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9 days in England in August

Hi everyone -
We have a 9 day short stay planned in London and the surrounding area late August this year. Last year we saw most of the London sights and now want to branch out. We will be travelling by train and coming in from Gatwick. We fly out Heathrow.

We want to opt for smaller, day or two trips as we are both 50+. My husband has knee issues so hikes are out. A beach might be nice.

Your thoughts are most appreciated.

Thank you!

Posted by
4772 posts

From Gatwick, instead of taking the train north to London, you might first take it south to Brighton, on the Channel, and explore the south coast from there for a day or two. There's good train service, and I think you can get around the area on local buses. But it will be crowded in August.

Then you could take the train up to London or west to Portsmouth, full of naval history. Winchester is nearby with its great cathedral. Also Salisbury and Stonehenge farther west. All easily reached by train from London, or from each other. See National Rail.

If you want to base in London, more good day trips include Cambridge, Oxford, Canterbury, Greenwich, Hampton Court, and others.

Posted by
2774 posts

I wouldn't bother with the south coast, especially in August when it's likely to be crowded with UK folks on holiday. How about Salisbury? See
https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Salisbury-England/London-Gatwick-Airport-LGW#r/Train

In addition to enjoying the sights & charm of Salisbury, you could use the Salisbury-Stonehenge bus to visit Old Sarum and Stonehenge. The latter has a shuttle bus from the visitor centre (which is big and very interesting, indoor/outdoor) to the henge itself.

After 2-3 nights in Salisbury, you could go to Bath
https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Salisbury-England/Bath

And then onward to Oxford
https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Bath/Oxford

And finally to Windsor before your Heathrow flight home.

Posted by
5693 posts

First what are “ London sites, “ that you’ve seen? .

Any of these? Dennis Sever House? The Shard? Borough, Camden Lock, Portobello, markets? Brick Lane? Greenwich? Kew Gardens? Kensington Palace? The Globe? Tate? Tate Modern? The glass covered Leadenhall Market? Museum of London? Tour of Parliament? The Photographers Gallery? Highgate or Brompton Cemetaries? Queens Gallery at the Palace? Sir John Sloan Museum? Eltham Palace and Gardens? Selfridges? Liberty? Wimbledon Museum? Wilton’s Music Hall? Theatre?

Days out: Hampton Court, Eel Pie Island, St Albans, Oxford, Cambridge, Bletchley Park, Chatham Historic Dockyards.

Overnights: Cotswolds, Brighton, Durham, Salisbury and Stonehenge.

Posted by
4410 posts

I wouldn't bother with the south coast, especially in August when it's likely to be crowded with UK folks on holiday

Many Brits tend to go abroad in August these days or else they're flocking to Cornwall, Lake District etc. The South Coast seaside resorts don't receive anywhere near the numbers they used to enjoy in their heyday. Portsmouth for example is no different, tourist wise, in August than it is is July or June. The only exception will be the August bank holiday when most people don't bother travelling abroad and will tend to gravitate towards the coast.

Posted by
4875 posts

You don't say what your interests are, so it's difficult to advise.

Traditional sandy seaside towns from say Bournemouth heading west will be slightly busier in August and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall will be very busy, but the places east of Bournemouth will be less busy during the week. If the weather is nice at the weekend, they will have many day trippers. So avoid your beach bit at the weekend if possible.

Brighton is a good place to start, with plenty of history, a pebbly beach and some great cafes and restaurants, particularly in Kemp Town.

Lewes is a few miles east, a charming place, again with lots of history including a castle. Rye is further along the coast and is also suitable for a 1-2 day visit. Hythe is a charming traditional seaside town with a steam railway.

Inland are Leeds, Hever, Chiddingstone and Bodiam Castles. There are many National Trust houses and gardens. Bird watching is good at Rye Harbour, Dungeness and Arundel. Many of the pretty inland villages are difficult to access without a car. What are you interested in?

Canterbury? Dover Castle? Arundel Castle? Portsmouth Dockyard? Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home? Sissinghurst Garden? Windsor?

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you all! You have been most helpful! In terms of the sights that we have seen in London - I would say the ‘top’ few: Buckingham palace, British Museum, the cathedral and abbey, bridges, selfridges and the shopping district, pickadilly, Hyde Park and St James, The Tower of London etc.

Would live to find an open flea market sort of idea. My mum shopped at one in the ‘80’s but I couldn’t find one last year.

And yes, staying out of the main heavily populated summer spots would be a great idea I agree.

Posted by
44 posts

Hi Claudia
I have no idea about any of the London sights that you have mentioned really! 😮 Wow! Is there a link to a secure website where I could explore some of your ideas? Thank you! 😊

Posted by
2711 posts

I suggest you look at this website. The London Walks Company.
www.walks.com
They do guided walks around London for not much money. Look at their London walks. You can choose a walk that covers a certain section of London. Your guide will take you up and down interesting streets, pointing out landmarks and you will see streets you never thought still existed in London, with a medieval look or a Victorian look. They also have "themed" walks, such as a couple of Beatles walks, a Dickens walk, and more.

My favorite covers the area known as "The City" which is includes the Tower of London area and northward (includes the Leadenhall Market mentioned by Claudia). The City also includes the area traveling west from Tower of London to St. Paul's Cathedral, and northward of that, up to The Museum of London. And the area between these locations. The area pictured here, the old City:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London#/media/File:Map_of_London,_1300.svg

They also do day tours out of London. You meet your guide at a train station, hop on board the train, say to Cambridge, your guide walks you around Cambridge at a leisurely pace, then returns to London with you. A great way to take a day trip.
Scroll through this page. Be sure to click on the red bar at the bottom of the page to see more days trips.
http://www.walks.com/other-tours/day-trips-from-london/
Note that to the right of each day trip on that page, they give you the location at which to meet the guide. You pay at that time.

As Claudia said, you have barely scratched the surface of things to see in London.

A good many things can be found by simply taking a walk along the south bank of the Thames River. Walk along the river and you will find Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a recreation of his theatre. You can take a tour inside and see the stage and seating for the audience as it was in his day. Or see a play there.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe_Theatre

Walking along the south bank, you will also see the Tate Modern art museum, a huge building with an industrial look. Lots of great paintings and sculpture to see here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tate_Modern

Posted by
19181 posts

Google "London markets" for some ideas. The more flea-market-y ones (as opposed to food markets) often operate just one or two days a week, typically on a weekend, so some prior research will be necessary if it's an important goal.

I enjoyed wandering through Portobello Road market on a Saturday last August, but you have to be able to tolerate crowds. (Hold on to your wallet.) I think it would be good to get there before 10 AM, because it continues to get busier as the morning wears on. I am not saying that Portobello Road is the best market, it's just the one I happened to get to.

With nine days in and around London, you will really benefit from a guide book. That will give you a very good idea of the scope of what's available (which is nearly endless) and help you set some priorities. It's also extremely helpful to have a single source of opening days and hours--though it's smart to Google for current information on your planned stops, because things can change after a book goes to press. I can practically guarantee that a guide book will save you more money than it costs via tips on public transportation and low-cost food options for those occasions when you're too rushed to sit down for a restaurant meal. The time it will save you will be a huge bonus.

Posted by
2711 posts

Another option for day trips out of London are tour bus companies that leave London in the morning, take you to a couple of destinations, and return to London about dinnertime. Browse the tours these offer and see if any interest you.
www.goldentours.com
www.EvanEvansTours.com

At the top of this page is one I believe you might enjoy; Leeds Castle, Canterbury, Dover and Greenwich:
https://evanevanstours.com/sightseeing-tours/day-tours-from-london/
Leeds Castle is possibly the most beautiful in England. Canterbury Cathedral is magnificent, and the site of the famous murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett in 1170. If you are not familiar with this murder, get a copy of the 1964 film starring Richard Burton (as Beckett) and Peter O'Toole (as King Henry II).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Becket_(1964_film)
Then you would travel on to see the White Cliffs of Dover. The stop at Greenwich, well, you could do that one by yourself from London (more about that later) but you will enjoy the National Maritime Museum there.

If you wish to do this trip on your own, Greenwich is reached by going to the pier on the river behind the Tower of London. Get onboard the Thames Clipper boat, swipe your Oyster card, the trip down the river to Greenwich takes about 45 minutes. Swipe your Oyster card again when you depart the boat.
https://www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum
Scroll down to "Sites of interest":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwich

Other piers in London from which you can catch the boat to Greenwich include: London Eye, Westminster, Embankment, Blackfriars (see PDF). You want the RB1. On the weekends, the RB1X boat goes to Greenwich.
https://www.thamesclippers.com/assets/doc/Battersea-Route-Map-cc9a51c0ed.pdf
(You would get off at Greenwich, not North Greenwich.)

For many things Claudia mentioned, do a Google search. Quick way to find info.

Posted by
26042 posts

All the places that Claudia mentioned can be googled, and often google provides a link to the webpage for the place.

You will have to do the legwork to look at links and decide if they are secure enough for you or if they look dodgy.

I could look them all up for you but you could do that too.

Posted by
5693 posts

As Nigel and Rebecca have pointed out Google is your friend.

Research, research, research.