the "Countryside"?

Nov 30th, 2014, 05:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Daytrip from London into the "Countryside"?

We're a family of 4 with two college aged sons who'd like to experience some of the countryside with narrow roads, cottages, pubs, etc. We'd rent a car and looking for recommendations for a saturday drive destination that would satisfy this. Possibly to Oxford or some other nearby town? Thank you in advance!
vacaman2 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 07:59 PM
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Well - Oxford isn't countryside/rural roads/car country. If you want to see Oxford you would take the train or a coach since a car is really a problem in Oxford. Much easier by public transport.

For countryside (don't try driving IN Oxford) you could go to the Cotswolds, or parts of Wiltshire

Or another option would be taking the train from London to Gatwick and drive around Kent/East Sussex for the day.
janisj is online now  
Nov 30th, 2014, 11:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Both of Janisj's suggestions are great but a less visited area that meets your requirements is the Essex/Suffolk border. The area around Denham is known as Constable Country as it is where John Constable painted many of his landscapes. The area to the northwest of this has many beautiful villages such as Long Melford and Lavenham.
The big towns such as Colcester and Ipswich have a lot of industrial sprawl (and Colchester is a big garrison town) but car hire should be available or you could go to Stansted airport for car hire and drive up through the Essex villages of Thaxted, Great Bardfield and Finchingfield. Just allow plenty of time as on country roads you will probably average at best 25 mph even if locals are doing much more.
spiral is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 12:33 AM
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I think spiral means Dedham not Denham.
Agree that this is a lovely area, never over run with tourists. A tour around Lavenham and Long Melford could also include Clare, Cavendish, Kersey etc.
This area is famous for its thatched and beamed cottages, often painted the famous 'Suffolk Pink' although this shade can vary quite a lot.
Morgana is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 01:42 AM
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How about rural Kent, the parts visitors don't get to?

There is the small village of Eynsford, still with its hump back bridge and ford. There are the remains of Eynesford Castle,
as well as Lullingstone Roman Villa (with some of the best mosaics in England)
and also Lullingstone Castle.

A bit further south and reached along narrow lanes set in deep wooded banks is Ightam Mote in Kent, a beautiful 700 year old moated manor house.

Sevenoaks is a town rather than a village, with plenty of shops and Knole House, one of the largest of the stately homes dating from the C17th.
Set in its deer park, this is often described as the Calendar House as it has 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards.

Not far to the west is Ide Hill, a good place if you want to stretch your legs.
If you like Gardens, Emmets isn't far away.

You can also dribble along country lanes through the North Downs to Westerham with its links to Wolfe of Quebec. Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill is just to the south.

To the north is Down House where Charles Darwin of the Origin of the Species fame lived an worked.

I'm not suggesting you try and do all of these in a day, but it gives you a flavour of what you can do easily from London. All are within a few miles of each other, so you could easily include a drive through places even if you didn't want to stop. This is quintessentially English countryside and there will be plenty of narrow lanes with trees forming a canopy over your heads. There are small villages and plenty of pubs.
ESW is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 02:53 AM
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If your question refers to the same time of year as your other question here, and if you're unaccustomed to driving on the proper side of the road, ONLY janisj's answer is any use to you.

It's simply not possible in midwinter for someone, starting from Russell Square, to hire a car, navigate it through London, drive it into the countryside and see anything worthwhile before it gets dark.

The only option for a drive through the countryside is to get an earlyish (leave before 0800) train from Farringdon or St Pancras to Gatwick, collect a hire car there, then drive through those bits of Sussex that are truly rural.

It would, however, have saved several people wasted time to explain your unusual requirements. It's never a good idea to assume other people can thought read.

Or did it not occur to you that days get dramatically shorter in midwinter, and that driving out of the centre of Europe's biggest city might present challenges to the unwary?
flanneruk is online now  
Dec 1st, 2014, 03:14 AM
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You will certainly need to get up early, but I'm another one for Suffolk. You could get a train from Liverpool Street to Ipswich and pick up a car from there. Ipswich is not a pretty town, but you'd have access to some picturesque villages,.
MissPrism is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 03:20 AM
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Several years ago, we took a day trip into the Cotswolds on a Sunday with Original London Walks. We met our guide at Paddington, took a train into the Cotswolds, met a bus that took us to Stow on the Wold, and spent the day in a lovely walking tour before returning by reverse route. For the four of us, it was not much more costly than renting a car, and certainly less stressful.
Jeff801 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 04:52 AM
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Yes, but in December you might not have a "lovely walking tour"

The OP needs to provide more info - as time of year makes big difference in the countryside - esp as the days are SO short.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 07:14 AM
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jeeze - I had no idea your trip was in late December. I'd forget it. First of all the weather might be awful - or decent. But you won't know which it is until that morning (or maybe the evening prior) so you really can't pre-plan. Then the sun will set before 4PM. Even IF you were able to get on the road at say Gatwick or Ipswich by 10AM you'd have a few hours on unfamiliar roads to see what could be bleak countryside.

If you really REALY want a day trip out of London Christmas week -- take the train to Oxford or Cambridge or Winchester or Salisbury - and leave the driving to a better time of year.
janisj is online now  
Dec 1st, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Agree with Janis - a tour of Suffolk villages (from London I assume) is not a sensible late December destination, so please ignore my earlier post.
Morgana is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 10:45 AM
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December is not the time of year to think about exploring quiet country roads. They will not be cleared if there is snow. Nor will they be gritted or salted if there is ice around. They are unlikely to have street lights either.

Sunset is just before 4pm. If it is overcast it will be dark and gloomy from 3pm onwards.
ESW is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 11:16 AM
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Saraho is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 02:45 PM
Original Poster
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice and you are correct traveling in the winter has its disadvantages like very short days. We'll take your advice and stay in London which isn't a bad alternative. Thanks to all!!
vacaman2 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 05:17 PM
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This is not what you asked for originally, but if you do want to leave London for a day without the rigours of driving, you may still consider Oxford. The coach trip between Heathrow and Oxford is an enjoyable hour's journey. I was pleasantly surprised at how soon you are out of the city and travelling through pretty countryside. Of course, from Russel Sq the logistics will be different. But Oxford itself is a very special place. A day trip to Windsor is also a nice alternative - go by train, it takes an hour. Go early!
kovsie is offline  
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