Rambling through England

Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:37 AM
  #1  
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Rambling through England

From Aug. 13th to the 17th, my wife and son and I will be rambling around England in a rental car. We will fly into Manchester and then intend to visit Nottingham for a half day or so (teenage son has a particular spot there he *has* to see), then to a small town north of Leicester (Woodhouse) to visit Beaumanor, an ancestral 'castle' of sorts. From there we want to eventually make it to Plymouth to see the HMS Victory, etc., perhaps passing through Cambridge and/or Avebury (just some great places we've heard about) on the way, before ending up in London for the Eurostar on the 17th. Is this do-able or is it too much driving? Are there interesting things we shouldn't miss (esp. festivals, history, ruins, cute little villages and countrysides, natural sites) that are off the beaten track? Oh, and is it very difficult to find lodging on the spur of the moment in the English countryside? Thanks so much.

JB
JamesB is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:47 AM
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Yes, too much driving, IMO.

Try to stick to the area between Leicester and London (Oxford, Cotswolds, etc) - there's plenty to see and do within this relatively small area...
TuckH is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:10 AM
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It's certainly too much driving: you don't want to go to Plymouth to see HMS VICTORY because the ship is actually in Portsmouth. If you're staying in London, Portsmouth is an easy day trip by train.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 07:02 AM
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OK - look at a map. Manchester to Nottingham (your son owes you big time) to Leicester to Cambridge to Avebury to Portsmouth (I'll assume that's what you meant) and then across London to Waterloo for the Eurostar zigzags all across central and southern England. The "drive" is certainly possible - but do you want to see anything enroute?

Substituting Oxford for Cambridge would help a little bit. But all in all it is a crazy itinerary.
janisj is online now  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Geoffhamer: I don't think they are staying in London -- see the "catch the Eurostar on the 17th bit".

Which only makes this harder . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Sorry, I meant Portsmouth, not Plymouth.

Anyway, the supposed must-dos are Nottingham, Leicester, Portsmouth. Still too far? We like to drive... But we also like to explore.
JamesB is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:18 PM
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I think it's do-able with around 1-4 hours driving a day if you skip the west country (Avebury).Ok if there are two of you driving so you can take turns and not get overtired. I get the impression you don't care about the order you see everything in.
So arrive Manchester on 13th and go to the Leicester site (around 2 hours drive) and stay nearby. 14th: go to Nottingham (around 30 miles away)for the morning and lunch then drive down to Cambridge (60 miles) to arrive mid afternoon and stay there. 15th: explore Cambridge for most of the day then drive to Portsmouth. This is 150 miles though so is the worst driving day. (but realistically most of us can cope with that if it's not everyday and I assume you have 2 drivers)to arrive in the evening. Stay the night. 16th: enjoy Portsmouth for the day either stay overnight or drive halfway to London and stay there. If the train is late on the 17th you could stay overnight in Windsor and spend some time there before going to London. 17th: drive up to London (Portsmouth to London is about 75 miles).
nona1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:26 PM
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Even the biggest fans of the Midlands would not view either Nottingham or Leicester as must sees. If you are flying into Manchester and then not going to the Lake district or north wales, you are missing a big opportunity.
From Manchester, I would make for the lakes [book ahead in wndermere or ambleside for example] and then, if you really have to, call at Nottingham and Leicester on the way to London.
Forget about Portsmouth on this trip. It is far out of your way and will mean that you spend much too long travelling just to get there.
alternatively, from Manchester travel to Nottingham, and thence to somewhere in the Warwickshire countryside, or Cambridge. Enjoy "wandering".
Have a great time, but don't kill yourselves travelling!
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Just a comment - if your teenage son is going to Nottingham because of Sherwood Forest/Robin Hood - it really isn't worth it. Nottingham itself we found to be depressing and hard to get around in, with very little to connect it to Robin Hood. Sherwood Forest requires all of your imagination, even then it would be hard to find it charming, to experience anything worthwhile.
rickmav is offline  
Aug 4th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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My son is interested in Nottingham because it is the headquarters for Games Workshop. They produce the Warhammer series of miniatures and gaming, which is his big hobby. We promised him we'd take him there for at least a few hours. We've been in Europe all summer as part of my job and his dearest wish was to visit Venice, which we couldn't do (poor boy! We just visited about a dozen other countries instead!). So this is our attempt to throw him a bone on our last trip.

By the way, one thing I don't understand is why 150 miles is considered a long trip. That just seems like a drop in the bucket to me, but maybe that's because I'm from the western U.S., where driving distances are long. Perhaps it's hard to get around on English roads?

Anyway, thanks for the great ideas and for all your help. Fodors has been the greatest help during our travels in Europe this summer.
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Aug 4th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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150 miles driving is long, in terms of the time spent in the car in relation to the total amount of time you've got available. You're talking something like 5 hours out of 48 or so.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Aug 4th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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I made the same mistake of thinking 150 miles - no big deal. However, 150 miles is 2 hours on a US interstate, vs 5 hours driving smaller roads in the UK. Although it seemed eminently do-able based on maps and logic, I knew by day 2 of my first fly and drive that I would never get all the way to Cornwall, while stopping to see everything else I wanted, in my one week. I quickly rethought all my well-laid plans and consoled myself with the knowledge that I'd just have to come back to see the rest. (And I have!!)
momofrajah is offline  
Aug 4th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Goodness, take the dear boy to Venice instead!

I agree with janisj that Oxford makes more sense than Cambridge.

And if cute villages and natural sights are of interest to you, go to the Lakes District and Yorkshire instead. You're driving an awfully long way to see things that, in my opinion at least, are less interesting than things within a couple of hours of Manchester.

I'll top my recent trip report for England, in case you're interested...
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Aug 4th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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P.S. I used to be Guy18...
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Aug 4th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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>>>>
My son is interested in Nottingham because it is the headquarters for Games Workshop. They produce the Warhammer series of miniatures and gaming, which is his big hobby
>>>>

you can also go to chertsey and visit electronic arts...sir norman foster's masterpiece european headquarters for the company. lots of major gaming dorks. right off the m25. probably won't get past security though.
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Aug 4th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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forgot to add..."rambling" means walking, not driving. just to help you to avoid confusion when you come here and tell everyone that you are "rambling" to all of these places in five days!!
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Aug 5th, 2006, 02:40 AM
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Thanks, all. I will try to cut this back a bit. It's probably obvious to you by now that this is not a typical tourist trip, as we have some things to do that are personal (e.g. a trip to Beaumanor, my ancestral home in Leicestershire, as well as to Nottingham) with some exploring built in. But I appreciate your input on nice areas to see. I'll definitely look into "the lakes district and Yorkshire" that were mentioned. We'll probably drop Cambridge.

Oh, and "rambling" doesn't just refer to walking, at least according to Dictionary.com:

ram·ble
intr.v. ram·bled, ram·bling, ram·bles

1. To move about aimlessly. See Synonyms at wander.
2. To walk about casually or for pleasure.
3. To follow an irregularly winding course of motion or growth.
4. To speak or write at length and with many digressions.

I guess the latter might refer to some of our threads on Fodors! But not this one, of course...

Thanks again, all. I do love Fodors Talk... what a help it's been during our summer in Europe.
JamesB is offline  
Aug 5th, 2006, 03:19 AM
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Just so you know, in England, Rambling in fact will almost always be associated with walking. Rambling is a major pastime there, and the countryside is crisscrossed with walking trails for the many who like to Ramble. There are Rambling Associations throughout the country, and, on weekends and holidays, you will encounter Ramblers all over the place enroute to their next ramble, sometimes in a rather distinctive tweedy, yet sporty, outfit. Dictionary aside, words sometimes have distinct connotations in different countries. I don't mean to sound priggish. Just wanted you to know...
Cimbrone is offline  
Aug 5th, 2006, 03:28 AM
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james, i was referring to how the word is used in england, not the US. in the UK "rambling" refers to the leisure activity of walking in the countryside. (eg the Ramblers' Association). somewhat similar to how the word "hiking" is used in north america...although there really is no north american equivalent to the british notion of rambling.

anyway, i was just pointing out the different use of the word over here and not trying to be pedantic about your english.
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Aug 5th, 2006, 03:29 AM
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cimbrone....crossed posts. you explain better anyway
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