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November 2023 Itinery for England

Hey Everybody !!

I've booked a couple of tickets for shows on the West End for the last week of November 2023. I'm starting to look at places to go/see during that time period. I realize its cold, rainy with minimal sunlight....and that's OK. I live in Chicago so I've had much worse!!! I've been to London several times (mostly in the summer/warmer months) so I've taken in most of the "must sees" in terms of the biggies...some I would def visit again just...well...because. Thinking maybe exploring Cambridge and South England cus I haven't been there. I've been to the Cotswold's (would do that again in a heartbeat) but haven't been to Bath. Curious on how these places fare given the time of year. Very happy to cozy up in a local pub with a warm fire and a tasty pint. I've previously travelled to (and loved) York, Conway, Edinburgh and I always stop in Leeds where my Uncle resides. He is a WWII RAF veteran

Love to get your thoughts and opinions !!!!!

Vic

Posted by
1469 posts

It may be too corny for you...but the English do know how to keep Christmas. The Xmas season starts by November 15th 2023 with Markets starting and Lights at Kew Gardens and other Venues with Festive activities and Pantos to Cheer you up! I always wanted to go to Chatsworth ...the Decor and Market are supposed to be spectacular! Ask your Uncle if he knew R.Peter Hypher, a Spitfire pilot. He married a Canadian Nurse and moved to the Great Lakes area of Canada.

Posted by
358 posts

If you want to go to Cambridge, and already plan to go to York, Leeds and Edinburgh it sounds like your week is full already

Posted by
8871 posts

Traveling to and enjoying London in November is what I’ve done for years. BTW you’ll be surprised to often find blue skies and sun. If it rains it’s morning drizzle.

Places to explore; things to do:

Lord Mayor’s Parade on the 11th.
Christmas Lights at Kew Gardens
Santa Runs
See a Panto
Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night
Regents, Oxford and Bond Street Christmas lights
Sunday Roasts
Walk in Richmond Park
Walk along the Thames River Path

Favorite pubs:
White Cross
The Dove
Angel and Crown in Richmond ( although after the Ted Lasso series this once unexplored London neighborhood is teeming with tourists)
Cask and Glass
Two Chairman
Drapers Arms

Posted by
1177 posts

If you did want to go to Bath the Christmas market starts on 23rd Nov. It’s incredibly popular and Bath is always busy when it’s on. Depends whether that makes you feel festive or daunted! They try to have a good number of small, local traders to keep it feeling unique.

Posted by
220 posts

We enjoyed our December trip to Bletchley a few years back. It’s about an hour by train from London and there are several per day.

Posted by
56 posts

Update - I've booked stays in both Bath and London several weeks ago for the trip. Still monitoring airline tickets/prices at the moment. I was surprised how few rooms were available for late November/early December...I think I grabbed the last rooms. I have reserved 5 nights in Bath and 7 nights in London. I've been combing the forum (and other sites) for day trips from both cities. Bath maybe to Wells, Salisbury, Winchester...possible down to the Tank Museum in Bovington...maybe a Mad Max tours !?! Leaning towards renting a car too.

I'm thinking a London side trip to Cambridge...possibly Windsor, its been 30 years since we were there last. Primary theatre tickets (HP and King Lear) are set as well but will possibly add other shows to the itinerary. My wife and I were both professional actors in a different life. I think the Sikorsky Institute may be open once again....Dad served with the Polish II Corp in WWII. I've visited the IWM and especially enjoyed the Ashcroft VC collection....amazing!!!

Oh - The forum needs a reaction imoji for posts ! Thank you SO much for those who have commented!!!!!

Thoughts and opinions are very much welcome !!!!!!!

Posted by
56 posts

Oh !! Thoughts on flights to the UK from the States? I booked flights in the spring to Italy 2023 via BA and was utterly destroyed as all our flights going to and returning from Italy were cancelled that very morning of the flights....so utterly disappointed in the cancellation but even more so on how those cancellations were handled by BA. So much stress and we had to pay (yet again) for seats and luggage. The returning flight we didn't even have seats until the very last moment.

Any thoughts on how to handle this type of issue !?!

Thanks again,

Vic

Posted by
6806 posts

When BA cancelled our flight to Frankfurt in May, six hours before departure, we were refunded the advance seat selection cost the same day. We were lucky and got rescheduled on a different, non partner, airline but in economy, and actually arrived earlier than we would have with our original flight. On our return we were upgraded to business class. Still waiting on the refund for the difference in price between premium economy that we paid for and the economy we got going over.

How to handle the situation; be very nice to the customer service person no matter how upset you are. It wasn’t their fault your flight was cancelled.

What I will add is, even when paying for advance seating, chances are the aircraft configuration will change before your trip and you will be reassigned seats. They will be in the same cabin class, but different from where you selected. It seems to happen with all airlines nowadays. Unlike United airlines, BA is good at letting you know if there has been any type change.

Posted by
56 posts

@ Claudia

I checked flights from Chicago to London via Virgin Atlantic (heard great reviews) but they generally have at least 1 stop. I usually try to book direct flights but its not always possible.

Thanks for the recommendation regarding the pub in Cambridge...I will def go there !!!

Vic

BTW - love your list of place/things to do in London !!!!

Posted by
3821 posts

"I'm thinking a London side trip to Cambridge...possibly Windsor"

If you are flying in and out of Heathrow, Windsor is very close by. Rather than doing it as a separate day trip, you could take the train to Windsor the day before your flight out, spend one night in Windsor, look around, take a taxi from Windsor to Heathrow.

"Thinking maybe exploring Cambridge and South England cus I haven't been there."

What are you interested in, in Southern England?
You have historic houses and gardens, castles, lovely beaches to choose from.

Cambridge would be a good choice. Don't miss the Fitzwilliam Museum, plus
Imperial War Museum Duxford, with its huge collection of planes, from WW2 and other eras:
https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford/whats-here
Likewise, Oxford is a great university town, with lots of good pubs.
The Ashmolean Museum there has an excellent collection of paintings, Roman Britain artifacts and much more.

Since you said "My wife and I were both professional actors in a different life.".....It's easy to take the train from Oxford to Stratford-Upon-Avon. An interesting place. You might find tickets are available for a play to see while in town.
Oxford and Stratford-U-A are both within easy reach of Bath and the Cotswolds. You will be more flexible if you decide to rent a car.

If you get interested in a few other places, it wouldn't be a bad idea to steal a night or two from your Bath and London stays.

Starting in Bath with a car, you could (as an alternative) go next southwest (CORRECTION....southeast) to Salisbury, with its magnificent cathedral (has its own copy of Magna Carta) and nearby Stonehenge. Then continue on to Winchester, then across southern England with stops at Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Canterbury and Dover Castle, overlooking the English Channel toward France.

Posted by
56 posts

@Rebecca and the board

"Starting in Bath with a car, you could (as an alternative) go next southwest to Salisbury, with its magnificent cathedral (has its own copy of Magna Carta) and nearby Stonehenge. Then continue on to Winchester, then across southern England with stops at Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Canterbury and Dover Castle, overlooking the English Channel toward France."

I'm really intrigued by this possible itinerary of the South England. I could easily shave a couple of days off of Bath and London to visit some of these suggestions...I would probably skip Stonehenge unless its literally a "pullover."

How many days to traverse this type of route? How many days to spend in each location? Are hotels (or better yet B&Bs) readily available in this time of year? Are the road tough to navigate at this time of year?

So much appreciated !!!!

Vic

Posted by
6704 posts

You'd need to be careful as a lot of these Historic Places close for the winter. Hever I can see closes on 10 November with one more week on reduced hours then closes for the year except for some events at Christmas.
A very interesting looking exhibition on at Hever until 10 November.
Leeds and Dover you'd need to check on before committing to an itinerary.

Posted by
8871 posts

Your are welcome. Love London. Love sharing insights I’ve garnered over decades of traveling there.

I live in LA. I visit London in the early or late Fall. Sometimes at Christmas. Throughly enjoy getting to wear a hat, raincoat, layers, scarf and gloves. That and finding a quiet pub where I get a bowl of soup or stew to fend off the chill.

I go out of my way to get away from touristy London.
So many different neighborhoods to explore. Each visit I’ve located “ hidden gems.” Places like Hurlingham Books in Putney, the Anchor and Tap pub blocks from the Charlton train station or the Syon House. After visiting the Syon House took a stroll to the London Apprentice pub. I love pub meals especially the hearty soups. On one trip had a pumpkin sage soup at the Dove in Hammersmith that was fabulous. Also happy to find traditional pubs such as the Jolly Gardners on Lower Richmond Road. No food. No tourists. At least it was that way in 2021. Been informed it has new owners. No clue what’s it’s like now.

I enjoy meeting pub dogs and cats and conversing with proprietors. Usually there mid afternoon as it gets dark by 4pm and I like getting a take away and returning to my accommodation before commuters crowd public transport.

Posted by
959 posts

Since you've mentioned RAF a couple times, I can recommend the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge. It's the actual Battle of Britain Bunker underground operations room used by the RAF during WWII. Access from central London - Uxbridge Tube stop and then a 15 minute or so pleasant walk (even for November, I would guess, through a park). Or, taxi from station.

Good exhibits and a tour of the Bunker. Very good presentation on operations during the Battle of Britain. I booked in advance which is recommended although I think they could probably have accommodated walk-ins on my September weekend visit.

http://battleofbritainbunker.co.uk

Posted by
3821 posts

You now have 5 nights reserved in Bath. Three nights might be enough, if you wanted to do the tour of southern England, stealing some days from Bath. It's an easy train trip from Bath to Salisbury. You could spend 1 to 2 nights there, then take the train to Winchester, spend a night there.

It is possible to reach Hever Castle by train next. However, to do your driving tour you spoke of, you could have picked up a car at any of the previous stops. Hever Castle has rooms which are reasonably priced. You could stay there one or two nights.

Moving on to Leeds Castle, they also have lodgings. You could stay there one or two nights.

Moving on to Canterbury, you could stay there 2 to 3 nights, with a day trip by train to Dover. Dover Castle overlooks the English Channel, has WW2 tunnels/hallways underneath that were used as a communication center during the war. Now a museum. The medieval part of Dover Castle dates back to the 1100's and has lodgings for the king as they were back in the day. There is a Roman lighthouse there that was built shortly after 43 AD.

You could turn in the car in Canterbury, possibly. Then train back to London. This greatly reduces the days you will have in London, if you choose to do this. So you will just have to figure it all out, in a schedule that works for you.

I'm detailing this as an answer to your last question.

I cannot comment on the driving conditions. Perhaps one of our British forum members can chime in here and answer your questions.

Do check the websites of the castles you will be visiting to see what the hours are for the days you wish to visit, or even if they will have closed for the winter.
Do look at a good map, checking the mileage between stops, and make certain you want to undertake this journey.

Posted by
3821 posts

As an alternative, many of these places can be done by day trip from London, if you want to give up on the car journey.

You could do 3 nights Bath, train, 2 nights Salisbury, train to Winchester as a midday stopover, and then train to London.
And keep your 7 nights in London, as reserved, doing Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Canterbury/Dover as day trips by train from London.

Posted by
6704 posts

Sorry I cut my answer short last night. I was up late to assist someone with train ticket purchasing at the moment of issue- as you can see the clock had just struck midnight, and the tickets were due out at 0001 BST (1701 Mountain Time).
As it happens that enquirer is also going to Hever Castle by train (and staying overnight in the nearby country pub), then on to a South West Trains destination. By train it is about a 1 mile signposted walk through fields from the railway station to the Castle.
That immediate area is one of little country lanes.
From Winchester you arrive by train into Waterloo and have to leave for Hever from London Bridge. It's an easy enough transfer by tube between the two, but even easier IMO is to walk through Waterloo to Waterloo East station (within the same station complex), train to London Bridge, then change for Hever. That way you stay on National Rail, so no tube fare to pay, and can get very good value through advance tickets.
The exhibition at Hever which I mentioned, now on and to 10 November, is Catherine [of Aragon] & Anne [Boleyn]: Queen's, Rivals, Mothers-which includes some rare artefacts.
Leeds Castle, at the moment, closes for the year on 23 November - they haven't yet made their minds up on Christmas seasonal opening.

After 5 November Dover Castle is only open on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter season.

On the question of driving there are 2 issues to be aware of- by soon after 4 pm it will be going dark, and it can be wet and stormy at that time of the year. On the faster highways that can lead to spray issues and side winds, and on the side roads can lead to standing water and puddles. The last three years the start of November has been like that with pretty stormy weather, but of course this year it could be as dry as a bone and beautiful weather.
But just drive at a speed within your confidence levels and suited to the road conditions, and you'll be absolutely OK. If it is stormy and roads are closed by flooding or fallen trees that is where your sat nav will come into it's own.

Posted by
3821 posts

Hever Castle is simply one of the best historic houses one can see as a day trip out of London, or on a drive through southern England.
Home of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII's second wife) and the Boleyn family.
The oldest part of the castle was built in 1270.
https://www.hevercastle.co.uk/

Directions here:
https://www.hevercastle.co.uk/visit/opening-times-directions/

Stay at Hever Castle:
https://www.hevercastle.co.uk/stay/
"Bed and Breakfast--A luxury collection of 27 stunning ‘five star’ bedrooms located in the Astor Wing and Anne Boleyn Wing of Hever Castle, an Edwardian Wing attached to the castle and connected internally. Available to book up to six months in advance for a stay at a castle, subject to availability."

Posted by
6704 posts

For Leeds Castle by far the easiest route is the HS1 train from St Pancras to Ashford then the #10X bus from the station entrance to a stop just south of Hollingbourne.
The bus costs £2 each way until the end of October then £2.50 for the next 12 months, under the government fare cap scheme.
If you arrive by public transport you get 20% off admission.

Book ahead and you will get great advance fares on HS1. Next week I have got just over £9 from Ramsgate to St Pancras, as an example.

Yes there is a train station at Hollingbourne, but it is on the slow line from Victoria and then a 15 to 20 minute walk.

This page shows you the range of accommodation at the Castle.

Posted by
2063 posts

I've just added Hever Castle to list for a future UK visit.

CanAmCherie - Don't miss St Peter's Church outside the main entry into Hever Castle. It is the church where Anne Boleyn worshipped and contains the tomb of Thomas Bullen, Anne’s father and the memorial toher baby brother on the floor near it. It is usually open 10-3 but is probably best to confirm exact times before visiting .

Posted by
435 posts

Thanks, wasleys, we love churches. It's a little painful that we'll be in UK this trip but won't have time in the London area as we're heading north shortly after arrival.

Posted by
2063 posts

Churches are often our undiscovered tourist attractions... There is so much history in some of them. You never know what you will find when you push open the door. Let us know places you are planning to visit CanAmCherie, as I''m sure people will come up with suggestions of good churches to find.

Posted by
435 posts

Thanks, Wasleys. Our Sept/Oct trip will be with our daughter and her partner (he's never travelled to UK). We are letting their interests guide much of our trip. We will be going to Battle of Bosworth, Leicester (King Richard III Visitor Centre)---my daughter is really into history---and on to York (as she was young during our visit years ago) before Scotland (Edinburgh, Stirling, Oban, Inveraray, Glencoe, maybe St. Andrews).

In addition to the above locations, my husband and I will mainly have more freedom of time and place when we are on our own in Dumfries/Galloway (& Ayrshire en route) area where we will go to see and feel the land of my gggrandmother's family. I plan to start a thread requesting info regarding that area. We'll probably just drive back to Heathrow without returning to London so we can maximize our time up north.

Posted by
56 posts

Hey All !!

First of all I'd like to say ur all the best!!!

I had put this itinerary on the back burner for a bit but I find the vacation is coming upon me quickly and I need to start getting down to the nitty gritty. I sent an email to Mad Max Tours to see if they are operating in late November and, if so, have they determined the logistics. I did a search on the Wells/Glastonbury vs Salisbury/Winchester comparison and it seemed the Salisbury/Winchester was the route to go!?!

In addition, I was looking at Enterprise Car Rental and its fairly reasonable if I rent/return in Bath...open jaws seemed to triple the price. I'm thinking stay at Bath for three nights and then onto the Tank museum in Bovington...from there onto Salisbury maybe staying overnight (due to limited daylight hours) then heading off to Winchester...maybe even staying a night there. Then back to Bath, since its cost effect to return the car in Bath (and it's really not so far a drive) and then training into London.

Once in London, I'm thinking day tripping to Cambridge (RAF Duxford Museum?), Hever Castle (but visiting Hampton Palace while in London...husband wife thing) and then possibly Windsor at some point.

Thoughts!?! Possible accommodation in Salisbury and Winchester?

Thank

Vic

Posted by
4592 posts

Just FYI, I did Bath as a daytrip from London last December and felt that was enough. Saw what I wanted to see and left, nice place. Did not have reservations for the baths or the abbey and didn't need them.

And my weather was cold but dry, so thank goodness for that.