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Windsor/Stonehenge/Bath or Oxford/Cotswolds/Stratford?

Windsor/Stonehenge/Bath or Oxford/Cotswolds/Stratford?

Old Apr 12th, 2012, 03:14 AM
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Windsor/Stonehenge/Bath or Oxford/Cotswolds/Stratford?

I'm going to be in London for only four days. I'd like to get outside the city and see some of rural England. I've decided to pay for a tour, and am intending to use International Friends for it. I'm trying to decide between Windsor/Stonehenge/Bath, and Oxford/Cotswolds/Stratford.

I'm interested in Bath, but wonder if it will feel more like a city than a town. I don't much care about Stonehenge, and am not sure how I feel about Windsor.

Though I'm an academic, I'm wondering if Oxford will be interesting enough. I really want to see the Cotswolds. Stratford...not sure. I like but don't love Shakespeare. My ideal tour would be Bath+Cotswolds, and maybe Windsor castle, but that isn't an option. So, I'm looking for suggestions on choosing between the two options listed above. Thanks!
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 03:39 AM
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It looks like you just joined this forum--so welcome.

You may find that some responses will be to try to talk you out of any such tour. It seems like most people here are more do-it-yourself-ers. SO if you are already dead set on taking a tour, you might have to ignore some posts.

Now my few pence worth:

If the Costwolds are what you most want to "see," and you don't want to drive, then a tour of some sort is your best option; if you are set on using this tour company, then the tour with the Cotswolds in it would be better.

I've been to Oxford 4 times and would go again in a hearbeat. I'm a high school literature teacher (not sure if that counts as being an academic) and there is soooooo much to interest me in Oxford with literary associations alone. I've only been in the Ashmolean once and want to have longer there, and haven't made it to the Botanical Gardens. But if you are on a tour, you may not actually be going in anything, anyway, just seeing the outside of stuff or maybe walking around a tiny bit. There will be plenty of interest. Stratford is definitely Shakespeare-centric but it's a pretty place anyway. And if your tour includes a trip to Anne Hathaway's cottage, that's nice for its preserved historical value and gardens, even without any Shakespearean connection.

With only 4 days in London (are those actually 4 full days or are you counting arrival and departure as days--which won't be much good for much serious sight-seeing), you certainly won't see much in the city. Maybe you've been before--.

I have no experience with the tour company you have researched, but be advised that tours such as the two you are looking at probably involve a lot of time on the coach (maybe more than out?) and probably involve a lot of walking-by or even waving-at-from-the-windows. That may be exactly all you want in the Cotswolds, though, so maybe that will work okay.

If your main desire was to see any of the towns/cities (never can remember the exact difference), then I'd be urging you to re-think and try a day trip via train by yourself just to that one place. But you say the Cotswolds are a main draw, so a tour might be a better option, as I said above.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 04:03 AM
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Why isn't Bath/Cotswolds an option?

Just get a train to Bath, look round (search on this site for the Tourist Info Centre walks), get a halfday Cotswold tour from someone like Cotswold Roaming, then get the train back. You appear familiar enough with our language to organise this for yourself.

I can understand (though with intense difficulty) why some might prefer Bath to Oxford. But I can't begin to get my head around someone (unless in possession of an Austen mania, in which case you'd get more out of a trip to Winchester and Chewton anyway) interested in seeing Bath but rejecting Oxford (Oxford & Cambridge are unique. But Bath - architecturally and topographically - is probably more like them than anywhere else on earth, and it's built from what appears at first the same honey-coloured stone as Oxford).

If you really insist on being stuck in a coach for hours (I'd rather gnaw my left foot off), do the Oxford/Cotswold thing, if necessary averting your eyes at Stratford.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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"<i>I'm wondering if Oxford will be interesting enough. </i>"

Can't believe I actually read that. Not being snarky, it just seems unbelievable to me. Unfortunately that Oxford/Cotswold/Stratford tour is less than 12 hours and just the drive equals nearly 250 miles and easily 6 full hours. Leaving you less than 6 hours for Oxford, Burford, the Slaughters, Stow on the Wold, and Stratford. Crazy making!

If it was me and I wanted to see the Cotswolds, I'd take the train to Moreton in Marsh and local buses or a taxi to other towns/villages. Then train from M-i-M to Oxford in the late afternoon, explore a bit, have dinner and train back to London.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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maria - my two-penn'th:

both Bath and Oxford are cities - and both have fantastic historic centres to explore that could take you far more than the few hours that these tours are going to give you.

My idea - get train to Oxford early in the morning. tour the city, [recent thread about this, try search engine] late in afternoon, get train [90 mins or so] to Bath. book into hotel, enjoy evening in Bath. Next day, tour Bath, get late train back to London.

have a great trip!
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Assuming you are flying to or from Heathrow, I would take the coach between Oxford & Heathrow and stay in Oxford overnight. You either do this at the start or end of your tour and spend the rest of your time in London. You should be able to get a full day, possibly more, of touring Oxford / Cotswolds without losing any time for London
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 01:47 PM
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If you are more comfortable with a tour look at www.walks.com they do great walking tours using trains. They spend minimal time in transit and more time visiting their locations for the day and they are reasonably priced. Those bus tours spend way too long on he road for my liking.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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Oh - yes, the London Walks day trip jamikins linked are very good. Unfortunately they aren't offered every day. If their Oxford/Cotswolds tour fits your schedule (Wednesdays only) that would be VERY good.

Otherwise alanRow's suggestion to take the express bus from LHR to Oxford (or vice versa) and spending a night would be great.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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A question for those who have a lot of experience traveling with First Great Western: I have been looking into tickets from Paddington to Bath Spa for end of June, beginning of July. The other day when I looked they were 40 pounds for 2 adults, round trip. I checked today and the prices have shot way up! I was a little shocked and more than upset that I missed the great fare in comparison. So my question is, do these prices fluctuate a lot? Are there days or times of day when the ticket prices are lower? Or do I need to purchase these asap before they increase even more?
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 04:51 PM
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I have taken an International Friends day trip and cannot recommend this company enough. If you have researched them at all, you know they use the small 16 passenger vans as opposed to those large coaches and and give lots of personal attention. Plenty of travelers would feel perfectly comfortable taking a train on a day trip, and I have done that when the destination was not a great distance, but sometimes the convenience of International Friends is well worth it. Don't overthink it. Just take either one and you will have a marvelous day out of the city.
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Old Apr 15th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Sloane_428, in answer to your question, you're always better off buying tickets as early as they release them. Demand is high, so the lowest are grabbed first.
If the train tickets seem too pricey, don't forget about National Express coach line funfares. I checked for June, and they're at 5.50 one way, down from about 20 pounds. We did it for one pound each a couple of years ago, and it was a pleasant (and cheap) way to get to Bath.
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 04:42 PM
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I was just in Oxford last Friday and it's wonderful even though I experienced it in the pouring rain with only a cheap umbrella, a leaky raincoat and soggy shoes! If you go there I hope you have better weather than I did or go better prepared than I did. There was so much to see and do! I would rather spend one leisurely day in Oxford (and you could not see everything in a day) than to do a bus tour anywhere. The x90 bus travels between Oxford to London every 15 minutes. Windsor would also make a very nice day trip, but I'm not familiar with transportation from London. There are often events going on and you could spend a leisurely day there. I hope you have a wonderful trip no matter which of your options you decide upon.
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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Any of these trip wold be an extremely long day with most o fit spent sitting on the bus. I would be surprised if you have more than 1 or 1.5 hours in each place.

Frankly I would pick the one you want to see most - either Bath or Oxford (both well worth visiting) and just hop on a train and go. You will see the countryside out of the train window - just as you would on the bus. To actually spend time in the countryside you would need to spend a couple of nights in the Cotswolds, for instance and do some walks form town to town.
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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We went to both a year ago.

The Cotswolds isn't so much about seeing as it is experiencing. It's beautiful countryside, gardens, and old villages to just soak up. We stayed in a B&B called The Old Schoolhouse and the host helped us plan an itinerary. But we had a car, and the joy of the place was mostly driving through the beautiful countryside.

Stonehenge was good to see because...well, it's Stonehenge. Didn't take long, but I'm glad we went. There's another stone circle on the route between Stonehenge and Bath called Avebury that you can actually walk through and touch.

Then Bath. We LOVED Bath. Probably our fave place in Great Britain. We stayed in a B&B called The Badminton Villa with a charming host and had an absolutely wonderful time. If it were me, with just a few days, that's where I'd go.
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 07:18 PM
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The OP posted this back in April and never returned . . .
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