Week in southern UK in December

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Nov 1st, 2016, 01:30 PM
  #1
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Week in southern UK in December

Hi, I'm planning our next trip and am looking for a place to spend an extra week in the UK. Thanking you in advance for your help!

Challenges:
- husband cannot walk much
- we'll rely on public transit
- we *can't* do even a day trip in non-UK countries because we will have maxed out our 90 days

Good points:
- husband and I are in good health (other than his limited walking; a couple hours are fine, but an all-day hike is not)
- we live in the Midwest on a farm, so coolish temperatures (40-50 F. or 4-10 C.) are comfortable - warmer is better, though
- we've already been to UK (including London), so we're familiar with National Rail, the Tube, etc.
- we'll be flying in from Madrid, so we won't need to worry about US-to-UK jetlag

We're locked in to a week in early December because it comes just before our daughter's uni classes end for the fall term, and we're planning to meet her in London. I realize that December is one of the bleakest months of the whole year, thanks to cold temps, rain/snow and short sunlight, but it would be colder, wetter and darker at home, so just being in the UK will be fun for us.

We like museums, photography, wildlife, national parks and literary places.We rarely drink and we're not into gourmet meals or fancy digs. I'm a writer and husband is a retired English teacher. I guess this whole paragraph means that we are some of the geekiest people around. ;-)

I was thinking maybe a town near South Downs or High Weald, but I'm not really sure. I read that southeast England tends to be drier than southwest England...but some rain is OK. Our original list included Penzance or the New Forest area, and I still like the *idea* of those areas though December looks pretty rainy.

The "worst case scenario" is still pretty good - just stay an extra week in London and do day trips as weather permits - but I wanted to check in with the experts here because you've given such great advice in the past.

Many thanks!
Kandace_York is offline  
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Nov 1st, 2016, 02:03 PM
  #2
 
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Interpreting Southern England broadly, there are many desirable day trips by bus and train from Cambridge.

Canterbury is a lovely strollable town, even if you are not religious, and Kent has many attractions, especially houses, both grand and famous for their owners.

The South Downs are great for walking, but not quite as site-dense as the other areas. I think Charleston Farm is a must. You could stay in Lewes and visit Brighton (one of my favorite towns, yes I know) and Eastbourne for contrast. Angela Thirkell is buried in Rottingdean. Pevensey Castle is Roman.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 03:44 PM
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mmm - the main problem that would beset you in the SE is public transport I think; most of the nicest places are not easily accessible by public transport. for example, you could stay in Tunbridge Wells which is a great centre for seeing many of the National Trust and other properties which will be open for Christmas but they will be difficult to get to without a car.

ironically, Cornwall, basing yourselves in Penzance might well be better - using the train you could get to St Ives, there is a good local bus service, there are lovely places to see like Newlyn and Mousehole which have great Christmas light displays, there is a wonderful museum and gallery, and the climate is extremely mild. ok it might rain, but so it might everywhere.

last time I looked, Easyjet flew from Madrid to Bristol.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 04:05 PM
  #4
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Thanks, these are both good ideas! I appreciate your help --

Kandace
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Nov 1st, 2016, 04:25 PM
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Charleston would be wonderful, but it closes down for the winter in very early December.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 06:34 PM
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>>but it closes down for the winter in very early December.<<

Actually I think it closes in early November. Just special events after that like the "put the house to bed" weekend. (I did a 'Put the house to bed' tour at Waddesdon Manor several years ago and it was fascinating)

Kandace_York: I agree w/ annhig that your biggest problem is visiting basically rural areas by public transport. Cornwall would work pretty well but honestly your 'worst case >>- just stay an extra week in London and do day trips as weather permits - << Might be best. You can get to just tons of places outside of London by train and coach and if the weather turns dreadful you can enjoy the museums/galleries in London.

BTW - I don't find December at all bleak. I try to get to London/the UK in December at least every couple of years (was there between Christmas and New Years last year and will be there in early Dec this year.

Maybe stay a couple of nights in Oxford and the rest in London. Or London plus a couple of days up in York - it isn't in southern England but is only 2-ish hours from London by train
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Nov 1st, 2016, 07:59 PM
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I would choose Canterbury and look into how I could get to Rochester and Dover. Rochester has a Christmas Market and a really ancient cathedral. I haven't been there but it's on my wish list. I loved Canterbury cathedral and as I remember the town is fairly flat. DH and I had a lovely lunch at Tiny Tim's in Canterbury.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 08:06 PM
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Just a thought . . . Canterbury, Rochester and Dover can also be easily visited from London.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 08:09 PM
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I just spent a few days in Cambridge and really enjoyed a day trip to Ely. Sandringham and Audley End are also possibilities if you get tired of colleges. Click on my name for my UK TR, or go to mytimetotravel.wordpress.com for the same text with pictures.
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Nov 1st, 2016, 09:12 PM
  #10
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Thanks, everyone - I appreciate the discussion.

We have the luxury of time on this one, so I'll be able to research your suggestions (yay us!).

I agree, York is amazing, and we'll visit it again during the first half of our trip, when we're based in Manchester for about 10 days.

Weather matters to us, but it's not a deal-breaker. I guess that's one of the benefits of living our lives in a region of hot, humid, buggy summers and dark, frigid, miserable winters --> lots of other places are just fine by comparison.

I'm leaning toward the Lewes/Brighton plan (YHA has hostels in both places, close to the rail station, which is a big plus), but you've given me other ideas I hadn't even considered.

Thanks!
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Nov 2nd, 2016, 12:24 AM
  #11
 
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Instead of/as well as hostels, your dates may work for student dorms. See:

http://www.universityrooms.com

If you stay in one of the Oxford or Cambridge colleges you get to eat breakfast in the dining hall, maybe sitting at the high table.
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Nov 2nd, 2016, 01:20 AM
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Hi Kandace
you may remember http://www.traveline.info/ for getting around the public transport system

I visited Oxford for a day a few weeks ago and my thread is available if you follow my name back.
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