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Tom Dec 22nd, 2002 10:46 PM

Kent countryside via rail
In the Fodor's guide, it says that the South Eastern lines (going through Canterbury West) pass through some of the best scenery in Kent. Can anyone help point out which route is referenced so that we can use a rail pass on our trip to Canterbury to check out these sights?

unsure Dec 23rd, 2002 03:54 AM

Tom,<BR><BR>This isn't a definitive answer to your question, but is the guide's probable assumption that if you're leaving from London and name Canterbury West as the destination, you will be on the route with good scenery?<BR><BR>

ron Dec 23rd, 2002 05:31 AM

To be a little more helpful than unsure, but not nearly as amusing, you want the train leaving from London Charing Cross.

xxx Dec 27th, 2002 10:04 AM

What time of year are you planning to make this trip?<BR>If you go in April you will see newborn lambs gamboling about.<BR>There are always oast houses to be seen.

JC Dec 27th, 2002 01:12 PM

Kent is called &quot;Garden of England&quot; for its rolling hills,orchards and beautiful gardens.<BR><BR>If you could go through Tonbridge,change train at Ashford to Canterbury,with a little plan,you could visit several world famous gardens:Hever Castle Gardens, Sissinghurst Garden and Scotney Castle Garden.

jw Dec 28th, 2002 05:05 AM

Sorry to barge in here, but JC, is that really possible? Traveling via trains in southern UK and visiting the gardens? I always assumed I would have to drive, and that's just not going to happen. Can you give me some hope?

xxx Dec 28th, 2002 07:39 AM

You can take the train to the town of Hever, there are 2 stations there. Then you can get a taxi to take you to Hever Castle and arrange a time for it to pick you up and return you to the train station.<BR>I don't recall the cost of the taxi trip but it was not unreasonable.<BR>The gardens and the the castle are worth the trip . <BR>

JC Dec 28th, 2002 08:09 AM

<BR>To jw: Visiting gardens is the main reason I go to U.K. 3-4 times a year for the last 10 years. So far,I have visited(and revisited) more than 80 big ones and coultless little gems;and yet,haven't driven in U.K. for once.<BR><BR>RHS and National Trust owns many gardens. On their publications/web sites,there are details how to used public transports(train,bus plus a little walking)to reach every garden. Most regional tourist boards have free maps with bus routes and brochures showing how to go to famous sites. For private-owned gardens,either from their web sites or a phone call,could always figure out the way to reach. <BR><BR>Certainly it takes a little planning, and a little walking(haven't take any taxi to any garden yet),but walking in British picturesque countryside is an great enjoyment itself, and the countless chats with bus drivers(many times,I was the only pasenger),fellow passengers and farmes add so much more fun to the travel.

jw Dec 28th, 2002 09:03 AM

Great news, JC! I'm so excited, and I hope Tom can benefit from your input. RHS? Thanks, J.

JC Dec 28th, 2002 12:10 PM

<BR>To Jw: RHS: The Royal Hoticultural Society.<BR><BR>I couldn't relly say enough about how much fun and easy to travel in British countryside by train/bus. For instance:I revisited Sissinghurst this past April. There are frequent buses from Maidstone(on train route) to Sissinghurst Village. From the village, I walked about 1 1/4 miles footpath through fullly blooming bluebell woods (so very beautiful)to the garden entrance in a fine Spring morning. In October, I took bus (15 minutes ride) from Cambridge to Anglesey Abbey Garden, and from Cromer to Felbrigg Hall .<BR><BR>Most bus drivers are very kind to a foreigner interested in their local sites. Usually they drop me off at somewhere closer to the entrance,few times even made a detour for me to be off at the gate.

jw Dec 29th, 2002 05:28 AM

Tom, thanks for starting this great thread. It's perfect for those who are enchanted by the English countryside, but incapable of driving to explore them. And JC, your contributions have been a joy to read. I really did think it was hopeless. Are there any other websites or books which are designed for those visiting houses or gardens via public transportation? Actually, JC, if you'd care to write a trip report or two, or create a web page of your garden adventures, I for one will be your first visitor. Thanks all, J.

JC Dec 29th, 2002 12:19 PM

To JW: Very glad to be of some help.<BR>I am afraid I don't know any particular web site or book about visiting gardens by public transport. But,if you could search &quot;garden&quot; on this forum,there have been many useful sites offered by many posts.<BR><BR>I find the free map &quot;Britain's Gardens&quot; from and free &quot;Map and guide to using the national rail network&quot; from are quite useful in planning the visit at the first stage. For details such as the number of bus and timetable, local tourist board will be more helpful.<BR><BR>Actually,it is not necessary to go far,there are gardens in/around any major towns/cities. For instance, the beautiful 18th century Prior Park(both poet Alexander Pope and Capability Brown were involved in design)is only less than 10 minutes bus from Bath train station. Most universities have delightful botanic gardens,some hundreds years old such as Oxford and Cambridge, some with very rare plants such as Exeter and Durham.

JC Dec 29th, 2002 12:38 PM

-continue-<BR><BR>Even in London,there are new-found little teasures in every visit. The Horniman Gardens in Dulwich, Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, Devonshire square garden and Dinsbury Circue in The City were all my first visit in this December. Last March, I visited Hill Gardens(as well-designed as any majoy one)in Hamstead first time. But,always,I stopped by the garden at the ruin of St.Dunstain in the East-the perfect little time-off in Bustling London.<BR><BR>The weekly travel sections on four major English newspapers (,, uk and offer may excellent ideas about gardens in/around European cities,I have enjoyed many great discoveries from their articles.<BR><BR>Certainly the easier way would be joining garden tours,but I am afraid I am no good at organized trips.<BR><BR>Sorry to trun this thread into garden section,hope no one being offended.

jw Jan 1st, 2003 06:11 AM

Merci beaucoup, JC, and a very happy, travel-filled New Year to all! J

xxx Jan 1st, 2003 09:06 AM

How about Tunbridge Wells? How is it for a visit--we want to do some shopping and try out a few good restaurnts.

erica Jan 1st, 2003 09:16 AM

Hey JC, JC...I, too, would love more information on travel via trains, buses, taxis. Any other information, memories, anecdotes, or links would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all the help!<BR>Erica

Ben Haines Jan 1st, 2003 10:13 AM

Dear Mr Herz,<BR><BR>The main line from London to Canterbury West runs through Orpington, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Ashford. I used most of it yesterday, on a trip from Dover to London, and I must say that while it is nice enough it is not a patch on the line along the old Dover Road, from Victoria via Rochester to Canterbury East. To reach Canterbury West through good Kentish countryside I would use Charing Cross, Otford, West Malling, Maidstone East, Ashford, Canterbury, which if I remember rightly runs through rich land for hops and fruit in the Vale of Kent.<BR><BR>Your rail pass will let you go out on the Otford route and come back on the Rochester route, or vice versa.<BR><BR>JC has named some fine gardens. For other gardens useful web sites are these<BR><BR>The National Gardens Scheme for England and Wales, includes a Garden Finder: you select by county and by date. <BR>If you enter &quot;Gardens&quot; on the National Trust site you get an alphabetical list of properties with good gardens.<BR>Selected English Heritage houses and castles with good gardens <BR>Bed &amp; breakfast, including some tiny places, all run for and by lovers of gardens: <BR><BR>A web site for busses to and from Maidstone is <BR>The County Council site for bus services all over the county is <BR>A site for busses in East Kent is<BR><BR>Trains are easy. You find a map of Kent with lines marked, and every line has two trains an hour, but probavbly one an hour on Sundays.<BR><BR>Please write if I can help further. Welcome to England.<BR><BR>Ben Haines, London

JC Jan 1st, 2003 05:53 PM

<BR>As always,Mr Haines could give answers most to the points.<BR><BR>To xxx: It has been several years since I stayed at Tunbridge Wells for touring around Kent. It is an old spa town and convenient base for visiting gardens mentioned above plus Sheffield Park and Penshurst Garden. But I am afraid I am of no use about shopping or best accommadations since I rarely book B&amp;B ahead while traveling in countryside.<BR><BR>To Erica: To an amateur but enthusuastic garden visitor,southwest England and Wales offer many great treats,I try to visit in all different seasons. Usually I go from Heathrow to Reading directly, with a supersaver return to the nearest boarder town(Newport/Exeter) plus a pass of Wales or West Country (7 days of 15 days unlimited train/bus rides,cheaper to buy at train stations in England than overseas) make travel easier and cheaper.<BR><BR>In areas without train and bus pass offered,many regional rail companies offer one to three days pass,and most bus companies have Day Rover(sold by bus drivers,5-7 pounds for one day unlimited bus rides),they are perfect for someone prefer stopping at anywhere by a whim-a sudden glimpse of a fine old building or some chance mark by fellow passengers.

JC Jan 1st, 2003 06:19 PM

-continue-<BR><BR>It is easy to visit three Royal Botanical Gardens. Don't miss the one in downtown Edinburgh,especially in last May/early June, the rhododendrons are positively magnificent,the rock gardens are quite unique too. Historical Kew Gardens in London are worth a tour in any day of year. The brand new(less than three years) Wales Botanical garden is too early to be impressive, but some interesting new concepts such as a tiny stream through the whole site and giant greenhouses for different oarts of world are worth a detour-an 1/2 hour bus ride from Carmarthen or LLandeilo(both are on train routes,with several beautiful gardens nearby).<BR><BR>Cottage gardens,rectory gardens and cathedral gardens are unique in U.K. They are usually impeccably planned and maintained. Do you know Collage Garden at Westminster Abbey has been on the site for thousand years? Once I stood outside a cottage in Glencoe for a long time,couldn't stopping marveling at the tiny perfection. Mr Haines once said the back gardens of cottages are even prettier than the front yard; unfortunately, I haven't had chance to see yet.

JC Jan 1st, 2003 06:40 PM

-continue-<BR><BR>Many gardens offer B&amp;B/holiday cottage for hire on site or nearby. It is always quite pleasant to stay. I could never forget the pleasure of staying at the little 19th century water tower at Trelissicl Garden,sipping tea at the top floor,overlloking sea-like flowering trees as bright as sunset.<BR><BR>Another delight is having meal/tea at the cafe of gardens. They usually serve well-cooked local specialties/produce in pretty surroundings. I have tried some unusual food,but never being disappointed.<BR><BR>Garden visiting has taken me to many off-beaten pathes and other enjoyments. Such as for Chirk Castle, I had chance to walk along Llangollen Canel and Pontcysyllre Aqueduct-one of the most impressive canel engineering. For Plas Newydd(the most magnificent view),I went to the island of Anglesey. Little fishing villages in Cornwall and Devon, medieval churches in East Anglia,walks in Lake District and Highlands,many choir practices at local pubs,church concerts and bellringings, and ,always the warmth and kindness of strangers.<BR><BR>I really couldn't say enough about how easy and fun to visit gardens by public transports in U.K. To me, garden is a little paradise on earth,I hope everyone will try to enjoy it.<BR><BR>

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