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Beyond London... where? (April)

I'm going to spend 2+ weeks in England between late March and April 2020. I love walking, and want to be in green hills with stone walls (that sight on TV gets me in the feels). My initial plan was to spend a few days in London on either end, and a week to 10 days in Shropshire & Snowdonia -- but I won't have a car so would be fully reliant on public transport, hitchhiking, and whatever (is there....?) the UK version of Lyft is. I also thought about Suffolk, but know that it's flat and hard to do without a car.

(In the distant past, I've been to Durham, York, and Scotland, as well as to Bath/Devon/Stonehenge so would prefer to spend this trip somewhere new to me. At home I spend a lot of time on the coast so that's why I'm wanting green rolling hills & walks in the UK.)

I love churches and cemeteries; markets; the monarchy; rain. I don't care much about military history or Shakespeare . And I do realize how randomly eccentric this sounds, but it would be great if I could go on a walk with alpacas or llamas (which I can do in Shropshire).

I'd love your input and ideas, especially noting the "I'm not renting a car" factor. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
10130 posts

We had a lovely walking trip in Wales this spring although with a car. We particularly liked the area around St. David’s where we walked through sheep meadows and cow pastures as well as along the coastal path. We also had lots of sheep as company in the Brecon Beacons.

I believe you can do a lot with public transportation or a tour. We are looking at HF Holidays for a trip next year. I linked you to their Wales page but they are all over the UK. Might be an option. Note that March is a bit early, IMO, and might be rather wet and cold. But who knows about weather anymore?

Posted by
5573 posts

Have you ever walked along Hadrian's Wall? The reason I ask is that you have certainly been near it in the past. If you haven't consider walking a stretch of the wall. Expect rain.

A relative has done two or three tours with the HF Holidays mentioned above. They were quite pleased.

Posted by
5630 posts

We did a wonderful 28 day drive tour around S. Wales and England (didn't even go to London or the SE).

We loved the North of England, but you have been to places that we visited. However, you didn't go to the Lake District, which is great for hiking. However, I am not sure it is warm enough in April.

Consider South Wales. We loved all the castles. Tenby is on the sea and a very nice place for a couple of days. Be sure to visit St. Davids. Cardiff is good for a couple of days. The Wye River valley (visit Tintern Abbey) is beautiful.
Devon and Cornwall is in our plans for our next trip to Britain. Consider going there.

Posted by
28147 posts

The equinox is 21st March so the short days are getting longer - sunset around 6:15 or so.

Remember that late March is still very much winter in many parts of the country; you should expect frosts most mornings and maybe snow or sleet in certain parts.

I'm glad to see that you like rain.

You will be more likely to see greening up in the south. You may see crocus but daffodills may be after you go. Or we may have an early spring and you will be lucky.

Have you thought about walking along a canal? Or even hiring a narrowboat? Both put you deep in the countryside but near villages with pubs and lots of farms with associated fields and hills....

Green hills and stone walls screams Yorkshire Dales to me. If you could get yourself to a town like Hawes or Leyburn in Wensleydale there’s lots of scope for walks and you’ll find some local bus services along the dale.

Posted by
3336 posts

If you want GREEN hills and stone walls with beautiful villages, sheep, etc. then go to The Lake District. It's easily done via public transport and it is my favorite place in England. The whole place is a UNESCO world heritage site and for good reason. In April you won't have a crush of tourists so you are going at an ideal time...expect some rain but that's all part of being in England in April! ;)
Llama walks are available in the Lakes...one place is Alpacaly Ever After at the Lingholme Estate on the western shores of Derwentwater near Keswick. You can take a llama for a walk, eat in their gorgeous cafe, and walk through the gardens - Beatrix Potter stayed here with her family and the garden was the inspiration for Mr. McGregor's garden in Peter Rabbit. You can also visit her home, Hilltop, in Sawrey.
The area is made for walking - that's just about all I do when I go. My favorite places to walk are around Buttermere and up to High Seat, from Ambleside to Grasmere / Rydal Water, Keswick to the Castlerigg Stone Circle then up Walla Crag and back down to Keswick, around Derwentwater, and anywhere in the western fells.
I usually base myself in Keswick because it's a bus hub for the places I like to visit most.

Posted by
649 posts

I’m not much of an expert outside of London, but while in London... Hampstead Heath and close by, Highgate Cemetery sound like your kind of thing. I’m not into cemeteries but found Highgate Cemetery worth a visit.

Posted by
1017 posts

Hi. Reading the responses with interest and will probably bookmark for future ideas.

Their 2020 calendar is not posted yet, but you might want to check out Walking Women. I have not joined them for any walks but I look each year to see if anything coincides with my plans - many different levels and locations of short and longer walking trips.

In April, I would make sure I know which flowers are blooming and where: depending on time, perhaps bluebells? Do a Google search for bluebell woods - a nice way to spend some winter evenings.

It does not sound as if you had planned to go as far as Edinburgh, but Rabbie's has at least one trip to Hadrian's Wall. Walking Women did a walk there in 2019 as well.

Looking forward to hearing more ideas and eventually a trip report!

Posted by
6 posts

It's been a minute since I posted this question, but I want to thank everyone who responded.

I listened to the counsel on weather and shifted my trip to April. I looked into every suggestion y'all provided, and decided to visit one of the areas that RS books don't cover: Shropshire. I found an amazing Landmark Trust place to stay, and am piecing together other visits to Chester & environs. I believe I'm living the spirit of "off the beaten track," and am excited.

Thanks again for your replies.
Zora (whose family member is a writer at Rick Steves, and who advised me as well!)

Posted by
3356 posts

I have never rented a car in the UK. I’ve taken many trips between the end of March and mid April.

I enjoyed my day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Winchester, Canterbury, & Salisbury.

Posted by
1934 posts

If you are going to Shropshire, be sure to visit Ludlow - which is on the main railway between Shrewsbury and south Wales. Shrewsbury is actually an excellent rail hub. From Shrewsbury, a single track line heads west through the middle of Wales to the west coast. This route is highly recommended. You could go as far as Aberystwyth but actually the northern branch (the routes split at Dovey Junction - just west of Machynlleth) - is the most scenic. Another line goes north from Shrewsbury to Chester - again, highly recommended.
https://www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/cambrian-lines
https://www.ludlow.org.uk
https://originalshrewsbury.co.uk

Posted by
21334 posts

Ludlow's an attractive town, quite the foodie destination these day. I found lodging quite expense. I suspect it would be financially prudent to avoid weekends (just guessing).