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europeannovice Apr 6th, 2013 06:21 AM

Southeast England Planning Guide
If you wanted to see the highlights of Southeast England, how much time should be dedicated to the area? How many days needed to explore? What is not to miss?

My wish list is shown below--am I missing something else? How much time is needed to see each and what can or should be grouped together in a day without feeling rushed?

Leeds Castle
Dover Castle
White Cliffs of Dover
Canterbury Cathedral
Chartwell House
Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens

janisj Apr 6th, 2013 10:07 AM

Of your list my 'musts' would be Dover Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Chartwell and Sissinghurst. Missing are Hever, Scotney Castle Gardens, Penshurst Place, Knole, Rye, Bodiam Castle, Great Dixter and several other places.

If you really want to see the area - count on a week.

One day = Hever/Penshurst Place/Chartwell
One Day = Sissinghurst/Scotney/Bodiam
One day = Dover/Walmer/Deal/White Cliffs
One Day = Canterbury/Leeds (if you must)
One day = Rye/Great Dixter
One Day = Knole/Igtham Mote

texasbookworm Apr 6th, 2013 10:37 AM

Janisj's groupings give you an idea of how much there is to see and how much time is needed. Are you driving? Map tools don't give accurate time for driving in this area--I'd double it.

I haven't been to most of the specific places in janisj's list but here's my take on that area based on what we did see:

Dover Castle and the Cliffs are absolutely not to be missed.

Bodiam Castle is charming; DH took best pix of several trips to the UK here--fun.

I wish we'd had at least a half a day to explore Rye--it's on my "wanna go back" list.

Canterbury's Cathedral is worth the effort. Beautiful and all that history and all that Enlish lit connection--any of those would make it worth a trip, but all 3? Do include it.

europeannovice Apr 6th, 2013 05:37 PM

I am putting together some thoughts on a future trip back to the UK. We went twice already now but I am anxious to go back again and explore some more. I know it won't be for a while but it doesn't hurt to gather as much info as possible.

The last time we saw a lot outside of London (Cotswolds, Oxford and York) but we only had a week to squeeze in my usual too long of a list of things to see and do. This time I want to do ample planning way ahead of time so I don't short change the time needed for some of the places.

Yes, we would have a car when we do this area. Of course, I would love to go back to London too and see some of the things we missed the first time and re-visit some others so we probably won't have a week to fully explore the Southeast and will have to pick and choose.

Thanks for mentioning the places I left off my list. I wanted to include Hever but forgot to write it. I will have to do more research about Rye and the other places Janisj listed above.

What did you like most about Rye?

jamikins Apr 7th, 2013 02:00 AM

Rye is a great town. The architecture is beautiful and what I really liked was the fact that the high street had no chain stores like you find in most towns, the stores were all independents. Great coffee shops, nice old pubs, lovely atmosphere....probably one of my favourite places I have been! You can also easily visit the battlegrounds of 1066 in Battle. There is a great exhibit and you can walk the battleground. It's very well done.

annhig Apr 7th, 2013 03:22 AM

Here's another vote for Rye, but don't miss Winchelsea, and Battle as jamikins mentions.

if you have a taste for the beach, nearby Camber Sands is nice and you can see Derek Jarman's house and garden on the way.

flanneruk Apr 7th, 2013 05:21 AM

You really need to research Leeds Castle. For a sales conference, it's quite pretty, and offers the major guests and/or speakers probably the most unforgettable bedrooms - with in some cases the most amazing works of art on the walls - I've ever encountered in any conference venue anywhere on earth.

But as a place to pay to go and gawp at? You've absolutely got to be kidding. I wouldn't waste the time or energy on it if it were in South Dakota, and I had the misfortune to live there.

With dozens of beautiful and/or highly historic buildings and/or gardens practically within spitting distance, it really makes no sense at all to force wedding couples with more money than sense, or megacorps with great strategic issues to potificate over, to share access to the place's highly missable non-attractions.

Though that part of SE England has an exceptionally useful railway system, which can work like a sort of rural metro,
a number of the nicest places to see aren't that easy to get to by public transport. They can be a serious pain for foreign visitors to drive to daily from London (or even from anywhere outside, like Tunbridge Wells or Canterbury for example): practically all on the poster's (and janisj's list) take a good 2 hrs' driving from central London - fine for a Sunday out (or a series of Sundays out if you're working and living there) but draining to try doing day after day. You need to consider your transport and accommodation strategy very seriously indeed.

annhig Apr 7th, 2013 08:23 AM

flanner - have you been to Leeds Castle when the roses are out? the gardens in summer are outstanding.

otherwise i think you have a point.

more wonderful roses at Mottisfont Abbey but it's a bit further way, in Hampshire.

janisj Apr 7th, 2013 11:02 AM

"<i>the gardens in summer are outstanding. </i>"

The grounds can be gorgeous. They used to sell a 'grounds-only' ticket which would be fine. But unfortunately, now-a-days one must buy a 'season pass' to the whole complex which costs £21.

Other than the roses their main accomplishment is the Marketing which has most NA's thinking it is a 'must'.

My suggestions assumed you would be staying in the area - not day tripping from London. IME the easiest way to get around is to take the train to LGW and collect a hire car there - staying somewhere in mid/eastern Kent to use as a base for Kent/East Sussex.

europeannovice Apr 7th, 2013 11:05 AM

Thanks all for your comments. I love this forum for the great insight you all provide while planning. Rye sounds like a place we would enjoy.

My entire wish list is to do a loop, this time including a dip into Wales, (last time we dipped into Edinburgh and Stirling). We want to do something somewhat similar to what Texasbookworm did a few years ago and I am trying to map out where to begin and what we should have on a definite "must" list for each area.

Tentative planning (maybe for 2014 or 2015) but doesn't hurt to start early. We are not sure how many days are required, where to overnight and for how many nights etc. Would we need two weeks? That would be the maximum of time allowed. Would love to spread it out over three weeks but not possible so would have to be two weeks or less or multiple trips! Let me know if this is doable as one trip or should be separated somehow.
Here it goes--please add comments.

Arrive Heathrow from east coast US and pick up car
drive into Cotswolds and spend a night or two either in Broadway or Stow on the Wold. We loved the Cotswolds and would love to return. Weather was rather nasty last year so prohibited us from taking walks last time. Then we want to proceed to cover the following:

Tintern Abbey
Conwy Castle
Snowdonia National Park
Bodnant Castle
Harlech Castle
Bronte Parsonage
Leeds armouries museum
York--re-visit for an overnight to be closer next day for
Castle Howard which we didn't get to see last time
Cambridge--(last time we visited Oxford and Ashmolean Museum)
Hever Castle and Chartwell
Sissinghusrt Gardens/Scotney/Bodiam
Leeds Castle--based on comments probably can drop unless we can see the roses--depends when we go but figure during summer
Dover Castle--definite must see list now
White cliffs of Dover/Walmer/Deal
Canterbury Cathedral--who hasn't read the Canterbury Tales?
Rye and 1066 Battlefield
and maybe some of the other towns/cities on Janisj's list.
and then return car and spend a few days revisiting London.
Want to take in some more London walks, revisit the National Gallery and revisit British Museum, see the Natural History Museum, Wallace Collection, Apsley House, British Library, possibly see a concert at Royal Albert Hall, take a day trip to Greenwich.

I am exhausted already and I haven't even started. What would make the most sense? Can these things be done as one huge trip in a two week time span? Or realistically break it up as multiple trips? Let me know your thoughts on what can be done and which to keep on the list and which to skip to save time/effort (like Leeds for example can be skipped).

janisj Apr 7th, 2013 11:23 AM

Not doable

Just the first bit from LHR through Cambridge is about two weeks worth right there (and rushed at that).

And the second bit (SE plus a few days in London) is another 10-ish days.

So you are definitely looking at two different trips.

Just remember when planning - seldom would North Wales/Yorkshire fit in the same short trip w/ Rye/Dover. It isn't Leeds Castle (or any particular site) that is any issue at all. That is just a couple of hours in the scheme of things. It is the hundreds of miles (over 1000) you'd have to drive.

Definitely 2 trips -- or ideally 3. 1) Cotswolds/S Wales/London; 2) North Wales/Peak District/Yorkshire; 3) Kent/East Sussex/London

europeannovice Apr 7th, 2013 11:33 AM

Thought that might be the case. Will have to break it up into separate trips then:)

Always wanted to see Chatsworth and the castles in North Wales sound interesting then we can revisit York and see Castle Howard. Then maybe train back to London.

However, also wanted to see Dover and Sissinghurst Gardens. Not sure which to do first!

annhig Apr 7th, 2013 01:12 PM

I am exhausted already and I haven't even started>>

I'm not surprised. I would be too looking at that lot.

I agree that you definitely have 2, or even three trips here.

How long have you got?

europeannovice Apr 7th, 2013 03:06 PM

At the moment I am in dreamland--I don't have any definite dates set yet but probably looking at between 10 days to two weeks. Hopefully we can do it next year or the year after. I have to do a lot more research of each region and see what is most appealing this time around but keep it within that certain region and don't try to go all over the place.

That's the trick. There are so many different places that seem appealing and it is hard to choose. I guess that is why so many people are drawn to visit the UK multiple times.

We got a glimpse of the Cotswolds and York last time but missed Castle Howard due to time constraints. I was hoping to revisit York so we could go to Castle Howard but I am also drawn to exploring new areas like the Southeast. We couldn't get to the Peak District last time either so missed out on seeing Chatsworth. Would love to fit that in somehow.

What do you recommend? Given the fact that on our previous two trips we have already seen London, Oxford, Bath, Avebury, Stonehenge, some Cotswolds villages, York and Edinburgh and Stirling, where shall we go next? Shall we go next to North Wales to see more Castles there and the Peak District? Or explore Dover, Sissinghurst, Rye and the Southeast?

janisj Apr 7th, 2013 08:18 PM

Given all that - this time take your 10-14 days and limit yourselves to a week in Kent/East Sussex and either a few days or a full week in London. W/ 6 or 7 days in London you'd have time for a day trip to Cambridge (which will help stream your <i>next</i> trip taking in Wales, the Peak Dist. and Yorkshire.

Now, folks will tell you about ALL SORTS of other great sites south of London in West Sussex, Hampshire and the rest of the south . . . And its ALL true - but that will add even more days to your itinerary.

For the Wales and the north trip you wouldn't have to go anywhere near London since you could fly in/out of Manchester.

annhig Apr 8th, 2013 03:26 AM

guilty as charged.

jj as ever makes a good point.

to get the most out of your S/east England trip, you'll probably need two bases - I would suggest Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury. If you could manage to be in Canterbury on a Sunday you'd probably be able to hear a service with the choir, which would be very nice. [in fact the choir probably sings Evensong every day, but the sunday one would be special]

europeannovice Apr 8th, 2013 04:53 AM

Thanks so much again!

Yes, I think you are right. We should limit the next trip to cover the Southeast and a revisit to London. Great idea to just take the train to Cambridge from London as a day trip instead of driving down from York. I have a lot of homework to do.

Even limiting the area to just the Southeast, as you all said, there is so much there to explore from stately homes, beautiful gardens and even a castle or two or three... My list continues to grow--Petworth House, Arundel Castle, Wisley gardens in addition to Sissinghurst and Dixter.......

There seems to be a lot to the town of Canterbury besides the Cathedral of course. There seems to be a lot of cute touristy places nearby. An evening song sounds lovely. We so enjoyed a concert at St Paul Cathedral when we visited London.

Has anyone been to a jousting event at Hever Castle? Or seen a falconry exhibit there? Having never been to either but having read about them both, Hever sounds a bit like Warwick Castle but without the Madame Tussauds part? Is that right?

Is the Battle of 1066 closer to Rye or closer to a different town?

I know I have to examine the maps more but having two bases sounds like a good idea. Do you have special B&B's or hotels in the area that you can recommend which can accommodate three people?

Dover, Canterbury and maybe Hever require a full day each? Or a half day grouped with something else? Let me know again what requires a lot of time and what is only a couple of hours worth of exploration that can be grouped together to make a lovely day out. I so appreciate your help:)

Havana128 Apr 8th, 2013 05:03 AM

<Is the Battle of 1066 closer to Rye or closer to a different town?>

it's in - Battle. Which is near Hastings - hence the name, the Battle of Hastings.

janisj Apr 8th, 2013 06:19 AM

Now you're going and adding Arundel . . . inching up to 2+ weeks now ;) That then adds places like the Weald and Downland open air museum, and a lot of other things. Probably need to skip West Sussex/Hampshire unless you cut London way back.

Adding Wisley isn't a problem if you do London at the front end (good for jet lag recovery too). After visiting London, take a train down to LGW and collect your rental car. Explore Kent/East Sussex for your 6-7 days and then head to LHR around the M25 - RHS Wisley is just off the motorway and a good stop (at least 3+ hours) enroute before dropping the car at LHR and flying out the next morning.

>><i>Dover, Canterbury and maybe Hever require a full day each? Or a half day grouped with something else?</i><<

If you look at my first post - I've grouped doable full days including Sissinghurst, Dover, Canterbury, Hever etc etc . . .

Dover Castle itself takes at least 1/2 a day - it is large. But Walmer (REALLY lovely gardens and an interesting conversion of a defensive castle into a country home) and Deal are just up the road and take less time so all 3 can be done in a day

Hever takes longer than Penshurst or Chartwell - mostly because the grounds are soooooo large. But all three are near each other so one really can do all three in one day.

Same w/ Sissinghurst/Scotney/Bodiam. Sissinghurst takes the longest but all 3 are easy in one day.

Same w/Rye/Great Dixter - next door neighbors really . . .

annhig Apr 8th, 2013 06:51 AM

An evening song sounds lovely. >>

Evensong. A religious service at which the choir will be singing - it's shown as Choral Evensong on the website page below:

there is also the sung eucharist [communion service] on sunday mornings as well as choral evensong in the evening.

those boys get to sing a lot!

I hate to disagree with jj, but IMO trying to fit Penshurst, Hever and Chartwell into one day would be to undersell each of them.

you might manage Hever and Penshurst in a day, and/or Chartwell and Knole. but there are many lovely little places in between eg -Westerham and Ide hill near Chartwell, Chiddingstone near Hever, driving across the Weald of Kent itself - there are wonderful views.

I would suggest having an A list property for each day, with a B list place nearby which if you don't get to, you won't be too disappointed.

Chartwell, Hever, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, would be my A list places in that area.

It's a long time since I've been to Hever but there was a lot there when i last visited, so I'm sure there will be more now. the pub in the village used to have a good reputation, even after some villains from the East end of London came down and tried to blow the landlord away with a shot-gun. [don't worry, it was 20 years ago or more!] I'm sure you'll love it.

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