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Help with planning Cotswold trip

I arrive in London and am thinking of renting a car and driving to the Cotswold area for three nights. I would then go to Bath on the way to Portsmouth for a day visit. We have three nights booked in Portsmouth. We leave on a cruise out of Southampton on the following day so I have two days really to see Portsmouth and Southampton. Is this doable? Should I stay one night in bath instead of the three nights in Portsmouth? I also am leaning towards Chipping Camden because of the Hidcote gardens and the walk to Broadway and the Cotswold Way. What do you think? I would like to see Blenheim Palace and Stone Henge also.

Posted by
10344 posts

[Edit:] You could pick up the car at Heathrow and drive to the Cotswolds.
But IMO I think it's potentially unsafe to get off a long flight and immediately try to make a long drive to the Cotswolds while tired. Especially driving on the "wrong side of the road" and in a right-hand drive vehicle.
Therefore, I'd recommend getting a night's sleep before driving to the Cotswolds, or have 2 or 3 drivers who can change places driving after an hour.

I'm not aware of any good train service into the Cotswolds from London, there used to be one train stop in the entire Cotswolds.
But you do need a car to see very much, efficiently in a limited time, in the Cotswolds.

Another way I've done it is: fly into Heathrow, take the train or bus to Bath, get over jet lag in Bath one day, covering Bath on foot, then on the morning of the 2nd day in Bath renting a car there, continuing to sleep in Bath another night at least, driving to see the things near Bath that are more easily seen by car. Then drive to the Cotswolds, on the way or way back seeing things like Stonehenge and Blenheim that are not in Bath but easily seen with a car on your way to or back from the Cotswolds.
Then turn in your rental car back at Bath, and continue your trip

Posted by
408 posts

Thanks Kent. The jet lag is the hard part. I have decided on renting the car as you suggested at the airport and driving to Chipping Camden for three nights, one night in Bath, three nights in Portsmouth then off on our cruise. I can't wait!!!

Posted by
1065 posts

Jumping into a hire car after a transatlantic flight and driving on the other side of the road is generally not regarded as a good idea.

Posted by
1278 posts

I would do an overnight in Woodstock or nearby the first night because it is only an hours drive from Heathrow on the M roads and you can get over jet lag by visiting Blenheim Palace and Winston Churchill's grave before proceeding to Chipping Camden. Then go south to Bath and then Stone Henge on your way to Portsmouth. Don't worry about driving ..we did it.

Posted by
10344 posts

Darla,
You and Harleydonski are right about the jet lag and the safety effects it may have if you get off a long flight and then immediately attempt a long drive, especially "on the other side of the road" in a right-hand drive vehicle.

So I've edited what I said in my first post about doing that an have edited my first post. It's not a good idea for many people, who might be really tired before they even got in the rental car.
I myself try to avoid jumping in a rental car,, after a trans-Atlantic flight, except for a short drive at most.

What I did on one trip to the Cotswolds is:
landed at Heathrow
got on the train and went to Bath (there's a bus too)
slept in Bath
rented a car in Bath on the next day, after a reasonable night's sleep, and then drove to the Cotswolds.

Posted by
1438 posts

We have typically in the past landed at Heathrow and driven 1 hour on the M roads with no problem; however, when we did this in June it wasn't good. I don't know if it's because we're older or if we didn't get as much sleep on the plane. But, we have decided we will not do that again. From now on we will sleep one night somewhere close before we get the rental car, much like Kent has suggested.

Posted by
704 posts

We're "older" and did fine driving 3 hours north on A roads out of Heathrow on our first trip to England. We always try to sleep when crossing the Atlantic which makes a huge difference. Blenheim takes a good 3-4 hours minimum to see. I like the suggestion of going there first and having an overnight near there before the Cotswolds - even if you have to eliminate a night in Portsmouth or Cotswolds. BTW, Hidcote Gardens are lovely and well worth the time spent there.

Posted by
1991 posts

A car is useful for the Cotswolds. Try and visit Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, Broadway as well as Hidcote Manor Gardens.

Bath is very congested and not easy with a car. Direct trains run from Bath to Salisbury > Southampton and Portsmouth Harbour very hour. Southampton is not worth visiting but Salisbury has a medieval cathedral. www.nationalrail.co.uk

RAIL SERVICES IN & OUT OF BATH WILL BE DISRUPTED IN SUMMER 2015 DUE TO ELECTRIFICATION PROJECT.

Posted by
408 posts

My husband(Veteran) and son(active) are Navy guys so the history will be interesting to us in Portsmouth. Three nights really only gives us two days of sightseeing. One day to see Southampton and one day to see Portsmouth. The day we check out we have to drive to Southampton to drop off our car and get to the cruise terminal. We could also take a ferry to Brighton, I would think they would have them from Portsmouth.

Posted by
1065 posts

"We could also take a ferry to Brighton, I would think they would have them from Portsmouth."

I lived in Portsmouth for 30 years and never heard of a ferry to Brighton (or from anywhere to Brighton come to that).

Posted by
408 posts

Darn! I thought that some of my fellow cruise friends were doing that? Maybe from Southampton? Is that a very far drive from Portsmouth to Brighton?

Posted by
1991 posts

The roads between Southampton, Portsmouth & Brighton are quite congested. (Look on Google Earth with the TRAFFIC box ticket in the side menu & check during British daytime). No ferries exist to Brighton. If driving to Brighton, I would suggest that Arundel is worth a look en-route. http://www.arundel.org.uk

Regular trains connect Southampton to Brighton (around 1 hour 45 minutes as the route has many stops) & about 1 hour 15 minutes from Portsmouth Harbour to Brighton. See www.nationalrail.co.uk

Posted by
408 posts

Thank you James for the helpful information. I will check out the train schedule from Portsmouth. Have a nice Sunday.