One week in England NOT London

Feb 14th, 2006, 07:28 PM
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One week in England NOT London

My family and I will be staying in London for 3 weeks this July and want to spend the last week of our month long vacation in other parts of England. Which places should we visit just as day trips from our London base and which cities should we plan to stay in for a night or two? We are teachers with our 14 year old son, so we are particularly interested in must see literary/historical sites.

Thank you in advance for your itinerary suggestions!

mfcrisman is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 08:33 PM
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The obvious day trips for history/literary lovers are Oxford, Canterbury, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon.
I'd stay in the Cotswolds where Stonehendge/Salisbury, Bath, Stratford, Warwick and Oxford are easily reached. I'd suggest hiring a car to be able to fully explore the area. Don't limit yourselves to just cities (or just England as from the Cotswolds you could easily visit Tintern Abbey, Chepstow and Cardiff in Wales).
You could also feasibly do a day trip to York by train from London or even fly to Edinburgh for an overnight stay. There are plenty of options for budget airline flights and the airport is easily commutable to the city.
AR is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 09:24 PM
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Thanks for the great info. AR. My husband, especially, likes to do what I call "immersion travel," choosing places to spend some time in -- thus London for a full 3 weeks; I was lucky to talk him into traveling the rest of England for that 4th week. So, the Cotswolds it is then. Does anyone have suggestions as to how long to stay there? How about York? Any other place during that week? Thanks again for your wise replies.
mfcrisman is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 09:40 PM
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Michelle, London will drive you insane if you just "do" the city for 3 weeks! Though at least you'll not miss anything. The museums (Natural History, Science, British) are all free and most of the fee paying attractions can be ordered on line in advance. I'd recommend trips out that are local to London such as Windsor Castle (St George's Chapel is not open other than for services on Sundays - it would have been well worth a visit even without the castle being there as it is the "current" mausoleum of the British Kings and Queens and contains the graves of Kings such as Henry VIII to George VI, the current Queen's father).
As for a base in the Cotswolds, it depends on what transport you have. If you are arriving by train then it may be wiser to stay in Bath (not strictly the Cotswolds, but not too far) or Cheltenham or even Oxford. Other than that there are plenty of threads on here with excellent recommendations for hotels and B&B's in the heart of the Cotswolds.
York is only two hours away from London by train.
If I was you, I'd consider a little less than 3 weeks in London and split the rest between the Cotswolds and the north (such as York).
AR is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 10:45 PM
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If I had a month, you'd be hard pressed to keep me away from the Lake District and Wales for about two weeks of it. And London is my favorite city in the world.
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 11:17 PM
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Hi, I live near York and couldn't agree more that this is an ideal base for you.
Will you have a car?
York itself is beautiful - very compact and therefore easy to see a lot in a short time. There's lots about York itself on this site already, but to me the Minster (Cathedral) and the wonderful Railway Museum (free entry and fantastic even if you 'don't like trains). Your lad would enjoy a walk around the city walls and maybe the Ghost tour in the evening?
Good shopping too, and plenty of Museums.
A couple of sites to look at -
From York you are in easy reach of -
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens. Fountains is a World Heritage Site.
Castle Howard - magnificent Stately home
I could easily give you 3 weeks worth of historical and literary sites in Yorkshire!
A bit of a drive from York (but perfectly possible) is Haworth, home of the Brontes. Haworth is a small Pennine town, and the Bronte's old home (the Parsonage) has been sympathetically turned into a Museum, with many of the rooms as they would have been in the Brontes day.
York is easily reached from Kings Cross in under 2 hours using GNER. In fact my husband commutes into London 1 or 2 days a week from York as part of his job.
Do come back to me if you would like to know more about the area.
Morgana is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 11:46 PM
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Since you are teachers, I would recommend spending a night or two in Cambridge. The city is very compact, with Fitzwilliam Museum and most of the colleges an easy stroll from each other in the centre of town. The museum, and some of the colleges, have original manuscripts of famous Cambridge scholars on display.

Cambridge is approx one hour by train from Kings Cross Station in London.
Heimdall is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 12:48 AM
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My son and daughter live in London and seem to be relatively sane.

Don't "do" London. Just enjoy the city in a nice leisurely way. You will have a chance to enjoy the parks and markets.
If you want to see genuine cockneys, go to the Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday morning.
It's a pity that you have chosen July because it will be a bit crowded.
As teachers, I think that you would enjoy the Museum of London. The exhibition hall of the British Library is also a must for those interested in literature and history, e.g. there are manuscripts by people like Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll etc. and documents like Magna Carta.
Dickens' house is well worth a visit as is Dr. Johnson's (it has a statue of Hodge outside).
For smaller but interesting museums, I'd suggest the Geffrye Museum, The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green and Sir John Soane's Museum which is one man's collection and a wonderful hotch-potch of "things".
Another very interesting little museum is The Old Operating Theatre: museum and herb garret. It is a genuine operating theatre, discovered fairly recently and makes you glad to be living in the 21st century.
Finally as teachers, you will probably be interested in the the Ragged School Museum.

Three weeks? You'd need at least three years.

MissPrism is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 12:54 AM
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I heartily concur with YORK! Had a great time there, lovely city, fantastic people, and the Yorkshire countryside...well, what can I say?
After 3 weeks in London, you might be ready for a bit of countryside.
As for London, don't miss the British Library. They have a wonderful display of literary treasures (see the original Alice in Wonderland! A Gutenberg Bible! Original Mozart scores! etc!!!!). Also, don't miss out on the Victoria and Albert museum for a museum that focuses on materials and design, vice displays of strictly "old stuff". The Science Museum and the Nature Museum are right in the same areas and they are absolutely first class. Have fun!
nospam is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 01:48 AM
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Sorry; but 3 weeks in London is a wasted opportunity, there is far more to the UK than London. You have 4 weeks you could see so much, why restrict yourself to London then rush around for the last 1 week, I suggest 7-10 days max in London and the rest of the UK is at your disposal.

This is just my humble opinion, please choose to ignore

Mucky is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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Actually I would not consider 3 weeks in London to be a waste. If I could stay there 2 months at a time I sure would.

However - I do agree w/ Mucky. I don't understand staying in London a long time - "imersion travel" as you call it - only to rush like mad to see other parts of the country.

If the 3 weeks is decided - and I don't disagree - then I would pick ONE other area:

- Yorkshire, including day trips to places like Durham, and maybe up to Hadrian's Wall or the Lakes.

- The Cotswolds, including Oxford, Warwick/Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, maybe a bit of S. Wales (Chepstow/Tintern Abbey)

- the Southwest - Devon/Cornwall/Dorset. Fishing villages, gorgeous scenery, gardens, Dartmoor.


- the Southeast - Kent/East Sussex. Amazing castles, gardens, Canterbury.
janisj is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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In 2000, we located ourselves in Chipping Camden and explored the area including Warwick Castle, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswalds. We became regulars at the local pub for dinner. The owners of the B&B where we stayed are no longer accepting guests but I'm sure that there are other choices that will be just as good.

This would give you a variety of activities yet allow your husband to feel that more settled.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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Do you know about London Walks? You can look at and see what a great variety is offered.

Three weeks is not too much time for London. Your son would probably enjoy Greenwich and a day trip to Warwick Castle. We really liked Churchill's War Museum.

There is an old thread on here titled 100 Best Things To Do In London or something like that. Do a search if you are interested.

Don't be afraid to do a quick survey in your extra week. You will then know where you would like to go back for a further "immersion"

carolyn is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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I would like to suggest that you take a look at south Wales. We took a 3 night tour of south Wales with Backroads Touring. It truly does what the name indicates: you travel the narrow lanes and see the countryside like no other tour I know of.

Backroads is a small tour outfit, but the reward is that the day's travel plan can be modified within the constraints of south Wales according to the customers' interests.

We stayed at a charming B and B called Brick House, near Chepstow.

If Hew Walton leads your tour, you will get the A+ version of a great trip.
And yes, Tintern Abbey is on the trip plan and it is well worth a visit.

I went twice, and enjoyed it both times. The second time gave me a chance to really see it because I knew what to do.
brookwood is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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If going by train be sure to investigate the England railpass, good all over England (not a BritRail pass which costs more and is also good in wales and Scotland) - kids 15 and under get a FREE pass the same as their parents buy - you can get an 8 straight day pass for $249 or $30 a day. Check for fares to see why this is a bargain for the amount of travel you seem to be doing - and trains are great to go to cities like York, Stratford, Oxford, Bath, Cambridge - right to city center, no parking hassles, no $6/gallon petro and you kid goes free. I suggest you where you can request the free European Planning & Rail Guide which has a good section on England with rail maps, write-ups on lots of cities and destinations and special info for rail travelers and details all the various railpasses you may consider - including the bargain LondonPlus if just traveling in a 100-mile radius of London. Trains go about twice an hour so easy to use - just show up at station and there will be a train leaving soon for where you want to go.
PalQ is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 07:31 PM
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Thank you all for such wonderful advice. Our excitement is growing as we read each post. Thanks especially to Morgana and PalQ for the links -- such fun exploring. York looks like a must as does the Cotswolds. I'm thinking now of taking the train from London to York and working back down to Bath, Tintagel, etc. Here's the question. If you had a week to go north to York and then work your way back down, in which places would you choose to stay and for how many nights each? I'm not asking about lodging, just locations. You are all GREAT!
mfcrisman is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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I'll just post a bit and come back in the morning w/more.

A week is very simply not long enough for Yorkshire, the Cotswolds and Cornwall. Cornwall is a looooong way SW and is not really a good place to go unless you have a minimum of 3 or 4 days to spend there.

The Cotswolds are not a place you can "see" just driving through. It is an area one needs to slow down and experience a bit visiting small villages, gardens, and so on - again, 3 or 4 days at minimum.

York - the city itself - you can get an overview in one day. But the surrounding area -- Castle Howard, Fountains Abbey, the moors, Whitby, James Herriott connections mean another 3 or 4 day minimum visit.

So unless you just want to sit in the car for hour upon hour each day and see more than just from the car windows, you need to cut back to one, or at very most, 2 of those areas.

OR - you could cut 3 or 4 days from your 3 weeks in London and then be able to squeeze in more countryside touring.
janisj is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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Another vote for York. There is so much history around the area that a week would be about right. Do try to do day trips to Cambridge and Oxford while you are London though. You will not regret it.
almcd is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 03:48 PM
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Another vote for York. we have stayed there at least five times and love it but we also have stayed in Chester - and driven to Wales.

Also we would vote for Salisbury :-B
ed is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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Cornwall is a long way away, but it's so beautiful. The Cornwall/Devon/Dorset area is heaven. If you're a fan of Thomas Hardy, you'll be driving down a road and just KNOW this is the road Tess was on when she was going to claim kin to the D'Urbervilles.

Whichever area you choose, it will be welcome after the hustle and bustle of London. (I don't think three weeks is too much. I could have spent a week in the National Gallery, and an entire day parked in front of "The Hay Wain.")
Margot is offline  

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