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Information on Dorset area

Hello!
A friend and I are possibly traveling to Dorset county, specifically Stinson, in late July or early August.

I have traveled extensively in the U.S. but never abroad and am wondering:
1. Should we rent a car and drive from Heathrow to Stinson or take a train to get to the outskirts of London and then rent a car?
2. Any suggestions on things to do in that area? It looks rather remote and we will have a couple of teen girls along. Or lodging?

3. We are considering taking the train from London to Paris for a day or two before returning. While some sights claimed $30-$50 tickets the lowest I saw was $295 USD.

I am sure I will have more questions, but these are the most important ones I have right now. If there are questions I should be asking - please let me know.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by
189 posts

There doesn’t appear to be anywhere in Dorset, or in the UK even, called Stinson.

Any reason for Dorset? Lyme Regis is nice as is Abbotsbury and Chesil Beach.

Eurostar is the place to buy your train ticket to Paris from St Pancras. Tickets will get more expensive nearer departure date.

I wouldn’t recommend driving straight of a long flight if that is your plan.

Posted by
11 posts

Correction: The destination is Stinsford, Dorchester - according to the address.

My friend is actually going to take a class there - hence the destination.

Thanks for the help!

Posted by
4994 posts

...rent a car and drive from Heathrow to Stinson or take a train...

Take the train to a place you can rest overnight and then rent a car. Driving upon arrival just isn't, in my opinion, a good idea. You'll be tired, sleepy, jet lagged, on strange turf, and driving on the left side of the road. Other people are different, but for me it's an accident waiting to happen. Just food for thought.

Posted by
2449 posts

Late July > early August is the peak holiday season and Dorset is a very popular area for the Brits to take vacations. If you can do the trip in June or the first half of July, it will be less busy as the schools are still open. You are choosing the very start of the school summer holidays.

I would not advise getting off a trans-Atlantic flight and driving to Dorset on the same day. If you want to go to Dorchester from Heathrow - take a bus to Woking >https://www.railair.com/timetables/RA2 and then a train to Dorchester South station. (You might want to check in to the Premier Inn - which is right outside Dorchester South station). It might work out cheaper for you to buy return tickets than one way tickets twice.

If you want to rent a car, I see that Enterprise have a depot in Dorchester - on the north side of town, (Looks like you will need a car to get to the village - which is not far east of Dorchester). https://discoverdorchester.co.uk/

You have never travelled abroad. Trust me, there is loads to see and do in southern England so I would forget about Paris. Besides, why would you go to Paris when it sounds like you have never been to London?

If staying in the Premier Inn, it is quite easy to go to the Dorchester South station and take a train down to the seaside town of Weymouth. The girls could easily do this on their own - should it he desired. Bring swimwear as the sandy beach is safe and lovely. You could also take a short walk to Dorchester West station and take a train north to visit the historic city of Bath. (Going by train would be easier than driving to Bath). Trains >https://www.nationalrail.co.uk

A few miles SE of Dorchester is Lulworth Cove and Durdle Dor (spectacular coast of bays and cliffs).

The village of Cerne Abbas - just N of Dorchester has the famous giant on a hillside - best seen from west side of valley. (Many excited women present when I visited). Further up the valley is Minterne Gardens and the town of Sherbourne is also worth seeing -castle is on S side of town.

You might also be interested in this bus service:> https://wdlh.co.uk/jurassic-coaster-bus/
https://www.jurassiccoast.org/explore/towns-and-villages/lyme-regis

Posted by
3984 posts

With 2 teenaged girls along and your friend participating in a class in tiny Stinsford, I’d base myself in Dorchester or even better, coastal Weymouth and have the friend take the bus back and forth to their class, about a 40 minute journey. We stayed in this area 2 years ago and enjoyed getting around by bus on the Purbeck Breezer and JurassicX Coastal routes. We also enjoyed easy coastal access and explorations from Weymouth. When we were there the Poole visitor’s center was having an extended Thomas Hardy exhibit if this is your friend’s interest.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you, so much!, for everyone's responses. This is all very helpful information and I am grateful for your assistance!

It appears to trip is going to happen for sure, so I have a flight question:

Would it be better to fly through the night and arrive early in the day - to give us time to see some things in London - or to arrive mid-day / early afternoon and then begin adjusting to the time change by only staying up a few hours before sleeping?

Thank you again for your help!

Posted by
2449 posts

Much will depend on price and the time you have to be at your departing airport in the USA. You may wish to just land in the UK and perhaps make your way a short distance to perhaps Windsor for your first night? Whatever you choose, your body clock will be a bit haywire for a day or so while you adjust to the different time.

You will find more eastbound flights departing the US in the late afternoon / evening to fly through the night and arrive in the Uk early morning. More flights appear to leave the UK to head west to N America late morning and land early evening on the same day in the USA.

The most important thing to consider is being near the airport for your flight home. You don’t want to risk a long journey from say Dorset to Heathrow on the day of departure in case something goes wrong - although unlikely. For that reason, it would be wise to have London at the end of your holiday - although that is not to say you could not have a night or so at the start.

https://www.skyscanner.net is good guide to possible flights. Select London at destination plus your start location and click for an entire month and this should throw up an indication of the cheaper days. Best to book direct with airline you intend to fly on.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you again for all the valuable information in response to my inquiries. Now that my friend and I have had a few days to think and plan, we have another question.

We are considering taking the train from London to Dorchester. One downside of the train is that we couldn’t stop at will along the way if we wish. But, can we disembark at various stops to sight see and then board another south bound train later to continue to Dorchester?

Thank you again for your help!

Posted by
6461 posts

If you buy an Anytime Day Single for £79 to Dorchester South you can leave at any time and break your journey any number of times. Or after 1205 from Waterloo buy a Super Off Peak Day Single for £66.70 and again you can break journey as many times as you like.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you!

Upon our arrival at Heathrow, we have a hotel in Windsor for the first night and then would be catching the train on Sunday, June 23 and returning to London on Tuesday, June 25. Looking on a map - Waterloo is a long way into London just to catch the trail. I found a train from Windsor Eton Central to Dorchester South. Can the day pass be purchased for that route? And can it be purchased online, in advance?

Posted by
6461 posts

Ah,

So the route you found is probably Windsor to Slough to Reading to Southampton then onwards to Dorchester (so 3 changes). That is far easier than it sounds.

That is £70.80 Off Peak Day Single, for as many breaks of journey as you want.

Coming back on the Tuesday you would want to come back into Waterloo.

If you came straight back (without stops) on that route you can get an Advance Fare on a specific timed train for £22 each or £15.60 each after 1130.

Whichever option you do get yourselves a Two Together Railcard for £30 which will give 1/3 off all previously quoted railfares.

Yes you can buy on line, like now from any train company. The most user friendly train company for overseas visitors is LNER

The only word of caution is that outwards it is a Sunday. That is a favourite day for rail engineering. If that happens some sections could be replaced by bus. It is too soon yet to know whether or not that is happening.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello!
Thank you again, to all, for your kind and helpful responses.

I am now attempting to book a return train ticket from Dorchester South to Kings Cross on 25 June.

My question is that on the LNER website, when you select the time of the train it says, ‘Departing After’. Does this indicate that there are multiple trains and we can catch any that leave after the departure time I select? OR, does the train leave AT the time selected? 13:30, 15:00….

Again, thank you for your help!

Posted by
33130 posts

with there being 24 hours in the day and trains running on most of them, it is trying to be helpful by showing you trains for the time of day you are looking for. You can change that to trains arriving before... instead if you want.

Pick the time of day you want to travel and choose the time before which you don't want to travel. If you want breakfast maybe try 8:00. You will get several - maybe many - trains starting from around 8:00 for a couple of hours. You can of course pick a different time. You could pick midnight if you want to see the last train and the first train of the day. You will also get an idea of the price, and for every train you can drill down further and get all the offered fares, from the cheapest 2nd class Advance or special fare all the way up to the most expensive 1st class walkup fare.

Posted by
1128 posts

I think you are getting muddled up here.

‘Departing after’ is a term used when you are searching for a train. You won’t know the exact time of the train, but you’ll know you need one after 4pm or whatever time you need to travel.

You then get a list of all the trains which leave after that time. You select the one you prefer. If it’s an advance ticket you may have to travel in that specific train. It will tell you ‘valid for this train only’. If you have a more flexible ticket then you can get on any train and this is just an indication. You need to select a train for the ticket purchase but you can travel on another.

Posted by
11 posts

I really cannot express gratitude enough for all the assistance each person has given as the trip planning continues.

I think all of the ‘Big Rocks’ are in place and we’re now down to details.

One such detail is traveling from Weymouth to Dorchester. We did decide to hire a car for the 2.5 days we will be in Weymouth, but it has to be returned prior to catching our train at Dorchester South to go to London. I am waiting to hear from the car hire place to see if we can pick up the car in Weymouth and return in Dorchester. If so, it’s about a mile walk from the car hire place to the train.

But if not, suggestions on how the best way to get from Weymouth to Dorchester South station? The car hire place is on Dorchester Road in Weymouth. Our train departs Dorchester South station at 15:33.

Thank you again!

Posted by
6461 posts

Assuming the car is being returned to Upwey Service Station at 772 Dorchester Road you could walk the approx 800 metres (1/2 a mile) to Upwey Station and board your London train there. (the stop before Dorchester South)
Otherwise bus #10 stops right outside the garage every 17 minutes (a very odd frequency) or every 35 minutes on a Sunday. Get off that at Brewery Square Shopping centre and walk through the centre to the station- less than 1/4 mile.
Look at it on Google maps. Blow it up and it will show you where the bus stops are.

The Bus is only a 15 minute journey. Add waiting time and the walk through the shops and 1430 is an adequate time to leave the car rental place- 1400 if you want to be really prudent.

Posted by
11 posts

Another question…

Our VRBO is in Weymouth so we’ll need to take the train on from Dorchester South to Upwey. Currently, our prepurchased tickets are from Windsor E Central to Dorchester South on Sunday, June 23rd. We return on Tuesday, June 25th.

The question is: Should I go to the trouble of cancelling our current tickets and purchasing new ones? Or just add the trip from Dorchester to Upwey on the day of journey? And add the extra return leg when I update the outbound trip?

From what I can see, it’s not far from Dorchester to Upwey and I wouldn’t anticipate it being a problem to add the extra leg when we arrive. Not sure if a train change would be involved so I’m not sure what times to choose.

We are on a Southwestern Railway that arrives at Dorchester at 16:23 and a departing one for Upwey at 16:24. But again, I’m not sure if we would need to change trains so I’m reluctant to book the 16:24.

I hope this makes sense. This is one of the last details to wrap up before we leave next Friday. While I’ve ridden lots of subways, this is my first attempt at train schedules - and certainly the first attempt at scheduling trains from across the Pond!

Thank you again for your assistance!

Posted by
6461 posts

The 1624 from Dorchester to Upwey is the continuation of the same train as you have arrived on- it's next stop on the way to Weymouth.

Realistically it is the same fare to Upwey as to Dorchester South, and Upwey is unstaffed.

However, to comply with Community Guideline #7 (legal advice), purchase an additional ticket online from Dorchester South to Upwey, and just stay in your seat. I can 99.99% guarantee that no-one will look at it on the train.

That is an extra £3.60 each before railcard discount £2.35 with railcard). Even if you have a ticket type which is refundable there would be an admin charge to do so, and is just well hassle- so that is the best way to do it.

EDIT-
The ticket you want in each direction is an 'Evening Out Day Single'.

The other option, which has just struck me, is that you could ask the ticket clerk at Windsor to give you a 'zero excess' ticket from Dorchester to Upwey in each direction. That is a ticket from Dorchester to Upwey at zero fare because the overall fare is the same.
Personally I think that is drawing attention to what you are doing, assumes the clerk has the knowledge and experience to do that., and in fact that the ticket office is open. It is not something you can do online. I don't think I would do that, but it is can be done.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello!
Finishing up details here and I have a question about the train tickets.

I purchased an outbound ticket from Windsor Eton Central to Dorchester South then on to Upwey. This is on Sunday, June 23.

I also purchased a return from Upwey to Kings Cross on Tuesday, June 25.

When I login to the website, only my outbound journey & ticket appear.

I have a confirmation number for the return but those tickets don’t appear. I downloaded the app but it’s still the same scenario.

Will the return tickets not show up until we complete the outbound journey?

Thanks again!

Posted by
11 posts

Well, I did manage to find them on my account on the LNER website, thankfully. However, there is this message:

Please note: you'll need your collection reference and your payment card to pick up your tickets.

Is this normal for return tickets or did I do something wrong when I booked them? And I’m guessing I should pick them up at Eton Central before we leave for Dorchester?

Thank you for your assistance.

After all this preparation work, I’ll be ready for the holiday!

Posted by
2449 posts

You have the booking reference number and the card on which the payment was made - yea. You should be able to get the tickets at any British train station. Most have machines in which you touch a screen and select that you have a booking and tap in the reference number having first inserted the payment card on which you made the booking - just to make sure it is you. Be sure to make sure that all the tickets come out of the machine for travel both ways and of course, remove your payment card from which no money will be taken as you have already paid.

Alternatively, just go to any British staffed station where you will find staff who issue tickets. Just give them your reference number for the booking and they will issue the tickets. It does not have to be LNER but can be run by any train company but not London Transport (underground).

Posted by
6461 posts

At some stage in the process you obviously selected to have physical tickets, rather than the e tickets most people on here select.
Which is fine.
No problem with that.
The tickets can be collected from any station at any time from.now onwards. You don't have to wait until the day of travel to collect them.

Posted by
411 posts

A month ago while at home i booked tickets online for round trip London Waterloo to Hampton Court. Last week (day of ticket) it was very easy: at London Waterloo station, I used touchscreen to enter my reservation number and info from credit card I’d used to make inline reservation. The machine spit out two paper tickets, and i was set.