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London in September

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Boston...
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London in September

My husband and I are planning an 8-9 day trip to London and some surrounding areas. I have been doing alot of research and I think we want to spend a day or two in London and then go to (in no particular order) Bath, Oxford (stop at Blenheim Palace before or after), Stratford, Stonehenge, Windsor for several days, returning to London for another day or two. I was thinking of renting a car for the out-of-London travel but the general advice on that seems to be "no"! Trains are highly recommended. I'm feeling a little overwelmed with information at this point and I'm wondering if someone can suggest a workable itinerary? For example, is this do-able? What order should we do this in? How much time in each area? Where should we plan overnights? Would I be able to see Highclere at all (I've read that all tours are sold out for 2014). I would say our budget is moderate or above. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Oakham, United...
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1. Re: London in September

London is huge; Windsor is not. no need to spend several days in Windsor really.. spedn mroe time in London. Windsor is an easy day out from a London base.

all the places you list are great.. though rather predictable! There are other ideas here:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g186216-i15-k721…

If you are happy sticking to towns and cities, then yes, use the trains. IF you want to get out into the countryside, maybe walk on some of our footpaths or canals r whatever, then a car might make sense at least for a day or two.

There are maps of the rail network here which help see what's possible:

nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/map…

..and use the same site to check timetables and prices. IF you look too early or too late you won't see the cheaper tickets listed though!

When are you thinking of travelling?

england
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2. Re: London in September

Interests? Having just come back from a great few days in Greewich can I suggest that is more worthy of a couple of days than Windsor.

Bingley, United...
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3. Re: London in September

< but the general advice on that seems to be "no"! >

The general advice is that a car is a pain in places like Bath & Oxford which were designed in the days when chariots were cutting edge.

Out of town they can be useful

england
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4. Re: London in September

btw abbreviating names is not a good idea. Stratford is in London but I imagine you mean Stratford-on-Avon. There are coaches and trains between there and Oxford. If you stayed in Oxford you could get a bus to Blenheim palace. If you just want to see Windsor get there by train from London. A few tickets have become available for Highclere, check your dates here https:/…admission-tickets

You could hire a car for a day or two for Highclere/Stonehenge and go by train/taxi/coach tour

If you flew into Heathrow you could overnight in London to recover from jet lag, head to Oxford and Stratford, return to London and travel to Windsor, pick up car to head off to Highclere/Stonehenge.

Americans have little idea how different driving in Britain will be. Your roads are wide, ours are narrow except for motorways. You may find yourself driving along a road so narrow that you need to stop and wait at a passing place for other cars to pass you. Almost all our roads are busy and you may find yourself in traffic jams. You'll have to pay to park more often and it may take you time to find parking paces. Petrol (gas) is much more expensive. Public transport is widely used and to the usual tourist destinations normally pretty good so cars are often an unnecessary expense and worry.

East Sussex, United...
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5. Re: London in September

The five places that you have chosen outside London are amongst the most regularly visited by all foreign tourists in England - just add the Cotswolds and York to complete the set ! If you have a real desire to visit them then go for it - although reading between the lines of your question, I'm wondering whether you are visiting them mainly because they're on someone else's list rather than yours ? Is that fair ?

If so, then consider other towns that are in many ways just as worthy but will be much less crowded. Have a look at Stamford, Lincoln, Ely, Lewes and (my top tip) Ludlow as alternatives - beautiful towns and cities that will, as an added bonus, give you more of a taste of the real England.

Mike

Castlederg
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6. Re: London in September

For a good day out at the seaside take a look at brighton, easy quick acess from london no car required. Fantastic shopping for all tastes, and funfair/peir,resturants,shows,pubs.e.c.t.

Bucks, UK
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7. Re: London in September

The only bit that might require a car is Stonehenge, otherwise the rest are all easily reached by train. Hiring a car would give you more flexibility to visit other places in the countryside if you wish to, and, provided you find a hotel with parking in Bath and Oxford, there should be no problem driving into these cities.

IMO this forum tends to exaggerate the difficulties of driving in the UK - most roads are plenty wide enough and single-track roads are (except in the Highlands of Scotland) just country lanes that are used as cut-throughs - they are either signposted or marked on the map or avoidable and tend to have very little traffic on them anyway. I wouldn't say driving in the USA for a first-timer from the UK is a piece of cake either but it is perfectly manageable. If you get full CDW, it doesn't really matter if you clip a wing mirror due to a moment's inattention.

That said, you could do your itinerary easily without a car.

Windsor is an easy day-trip from London and you can stay in your accomodation in London.

Oxford is 1 hour on the train from London Paddington - stay a couple of nights in Oxford (it's a small and easily walkable city) and visit Blenheim Palace by taking the frequent S3 bus from Oxford (takes 30 minutes).

You can take the train from Oxford to Stratford (not many people bother saying the whole SUA thing) but it does take a couple of hours whether you go by train or coach. You could decide to hire a car on this day to tour the Cotswolds as well if you don't fancy a long train ride. That way you could follow your noses and visit a few Costwold villages along the way.I've personally never been that overwhelmed by Stratford and wouldn't travel 2 hours to see it unless I had tickets to see the RSC. If you want a Shakespeare tick you could visit the Globe in London instead.

Bath is about 1h25m from Oxford on the train.

If you stay in Bath a couple of days you could take one of the Mad Max Tours to visit Stonehenge, Avebury etc

madmaxtours.co.uk/tours/stonehenge-full-day-…

Bath is then 1.5 hours by train from London

Rail details here

…nationalrail.co.uk/service/…search

england
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8. Re: London in September

To quote an American website "According to Department of State data, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of injury deaths to US citizens while abroad. Recent estimates show that 743 US citizens were killed in road traffic crashes from 2009 through 2011. Approximately 16% of these road traffic deaths involved motorcycles, and 7% involved pedestrians. "

and "US citizens abroad are 10 times more likely to die as the result of an injury than from an infectious disease; injuries cause 23% of deaths of US citizens while abroad, compared with only 2% caused by infectious diseases. "

Public transport in America is not of the same standard as public transport in the UK. The balance of risk and benefit is quite different. This is why these forums often stress how easy it to to use public transport here and how little point there is to having a car if you are restricting your journey to major tourist destinations. Where it is beneficial to have a car e.g in visiting Cornwall, tourists are generally given that advice. There are coach tours to places like Stonehenge that are not easily reached by public transport (although searching these forums would show it is possible).

There are many country lanes in Britain - and even outside Scotland they are not all simply cut throughs, signposted or quiet. American visitors who travel down them sometimes say in their trip reports that they wish they hadn't. If you do decide to hire a car the other advice usually given to Americans is to prebook a manual car as you will be given a stick shift normally, hire the smallest car that will take your luggage and familiarise yourself with the highway code.

Boston...
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9. Re: London in September

Thank you all for your responses and insights. The towns I listed were ones that others had visited and seemed a good way to start. The suggestions of other towns is helpful and I will look into that. The information on the transportation options and the actual time/distance is very helpful as well. I am stil researching and it is helpful to get live advice in addition to the reading about it. I will be back with more questions.

Sheffield
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10. Re: London in September

May I reiterate Mikey's suggestions.

Stamford is easily reached by train from London and is a wonderful stone built town with Burghley House next door. Kings Cross to Peterborough, change train to Stamford. Some very good pubs (try the Tobie Norris) and The George is a splendid coaching inn.

Best of all is Ludlow. A beautiful, mainly Georgian town, with a castle and quite a lot of black and white buildings too ( the Feathers is one and a very good pub). There are often plays performed on the battlements of the castle. The surrounding Shropshire countryside is wonderful (read A E Houseman's poetry). The cider is good too. Excellent restaurants.