London : 2 days in the countryside

Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:00 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
London : 2 days in the countryside

Having a little problem getting our itinerary settled and am hoping Fodorites can help me.
We're in London from Nov. 15th thru 19th. On the 20th we would like to go out to the countryside for one or two nights. Problem is we need to be at Gatwick on the 22nd AM to go home.
Where could we go that would be a nice overnight and still allow us to get back to Gatwick on the morning of our third day out of the city?
Should we plan to stay one night only in the countryside and the second night at a hotel near the airport? Are there any towns near the airport that are charming?
Our hope was to go to Bath on the 20th, spend the night and following day there, then stay somewhere convenient to Gatwick for the following morning's flight. Is this doable?
We would prefer to not rent a car and just travel by train. Would that mean coming back to London/Victoria to get the train to Gatwick?
Hope someone with some experience and expertise can help me out with this. It's all so intangible when just looking at a map. There's nothing like some first hand experience to put things in perspective!
Thanks for your help.
skipsit is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:09 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From Bath to London by train get off at Reading and transfer there to direct trains to Gatwick and environs - Brighton is not far from the airport and could make a nice non-London stay.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:17 AM
  #3  
tod
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,654
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Skipsit a lot depends what you want to see in the countryside.
Do you want to just amble down a few country lanes, or, see some castles, maybe wonder through very old towns (like York, Bath or Canterbury) which have no end of intrest. Then there are seaside towns like Brighton & Dover.
All are day trips if need be.
Give us an idea of your interests and I'm sure you will get loads of response.

tod is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:20 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Two crucial links you need to know about are:

- the hourly train from Reading to Gatwick (about 70 mins), with connections from Bristol/Bath, from Hereford and the Cotswold line, and from the line to Oxford from Birmingham. nationalrail.co.uk
- the hourly coach from Oxford to Gatwick (about 2 hours), handy for getting a taxi from bits of the NE Cotswolds like Burford. oxfordbus.co.uk

Unless you've got a plane leaving before 0900, getting to Gatwick from an overnight stay in most places west of Reading (like Bath) is pretty painless.

But do remember that all this "must be there at least 3 hours early" stuff is hokum. BA, for example, are going out of their way now to tell you NOT to be at the airport too early, and won't accept checkin early anyway. Wiith online checkin and printing your BP before setting off, even transatlantic flights don't need you at the airport till 45 mins before departure
flanneruk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:24 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<Unless you've got a plane leaving before 0900, getting to Gatwick from an overnight stay in most places west of Reading (like Bath) is pretty painless>

so if i have a plane at 10am i could stay in Bath and get to Gatwick with plenty of time to spare - Bath to Reading about an hour, transfer time between trains and then 70 mins to Gatwick and the constant threat of late or cancelled trains, endemic in U.K. trains - i don't think so - you want to be a lot closer to Gatwick than Bath IMO.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 07:43 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the responses so far. Very helpful.
Our interests are art, architecture, food - especially artisanal, regional foods, antiques, local crafts, museums, boutique shopping, outdoor markets, things of that type. Would like to stay in an upscale b&b, sit by the fire or in the pub, meet some fellow travelers, relax and enjoy.
Fairly laid back, very experienced travelers with enough of a budget to stay somewhere very charming and memorable. We are two "mature" couples in our 50's and 60's.
Again, thanks everyone for any suggestions.
skipsit is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,311
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Bath is lovely of course. But if you headed south instead you could stay 2 nights in the same B&B/hotel, and not have to change to a place near LGW.

Kent/East Sussex are wonderful, full of amazing stately homes, castles, seaside - and all w/i a short drive of LGW. The gardens won't be in their summer glory of course, but places like Hever, Chartwell, Knole, Royal Tunbridge Wells, and Brighton will more than make up for it.

For connections out of LGW I would not go west to Bath, but south into Kent . . . . (and this is from someone who almost always recommends Bath)
janisj is online now  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 10:25 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,254
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PalenqueBob:

I never give advice I don't follow myself. When in Flanner Towers West, we take the public transport I've just suggested to Gatwick for flights after 0900.

The only time we've ever missed a plane from Gatwick was starting from Flanner Towers East and getting the Thameslink from Kings Cross.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 10:32 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Our flight is at 10:30 AM so perhaps we could stay 2 nights somewhere south and make it to Gatwick for the AM flight. I've always wanted to go to Brighton but am wondering if things will be all closed up at that time of the year? Any recommendations on places to stay out that way?
skipsit is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 11:20 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I very much respect flanner's advice, don't get me wrong and as a Brit he's obviously better informed on many things rail, airport, etc. than I - but i still think if you have a 10:30am flight, which means you should be inside the airport and at check-in at 8am you should stay relatively near the airport and not in far removed Bath, where it seems you'd have to get on a train about 5am to reliably make the connection. And as flanner has done the trip many times he knows just where to go when arriving at Gatwick, etc. If you have to take the people mover to the newer terminal or encounter long lines at Passport Control it can add to the time.
Respectfully, in every sense of the word, I disagree on 9am and after - i'd say noon and after would be comfy enough.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 01:25 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,864
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with Jansij - the area south/southeast of London, is lovely and few tourists. You could stay 2 nights in Westerham, sevenoaks, or Chiddingstone [all in Kent] and visit Chartwell, penshurst, sissinghurst, knole, hever - the list is endless, and be at Gatwick as early as you like on the 22nd.
Have a great time.
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 06:36 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OK, everyone, thanks. I did a little research and Kent is the place to go!
Now, which town should we stay in and what hotel or b&b?
Several look nice but I'd like to stay somewhere where we can walk around town and spend a little time moseying.
Also, which castle or house would be the best to see?
Any suggestions?
skipsit is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 08:10 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,311
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Which castle/house? You have two days so you have time to see three or four w/o rushing about at all.

For instance Penshurst, Hever and Chartwell are only a few miles apart so could easily be seen in one day. Or Sissinghurst, Scotney and Bodiam are practically neighbors, so again could all three are an easy day. And finally Dover which is pretty much a day in itself.

Because gardens are not that great in mid Nov., I'd eliminate Sissinghurst/Gardens.

I'd head out early in the a.m. and head down to Dover. Visit Dover castle on the 20th. I'd stay both nights somewhere near Tonbridge or Royal Tunbridge Wells. Then on the 21st I'd visit Hever and Chartwell and Penshurst. Hever and Penshurst are fully open in Nov, while Chartwell is mainly just the grounds.

Here are a few nice ones to check out

www.oldbarnkent.co.uk/
http://www.heartofkent.org.uk/site/p...th-house-p1011
www.becketts-bandb.co.uk/
www.woodpeckerbarn.co.uk/
www.manorcourtfarm.co.uk/
janisj is online now  
Old Oct 13th, 2006, 08:12 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,311
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Oh - that should read " . . . . I'd eliminate Sissinghurst/Scotney Castle Gardens."
janisj is online now  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 03:07 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,864
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Castle Inn @ Chiddingstone - never stayed there but ate a few times - very nice for a country pub. Or there is the Leicester ? arms in Penshurst/ lots of hotels in T'Wells.
Not sure I'd go all the way to Dover - you could go to Canturbury for the day then follow Jansij's plan!
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 04:32 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 133
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Agree with others that Kent should fit your requirements, although renting a car for a couple of days really helps with seeing countryside.

Not mentioned above but should near the top of any listing of Kent attractions:

http://www.leeds-castle.com/

mt
maytraveller is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Will spend a few days researching, checking price and availability at hotels and inns, etc. and report back in a few days.
Thanks again for all the help. Love this website!
skipsit is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 06:39 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,311
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
One more comment - Leeds Castle is OK - but it is really known for its lovely gardens/grounds which are not really worth it in Nov. The interior of the castle itself is quite ordinary. The other houses already mentioned are more interesting/grand/historic.
janisj is online now  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 07:01 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 266
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Leeds - castle to some, conference centre to others.
henneth is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2006, 07:10 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,875
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Actually I'd say conference room -wanna be Theme Park.
historytraveler is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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