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London 8 nights - and some country side?

Melbourne
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London 8 nights - and some country side?

Hello!

My husband and I are planning our first exciting European trip for early next May. We are in our late 20's, early 30's.

It is a 6 week trip and London will end up being our longest stay in one place.

8 nights - staying around Shoreditch or Camden town, visiting plenty of cafes, gardens, pubs, and walking/bike riding between sights. I am very interested in London for the history(medieval, Victorian(major Charles Dickens fan, also George Eliot, Tennyson)), also 60's music scene(Carnaby Street/Abbey Road). I have English heritage as all my Grandmas family were miners in Cornwall/Devon(Tavistock/Penzance) before coming to Australia in the 1880's. Currently toying with the idea of having a little "Who Do you think you are" type day or 2 down there.

If we decide against it what are some other nice day trips on the train, Bath/Brighton etc? Where would you recommend? What is Portsmouth like? Most of my ancestors as well as my husbands grandparents left England in ships from there so it may be nice to walk where they walked. Mainly would like to get out of the big city for a day and see a little taste of England. Maybe even see some moors! :)

Thanks in advance!

Edited: 16 July 2014, 04:04
London, United...
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1. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

So you have 8 nights (how many days?) in England, in total, yes?

That isn't long to do both London and areas outside, but is potentially doable. You need to note that Cornwall and Devon are a long way from London, by any mode of transport. Yes you can drive, but the roads can be busy (there are bank holidays and school holidays in May) and are quite small (no full sized motorways down there) so travel takes a long time. You can take the train but this can take several hours due to the distance and number of stops, and it will limit your ability to travel around when you get there. If you are desperate to do the home of your ancestors then you would be best asking on the Cornwall / Devon forums for advice on that part of the world (esp re: public transport)

One option may be to get the sleeper train down from London to the West Country, which would save you both time and the night in a hotel (see: firstgreatwestern.co.uk/Your-journey/Night-R… )

With regards to your other options - you have too many places to visit, imho, in your 8 days and also do London. Several places are doable from London as day trips. You need to investigate yourself what you want to see and why you want to go there, and make your own final choices. We can only advise :)

Portsmouth as you have gathered has strong Navy connections - the Mary Rose and HMS Victory are there, for example. I like the historic dockyard - personally I am a bit ambivalent abut the rest - you would need to investigate further yourself. It's just over 90 minutes from London on the train if you get the fast service.

Bath is a nice (busy) historic town with links with Jane Austin and a lot of Roman and Georgian history. It's a couple of hours by train from London - you could do it as a (long) day trip from the capital if you wanted to.

Brighton I personally love, a bit alternative, hippy, busy - and of course the seaside. Not a typical seaside town though. Again, take the train from London (1 hour or so I think).

NB: these places are busy. If you want little villages or seaside towns then you need to cast the net a bit wider. People on here might be able to help.

And regarding moors and countryside.... the best moors are (of course!) in North Yorkshire. This is too far for you to even contemplate getting to so don't bother!! :) (NB: I'm from Yorkshire ;) ) You could try Dartmoor or Exmoor in the west country but again you have probably insurmountable public transport and timing issues. Have a look on a map / ask in the other forum.

Hope the planning goes well :)

London, United...
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2. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

visitkent.co.uk/top-10s/10-dickens-destinati…

This visit out to the Kent coast might interest you. Nearby Rochester has lots of Dickens connections too and is a nice little town with a superb cathedral and Norman castle.

The Dickens Museum in London is in Doughty Street ( Russell Square tube station is the nearest station )

Plymouth
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3. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

It's a very long drive to Cornwall, but kitty 148 gives a slightly misleading impression. The motorway may end at Exeter, but it is dual carriageway most of the way to Penzance, a distance of about 120 miles. From the motorway to Penzance there are just eight roundabouts, five of them in the last ten miles.

Plymouth
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4. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

It's a very long drive to Cornwall, but kitty 148 gives a slightly misleading impression. The motorway may end at Exeter, but it is dual carriageway most of the way to Penzance, a distance of about 120 miles. From the motorway to Penzance there are just eight roundabouts, five of them in the last ten miles.

London, United...
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5. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

Last time I drove to Dorset from London (SE London at that) it took me 4 and a half hours. A lot of that admittedly was getting out of London, but the argument still stands.

Cornwall is much further

:-/

Nottingham, United...
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6. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

Hi there,

Anything is possible if you really want to do it.

Cambridge is lovely for a day trip - perhaps a tad touristy, but I think May will be okay everywhere generally. It's Christmas and August that's majorly busy! There's lots to do in Cambridge and if you get nice weather you can take a punt tour down the river.

I'm excited for you! You'll have a grand time in England :)

Melbourne
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7. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

Thank you all for your wonderful insights!

kittyl48 - I checked out the night sleeper train times and rates. It does seem like the best option if I decide I can't go without a visit out to the West.

Your descriptions of other towns/cities are very helpful also. In fact Brighton sounds really good.

I would love to go to Yorkshire actually!! (I have watched a lot of Heartbeat over the years!)

hardygeranium - I appreciate the info you have provided on Dickens and I will have a look into Rochester :)

paintingpots - Thanks for your excitement! I will have a look into Cambridge also. Have seen some photos from there and it looks incredible.

All in all I am more leaning towards just spending the 8 days in London itself. It appears there will be more than enough to see and do in that time. Thanks all.

London, United...
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8. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

Bear in mind that if you visit Cambridge (or Oxford) in May it is the middle of 'Exam Term' so some college opening hours may be restricted / not open at all. Check before you go if you want to go inside a particular college. Of course, you can still see things from the street and from the 'Backs' if you take a punt along the river, and I think the more visited colleges are usually open still. Best to check though.

NB also: Brighton doesn't have a sandy beach - it's shingle! Sorry should have said that earlier.

Have a read up on the various places to go and have fun planning :)

Melbourne
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9. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

Had to look up what a shingle beach was! :) that's okay we live 5 minutes walk from a sandy beach so sand is not a must.

Will continue doing research, its so much fun. Thanks again for your help!

vancouver
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10. Re: London 8 nights - and some country side?

You could easily spend your entire 8 days in London, and not feel like you had enough time.

However, Bath is lovely, and worth a visit. I think if you caught a very early train, Bath would be a good day-trip (you can google "Bath day trip", and find lots of advice on that).

My wife and I did Cambridge as a day-trip last year, and we really enjoyed it. I don't think you could regret spending a day there.

So while I can't pretend to know YOUR likes and interests, I think that someone staying 8 days in London with day-trips to Bath and to Cambridge would go home feeling like they had experienced a good first visit to London and a couple glimpses of what England has to offer outside of London.