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Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Boston...
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Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Please help me as to the last 4 days of our trip to England in August. I am wondering if I am biting off too much, particularly on the last day, the day we fly out. I also wonder if it makes sense to stay in the same lodgings in the South Downs area for all 3 nights - that would be my preference although I am having a bit of trouble finding places that can take us all 3 nights.

Day One (Saturday). Depart London, pick up hired car somewhere either west or south of London (reachable by train from London, if possible). Drive to Sissinghurst Castle to tour the gardens. Want to have at least 3 hours there. Then head south (sort of) towards Lewes - Alfriston area. Stay first night at lodgings.

Day Two (Sunday). Day in South Downs area. Stay at same lodgings.

Day Three (Monday). Day in South Downs area. Stay at same lodgings, last night.

Day Four (Tuesday). Depart early, drive to Sevenoaks/ Chartwell. Hope to have at least 2 and a half or 3 hours here. Then drive to Heathrow to return car. I think I can return at Heathrow even if we picked it up somewhere else in the greater London area, although there could be a fee to do this. Our flight back to the US departs at 18:00 (6 p.m.). I think the drive from Chartwell would be mostly on the M-25 road.

Am I correct that the hired cars get returned NEAR Heathrow but not right at the airport, and we need to leave extra time to get ourselves into the airport? About how much time -- what time would you estimate we should be returning that car?

Let me know if you have suggestions or think any of the above is too tight. We could, for example, see Chartwell on the Day One, then drive down to Lewes. In that case, we could go see Sissinghurst during one of our two full days in the Southeast / South Downs area.

How is the M25 in the early afternoon? Should I consider a different route? I drove in the UK once before but it was years ago.

Watford
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1. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

The M25 on a Tuesday afternoon in August won't be as bad as a dark Monday morning in winter and you can take a route that avoids the road works currently causing delays on the south east side of the motorway so I reckon you should allow about 75 minutes for the journey.

I would also allow at least an extra 30 minutes for the car return. It depends on the company (and your departure terminal) but most are located on the Northern Perimeter Road which is only a short drive. All that means you should be looking to leave Chartwell soon after 1.00pm.

I would consider renting from Gatwick and in fact you could return the car there should there be one way charges. You could then take the National Express coach from Gatwick to Heathrow for £20 per person. I would also stay put in one place purely to save the hassle of moving each day but others might disagree.

Tonbridge, United...
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2. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Unfortunately there are major roadworks on the M25 that you will have to go through from Sevenoaks. If all is well, your speed will be restricted to 50mph. There is an accident in this section pretty much every day and it then becomes a nightmare... it is very unpredictable.

The M25 can also be problematic at regular intervals around Heathrow, so you do need to allow plenty of time.

A journey that should take about an hour and a quarter, can easily take 3 if things go wrong. You will have to check things out on the day and plan accordingly.

Traffic England's motorway traffic flow monitor is the best way to see live info on problems: www.trafficengland.com/motorwayflow.aspx

Boston...
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3. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Thank you both. This is really helpful. Are major ring roads all going to offer the same thrills and danger? Is there some other, less construction-affected, route I should consider in order to get back north and to Heathrow?

Also I would welcome additional responses to my basic question. Thanks again.

Winchelsea, United...
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4. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

I would certainly try to stay in one place.

Alfriston is just one of the places to look at. You won't go far wrong with any of the places in this list, Lewes itself would be a good choice : http://www.lewesbandb.co.uk/

Mike

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5. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

I would suggest putting Chartwell at the start of your itinerary. The hire companies Enterprise and Europcar have depots at Sidcup and Orprington respectively, and both of these towns have frequent train services from central London. The hire companies offer pick-up services. Chartwell is then easy to reach from either location - head south on the A224 until reaching the A25 and head westwards, and look for signs to Chartwell on approaching Westerham - road works on the M25 thus avoided.

Boston...
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6. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Myrtle Villa,

Thank you so much! I will look to hire the car in either of those two locations. Of course, at the end of our time we still need to drive to Heathrow, I guess. Or maybe not? We could return the car back to one of these two locations, and that way we would avoid the M25 Motorway. We would have to allow time for the train into London, then the train out to Heathrow -- but that seems more predictable than gambling on the M25 functioning well?

Should we try hard to avoid the M25 in August, do you think?

Plymouth
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7. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Hello! I would definitely stay put in one place, so much more relaxing and gives you time to get to know the place a little bit. My recommendation is Lewes which is a beautiful old town, lots of ancient buildings, ruined Norman Castle and other historic sites, and a good centre for day trips out.

London, United...
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8. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

MaxieLou - you are welcome. It's difficult to predict what the M25 will be like at any time, and unfortunately it's not possible to say what it will be like in August. The problem that other people have referred to is road works - I understand that the road is being widened - between junctions 5 and 7. If your itinerary works out so that you join the M25 at junction 7, or some later junction (the numbering runs clockwise around London) you will obviously avoid those road works. A further option is that you may wish to consider is to check with your chosen company if would be possible to return the car to a depot in the Croydon area and be transferred to East Croydon station and from there take an X26 bus direct to Heathrow - see timetable here www.londonbusroutes.net/times/X26.htm#MF_C. This would avoid a minimum of two changes between train and tube to Heathrow.

Boston...
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9. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

Sandy1949 -- good suggestion. We are doing this, as we finally got a place to rest our heads for the 3 nights, near Alfriston. However, we will definitely visit Lewes, perhaps more than once.

Myrtle Villa -- how helpful again. The Croydon idea is wonderful. That seems like a great way to streamline our last day and the complications of returning a car plus getting to Heathrow. I imagine the car hire companies fees for returning to a different spot are noticeable but perhaps not devastating (maybe an extra L40 or so?). But it would be nice to avoid such a fee. Many many thanks.

10. Re: Our itinerary for Southeast 4 days, is it realistic?

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