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Car vs. Train During Christmas

Baltimore, Maryland
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Car vs. Train During Christmas

I welcome any feedback about our transportation plan as this is our first trip to the UK.

My wife and I and our 17-year old fly into Heathrow on 22 Dec. I don't know where we'll stay that night. On 23 Dec, we'll rent a car at the City Airport and drive to Cambridge for the Lessons & Carols. Maybe we can take the train from London to Cambridge on the 23rd and rent a car in Cambridge on 26 Dec. I suspect everything is closed on 26 Dec.

I think we'll stay in Cambridge through Christmas - any suggestions for activities on the 25th in Cambridge?

We plan to drive to Stonehenge on 26 Dec and then on to Cardiff for the night. My son wants to see the Dr. Who thing on 27 Dec. Any suggestions where to stay in Cardiff?

We'd like to drop off the car in Cardiff and take the train back to London for the remainder of our trip. If we can't do that, maybe we can drop it off at Heathrow.

I am assuming trains do not run as often during this time of year, hence the car rental. Any feedback is appreciated. Many thanks!

Stirling, United...
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1. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

Normal train service on 23rd. Last trains of the day are earlier than usual on 24th. There are usually no train services on 25th and a limited timetable on 26th. However the christmas and new year period is a favourite time to shut down parts of the network for major maintenance works. Usually there is some form of rail replacement bus service. Roads on 26th can be busy as people travel to get back to work on 27th.

www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times but final timetables for December won't be available yet.

On 25th about the only thing to do is to go to a pre-booked christmas lunch, or church. Shops will be open on 26th (and be busy with Sales) but car hire places may not be open.

Other questions are best asked on Cambridge or Cardiff fora.

Cambridge, United...
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2. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

Book a meal well ahead for Christmas Day in Cambridge. Nothing much is open but you can have a very pleasant walk around town .

The queue for Christmas Eve lessons and Carols at Kings opens at 7.30 am. You need to be in the queue by 9am to get a chance of getting in , even then it is not guaranteed .The queue seems to be bigger every year !

Admission to the chapel is 1.30 , so wear something warm for your time in the queue.

Hampshire, England.
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3. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

As this is "your first trip to the UK", so you obviously haven't driven here before, I would recommend reading the relevant pages of the Highway Code: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/the-highway-code.

Budapest, Hungary
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4. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

Note that Stonehenge is closed on Boxing Day (26th Dec).

I always recommend Avebury over Stonehenge, it was said many years ago by an antiquarian 'Stonehenge is to Avebury as a village church is to a cathedral'. It is a permanent open space, i.e. it never closes, you can walk around freely among the stones.

It is also close to Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow, you cannot climb Silbury Hill (the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe) but you can walk up to and enter West Kennet Long Barrow, which many consider a far more spiritual place than Stonehenge.

From Cambridge come down the M11, round the M25, on to M4, leave the M4 at junction 15 and head south to Marlborough, then west on to the A4. There may be a coffee shop open in Marlborough, which is a delightful old market town which has a very famous school (where Kate Middleton was educated, amongst many other famous people such as John Betjeman and Nick Drake).

You could then spend the late afternoon and night in Bath, possibly squeezing in a visit to the Roman Baths on the 27th before hopping over the Severn Bridge to Cardiff, which is about 90 minutes from Bath. Remember you will need to pay the toll on the bridge, try and have cash ready, though I believe they now take credit cards.

visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/attractions/rom…

Edited: 04 August 2013, 09:12
Budapest, Hungary
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5. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

Europeans don't like automatics, we consider them wasteful, so they are in short supply.

Unless you are prepared to drive a 'stick shift' (or manual as we call it), when you hire make sure you make it very clear that you require an automatic.

Suffolk, United...
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6. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

Christmas Day is a Wednesday this year. Dec 26th therefore Thursday. I cannot see other than "essential" workers going in to work on Friday 27th. Therefore roads will not be as busy as usual but expect traffic queues around large shopping complexes because of Sales.

7. Re: Car vs. Train During Christmas

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