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London, south of England

Hi, hope I'm in the right place.
I'm in the early stages of planning a trip to England/Wales/Scotland and need a little help with an itinerary which I'll fine tune once I have some feedback. I plan to fly into London and stay 4/5 nights to see the sights. A walk around St James Park, a museum or two, St Pauls for evensong, the Globe, a river trip up to Greenwich or perhaps the 2 hr riverboat to Windsor and back will keep me happy. I'll be returning to London end of the trip for another 3 days or so to see a bit more. I'd prefer to have a change of scene and hate the idea of making a long dash to the airport.
What I'd like to do then is a day trip to Oxford to soak up the atmosphere before heading onto the Cotswolds. Should say II hate buses but depends on timetables I suppose. I want to make the best use of my time. I would like to stay in Chipping Campden overnight or somewhere close to Hidcote so I can walk there. Would really like to get one walk in at least. I would have to do a bus tour to see the rest and have one in mind. Just a day trip. So two days at least in the Cotswolds.

I'd then like to see the south of England but no idea how to get there from the Cotswolds. I want to drive the coast Brighton to Megavissey. Stay one or two nights in Brighton and perhaps go one morning to see the cliffs at Eastbourne. I'm interested in seeing Salcombe (Overbecks), Stoke Gabriel, Isle of Portland, Wimborne/Milton Abbas ( family history), Lyme Regis for the picture postcard value. Love to get a bird's eye view of Plymouth harbour if I could because so many of my English ancestors sailed from there.

I was thinking I could train it from Polperro thereabouts up to Bath or Wells and stop overnight before heading to Chester. Reason being I want to go to Anglesey in Wales. Don't know if that's feasible or not given it's a bit out of my way but I'd really like to see it.

From there somewhere (Chester?) I'd be catching a train to York for an overnight stay and then heading onto Scotland for 6 days or so. I'd love to see Dornie (Eileen Donan Castle) and perhaps take a day trip over to Skye. Really just want a good look at the scenery there and would love to walk to the Castle if the weather is friendly as I believe it's not all that far. Back to Inverness and a day trip to Dunrobin Castle. Would like a look at Dingwall too if that's possible. (family history). I'd like to stay at least 2 nights in Edinburgh as well and then fly back to London.
I anticipate about 26 to 28 days in the UK. I'm a budget traveller and happy to scrounge whatever cheap food is going. A nice cuppa at Boswells is more my speed or a pub meal. I am going to investigate airbnb for accommodation otherwise I'd have to settle for 3 star hotels and prefer not to. I can walk 10km comfortably but not up and down steep hills (asthma). I am used to driving left side of the road so that's no problem but I'd like not to have to drive if it's at all possible.

What do you think?

Posted by
4366 posts

What is it about the Cotswolds that draws you there? If it's simply the scenery and old villages then this can be found all over the UK.
If you're interested in driving from Brighton to Megavissey why not leave out the Cotswolds and start from Brighton after London. You can take in the countryside of the South Downs which is, in my opinion, more spectacular than the Cotswolds. You want to drive the coast from Brighton to Megavissey but you also state that you'd not like to drive if it's at all possible! You can get from Brighton to Megavissey by train but it won't take you along the coast and you won't see the sights you've mentioned. The only way to cover the route you've outlined is by car. The route will be on major roads so there shouldn't be any issues with narrow country lanes however much is dependant on the time of year you'll be travelling and any roadworks.

I would also look beyond Airbnb as they tend to be the most expensive of all the rental sites, VBRO and Homeaway are just as good so are many B&B's.

Have you bought your flights yet? It may be easier to depart from Edinburgh rather than make your way back to London as it appears (correct me if I'm wrong) that the only reason for returning to London is because the flight home departs from there. This would give you more time in Edinburgh (well worth the extra time) and saves the cost of the flight to London.

Posted by
911 posts

I would do London either at the front or back end and fly out or into Edinburgh at the other. I would seriously consider ditching Anglesey, the Cotswolds or both. London to your South England sites, Bath, Chester, York, Skye (stay in Portree), and end in Edinburgh.

Posted by
18875 posts

What time of year is your trip? I covered some of the same English territory last August/September. Not wanting to rent a car, I ended up on quite a lot of buses in the coastal areas. That turned out to be a good thing, because many were double-deckers that allowed passengers--at least those sitting upstairs--to see over the hedgerows. In a car, you will not always have a view of the countryside. The roads didn't always hug the coastline, but I very much enjoyed my bus time.

I went to Portland to see the quarry with sculptures scattered around it. I enjoyed that very much. If that's something you want to do, poke around on the internet to see whether you can locate some sort of map that will help you find them; there were no paper hand-outs available when I was there. Also, note that the island is quite hilly, so if you don't drive there, be sure you get off the bus close to the quarry so you don't have to walk up and down hills. At least in the summer, getting there by bus from Weymouth is workable. Going down into the quarry and up out of it will inevitably mean some terrain changes--another reason a map would be helpful.

Post again if you're interested in gardens, and I'll tell you about a few near your path.

Oxford is very close to the Cotswolds, so I wouldn't day-trip from London and then turn around and relocate to the Cotswolds. Within the Cotswolds there's train service only to Moreton-in-Marsh. From there you can get a bus to at least some of the other towns. I took a GoCotswolds tour that picked me up at the Moreton train station.

There are also Cotswold tours running from Bath; MadMax is one of the companies. I'm the oddball who found the Georgian architecture in Bath so repetitive after an hour or two that it was dull, but I loved the Museum of East Asian Art and also enjoyed the Holburne Museum. I preferred the looks of Chester, but many people would have the opposite reaction, I'm sure. I also liked Wells.

I liked the sights in Brighton and the funky vibe but didn't feel like I needed a lot of time for the city itself. I took long walks both east and west along the waterfront but more enjoyed day-trips to Lewes and Arundel.

Rick has some coverage of northern Wales in his guide to Great Britain. I agree with him that the rail trip down to Betws-y-Coed is very scenic. I did not get over to Anglesey.

I think your target list may make for a rather rushed trip, but of course I was totally dependent on trains and buses, which really slow you down when you're hitting a lot of small towns. Perhaps with judicious use of a car it will be very workable.

Posted by
4366 posts

I liked the sights in Brighton and the funky vibe but didn't feel like I needed a lot of time for the city itself. I took long walks both east and west along the waterfront but more enjoyed day-trips to Lewes and Arundel.

I agree. I spent a lot of time in Brighton in my younger days as I had a number of friends at university there. As a youngster it's a great place to live and socialise but it doesn't have a great deal to offer tourists. For a brief visit I also recommend Arundel over Brighton.

Posted by
2624 posts

After your first few days in London, take the train to Brighton pick up car and go to Megavissey. After Megavissey drive to Bodmin (18 miles) drop off the car (I know there is an Enterprise there). You then could take the train from Bodmin to Moreton-in-Marsh which is in the Cotswolds, it’s a 4 hr trip with one change in Reading. After the Cotswolds take the train to Oxford, then head up to Chester.

Posted by
9785 posts

You're going all over the place.

Start on London, then go south along the coast. Then up to Bath. Take a day trip into the Cotswolds. Up through Wales, Scotland, and then stop in York while returning to London. Take a day trip to Oxford from London. London Walks offers them either once a week or every other week and is an excellent company.

While planning your trip, go in one direction and if starting and ending in the same place make it like a circle.

Posted by
18875 posts

Oxford is an extremely short train ride from Moreton-in-Marsh. I'm not seeing the advantage of waiting to see Oxford until you're in London (and paying London hotel prices) and must day-trip from there.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks everyone. Very helpful. I know it was all over the place and the itinerary needed sorting. My ancestors come from the south of England so it gives me a purpose. One was a Portland mason so yes I'd like to see Tout's Quarry if I can.

I will be coming in on a very long haul and I know London will be exhausting as I'm not young anymore. Would prefer to split that part of the trip but I'm open to ideas and will pay attention to everyone's suggestions. There is so much I want to see along the south coast that I thought a car might be useful and I wouldn't have to worry about timetables so much. Glad you piped up Acraven as I didn't know there were double deckers running. That definitely appeals. I've added Lewes and Arundel to my list and might forget Brighton. Thanks for those suggestions. Brighton looked an easy starting point that's all.

And yes I love gardens but I'm interested in everything. I'm sure I'll enjoy the trip no matter what I see or don't. The thing I loved most about Rome for instance was being able to wander in and out of churches and standing at the door of St Peters end of the day taking it all in and listening to the choir. An awesome experience. Had my fill of churches though and am not that interested in stately homes, only gardens.
Robin Z I like the idea of going to Chester via Oxford. Thank you.

In answer to one query I haven't booked flights yet and was going to ask what time of year might suit for that kind of trip.
Appreciate all the input.

Posted by
44 posts

Emma, that sounds like a better idea as hours in a train doesn't appeal to me in the least. The train to York is not my idea of a good time either. Have even considering flying to Edinburgh from Wales or nearest airport but I'd love to see York if I can fit it in somehow. In answer to the query about the Cotswolds I thought it a good way of seeing picture postcard England, getting in a lovely walk and at the same time seeing a wonderful garden. All three ideas appeal to me. There are many other gardens I could visit for instance Sissinghurst but it's a bit out of my way unless there is a fast train from London. If I could fit it in I'd certainly love to go.

Posted by
18875 posts

Gardens (none part of fancy estates, which tend to be in more isolated locations and not so easy to get to without a car). I basically went to gardens when I was in the area, rather than using them to determine my itinerary.

Just east of Poole (city bus): Compton Acres.

Just west of Weymouth (bus; perhaps then some walking): Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Garden.

Near St. Austell/Mevagissey: the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Both are large and accessible by bus.

North Wales (bus from Llandudno): Bodnant Garden (National Trust). This was one of my favorites.

Oxford: Botanical garden.

Should you decide not to use a car in Wales, check out the North Wales All Zone day pass offered by the transport companies in that area. It got me by train from Chester to Conwy and provided a 50% discount on the narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railway and Ffestiniog Railway. It also covered the bus between Caernarvon and Bangor. Perhaps other buses as well. If you have a transport-heavy day, it will probably save you money. Otherwise, individual tickets may be cheaper.

Edited to add: Although it's not true of all routes, on many rail trips the cost goes up and up and up as the departure date approaches. Making last-minute ticket purchases in Great Britain can be painfully costly.

Posted by
44 posts

Emma I would love to stay longer in North Wales but I've a very stretched itinerary. It might make more sense to stay in Chester a couple of days and take a day trip into North Wales rather than head all the way to Anglesey. Does that make more sense to anyone?

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks for all those great ideas, Acraven. Was planning on Heligan. Did think of Abbotsbury but wasn't sure it was my cup of tea. The botanical in Oxford might be doable. The Bodnant Estate is a must see. Thanks especially for that recommendation. I'm also planning to see the Chelsea Physic Garden. Really love your idea of training it from Chester to Conwy. And yes I'm aware I need to book ahead. My itinerary is going to be 12 months in the planning and then I'll start booking everything.

Someone above mentioned alternatives to airbnd and I'm checking those out too. Thanks .

Posted by
3 posts

Katy, you can get the Jurassic Coaster, a double decker sightseeing bus, from Weymouth all the way to Axminster or Exeter. Depending on the time of year they run as frequently as once an hour. You can get off in Abbotsbury, West Bay for the Broadchurch scenery, and Lyme Regis, which truly is postcard material. You can get a train from Axminster or Exeter to Bath. It takes a couple of hours and one or two changes. The trains from Axminster change in Salisbury, in case you're interested in the Cathedral or taking the Stonehenge tour bus to Stonehenge.

Posted by
18875 posts

If you stay in Chester, keep your eyes open for Chez Jules. I had dinner there twice. It had good prices for comparatively interesting food. I'm not sure, but I may have been taking advantage of an earlybird deal of some sort. Main course (beef burgundy one night) and dessert were well below 20 GBP after I added a tip. (I drink water, though.)

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you. I think I will stay in Chester if I can get a train from there to York. Does anyone know if there's a train or bus that goes direct? Perhaps I should ask this in another thread. I'm all over the place I know but Chester, the Bodnant, Conwy are now set in stone.

I've also had a rethink on my South England itinerary and have decided to bypass Portsmouth and Plymouth as I don't want to deal with heavy traffic.

I am wondering if Lewes might serve as a base to see Sissinghurst as well as Seaford ( an hour of so to see the cliffs ). Thought I might catch a train from London one morning to Staplehurst/Sissinghurst and then head to Lewes. Hire a car there (?) and go see the Seven Sisters from the head at Seaford. Is there anything else I shouldn't miss while in Lewes? I'll be heading on to Arundel. I'm only going to be walking on the seafront up to the Head to see the cliffs at Seaford and I don't know if it's worth staying in Lewes when I have such a full itinerary ahead but would like to know if there's anything worth my time.

What do you recommend I see in Arundel? Thanks.

Posted by
1838 posts

I think you should get familiar with the rail map:>http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/routemaps/nationalrailnetworkmap.pdf

Going from Chester to York can be slow going. It is best to go up the west side to Edinburgh. Note, that when booking rail tickets, that if you try a through ticket and then a split - at any place where you must change trains - then it could work out cheaper.

If you are intending to visit Brighton, then landing at Gatwick is easier than Heathrow as Gatwick is on the direct train route from London to Brighton. Driving along the south coast can be quite hard going due to high volumes of traffic. If were you, I would give the south coast east of Bournemouth a miss. Anglesey has flat farmland and lovely beaches. If you are going to Cornwall, I would give Anglesey a miss.

Chester is we’ll worth a visit but you would need to spend time getting to Llandudno Junction before you even start to see the best of NW Wales. Consider staying in Conwy if you don’t have a car.

Look at Google Earth or Google maps to see places and check out the roads with Streetview - drag on yellow man.
Here is Plymouth:>https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.377437,-4.194026,20957m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

Posted by
18875 posts

In Arundel there's a castle (which I didn't visit), a cathedral, and some very picturesque streets. The museum (also not visited) counter person will try to help answer your questions and has some form of map available (free or modest charge). The museum serves as a sort of de facto tourist office. Many UK tourist offices are no more as a result of budget cuts. Even Brighton has no tourist office.

I am not certain, but I fear that you may need a car or a final taxi ride to get to Sissinghurst. I had thought I might go there, but I sort of threw up my hands when I started investigating precisely how I would pull it off.

Along the southern coast I enjoyed a brief stop in Bournemouth but did not care for Poole except for the garden I visited. I preferred Weymouth to Poole but thought it was best for families with children. Convenient for going to the Isle of Portland, though.

Chester to York looks like 2-1/2 to 3 hours with at least one change of train.

Conwy is definitely more convenient than Chester as a base for visiting other likely North Wales targets, but I'd dig into the bus and train schedules (if you don't have a car there) to be sure the difference really matters. Conwy is cute but felt very small to me. One night there, OK. I think two would have pushed me right over the edge. Different tastes, though.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you for the tip about the through ticket and split, James. And yes I think I'll give Anglesey a miss. I shall certainly consider staying in Conwy. It's my kind of place.

Re Chester to York, I believe there's quite a few stops going through Manchester. Twelve or so. I know it will bore me but I'll have an ereader with me. A couple plus hours is an easy distance for me personally. I'm used to driving twice that and more to visit family where I live. As long as I feel safe and get there in daylight hours.

Acraven. So perhaps a look around Arundel and then onto Salisbury via Winchester?

Re Sissinghurst. I looked at the website and apparently there's a bus from the station in Staplehurst to the village and then it's a short walk. I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Have friends who've been there.

Thank you both for your insights.

Posted by
4366 posts

You can take the 700 Coastliner bus from Brighton to Portsmouth which goes via Arundel (the castle is a very worthwhile visit). From Portsmouth (don't skip the Historic Naval Dockyard) take the train direct to Salisbury or travel via Winchester.

Winchester has a lot to offer and is well worth a diversion. Salisbury to Bath is another simple train journey and from there your choices are endless.

The other option if you want to remain on your original coastal route is to take the train from Portsmouth to Poole.

Posted by
18875 posts

Arundel doesn't need a great deal of time, so a day-time stop-off would be great, assuming you can figure out what to do with your luggage.

Posted by
1838 posts

You can get from Chester to Edinburgh by train in 3 hours 25 minutes - with one change at Warrington. To get from Chester to York may require 3 changes and will take at least 40 minutes longer. Try testing the system at www.nationalrail.co.uk and check for Tomorrow*. Do Chester to York & Chester to Edinburgh and click ‘details’ to see the change points. Then do the same thing again but this time split the journey at Warrington (for Chester to Edinburgh) & at Manchester Piccadilly (for Chester to York), You may also like to see what the price difference would be for the same trips if pre-booked 11 weeks ahead. * Even buying for tomorrow gets lower prices than paying on the day for these longer journeys.

Use www.traveline.info to find buses. In Wales, this one might be better:> http://www.traveline.cymru/

Please note that the railway station in Arundel is quite a hike form the town/castle. The red symbol on this map marks the railway station:>https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.8518937,-0.5524569,1329m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

I want to drive the coast Brighton to Mevagissey

People have given you lots of good ideas of places to stop and visit but I wanted to add one warning:

If you’re expecting a scenic road that hugs the coast, then you’ll be disappointed. You’ll find busy roads, and you’ll need to keep coming off the main road in order to dip into attractive coastal towns. In particular I find the stretch from Brighton to Southampton very busy and unattractive and I tend to detour inland to the A272, which is much more attractive although not coastal.

I mention this in case you’re expecting non-stop coast views and beauty.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes luggage is a problem and why I need a car I think. I use a small 4 wheeler bag and a family small overnighter and can walk a fair way with it but of course I can't take it up and down hills or into cafes and pubs.

I'd like to see Portsmouth but don't know if I'm up for negotiating the traffic. Same with Plymouth. A shame because I'd really like to see them and it's the purpose of my trip but I have to be realistic and decide now whether to even pursue this part of the trip at all as I'll be driving a considerable distance just to see pretty postcard villages which someone else pointed out can be seen elsewhere all over England. I'd really like to see Sissinghurst and the cliffs at Seaford though and I have a yen to see a bit of Cornwall. Will figure it out with a bit of help from all you lovely people.

I'd like to go in May/early June but don't have to go then. Whatever works.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes luggage is a problem and why I need a car I think. I use a small 4 wheeler bag and a family small overnighter and can walk a fair way with it but of course I can't take it up and down hills or into cafes and pubs.

I'd like to see Portsmouth but don't know if I'm up for negotiating the traffic. Same with Plymouth. A shame because I'd really like to see them and it's the purpose of my trip but I have to be realistic and decide now whether to even pursue this part of the trip at all as I'll be driving a considerable distance just to see pretty postcard villages which someone else pointed out can be seen elsewhere all over England. I'd really like to see Sissinghurst and the cliffs at Seaford though and I have a yen to see a bit of Cornwall. Will figure it out with a bit of help from all you lovely people.

I'd like to go in May/early June but don't have to go then. Whatever works.

Posted by
4366 posts

I'd like to see Portsmouth but don't know if I'm up for negotiating the traffic. Same with Plymouth. A shame because I'd really like to see them and it's the purpose of my trip but I have to be realistic and decide now whether to even pursue this part of the trip at all as I'll be driving a considerable distance

That's why I suggested the bus from Brighton to Portsmouth and then the train to elsewhere. Of course you don't need to go to Brighton, you can simply take the train to Portsmouth and then move on from there. The places you want to visit can all be achieved by public transport if you're not keen on driving and as Jane stated, the coastal route isn't actually along the coast, it's mainly farmland interspersed with average looking towns.

Posted by
714 posts

Re parking in cities like Portsmouth....most large cities and towns will have a park and ride lot on the outskirts. I know that Bath and Oxford do (did?). You park your car and ride into the city centre on a bus. However be a bit leery of leaving luggage in the car, there are signs all over the place saying not to leave bags in plain sight. Same applies to any car park actually.

Web tourist info sights should have info on park and rides.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes wondering if it might be better to start with the Cotswolds, head for Cornwall and make my way up to Oxford. Catch the train to Chester from there. Considering all possibilities at the moment. Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted by
1352 posts

Katy - This is really just a thought that occurred to me that I thought I'd pass along after reading your most recent posts. It sounds like you'll be traveling alone? and hesitant about driving all over? I just wondered if you'd considered doing a RS tour? With the time you have you might even be able to do both England tours, or do one tour and combine it with some independent travel by public transportation?

Like I said - really just a thought.

Posted by
18875 posts

You can practically spit on the Cotswolds from Oxford, and the same for Bath. My inclination is to say that those three places should be seen sequentially, but a lot depends on rail or bus connections (and fares). Cornwall does complicate matters.

Posted by
44 posts

Hi Jill, thanks. I'm in the early planning stages and so it might seem like I'm all over the place but it takes time to plan a trip I know I'll enjoy from start to finish. England is going to be more expensive than I'm used to as well and it may also be my last international holiday so I being extra choosy how I spend my time. Traffic and car parks aren't going to make the cut.

Your mention of combining a tour with some independent travel has also been noted. If I can't make it work I will certainly consider it. Love that people are happy to chip in with their insights and advice because it helps me iron out the possibilities. Many thanks to your all. Once I have a rough itinerary I will be asking many more detailed questions. I have one now.

Is it expensive to fly within the UK? Thanks.

Posted by
389 posts

Is it expensive to fly within the UK? Thanks.

There are some really good budget routes if you book in advance and not during holidays. Southampton, Exeter and Bristol airport are good for the south of England (plus Cardiff in South Wales) if you then want to fly north. Only issue is most of them are located out of their respective cities so you will need to factor in how to get to them if you're not renting a car.

Posted by
44 posts

Yes Acraven. I'm beginning to think you're right. If Cornwall is going to make for an impossible itinerary I'll forget about it and maybe just do Sissinghurst and drive down to Seaford? So how I could make that particular trip worthwhile. It's a long way just to go for a walk to see the cliffs. All suggestions welcome. I assume I could get to Seaford before nightfall? Stay somewhere around that's nice. See the cliffs. Head up to the Cotswolds via?

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks Ryan and Gill. It's going to take some working out that's for sure.

Posted by
44 posts

Would this work?

London to Staplehurst/Sissinghurst by train
Staplehurst to Seaford
Seaford to Lewes to Arundel to Salisbury
Salisbury to Bath.

Where would you stop overnight?
Would it be better by train or bus if you wanted to stop at those specific towns for a look round?
Is there a better route to Bath from Seaford/Lewes I might enjoy more but wouldn't take any/much longer.

Thanks.

Posted by
218 posts

My ranking of the gardens you've cited:

  1. Sissinghurst -- expect big crowds and tour buses; arrive early if possible
  2. Hidcote - likely to be modestly crowded but not nearly as much as Sissinghurst. I've not seen big tourist buses there.
  3. Nice but not in same category; it wasn't a wow for me - Abbotsbury. I enjoyed the swannery there more than the garden.
Posted by
44 posts

Thanks Elizabeth, yes, I expect crowds at Sissinghurst. I grow heritage roses and it's the rose garden that interests me most. It looks to be a lovely setting. I'll enjoy it I know.

Posted by
2785 posts

My college daughter wants to go to Brighton as a day trip from London on the train. Several of you are unimpressed with Brighton. Any good ideas of what to do there for a day or good place to eat lunch or is there another beach place easily accessible by train on a day trip from London that would be better? She only wants to see the beach, not sunbathe/swim. Thanks. Is the Jurassic Coaster reasonable on a day trip from London?

Posted by
44 posts

JC, thank you for the link to Mottisfont. I'd really love to see it. it would be a dream come true. I think I might go to Portsmouth to see the Historic Dockyard after all as Mottisfont is not that far from Portsmouth. It would make this part of the trip really worthwhile for me but means another rethink.

Wondering if this might work.

Train to Portsmouth Harbour for an overnight stay to see the dockyard. I believe there are taxis outside the station. Need a convenient place to stay that won't cost me an arm and a leg for a taxi. Need to think about pre-booking both train and taxi.

I like the idea of leaving London from Victoria Station because I've read that I might catch a glimpse of the castle at Arundel on that route. I need accommodation in London that gives me easy access to this station. I know it's central and this might be difficult.

Train Portsmouth to Mottisfont for the day. There's an off-peak train leaving at 9.30am - 1 1/2 hrs should get me to Mottisfont at opening hours but luggage is the problem. Need affordable accommodation nearby where I could stay overnight and drop off luggage. So have to either leave earlier or I will lose part of the day at Mottisfont or I could leave Portsmouth a bit later in the day perhaps. Go to accommodation and see Mottisfont the next day if that's easier. Stay in same accommodation after the day at Mottisfont. That would mean one night Portsmouth and 2 nights somewhere in Mottisfont area.

In the next a.m. go to Salisbury and maybe spend a couple of hours seeing the Magna Carta at the Cathedral which would interest me but I'll be looking for the quickest and easiest route north and everything will depend on train timetables and accommodation options.

I will start another thread for Cotswold leg and just ask for your comments on the south England leg of the itinerary as above in this post. Thanks for all the help. I think I'm on the right track now even though I will miss seeing Cornwall and the cliffs at Seaford. Portsmouth Harbour & Mottisfont will make up for that.

Would appreciate any comments about this itinerary. Thanks.

Train to Portsmouth Harbour for an overnight stay to see the dockyard.
I believe there are taxis outside the station. Need a convenient place
to stay that won't cost me an arm and a leg for a taxi. Need to think
about pre-booking both train and taxi.

You may not need a taxi - the dockyard is right there by Portsmouth Harbour station, a mere few hundred feet away. Portsmouth isn’t great for hotels but there’s a well-located Holiday Inn Express, again right there by Harbour Station and the dockyard, and convenient too for the Gunwharf centre which has a range of waterfront restaurants.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks Jane. I think it might be less bothersome to do that rather than taxi to an air bnd. By the time I factor in the cost of the taxi back and forth I'd be unlikely to save anything. I can easily walk 100m with my bag so all good.

Posted by
4366 posts

Katy, your plan to fit Mottisfont in with a trip to Portsmouth would work well. Portsmouth Harbour station (commonly referred to as The Hard) is right next to the Historic Dockyard and also Gunwharf Quays, both a few minutes walk from the station. There are a couple of independent hotels right opposite The Hard however I've never liked the look of them and I know one is regularly used as a bail hostel! I would suggest the Holiday Inn Express in Gunwharf for a reasonably priced stay. I've never stayed there, I prefer my own bed.

There are frequent deals ongoing for tickets to the Historic Dockyard, we found a voucher for 40% off an annual family ticket last week, Groupon regularly has deals for tickets there so it may be worth signing up. The Dockyard website itself currently has an offer for a family annual pass for £28 (http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/tickets-and-offers). Considering a ticket just to see the Mary Rose is £18 it's a very good deal to see all the attractions.

I would also recommend a harbour tour, preferably from one of the operators in Gunwharf rather than the Blue Boat Tours in the dockyard (their boats are a bit old and tired). https://www.spinnakertower.co.uk/groups/group-tickets-prices/, having looked at the prices they offer a tour of the Spinnaker Tower and entrance to the Historic Dockyard for £27.45. There's no option of a harbour tour as well but I'm sure they can accommodate it. Gunwharf Quays also has a wide variety of restaurants so if you are staying at the Holiday Inn it's all very convenient.

Take the off peak train to Mottisfont / accommodation the following morning and visit the house and gardens. I haven't seen the Rose Garden in June, we were there last Sunday and the Winter Garden was in full bloom and scent, despite the rain. The house isn't particularly large so it doesn't take too long to walk around and a lot depends on what exhibition they have at the time. I'm sure the gardens will occupy much of your time.

I also recommend the train to Portsmouth from Victoria as you do enjoy a very impressive view of Arundel Castle as you pass. Make sure you sit on the right hand side of the carriage facing the direction of travel.

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44 posts

Thanks for your thoughts JC. I am already exploring other options for accommodation at Southsea which I could easily walk it but it's a strange city. I'm waiting on replies to questions I had.

Thanks also for the info re the boat tours. Can't wait. And funny thing I was thinking how nice it would be to see the harbour by boat. I thought about it but don't think I'll have time. Will see.
Lucky you to see Mottisfont's winter garden.

Am starting to get excited already. And I'm still thinking about Cornwall and whether I can squeeze in a couple of days there. Would love to see it all but that would take a week at least.

Also have a yen to drive through Avebury. I wonder if that at least is possible.

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4366 posts

Strange city? lol. In what way?

Portsmouth doesn't have much in the way of hotels but it does have a lot of B&B's. It's a throwback to it's heyday as a traditional British seaside destination. Most of the hotels on the seafront are very dated and haven't kept up with the times. I recall staying in one in my younger days with a girlfriend (we were both living at home at the time) and it was bad enough then, I'd hate to think what it's like now.

I know Southsea very well, I lived there for a number of years so if you have any questions fire away.

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44 posts

Oh I was wondering what a taxi might cost to get me there. There's a couple of air bnds in the area. Bed, ensuite, simple but nice.
As for walking about with luggage in an area unknown to me, one doesn't know what to expect. I just had a google though and it all looks very quiet and respectable. I tried to find the castle but it must be keeping a low profile LOL

What are the pyramids all about?
Is Charles Dickens worth chasing up. I've read Bleak House more than once.

Thank you for being so helpful to me.

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4366 posts

Katy, you're more than welcome. I enjoy providing advice particularly when it comes to my home town. Sadly it appears that it's a city that's off the map when it comes to many visitors, many of whom opt for the Bath, Cotswolds, Stonehenge route. You won't find many Americans here except when a US Navy ship visits but it's a place that's steeped in history and is a great place to spend some time.

A taxi from Portsmouth Harbour to somewhere in Southsea will only cost a few pounds, an Uber typically less. A 'Hackney Cab' which are the ones you are permitted to flag down are more expensive and those are the ones that are allowed to wait outside the station. There's a company called Citywide that have an office up a sidestreet almost opposite the station or you can download their app or the app for the largest taxi comany, Aquacars. A taxi from Southsea to my house which is a distance of about 8 miles costs on average £10, the most you're likely to travel from the harbour to your accommodation would be about 3 miles.

Walking around with luggage in Southsea should present no problems whatsoever. For the most part Southsea houses a great deal of students who attend Portsmouth University and a fair amount of Portsmouth's 'middle class'. I would avoid Waverley Road which contains a number of bail hostels and supported housing containing a number of drug addicts. There are frequent problems associated with these properties and their residents.

You can see the castle on Google Maps, it's the one with the black and white striped tower that looks like a lighthouse. As for The Pyramids, it's a leisure centre consisting mainly of a large indoor pool with slides and an area for hosting bands, club nights etc.

I have to confess that in all my 42 years of living here I've never been to Charles Dickens' birthplace. I've driven past it hundreds upon hundreds of times and usually accompanied by a "I must go there soon" but as is typical with places on your doorstep, you seldom visit. It's also in a particularly grim part of the city and not really somewhere worth advocating to people.

Whilst in Southsea you might be interested in the Southsea Rose Garden (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lumps-fort-southsea-rose-garden) and also the nearby Rock Gardens although I'd avoid this area at night as it's a favourite cruising spot for gay men! Canoe Lake and the natural history museum, Cumberland House, a quirky little museum housing an interesting butterfly house, are very close to the Rose Garden and all within a short stroll of one another.

If you haven't visited it yet, this website provides a lot of information:

https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

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JC - What a shame that Portsmouth isn't high on the list of places to visit - my husband and I spent the better part of a day there in May 2016 and didn't see everything we had hoped. The Mary Rose exhibit was closed when we were there so that guarantees a return visit for us when next we are in England.

Katy - Your trip sounds fabulous and will be amazing no matter what you settle on for your final itinerary. I can recommend an old school travel planning tool that I used when I planned trips to England with each of my children to see my home country and meet the relatives. We took a large piece of cardboard and marked a calendar type grid on it with a box (approx 3" x 3") for each day of the trip. We then used individual post it notes to schedule each day - we could move them around as we changed plans, add new ones and delete ones if needed. We spent a lot of time with the board trying out different routes and directions of travel, always trying to keep an open mind about how things would work out. We also did all of our traveling on public transportation due to me not wanting to rely on a fifteen year old for navigation and left lane reminders! Obviously not a method as slick as apps and online stuff, but it worked for us and somehow the visual aids made it easier to fit things together. Have fun planning your trip!

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44 posts

Thanks for the link to the rose garden, JC. I will certainly stroll over and take a look and if the weather if fine I will look for the view across to the Isle of Wight.

Did you know a Victorian Portsmuthian?, is that the term, a Walter Besant, wrote about the history of London and I'm trying to chase up a book of his, Shoreditch and the East End,. Hoping there's a copy in ebook form. I have a couple of Cockneys in my family tree.

Portmuthian, no S, is the term - although it’s not commonly used.

I spent the first 30 years of my life living in the fine city although, like JC, I never visited the Charles Dickens Museum despite being a fan. I also never went to see the Mary Rose although I’ve been to HMS Victory approximately a gazillion times on school trips.

Southsea Castle is small but appealing. If you’re fit, it’s a nice flat walk along the seafront from Portsmouth Harbour to the castle of a couple of miles.

Southsea is pretty safe. As JC says, there are a few areas where the old B&Bs are being used as bail hostels. But it’s a nice place with some good Victorian architecture. One of the main shopping streets in Southsea, Albert Road, is good for independent shops, cafes, restaurants & some good curry houses.

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44 posts

Thank you. I've read about the sinking of the Mary Rose so it's all very interesting to me and if I get time I'll go for a walk over there at least. Fun to imagine a naval battle was fought right there in front of the castle while King Henry V111 watched on. I have ancestors who would have walked the streets of Portsmouth and sailed on ships in the Solent and I'm so looking forward to this part of my trip.

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4366 posts

Katy, how long ago were your ancestors in Portsmouth? You might find it interesting to take a walk down to The Point in Old Portsmouth which is where most of the ships used to set sail. It was previously called Spice Island due to the spice trade and it was where the first ships carrying convicts to Australia departed. It's the entrance to the harbour and you will see a great deal of shipping movement up close. There are a couple of good pubs there and on a sunny day it's nice to sit on one of the tables outside and soak up the atmosphere. Little has changed and it wouldn't be difficult to imagine your ancestors milling around.

It's an easy walk from the Dockyard / Harbour Station and you can continue on to the Round Tower and the Square Tower, both important, historical buildings and across to the seafront all the way to Southsea Castle.

My recommended itinerary for you would be this.......

Arrive in Portsmouth early and if you're checking into your accommodation first it may be more convenient getting off the train at Portsmouth and Southsea station rather than continuing on to Portsmouth Harbour. Once you've dropped your bags off you can take a brief taxi ride to the Historic Dockyard. Personally I would concentrate my time on HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, The Mary Rose and the Royal Navy museum. The submarine museum and Explosion are across the water in Gosport and involves a bit of faffing around to get there. You will probably spend four or five hours there after which I would recommend the walk to Old Portsmouth and have a late lunch in the Still and West overlooking the harbour entrance. From here take a leisurely stroll past the two old towers, along Battery Row and stopping off at the Royal Garisson Church, built in 1212 (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/royal-garrison-church-portsmouth/).

From the church you can make your way towards Southsea Common, a large open space criss crossed with paths and running adjacent to the seafront promenade. Ignoring the tired, dated Clarence Pier Amusement Park continue your journey along the promenade. If you time it right you might be able to witness one of the Isle of Wight hovercraft departing or arriving on the beach which is quite an impressive sight. Carry on along the promenade and you'll eventually reach the D-Day museum and Southsea Castle behind it. From the church to the castle it's a 20 minute walk.

From the castle you can continue the walk along the seafront past South Parade pier to Canoe Lake and the Rose Garden. Depending on where you're staying it may well be a short walk from here.

In June it won't be dark until after 10 pm so you'll have plenty of daylight and hopefully some warm, sunny weather and you should be able to fit everything in that piques your interest.

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JC that itinerary is absolutely awesome. I'm indebted.

My husband's English ancestors were originally from around Wimborne Minster and baptised in the Whitchurch Canonicorum which I would have liked to see. One of the reasons I wanted to visit Lyme Regis. One of my paternal ancestors sailed from Plymouth as a marine and was engaged in naval battles during the American Revolutionary War. Goodness knows what for LOL. Adventure I suppose. Spent some time as a guest of the Spanish in Havana. Decided to give the sea away after that. I have a naval captain or two as well and one came home with a medal from the Crimea. Long story.