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specs Jun 9th, 2013 06:14 PM

Oxford to Rye
On the first Saturday in August we plan to take the train from Oxford to Ashford Intl. Train Station. We will then rent a car in Ashford and drive to Rye. (I think we could pick up a car in Hastings but that would mean another change of trains at Ashford and a return journey back to Rye)
Does this sound like the best plan for train travel/car rental from Oxford to Rye?

We don't want to drive from Oxford as it is confusing to get out of Oxford and we feel nervous about driving thru traffic congestion as we get closer to the metropolitan area.

Will we have any problem picking up a car on a Saturday? Are there fewer trains on the weekend? Should we book our train travel online from the U.S. or would it be less expensive to buy at a station in UK? Would BritRail pass save us money?
Thanks for all help.

janisj Jun 9th, 2013 07:27 PM

Ashford really doesn't make too much sense IMO. It would be between a 2.5 and 3 hour journey w/ either 2 or 3 changes of trains.

In fact, you could drive all the way from Oxford in about the same time. It really isn't confusing getting out of any of the rental agency locations. And if you rent from Hertz off the Woodstock Road you would take the ring road and not drive 'in' Oxford at all.

Or you could take the express coach from Oxford to LHR and pick up your rental car there.

Less hassle/changes the better IMO

flanneruk Jun 9th, 2013 08:20 PM

I can see no advantage at all in getting involved with trains for this journey. It's faster to drive, and while there can sometimes be horribly overcrowded trains from Oxford to London on summer Saturday mornings (that depends on unpredictable decisions by cheapskate guides shepherding parties of young Chinese), I've never stumbled on any of this "congestion as we get closer to the metropolitan area" stuff on a Saturday.

I can't even begin to imagine what's confusing about getting a taxi from your hotel to the Hertz Kidlington office (the same place janisj's describing as Woodstock Rd). From that point, it's about 2 hrs to the A2070 turnoff from the M20 at Ashford, which is the fastest way of driving to Rye: A44, A40,M40, M25, M26, M20 (at least an hour faster than the many, many trains needed for the same journey).

If you want to submit yourself to the horrors, trains run at much the same frequency on Sats as on weekdays on these routes. There's no financial advantage booking ahead of time, and not all rolling stock on Saturdays allows seat reservation anyway (making the trip even worse if you run into one of those Chinese tour parties). But if you do decide to go by train, walk down to the station in advance and reserve seats.

Havana128 Jun 9th, 2013 11:14 PM

You can get a train from Ashford to Rye.

janisj Jun 10th, 2013 06:20 AM

That would add yet another change of trains - and they still wouldn't have the car they eventually want to pick up.

specs Jun 11th, 2013 12:12 AM

The train travel idea has been put forth by hubby. He has driven in England but feels uneasy about "jumping right in" to traffic. He thought the traffic, or the pace of traffic, out of Ashford might be easier as he adjusts to driving on the left.

We'll have to give all of this some thought.

If memory serves, I think we've picked up a car on Fairy Hinksey (?) Rd. in Oxford in the past. Perhaps there are a number of rental companies.

I didn't think about the hordes of students on the train. I expected they'd all be busy walking 12 abreast clogging up the High.

Tulips Jun 11th, 2013 01:46 AM

On a Saturday in August there will not be a lot of traffic. Traffic from Oxford will not be much different than traffic from Ashford, if you pick up your car outside of the center of town.

flanneruk Jun 11th, 2013 03:02 AM

"He thought the traffic, or the pace of traffic, out of Ashford might be easier as he adjusts to driving on the left."

That's the argument for Hertz Kidlington. It's got a biggish carpark, whence you exit onto a quiet suburban lane, whence onto (by a left turn) a dual carriageway. The argument against the others is that you exit into busyish fringe city-centre roads if you're lucky or Oxford's famous kamikaze cyclists if you're not.

It's not students clogging up the trains (in August???): it's non-anglophone foreign tourists.

janisj Jun 11th, 2013 08:25 AM

The Hertz location flanner and I mention is the easiest/likely best place to collect a rental car. It solves any traffic/confusion issues you might have. Easy peasy. MUCH easier than faffing about w/ multiple trains.

specs Jun 17th, 2013 05:46 PM

Thank you for your prompt and candid opinions on our plans. We've decided to take your advice and rent a car in Oxford.

I think we will be able to manage the drive to Rye. Hubby was feeling confident too until we watched an episode of Inspector Lewis last night. Right off the bat Lewis and Hathaway are rear ended whilst driving in Oxford. If this was a portent of things to come it is ok with me. I can't imagine running into two more interesting chaps.

janisj Jun 17th, 2013 08:39 PM

Tell him if you collect the car at Hertz in Kidlington he won't have to drive in Oxford at all. It is on the northern suburbs right off one of the main roads out of town and then you are on the ring road headed towards the Motorway. All will be dual carriageway (divided road) so really easy to get acclimated to the driving/car.

specs Sep 11th, 2013 11:10 PM

Here is my belated report on driving from Oxford to Rye. We ended up picking up the car at Ferry Hinksey Road in Oxford. Fortunately, we arrived early and were able to get the car without a wait. This office is very busy and there is often a queue.

Touring Kent and Sussex would've been impossible without a car. Thanks for the encouragement. Glad we did it!

Not sure driving down to Rye, versus the plan for train travel, was the best way to go. It took us more than 5 hours to reach Rye. We drove at the speed limit whenever possible. There weren't any stalls on the motorway but the traffic was very heavy. In the country, roads were full of folks on holiday. Our inn keeper told us that weekend traffic in the summer is horrific because Rye is close enough to London for people to pop down for a night or two.

Thanks again for the suggestions. We loved Rye and would definitely return.

europeannovice Sep 12th, 2013 04:14 PM

Thanks for the report. What did you enjoy about Rye? What did you do there?

specs Sep 14th, 2013 02:55 PM

Rye is a wonderful town for walking. Lots of charming houses,cobbled streets, little shops and places to stop and have a drink or a bite to eat.
There is an interesting old grave yard, Ypres tower, and Camber castle to explore. Pretty views of sheep in the meadows. There is still a connection to Rye's past as one of the Cinque Ports. It has a nautical feel altho it is no longer on the Channel. Storms and silting have put Rye about 5 miles inland.

There are some interesting craft studios. One is a lovely weaving studio with a very friendly owner. (can't remember name, but it starts with the letter "P") Rye Pottery is charming if pricey. We bought a few pieces as an anniversary present to ourselves. Not hippie-dippy pottery. Unique styles featuring soft colors, animals and characters from English history.

Our favorite place was Lamb House. It is only open for a few hours a week.
Rye was the model for the fictional village of Tilling in E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels. He lived at Lamb House as did Henry James. The house is unprepossessing from the street but the interiors are lovely. There is a beautiful garden where you may have tea or just sit and relax. Definitely a hidden gem in Rye. If you have a membership in The National Trust, or the American branch, The Royal Oak Society, admission is free.

Rye is close to a number of gardens and country homes. Sissinghurst,
Great Dixter, Bateman's. It is also close to some lovely castles. Plenty of day trips. You are spoilt for choice!

Rye has some beautiful inns. The Jeekes, The Mermaid, The George. We opted to stay at an apartment owned by The Hope Anchor. It is at the end of Watchbell Street and overlooks the tidal river and meadows. There are two apts. and we took the one on the second floor. We loved the privacy and the room to spread out. The apt. has a large bedroom with t.v.and fridge, a sitting room with a t.v., a good sized bathroom, and a small room with a vanity and wardrobe. Lots of windows so we had a wonderful cross breeze and lots of light. The rooms were clean, bed was comfortable. We'd definitely stay there again.

europeannovice Sep 14th, 2013 06:55 PM

Thanks for the great detail.

We were also reading about the Rye Nature Reserve and the Rye Heritage Center. They each sound interesting too. Definitely sounds like a lovely place to visit.

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