Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

London and southwest drive trip in April 2010 - help on certain issues!

Notices

London and southwest drive trip in April 2010 - help on certain issues!

Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:09 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
London and southwest drive trip in April 2010 - help on certain issues!

My mom is planning a drive trip with 3 of her 40+ year old friends in late April/early May, but she needs some help on her itinerary. She's not too IT savvy hence I'm posting on her behalf

We drive on the same side of the road where we're from, so driving is not a problem, same with the signages, etc. Some might advise taking the train, but they're pretty set on driving, and since there's 4 of them in total, I would think driving would be a cost-efficient way to do it. All of them drive everyday, and are in good health.

Their planned route is as follows:
London
Windsor Castle
Oxford
Cotswold
Gloucestershire
Bath
Glastonbury
Stonehenge/ Salisbury
Brighton
Back to London

It's basically a round trip, focussing mainly on the southeast, with a slight detour to Brighton. Here are the questions that we (meaning my mom and friends) have:

1. Since they'll flying in from Heathrow, should they rent the car from the airport and start off with the drive trip, then drop off the car in the city centre, spend a few days before flying off or should they make their way to the city first, spend a few days there and then pick up a car from somewhere slightly outside the city centre and start off with the drive trip then return to Heathrow to catch their flight back? If the latter, any suggestions on where to pick up the car?
2. They were thinking of spending a few nights in the following places: Cotswold/Gloucestershire, Glastonbury and Brighton. They were planning a four day drive trip, with 3 nights in those places, and another 3 nights in London itself. Does it sound good, or should they allocate another night to some other place along their route? The maximum they can spend will be 9 nights away from home (work/family commitments since this is an all-girls outing for them), but I was thinking 2 nights will probably go to travelling to/out of UK and some jetlag at the start. All of them have also previously visited London on those 'grand tours of Europe', so it'll mostly be 2-3 days of shopping and some sightseeing in London for them (I think)
3. Is it possible to start from London in the morning, and visit Windsor and Oxford on the same day, then spend the night in Cotswold? Alternatively, should either Windsor or Oxford be reserved for a day trip out of London when they're staying in the city?
4. I was also thinking that the drive trip is kinda rushed/packed, so I was wondering if you experienced travelers had to choose out of the following, which would you take out? Cotswold, Glastonbury or Brighton? The Stonehenge and Bath are must-gos for them, so those are non-negotiable. This is taking into consideration that my mom loves nature/scenery and taking photographs. They also don't mind touristy places, and are not going all out to look for those off-the-beaten track villages, or places, although they would like to stay in those quaint B&Bs to relieve their romantic dreams ;p Should they reserve Brighton and the coast for another separate trip?
insouciance is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:31 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,251
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bear in mind that daylight is roughly 0545-1945. BST

1. I assume from the use of the word "mom" that the country they're arriving from isn't one of Europe's left-hand drive islands. So they'll be flying overnight, and it really, really isn't a good idea to collect a car under those circs. Start in London, then collect the car a few days later either at Heathrow or at the Oxford Hertz. Then do the circle and leave the car at Heathrow

3. Well, hmm.. They have to park outside Oxford, get the bus in, sightsee, then get the bus out. It's then 12 mins from the Park & Ride to the first "Cotswolds start here" sign, or about 8 to Woodstock which is almost as nice as if it were in the Cotswolds. Just doable - but really pushing it, since they've got to get out to LHR to collect the car

4. What do they want to do? Brighton is out on a real limb, it's a chaotic mini-London and a right sod for parking. It's also got some fantastic cliffs a couple of miles away.

Glastonbury is seriously weird. If you're interested in New Age hokery, or the more extraordinary legends of early Christianity (there's some evidence the early Church thought something had happened in Glastonbury as early as the 4th century), it's well worth exploring. If its Arthuriana, though, there's not that much to see. It's not THAT physically attractive - abd a major shlep.

There's not thast much "there" here in the Cotswolds. Just lots of pretty, but undemanding countryside and towns/villages.

No point saying which I'd elbow out: what's least likely to float their boat?
flanneruk is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:39 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A couple of questions:

1. What time of year are they going? The Cotswolds are beautiful but if their trip is in the middle of February, the attraction isn't quite as strong!
2. Where are they coming from? Just wondering if they'll need to deal with jet lag.

If they are coming from somewhere where they will be jet lagged, I would definitely start with London, so they can adjust safely before spending a lot of time driving.

I agree with you - the list you mention over nine nights is VERY packed, in my opinion. Have they been to London or elsewhere in the UK before? They and you know their interests better than we do, but if this is their first trip, 2.5 days in London seems very short to me. Personally, I would keep it to London, Bath/Stonehenge if those are must-sees, and perhaps add in a night or two in the Cotswolds for their countryside b&b. (Also - it's not one single town called "Cotswold," but rather an area, "the Cotswolds," which is known for scenic countryside, villages, walking, etc.)
jent103 is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:48 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, sorry - I just reread your post and saw that they'll be there in the spring. Personally, I'd definitely keep in the Cotswolds, then; best I can tell from your post, it seems like your mom would enjoy the area.
jent103 is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:49 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
OMG - you make 40+ sound like four doddering old folks

Anyway, I am a bit confused. You say 9 days total - that would have to include the days traveling to/from the UK. They really only have 7 days 'on the ground'. Then you say "They were thinking of spending a few nights in the following places: Cotswold/Gloucestershire, Glastonbury and Brighton."

So it appears you don't mean a few days in each of those places - but 3 or 4 days total.

If so - Windsor, Oxford, the Cotswolds, Bath, Glastonbury (and likely Wells), Stonehenge, Salisbury and Brighton is much too ambitious an itinerary.

w/ nine days here is how they could maximize their time and see most (but definitely not all) of their wish list.

Day 1 -- flying to the UK

Day 2 -- arrive at LHR, collect car and drive JUST as far as Windsor. It is only 7 miles. They really shouldn't drive while jetlagged - but as far as Windsor would probably be OK. See the Castle this afternoon. Night in Windsor.

Day 3 -- early AM drive to Oxford, park in one of the park-and-ride lots and spend 1/2 a day seeing Oxford. Then drive into the Cotswolds and 2 nights. (this will give them 1.5 days to see a bit of the area) Two nights in the Cotswolds

Day 5 -- leave early AM and drive to Bath, arriving by about 9AM. Spend that day walking around Bath and leave in the early evening to drive to near Glastonbury/Wells to stay that night. Night in Glastonbury or Wells

Day 6 -- tour Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey, after lunch leave for Salisbury/Stonehenge and see than in teh late afternoon. Drive to LHR, drop the car and take public transport into London for the next 3 nights.

Days 7,8 in London. Three nights/two days in London

Day 9 fly home.

This is VERY hectic but doable. I can see no way to squeeze in Brighton -- except maybe as a day trip by train from London but that cuts London really short.
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:50 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
I was posting the same time as the others . . .
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 09:58 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
First, I think it's really funny that you're writing about these 40 year old women as if they were about 80 (they drive every day and are in good health). I would certainly hope so at that age.

Overall I think they're short-chainging London and trying to do way too much outside.

They should start in London - since driving jet lagged after a long plane trip is not a great idea. And 3 nights in London would be really only 2.5 days - IMHO way too little. If it were me I would do all nights in London - spending 5 days there and doing 1 or 2 day trips to the sights they most want to see.

The places they have listed would easily take 10 days to see much of anything. So - they're either going to have to make some hard choice or just drive down the main streets of these places snapping photos as they go.

Cotswolds - see the "S" - is not a town - it;s a whole area - and to see much of anything you will need 3 days just there.

IMHO I would do a trip to Windsor (easily done by train in a long half-day - and then other other place - possibly Bath or Oxford - depending on their interests. There just isn't time to see more unless they want to skip a lot of major sights in London.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:18 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
nytraveler: " . . . 3 nights in London would be really only 2.5 days - IMHO way too little. If it were me I would do all nights in London - spending 5 days there and doing 1 or 2 day trips to the sights they most want to see."

"There just isn't time to see more unless they want to skip a lot of major sights in London."

The OP says they have all been to London before. It appears the focus of this trip is mostly outside of the city plus some shopping. So I would not advise them to spend all that time in London.
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:20 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You say that the group have already been to London, so I'm assuming they really are interested in getting a taste of the English countryside. I agree with janisj's suggestions, start off with Windsor. I always find that arriving jet-lagged in London is a bit surreal and I feel so guilty nodding off early when there's so much going on outside my hotel room.

Was there a reason for including Brighton? If not, then I don't think it's really worth the stop. Is there something specific they want to see in the Cotswolds, because that will probably dictate where they stay. I like Chipping Campden, but if they want to see Sudely for example they might want to stay in Winchcombe. Gloucestershire is a big area - again, was there somewhere specific they wanted to see or just the scenery?

Glastonbury is fun on market day, it is a throwback to the hippie era, in a honest, strange kind of way. Are they interested in climbing Glastonbury Tor? Don't miss Wells Abbey, one of the most beautiful churches of its size that I've seen.

I'm assuming they are pre-booking their accommodation. There's nothing worse with a restricted schedule to have to drive around looking for a place to stay for the night. And travelling with four people only makes the choice more difficult. Better to get those disccussion over with before you go.
rickmav is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:21 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi guys!

first off, sorry about the mistake on cotswolds :/
secondly, i'm in my early twenties, so late 40s does seem kinda far away for me (at this time).

janisj, what i meant was - i allocated 2 days out of the 9 for jetlag and travelling into the uk, since my mom and gang are coming in from japan, which should take more than 10hrs.

And yes, they've been to London before - i stated that they've done those 2 day stopovers in London while doing a "Grand tour of Europe" many years back. so i would think 3 days in london would mainly go to Shopping and revisiting some of the attractions that they deem worth revisiting.

I would think the edited itinerary would look as such
Fly into Heathrow (get the train to central London, stay for 2-3 nights)
*rent a car - any suggestions on where besides the airports?
Windsor Castle (half a day)
Oxford (spend the night there)
Cotswolds/Gloucestershire (2 nights in either place - limiting to 2-3 towns/villages each)
Bath (half a day)
Wells (half a day)
Stonehenge/ Salisbury (spend the night, visit the Stonehenge in the morning)
Drive to Heathrow Airport and fly back home

That gives us about 7-8 nights, which seems pretty good!

Another question, if Brighton is a priority (as well :/ ), and still working within the given timeframe, does it sound right to do it as such? We would be taking out Windsor and Oxford. I know it's hard to compare, but is Brighton more 'scenic' than those 2 places? I don't know what you can do in Brighton besides visit the Lighthouse and the coast, but Brighton was one of the first few places my mom mentioned, so I figured it must be quite impt.

London (3 nights)
Cotswolds (2 nights)
Bath -- Wells (1 day)
Stonehenge/Salisbury (1 night)
Brighton (1 night)

Or should Brighton and the cliffs/coast be the first stop from London, then doing it in the reverse order from the above route?
insouciance is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:29 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
You/they need to get a map. Brighton and the white cliffs are a long ways from everything else they want to see. Plus Windsor/Oxford/Bath and the Cotswolds are all in the same general direction. Zig zagging back and forth from London to the Cotswolds to Glastonbury to Brighton to Salisbury and back to LHR is just not feasible.

The plan I laid out is one semi-realistic way to tick most of their boxes. There is no way to do it all.

Get a map and take a look at how far apart things are. . . . .
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:32 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
Meant to add -- I assume you meant the famous 'White Cliffs' in your last post. They are even farther from the other locations than is Brighton.

The main thing in Brighton is the Pavilion . . . .
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 10:50 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 59
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
i think brighton is definitely out this time around! and yes, we'll definitely be reserving accoms!

I think I'll stick to the itinerary I mentioned above - (i've included more questions with asterix!)
Fly into Heathrow (get the train to central London, stay for 2-3 nights)
*rent a car - any suggestions on where besides the airports?
Windsor Castle (half a day)
Oxford (spend the night there)
Cotswolds/Gloucestershire (2 nights in either place - limiting to 2-3 towns/villages each)
*I checked out the website - http://www.cotswolds.info/tour-worce...ordshire.shtml and there seems to be SOOOO many tiny towns and villages to visit! It's a little lazy of me, but could you guys help me narrow down the list by suggesting which towns they should start looking at if their priorities are nice&quaint B&Bs (which i assume all those towns have), some greenery/parks would be great since my mom is an avid gardener, and of course, architecture and sights because my mom&gang aren't the type to sit around in a cafe for half a day and watch the world go by - they need some 'attractions' to hold their attention or keep them busy.
*Should they perhaps spend one night instead in Avebury since it's on the way to Bath?
Bath (half a day)
Glastonbury Tor/Wells
*any recommendations on where to stay around here or should they drive to spend the night in Salisbury?
Stonehenge/ Salisbury (spend the night, visit the Stonehenge in the morning)
Drive to Heathrow Airport and fly back home
insouciance is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 11:16 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,310
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just wanted to point out that many B&Bs - in particular in Bath - do not allow one night stays, especially over the weekends.
jamikins is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 12:38 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 67,148
Likes: 0
Received 32 Likes on 7 Posts
The easiest place to collect a car is generally at the airports. But a lot depends onn day of week/time of day they start the drive. Renting from LHR is much easier than most places in central London.

You are just a bit confused >>Cotswolds/Gloucestershire (2 nights in either place - limiting to 2-3 towns/villages each)
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 01:20 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,755
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wells Cathedral is worth a visit, but with the limited time frame, I'd give Glastonbury ( Tor and Abbey) a miss. In fact, it's going to be hard enough to get both Bath and Wells to fit your itinerary.
historytraveler is online now  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 01:56 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,350
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi insouciance,
We just did this same trip this summer. We actually started in the Cotswolds, in Chipping Campden, for a slower pace to start the trip with and ended in London. Just our preference though.

We stayed in Chipping Campden at the Bramley House B&B and just loved it. Jane and David are just wonderful hosts. Their site is http://www.bramleyhouse.co.uk/. Hidcote gardens is just about 20 minutes from from CC and we just loved it also. We too are avid gardeners. Spent a good 1/2 day there wandering around.

Next we headed down to Wells and stayed at the Canon Grange B&B and loved it also. Have them get the two rooms that face the cathedral. http://www.canongrange.co.uk/

We did a daytrip to Bath from Wells. Parking is horrible in Bath so they should park at the park and ride just outside of town and ride the bus into town. Much easier. The buses come every 30 minutes.

From Wells we headed to London but made a stop at Stonehenge (for 1 hr)and Windsor castle (for 2 1/2hours) along the way. We dropped our car at Heathrow and caught the subway in to London from there.

Happy planning,
Michele
michele_d is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 01:57 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 819
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
They're coming from Japan? The jetlag will really kick in round about Bath I reckon.
stfc is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 02:10 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,026
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ok, a few years back our friends from Japan joined us on one of our "10 day, let's see what we can do" trips, in early April.

We started in Edinburgh, picked up the van on arrival day and then spent 1 full day there. Left the following morning, drove down to Roslyn (before the movie came out), spent a few hours there then drove down to Hadrian's wall and ended up spending the night about an hour north of York.

The following day, we went to York for about 4 hours. I wanted to go to Fountain's Abbey, but got outvoted and we ended up in Nottingham (or should I say Pittsburgh East). Got out as fast as we could, drove partly on the motorway, partly on the side roads, (which I love). Ate supper in some great little town that had obviously never seen Japanese tourists. We had fish and chips in the little store, eating in the owner's kitchen, with about a dozen of the townfolk staring in through the windows.

From there, headed on down to our B&B in Stow-on-the-Wold, which became our base for several days. From there we went to Tewksbury, Bath, Stonehenge, Avebury and several other places I don't remember.

Drove to Heathrow, dropping off the car, then to London. Spent 2 days in London and finally flew home.

This was the first time they had ever done a trip that wasn't a booked tour by bus. They said they could not believe how much they saw and how much fun it was, because they could stay or go as they pleased.

Oh, and we are all old farts, in our 50s. Yes, Masatoshi is used to driving on the left, but since he cannot read a word of English, I did not let him drive but for a VERY short distance.

They can do it and have fun, just be flexible.
daveesl is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2009, 02:43 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,683
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi insouciance,

a few suggestions:

they could do Brighton as a day trip from London and combine that with some shopping.

Avebury is not great as a place to stop overnight - they would do better to leave London a day early, get the train to windsor, book into a B&B, tour Windsor, then pick up their car on the way west the following morning, stopping off at Stonehenge if they must.

I would definitely go to Wells if I were them. the cathedral and Bishop's Palace are magical. then up the Fosse Way [a lovely straight Roman Road] to Tetbury, then the Cotswolds. Westonbirt Arboretum would make a great place to stop off on this route.

avoid Glastonbury - there are so many other lovely places to see - not just Tetbury, but Stowe, the Slaughters, Bourton on the Water, etc. etc. they should devote one day just to wandering around the lanes stopping where they please.

i think they would love Hidcote - a quintessentially english garden superb in the spring.

that is probably all they can comfortably manage. less is more.
annhig is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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

FODOR'S VIDEO