side trip from London - Bath, Cotswolds?

Old Apr 30th, 2005, 03:33 PM
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side trip from London - Bath, Cotswolds?

My husband and I will be in London for 7 nights in early June. We're thinking about an overnight in the countryside and would love your recommendations. I was considering Bath and/or the Cotswolds. Should we drive? Will we have time in 1 night/2 days?
Thanks,
Barbara
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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Are you looking for country-countryside or just for a night away from London? If the latter, I would recommend Cambridge or Brighton or Bath as interesting smaller cities with pleasant lodgings and easily reached by public transport.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Bath is a great away day/night -- or even a reasonable day trip from London by train.

But the Cotswolds really need more time - and a car - to really be able to see/experience them.

If you have 2 full days (one night) you could squeeze in a bit of both - take an early morning train to Bath and spend the day. Then in the afternoon pick up a rental car and head out north into the Cotswolds. The days wil be VERY long in June so it won't be dark until after 10 p.m. You could drive through a few south/southwest Cotswold villages and stay the night somewhere like Burford.

Then the next day explore a bit more. again w/ the looooong days you don't have to worry about driving on unfamiliar roads in the dark.

Then drop the car in 1) Oxford and take the train back to London, OR, 2) at LHR and take the train or tube into London.

This will be a busy couple of days - but entirely doable. Bath is a very compact city and you can walk everywhere and see most of the main sites in about 5 or 6 hours.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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Thanks very much for the suggestions. How long do you think it takes to get back to London on the train from Oxford or LHR (what is LHR?) Also, where do you recommend stopping along the way in the Cotswolds? Any recommendations for accomodations? Would this work as well in the reverse order with the overnight in Bath? Finally, do you have suggestions for the easiest way to request and pick up the car rental?
Thanks so very much again for the suggestions.
Barbara
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 09:33 PM
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We were going to take a train to Bath on our last LOndon trip, I believe it is about 2 hours?
I think once you are there, you don't really need a car but you would if you wanted to drive through the Cotswolds..another trip we are thinking of
I would go to Bath with one night and 2 days!
Have fun!
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 11:24 PM
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barb_fish: LHR is Heathrow - sorry, get into the habit and forget not everyone knows the airport codes.

Train from London to Bath normally takes just under 2 hours and from Oxford to London, about 1 hour.

Yes you could do the route in reverse -- but it it really makes more sense to overnight in the Cotswolds instead of Bath. So if you did want a reverse itinerary, you could take a morning train to Oxford, pick up a car and take a driving tour through a bit of the Cotswolds. Stay overnight in a village, and then before lunch time head to Bath. have lunch in Bath, wander around the city and then take an evening train back to London.

The reason being - Bath is very compact and you really don't need more than about 1/2 a day there (more is better but you really don't have that much time). Whereas the Cotswolds are spread out and to really see much of anything you would do better to stay over night in a village. You would end up with 1+ days in the Cotswolds and about 6 hours in Bath.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 11:54 PM
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If you really want to spend time in the countryside, as you say in theb original question, forget about Bath.

Bath's got an attractive historic core. But it's still a town, and its overall feel is as unrural as every other British medium-size city (and driving into it and out again is no-one's idea of a quiet drive in the country). If it's coutryside you want, stick to the Cotswolds.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:30 AM
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We also had about 7 days in London, and planned day trips to Bath and Rye. We never went to either, there is just too much to see in London. Have you been before? Now I`ve been to London 3 times and still havent seen all I want to see, and still havent been to Bath or Rye.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:49 AM
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Thank you all. There seems to be consensus among you that on such a short trip, one doesn't need very much time to explore Bath.
My priority is to see some of the countryside. I thought the trip to Bath would provide that, along with the history there and the chance to see another part of England. But perhaps spending a 1/2 day there is not the best use of our limited time. I'm going to hit the guide books and this forum again to learn more about Bath and the Cotsworlds.
Janis, you recommended Burford for the overnight. Can you share why and whether you have a specific hotel or B & B to recommend? I've also heard about Chipping Camden. Other ideas for stops?
And, Janis, I'm truly embarrassed that I asked about LHR.
Thanks again.
Barbara
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:52 AM
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Additional question: I've read about the Original London Walks Explorer trip. We do like to wonder a bit on our own, but given the short time we have, do you think using a guided tour is a good choice?
Thanks again.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:27 PM
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We did a 7 day trip to London last year and really enjoyed time away in Bath and the Cotswolds. Yes, London and the Cotswolds deserves much more time, but if that's all you have it makes a great trip.

We took Rick Steve's advice and started the trip by taking the coach from Heathrow out to Bath. It's much easier getting over jetlag in a small quiet town. And Bath is such a delight. We stayed at the Holly Villa B&B (55 pounds p/night) and it was my favorite place to stay in Europe. The only downside to this place is that it made our dumpy London hotel seem awful in comparison.

Take a walking tour of Bath and enjoy the beautiful Georgian architecture.

We would have liked to stay overnight in the Cotswolds, but only spent a day driving around from Bath to London. We stopped for a drink in Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Camden. One of the real pleasures of England is the beer, and it was wonderful being able to stop into a pub in the countryside and ask for the local brew. The local Stow brew (I think it's called Donnington) is especially good.

I couldn't resist making a detour to Stratford, since I'm a big Shakespeare fan. Resist that impulse. Stratford is a waste of time.

We dropped off the car at Heathrow and took the tube into town. Driving in England was stressful enough for us (those darn roundabouts!); London would have been suicide.

We only had 4 days in London, but it was worth it to see the bucolic English countryside and not feel so jostled by the madding crowds. And we still had time to be awed by the British Library and Westminster Abbey and the Tate Britain and the Old Globe. Gosh! You're making me want to go back!

Enjoy your trip! Whatever you decide, you'll have a great time!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:45 PM
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barb: No reason to be embarrased - there are LOTS of airport codes I don't know.

The London Walks explorer days seem fine - several Fodorites have taken them. I haven't taken one myself since I lived near the Cotswolds for 5 years and when I go back I want to go to specific places, plus I usually have a car. But since you have the time to stay over one night you would get a lot more by doing this on your own.

Also can't help a lot w/ specific B&Bs since I usually stay for a week at a time and rent a cottage.

Chipping Campden would be fine - as would Burford. I originally recommended Burford because you would be driving up from Bath and it would be a bit closer.

I really like Burford - it is a busy little village with good accomodations from B&Bs to posh small hotels. There are several pubs, cafes, tea shops, restaurants and it is a good location to get to any part of the Cotswolds. Plus it has one of the best Wool Churches.

Chipping Campden has many of the same things - and you really could not go wrong with either one.

if you are now thinking of cutting Bath, You can take a morning train to Oxford, pick up your rental car, drive to Woodstock for morning tea and a visit to Blenheim Palace and then head NW to the area around Chipping Campden, or W towards Burford/Bourton-on-the-Water.

Then the next day you could drive around and visit several more villages/gardens and head back to Oxford in the late early evening. drop off the car, wander around Oxford for a bit, have dinner and catch the train back to London.

(There are also trains from London to Moreton-in-marsh which is not far from Chipping Campden - but the choices for rental car agencies would be much better in Oxford)
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:48 PM
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I would avoid driving in and around Bath. It's tight, ancient and no fun to be driving in. The countryside surrounding Bath is beautiful though and to properly see it I think a car is a great idea.

Be sure you have good local maps and a navigator if you do decide to drive.

Sesamee
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Old May 1st, 2005, 04:36 PM
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For staying in the Cotswolds, I would opt for Burford. It is not only the typically charming Cotswold village but very managable with its one main street. There are several hotel possibilites. The Bay Tree Hotel is at the top of the hill and just off the A40. The Lamb Inn is suppose to be a pleasant spot also and has a decent restaurant. There is a pleasant tea shop on the (south ?) side of Sheep St.

A trip to Woodstock and Blenheim Palace will give you some of the history you mentioned. If you have time visit Great Tew ( about six miles east of Chipping Norton ) Tew is a lesser known/visited village with lots of Cotswold charm and a good pub.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 05:05 PM
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If you do stop at Bourton-on-the-Water, don't miss the "miniature village" tucked away behind one of the pubs on the main street. They have reproduced the entire main part of the town in 1/9th scale. Then, again in 1/9 of that, and 1/9th of that...

It is pretty cute, and very inexpensive. We were amazed when we then walked through the town to "recognize" so many of the buildings and bridges.

Gayle
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:44 PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I have discovered another issue that may affect my planning Britain observes a Bank Holiday (whitsun?)on the same day as the US Memorial Day. I still haven't gotten our lodging reservations (for either the Cotswolds or London for that matter) and I'm concerned that the Cotswolds' towns will be quite full. I was waiting to get confirmation about theatre tickets as well as for the Ceremony of the Keys, but I think I'll just have to pick a night for the Cotswolds and give a few of your suggestions a try. I'm assuming that I'll have more luck after the Monday holiday.
I'm usually someone that plans carefully. This is going to be different experience for us, doing this nearly at the last minute.
Thanks again all, and please share any additional suggestions, particularly about the impact of the holiday.
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