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Beyond London Travel

Hi,
We are planning trip from London to Cotswolds and Stonehenge over several days. I want to rent a car, and make Cotswald our base with day trips to Stonehenge and Bath. Need some advice about cars and driving. Should I rent at Heathrow, or further out such as in Oxford getting there by train or bus? Or turn it around and start in Salisbury with a car driving to Cotswolds at the end of the day?

Thanks!

Posted by
1800 posts

You can take a train from Heathrow to the Paddington station and transfer to Morton-in-Marsh (1h 30m) and rent a car there.

Posted by
5709 posts

You don’t want to hire a car on arrival at Heathrow with jet lag. Heathrow is a bit out of the way to return to for hiring a car if you are heading to the Cotswolds, so I would hire in Oxford, which is heading in the right direction for the Cotswolds.

I don’t know where abouts in the Cotswolds you are staying, but it will take the best part of 2 hours each way to drive from Stow-in-the-Wold to Stonehenge and the same for Bath including time to find that elusive parking space. You may want to consider seeing both of these as day trips from London by train, as this would be as quick and less hassle than driving.

Posted by
3699 posts

The Cotswalds cover a large area. You could take an easy train (almost a commuter run) to Chippenham at the southeast side. Several rental agencies operate in Chippenham. Bath and Bristol are not far off and the rural countryside will remind you of ye-olde-England movies because a number have been filmed in the region.

Posted by
4171 posts

If you’ve never driven in the UK, or haven’t been to the Cotswolds and are unfamiliar with the area and roads, follow Jennifer’s advice. We always rent at Heathrow upon arrival and head to wherever it is we decide to spend the first night, which is not more than a 2-2.5 hour drive. Bath is an easy day trip by train from London. Parking is difficult to come by in Bath. Driving times to where you want to go will vary by your base in the Cotswolds; shorter from a town like Cirencester in the south, longer from Stratford Upon Avon in the north. Remember that once off the main roads, the smaller roads are likely to be 2 lanes with much lower speed limits. Since you intend on driving, rather than just looking at the final destination, look for things to see in all the small towns along the route. Many are charming, worth walking around, and often overlooked by tourists.

Posted by
5263 posts

Jennifer's advice not to drive on arrival day is good. There's a good bus service between Heathrow and Oxford, makes more sense than taking a train to Paddington and then back out there.

Posted by
2 posts

Ok just to focus the conversation a bit. We will be in London for several days, and then going to Oxford may be on the list. Staying in Cotswolds for 4 days total. Nice accommodations are at some smaller towns would be great. If we stay at Stow-on-the-Wold or Chippen Campden can we get around without a car? Some offer tours of the area originating in London, but seem a bit pricey.

Posted by
11447 posts

Another option is to forget the car, base in Bath, and look into Max Max Tours. They go to all the places you mention. Maximum of 16 passengers on their vehicles. I've taken two of their tours and enjoyed them.

Leave the driving, parking, and admission issues to them. Sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Posted by
5263 posts

Sorry, the original reference to Heathrow made me assume you were going there straight off the flight. If you'll be in London first, then it would make sense to take a train to Bath and rent the car there. No reason to go to Heathrow except to fly in or out!

Frank may have the best idea, Mad Max tours from Bath. I haven't gone with Mad Max but they're popular on this forum.

Posted by
920 posts

catanzaroa-we are doing the RS so England villages tour in May. Ends in bath. Taking the train to moreton in the marsh, cab to Chipping Campden. Staying there 4 days in a cottage I found . We are relying on bus, walking the cotswolds and train travel, then train back to London for four days and then back home. No plans, just relaxing and winging it! Never done that before! 3 months and counting!

Enjoy !