England in October 2021

Old May 14th, 2021, 01:06 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
England in October 2021

Hello all,

We are hoping/planning for a trip to England in October-early November 2021, assuming life becomes safe. We have visited England and Scotland half a dozen times and are still working on our to-do list.

Here is a beginning itinerary. Us: “mature” is the word, moving about more slowly than before but still moving nevertheless. We stay at least two nights in every place, don’t want to hop around too much. By the time we slowly finish our breakfast and prepare for the day it’s already 10 a.m. so we usually fit just one or two sights into a day. Our preferences:

Trains, not buses, and avoid using a car
Stay within a mile or so of city centers
Enjoy one-mile walks around town
Interests: architecture, especially cathedrals and small very old churches, patched up early Norman, but also like Victorian faux gothic bits; art; concerts; gardens
…and food, actual English food not three star Michelin stuff.

Herewith, a draft schedule for 12 nights or so:

Montreal to Birmingham if the direct flights resume, otherwise to London Gatwick if possible; please let us avoid Heathrow

3 nights Birmingham – visit relatives, day trip to Worcester for family ties, then trains to the following:

2 nights Bristol

2 nights Salisbury (avoid Stonehenge, no interest)

5 nights London – assuming activities resume: concert at Royal Albert Hall, one or two plays, Victoria & Albert, John Soane museum, the Hampstead Walk by London Walks (has anybody done this?), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (noon music if this will resume, lunch also), Apsley House, National Gallery

London to Montreal

Thanks in advance for your comments about logistics, suggestions for excellent restaurants or pubs, ideas for sights and sites!
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 14th, 2021, 01:52 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,218
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
"Montreal to Birmingham if the direct flights resume, otherwise to London Gatwick if possible; please let us avoid Heathrow"

Consider flying in to MAN instead. Much of LGWs traffic has been moved over to LHR and some gates/terminals at LHR are closed - my guess it will be months before all flights and terminals are fully operational.
janisj is online now  
Old May 15th, 2021, 05:15 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
RE: London and The Hampstead Walk
I have done this London Walk. Not my favorite, but provided some small factoids as we wandered. I felt I would've been better better off exploring on my own as it was a large group and I had trouble hearing the guide in the village itself. As we ventured into quieter streets, that improved. Also, I was surprised by the amount of walking required which some in the group were not really prepared for, as the tour crosses the heath to visit one of the bathing ponds, which has you traipsing quite a ways for not much reward. The nature is pretty enough, for its proximity to the city. But there are prettier landscapes in England, of course. Also, if you are planning on visiting Keats House or Kenwood House, the tour may take up too much of your time and tire you out before/after. Have fun planning!
ChgoGal is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 05:44 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks ChgoGal for this tip, sounds like there are better things to do
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 09:38 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,218
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Just quick- I agree re the hampstead walk. I really like many London Walks but the Hampstead area is so varied and a 'generic' walk will probably miss a lot of the things you'd prefer seeing. My musts would include 2 Willow Rd, Keat's house, Kenwood, the Heath in general and one of the 'character' pubs like the Spaniard's Inn.
janisj is online now  
Old May 15th, 2021, 11:15 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 8,000
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Not sure why you would want to avoid Heathrow but that would be a better option for getting to Birmingham than Gatwick. A car from LHR to Birmingham would likely cost £100-120 and take a couple of hours straight up the M40. LGW would be much longer and cost significantly more. Manchester, as suggested above is an option but by road will usually take longer, though it is possible by train. I lived in Birmingham for a few years and regularly travelled to the US and Canada and if I couldn’t fly from BHX would always go from LHR.

Central Birmingham has undergone a huge regeneration in recent years and is now awash with great restaurants , stunning architecture and things to do. As you are heading out tow Worcester, presumably by train, I would try and stay somewhere close to Grand Central Station (formerly New St). The Mailbox is also within walking distance with many hotels and restaurants strung along the canal. you can take a nice walk along to towpath from there to Brindleyplace where there are yet more hotels and eating places. Also worth considering is a trip on a narrowboat around teh canals of central Birmingham. Happy to recommend specific hotels, pubs and restaurants if needed ( though how many will still be open for business, I am not sure!)

Cant help with Bristol or Salisbury but am currently in St Johns Wood, Londonjust north of regents park which could be a nice base for you. East access into most of central London and a nice, “local” neighbourhood and close to Hampstead ( my wife is always heading to Hampstead for the wild swimming in the ponds there if you fancy something different!). Marylebone is another favourite area, still quite central but not so many tourists as some other better known places. A long time since I stayed in a hotel in London, but happy to suggest restaurants. Now that restaurants are opening up again I have just been booking a few, mainly Indian places - Dishoom has numerous outlets around town and is an excellent md range choice (amazing brunches) . Gymkhana is a Michelin * plan if you want to push the boat out.


crellston is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 11:47 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Crellston. A question: is it time-consuming to take a bus/train from LHR into London to the appropriate station for Birmingham then train onward?
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 12:12 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,697
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My husband and I spent a wonderful week in London at the end of September 2018, and here are some highlights from the trip:
*Sky Garden on top of 20 Fenchurch Street, aka "The Walkie-Talkie". The tickets (reserve in advance) are free, but I'm told that the cafe is good there as well. We loved the view and the experience.
*Globe Theatre - a must!
*A visit to Thomas Carlyle's house, Chelsea. We visited several National Trust properties but this one was our favorite for capturing a real intimate sense of the author and his milieu
*Queen's House, Greenwich, Inigo Jones' masterpiece, first classical building in the UK, a good art collection - if you're interested in architecture (my husband is), this is a fantastic place. If you get to Greenwich, check out Goddards Pie and Mash -- it's definitely for the meatlovers, but it's old-fashioned fun
*Serpentine Gallery
*A bit of the East End - We visited Christ Church Spitalfields, designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (I told you my husband loves seeing the historical structures!) and then walked along Brick Lane and ate at a good Indian restaurant, Brick Lane Brasserie

We aren't foodies, but these were fun:
*Borough Market/Southwark
*Rabbit (farm-to-table restaurant on King's Road, Chelsea) - fun and delicious - serves small plates of dishes so adds up but is good

Last edited by progol; May 15th, 2021 at 12:34 PM.
progol is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 12:45 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
RE: London Walks: I do love the walks, though. My favorite was Darkest Victorian London. Brunel's London is an interesting one, but I only recommend if you are very social and like spending a better part of your day with strangers. It ended in a pub when I went, and as much as I'd wanted to stay, the tour was a longer one and I had other places on my schedule.

RE: Other recommendations
On your V&A Day, I don't know if Carlyle's House in Chelsea is of interest. I love it--again, Victorian era--but the house and docents are great. In the fall, the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden is a place I love, but may not appear at its best. But as you like art, and if you're not too museum-ed out, the Saatchi gallery is somewhat near. (I've never been; not interested enough.) In any case, King's Road is a somewhat-swank street with lots of cafes and shopping if you needed to get off your feet with a cup of coffee.

If visiting before Oct. 15: There's a 1/2 day tour in Moreton-in-Marsh which I really enjoyed called the Secret Cottage Tour. It would be a nice day if you were tired of hoofing around London one day and just wanted to be driven about. https://www.cotswoldtourismtours.co.uk/

Also, for theater, I've always loved The Donmar WArehouse, but I don't see anything posted for the time you'll be there, yet.

RE: Birmingham
I loved the National Trust's 'Back to Backs.' An interesting place to visit.

I'm getting wanderlust again! Hoping to get back to England in spring of '22 if all is well and the sites are opened up again. Fingers crossed for all of us!



ChgoGal is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 01:05 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,697
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just wrote a long post that has disappeared but will try to reconstruct what I can:

My husband and I spent a week in London in 2018, and these are (some of) the highlights:
*Sky Garden - at 20 Fenchurch, aka "The Walkie Talkie". Tickets are free but you need to book in advance. There's a cafe as well which I'm told was good.
*Another vote for Thomas Carlyle's house - it creates an intimate portrait of the author's life. Our favorite of the historic houses
*Queen's House, Greenwich -- the first classically designed house in the UK, and done by the architect Inigo Jones. Great art collection, too. We took a boat ride (Thames Clipper, I believe) to Greenwich from Tower Pier - wonderful to approach Greenwich via the Thames.
*A taste of the East End - we stopped into Christ Church Spitalfields, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, another leading architect of his day, then we walked along Brick Lane, and had Indian food at a restaurant there (Brick Lane Brasserie)
*Globe Theatre - see a show if you can. It was a fantastic experience.
*Serpentine Gallery

We're not big foodies, but we enjoyed going to:
*Borough Market/Southwark
*Rabbit, a farm-to-table restaurant along King's Road, Chelsea. Small plates so it adds up, but it's good and it's fun.

Last edited by progol; May 15th, 2021 at 01:28 PM.
progol is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 01:18 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by EYWandBTV View Post
Thanks Crellston. A question: is it time-consuming to take a bus/train from LHR into London to the appropriate station for Birmingham then train onward?
If your flight arrival time allows, you might be able to take a coach bus right from Heathrow's CEntral Bus terminal to Watford Junction railway station, then it's a Virgin train to Birmingham New Street Station. (That seems to be the main station in the city center. I stayed at the Premier Inn New Street, and it was fantastic for convenience. Don't be fooled by Birmingham Int'l. station which is out by the airport.) There's also a direct Megabus from Heathrow Bus Station to Birmingham city center. I think it's the Brunel station/Hill St. stop.

If you want to test/plan your public transportation, you can use Traveline (website below). But you just have to be careful to ensure you're allowing for flexible tickets, in case your flight is late. I like to get off my flight, freshen up in the airport bathroom a bit (put in contacts, brush teeth, etc.), have b'fast, get cash from the Heathrow ATMs, and have a nice cup of coffee before getting on a bus/train to the next destination. I like to try as much travel on that first jet lag day as I can.
https://www.traveline.info/

have fun planning!
ChgoGal is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 03:25 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,667
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Using a couple of search engines, I could not see any Montreal-Birmingham direct flights, or any Montreal-Gatwick direct flights. In normal times I am a little leery of Heathrow too. These are not normal times. Instead of trying to stitch the airline combinations together, let a flight search engine find probabilities. For instance, you might fly into a mainland Europe gateway and connect to Birmingham. Charles de Gaulle is about equally stressful as LHR. But Amsterdam is smaller and easier. Frankfurt is bigger and easier. Geographic logic doesn't apply here. A transfer on the eastern side of the Channel may be just as quick to Birmingham, and certainly as fast as going overland from Heathrow. Let the computer do the research.
To go to Birmingham by train requires going into the centre of London. There is coach service from Heathrow to Birmingham airport; the ride is 2 1/2 hours.
Since you want to come home from a different city -- good move -- be sure to use a multi-destination search to get a break on the fares.
For information I like matrix.itasoftware.com and cheapoair.com but I use the info to buy directly from the airlines.

Last edited by Southam; May 15th, 2021 at 03:36 PM.
Southam is offline  
Old May 15th, 2021, 05:00 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great info and ideas, many thanks to you all!
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 04:59 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 8,000
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by EYWandBTV View Post
Thanks Crellston. A question: is it time-consuming to take a bus/train from LHR into London to the appropriate station for Birmingham then train onward?
Not especially. About an hour from Heathrow to Euston Station by tube and then 1.5 hours from Euston to Birmingham plus whatever time it takes between connections. By car around 2 hours and the cost will likely be less or around the same as two train fares.
crellston is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 05:58 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by crellston View Post
By car around 2 hours and the cost will likely be less or around the same as two train fares.
I assume you mean renting a car? Or would that be taking a taxi from LHR to Birmingham? I would have thought that a taxi fare would be huge.
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 07:33 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,531
Received 77 Likes on 7 Posts
Originally Posted by Southam View Post
Using a couple of search engines, I could not see any Montreal-Birmingham direct flights, or any Montreal-Gatwick direct flights. In normal times I am a little leery of Heathrow too. These are not normal times. Instead of trying to stitch the airline combinations together, let a flight search engine find probabilities. For instance, you might fly into a mainland Europe gateway and connect to Birmingham. Charles de Gaulle is about equally stressful as LHR. But Amsterdam is smaller and easier. Frankfurt is bigger and easier. Geographic logic doesn't apply here. A transfer on the eastern side of the Channel may be just as quick to Birmingham, and certainly as fast as going overland from Heathrow. Let the computer do the research.
To go to Birmingham by train requires going into the centre of London. There is coach service from Heathrow to Birmingham airport; the ride is 2 1/2 hours.
Since you want to come home from a different city -- good move -- be sure to use a multi-destination search to get a break on the fares.
For information I like matrix.itasoftware.com and cheapoair.com but I use the info to buy directly from the airlines.
I wanted to follow up on this a little.

In mid-late October the fastest scheduled time from Montreal to Heathrow is 6h 40m, using Air Canada's nonstop. I would round that up to 7 hours and call myself lucky at that. After clearing baggage claim and border formalities, any surface transport to Birmingham is likely to take at least 2 hours, and more probably 3 or more, especially if travel into central London in order to catch a train is contemplated. So you're looking at between 9 1/2 and maybe as much as 11 or 12 hours of travel time, including bag schlep and related nuisances at Heathrow.

By contrast, total travel time from Montreal to Birmingham via Paris on Air France is scheduled for 9h 5m, including an "airside" transfer at CDG, all within Terminal 2E. Your bags would be checked through, and because you'd be transiting between two non-Schengen countries (Canada and the UK) there would be no immigration controls to clear until you arrive at Birmingham.

I simply can't believe that this wouldn't be a much quicker, easier, less tiring and probably cheaper method than landing at some other UK airport and making your way on land to Birmingham.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old May 16th, 2021, 08:43 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,270
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For what it’s worth, I avoid Gatwick whenever possible, but don’t mind Heathrow. I guess if you are going into central London to catch a train it won’t make much difference.
Heimdall is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 08:54 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We have good memories of Gatwick, from a trip several years ago...quick exit from customs, hopped a bus to Oxford. So easy. Of course, those were the good old days, no longer relevant...
EYWandBTV is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 09:07 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, it's a long travel day, but the positive aspect is that from N. America to England, most flights leave after 3-4 pm, and land in the UK in the morning. So if you're able to sleep on the plane, the jet lag isn't as terrible (as say, going west to Asia, IMO.)
The first day is always a bit of a waste for me, so I try to get from LHR to whichever English/Scottish destination I want on the same day. I'm always on a bit of a high that first day anyway--just excited to be back.

Also, I wonder if there'll be more flights available in 2-3 months.
If I were to do it...
That Air Canada nonstop leaves at 7 pm and arrives at 6:35 am. Giving 2 hrs to get through border control, you're in the airport around 8:35. Another 1.5 for bathroom breaks, getting local cash from ATM, and a meal/snack--that's 10 am. The Arriva #724 leaves Heathrow bus terminal nearly every daytime hour to Watford Junction rail station (50 min), and the Virgin trains seem to depart for Birmingham New Street Station every hour 11:14, 12:14, 1:14 pm, 2:14 pm, etc. (That's 1:11 from Watford Junction to Birmingham.) There's also that 10:45 am MEgabus that arrives in city center Birmingham at 1:55 pm but I'd trust that less if all goes sideways with flight being late. I feel like I've had more flexibility changing my bus/rail tickets to get on a later, and sometimes earlier, journey--though I pay a bit more for that. The earlier booked seems to help the price, but I feel even a month-6 weeks out for the train/rail seems the same cost as 4-5 months. And I may not trust booking rail/bus that far out.

(Now I want to plan my own trip, but I'm not headed back for way too long!)
ChgoGal is offline  
Old May 16th, 2021, 09:37 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 8,000
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by EYWandBTV View Post
I assume you mean renting a car? Or would that be taking a taxi from LHR to Birmingham? I would have thought that a taxi fare would be huge.
No I meant a prearranged private transfer definitely NOT a taxi. It should cost £100-120 probably cheaper booking an operator based in Birmingham. Train fares will vary widely by how and when you purchase, class of travel etc but could cost anywhere between £30&60 pp. No need to worry about changing trains, waiting for connections, handling baggage- no contest IMO.
crellston is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:15 PM.