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Ideas on some unique experiences in the English Countryside

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Aug 23rd, 2003, 05:51 AM
  #1
JES
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Ideas on some unique experiences in the English Countryside

My husband and I are going to a wedding just outside of London at the beginning of October and are making a 10 day trip out of it. We are deciding what to do with the first part of the week and if we stay in England, want to explore areas outside of London. I don't want to do the typical tourist attractions (Stonehedge, baths, etc). Instead, we would love a uniquely English experience--such as staying in a farmhouse, or something really cool and different. Any ideas?
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Aug 23rd, 2003, 06:14 AM
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I've no idea whether this will be of interest to you or how active you want to be but try this link to Acorn Holidaysbr /> http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/volu...pes.html#Acorn

They are part of the National Trust and require volunteers for various thingsbr /> - it could be an archaeological dig somewhere (i had great fun after college doing this on Hadrian's Wall - I actually uncovered a Roman Sandal; abd to think I'd been thrilled with Roman Pottery on the first day... by the end of the week it didn't bear remarking upon)

- Or maybe some construction work (building dry stone walls in the middle of the countryside) etc.

They can be a week long or just a few days and the age range is enormous - 18 to 70. The costs are ridiculously cheap (less than £100).
I made some excellent friends including a great chap from New York who was an actor I've actually seen on tv!!

Anyway the site is very informative and easy to navigate and I would recommend them for something really really different and memorable.

Best Wishes.

Dr D.
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Aug 23rd, 2003, 07:09 AM
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A few recommendations...

Center parcs for a day or two. Recommend Longleat in Wiltshire. Chalet in a wood with waterpark, spa, activities. Very relaxing and fun
www.centerparcs.com

Seeing a garden.
Recommend Stourhead in Wiltshire. It is on the tourist map but it is very beautiful and not usually that crowded.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

See a sport.
Football, cricket or the races. Recommend Warwick races. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport/

Go to a comedy club.
My favourite is the glee club in Birmingham (or got to a Jongleurs - a chain which has many clubs around the uk) It's loud and it's not in the countryside - but it give you a taste of English humour.
www.Glee.co.uk
www.jongleurs.com

Go to a pubquiz.
Have a drink and get your thinking cap on. Couldn't find a decent website except this one which doesn't list many venues and it's 2 years old. Most pubs in towns and villages have soem pubs which have a weekly quiz night.
www.pubquizdirectory.com

Go rambling
With a group and really get to see the English countryside whilst chatting to friendly people along the way. http://www.ramblers.org.uk/

Play cards
I haven't played Bridge myself although it would be a good way to past the time and meet some English eccentrics. I would imagine they would let visitors come along.
http://www.ebu.co.uk/counties.asp

Go Caving
I've posted this before - but although Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is touristy the beginner Caving is fun.
http://www.cheddargorge.com/rock.htm

See a Ruin
Another suggestion I've posted before - but I belive this is off the tourist trail and it is a beautiful ruined mansion worth seeing. Witley Court in Worcestershire.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk

Stay at a fancy place
Haven't stayed here myself and I belive it's pretty expensive but my friends have recommended it. They do medieval banquets.
www.coombeabbey.com/

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Aug 23rd, 2003, 07:22 AM
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Idea #1

Rent a barge for a number of days and travel some of the extensive canal network.

Idea #2

Journey to any one of the following National Parks: the "Yorkshire Dales" or the "Dartmoor" or the "Exmoor" or the "Peak District" or the "Lake District". Find a quiant village therein and take some long and beautiful hikes.
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Aug 23rd, 2003, 08:08 AM
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Have you given up the idea of the south of France or Spain?

How about staying in a castle? Here's a website that lists castles that are now hotels.

http://www.historic-uk.com/StayUK/CastleHotels.htm
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Aug 24th, 2003, 04:39 AM
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Dear Jes,
Bibury in the Cotswolds is lovely. Described by William Morris "as the most beautiful village in England". We Stayed in the Bibury Court Hotel for 2 nights. Swans floating down the river Coln, which flows through the gardens of the hotel.
If you do a search of the Cotswolds you'll find lots of lovely places to stay. I'm basing myself in Oaksley (near Cirencester) for 1 week in a gorgeous ivy covered cottage. With a car I can explore places like Bath, Salisbury. You'll need a car to explore the Cotswolds as the transport is a bit haphazard!
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Aug 24th, 2003, 06:27 AM
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If you're willing to head up to North Yorkshire, I can recommend something that's VERY unusual and lots of fun, too!

It's a place called The Forbidden Corner, near Leyburn.

http://www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/theforbiddencorner/

The website doesn't describe it very well, but here's what it is:

The Forbidden Corner is a private estate, with a very eccentric owner who used to be the English ambassador to Ecuador. He originally began to alter his estate as a way to provide entertainment for his many guests. In the beginning, there were mazes, and secret pathways....but now there is SO much more! A few years ago, he opened his estate to the public, and it's been a runaway success.

When you enter The Forbidden Corner, you are given a brochure with clues. Generally, you are encouraged to follow the clues, which build into the clues for the next item on the map. There are secret pathways, caves, underground rooms, a hidden temple, mazes, a hand cast stone giant.... When you reach one spot in the garden, there is always a clue to guide you to the next spot. The clues are engraved in sculptures, rocks, hidden behind hedges, etc.

I can't tell you how MUCH fun this place is!!

I've only been in the summer, when everything was in full bloom and the cover of all the foliage added to the mystery. However, The Forbidden Corner is open until Christmas, so going in the fall and winter might add a whole new element to the adventure.

Opening times are as follows:

Open everyday from 1 April to 31st October, and then Sundays until Christmas.
Monday to Saturday 12 noon - 6pm

Sundays & Bank Holidays 10am - 6pm
(or dusk if earlier)

Someone else has posted a few pics on the Internet, so take a look at those as well:

http://www.leafpile.com/TravelLog/En...ddenCorner.htm

Building work is continuing on the estate. In fact, I haven't been there in about 3 years, so I'm sure there are some things that I haven't even seen yet. My husband and I are going to take our son in a few weeks, and we can't wait to see the delight on his face. But even if you don't have kids, it's a blast. Last time we went was with adults, no children at all. Our guests talked about it for days afterward. We had a great time!

Be aware that you MUST book tickets ahead, as it's an extremely popular place. The website tells you this also.

Hope you go, but whatever you do, have a great trip!
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Aug 24th, 2003, 09:30 AM
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JES
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Thank you--these are all really great suggestions.
mclaurie we are still considering South of France & Spain but can't find an easy and/or inexpensive way to get there from Heathrow. We either have to transfer over an hour to another airport after flying over night and hope we make the flight, or wait half a day at Heathrow, so now we're considering staying in England.
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Aug 24th, 2003, 11:00 AM
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JES, don't know where you're flying from in the US, but from NY, I found tickets for $612/person on BA with 3 flight options that give you only 1 1/2 hrs at Heathrow between arrival from NY & departure to Nice. Return from Nice is to Gatwick & then leave from Heathrow back home. (I'm assuming you're doing this trip before your London stay.) I used arbitrary dates around the time you've indicated. I'll try to copy & paste here
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Aug 24th, 2003, 11:20 AM
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JES,

I don't know where you're flying from in the US, but from NY, I found tickets for $612/person on BA with 3 flight options that give you only 1 1/2 hrs at Heathrow between arrival from NY & departure to Nice. Return from Nice is to Gatwick & then leave from Heathrow back home. (I'm assuming you're doing the side trip before your London stay.)

I used arbitrary dates around the time you've indicated. I'll try to copy & paste sample itinerary here

Option 1 of 4 Adult Fare 612.06 Total $ 1,224.12
Including Taxes

Depart JFK 22:00 26 Sep
Arrive LHR 10:00 27 Sep
BA0116 British Airways Traveller

Depart LHR 11:30 27 Sep
Arrive NCE 14:30 27 Sep
BA0344 British Airways Traveller

Depart NCE 20:55 1 Oct
Arrive LGW 21:55 1 Oct
BA8136 British Airways Traveller

Depart LHR 19:45
Arrive JFK 22:25 7 Oct
BA0183 British Airways Traveller



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Aug 24th, 2003, 02:08 PM
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We stayed in a wonderful cottage in Tenterden, Kent this past spring. The name is Quince Cottage and cost us all of 290 GBP for a week. It is centrally located near Bodiam, Battle (Battle of Hastings), Rye, Canterbury, and all the wonderful English Gardens. Tenterden is also just a 40 minute drive to Folkstone where you can catch the Chunnel to France - which we did for a mere 35 GBP round trip with a one day advance purchase. (I am refering to the train you drive your car onto - not the passenger train.) The couple who own Quince Cottage are wonderful people and Tenterden made a great home base. Have a wonderful time!
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Aug 25th, 2003, 07:49 AM
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Jes,
you can fly out from Stansted Airport to France/Spain with Ryan Air
www.ryanair.com
www.easyjet.com
very cheap. You can reach Stanstead airport from Liverpool Street station.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 05:09 AM
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BrimhamRocks -

If you come back and read this thread... from reading some of your threads, it sounds like you're either in or spousally-in the us military.

I don't know how to say this without sounding like a freak.... could you contact me at [email protected] - I'm going too be in England next month working at several bases and I'd love to pick your brain a bit..

Thanks - Stacey
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Aug 26th, 2003, 06:30 AM
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Dear Jes,

Take the high speed train out of London to Exeter - rent a car and then drive to the most charming Inn overlooking a harbor the Nonsuch House (nonsuch-house.co.uk) in Kingswear-Dartmouth down in Devon County. There are lovely walks (rambles) and at night you can take a short ferry over to the otherside - a charming town, (I forget the name) and have dinner. It was truly a magical stay for us and the owners you'd want to adopt.

Then drive down to Cornwall and see the most amazing beaches. A truly lovely and artsy area.

Let us know what you decide.

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Aug 26th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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celticdreams,

I've sent you an email.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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JES
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice. TamT--I would have loved the Nonsuch house--I may have changed my mind had I seen it first! We ended up booking the first part of our trip in Venice b/c we found a good flight out of Heathrow. If we have time before the wedding, we will look into the other suggestions and if not--they will definitely be a part of our next trip to England.
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Aug 26th, 2003, 07:59 AM
  #17
JES
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By the way Celticdreams, no we are not in the military....maybe if you post, someone who is may be able to help?
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Aug 26th, 2003, 08:37 AM
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JES, I don't get it.

What does Venice have to do with "the English Countryside" as you addressed us here?

Others have given extensive advice about the glories of "the English Countryside" and you end up in Venice???

I don't get it...
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Aug 26th, 2003, 01:55 PM
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JES
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Tuck,

If you read the first part of my post, I said "if" we stay in England. We were trying to decide what to do and where to go. We decided Venice would suit our immediate needs better. Sorry that you don't understand.
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