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Oxford Home Base Question

I will be in England for 7.5 days next month. I plan to stay one night in London. Then I hope to rent a car part of the time and travel via train the other times.

I have options to stay 2.5 miles from the Didcot Parkway train station and/or 0.25 miles from the Oxford Osney Mead train station. I am thinking of staying 3 nights near Didcot when I have a car, and then 3 nights near the Oxford Osney Mead station when I am using the train.

My current itinerary includes Cotswolds, Stratford on Avon, and Blenheim via car, and Bath and Windsor by train.

I love train travel, and I am interested in Christmas Markets, Victorian history, and the Arts and Craft movement. Is there anything fab that I missing. I am also considering Winchester, Cardiff, York, or Edinburgh (or some combo (not all) of the four.

Posted by
8889 posts

"Park End Street" is a street in Oxford, between Oxford station and the city centre. It does not have its own station.
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_End_Street
Not to be confused with "Oxford Circus station", which a tube station at one end of Oxford Street in London.

Didcot is industrial, famous for railway and a power station.
Nearby Wallingford is better. "Typical English" small town with castle ruins. Lots of old stuff to see.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the clarity! I updated it. I am staying with points at a chain hotel (Can I say the name?) so I am deciding between the two locations.

Posted by
4859 posts

Didcot has a few 17th century houses in the old village centre, which is getting on for mile or so from the modern town centre. However, prior to the coming of the railway it was a very small place with fewer than 150 inhabitants, and hence most buildings are Victorian onwards, although two parts are conservation areas of Victorian and Edwardian era, the latter a set of cottages built by the GWR of diminishing size the further you go from the railway.

Having said all that although you have not mentioned where your possible hotel is, my guess is the Marriott right out at the A34 junction, which apart from the few restaurants and facilities aimed more at those using the main road has little nearby apart from the Milton Park trading estate.

Didcot itself has a cinema and arts centre. However, the big local event for Christmas is the Street Fair on 28 Nov, so you would have missed that.

Posted by
22491 posts

There are many others here more knowledgeable about the UK than I, so take these comments for what they are likely to be worth.

I haven't been to Winchester, but I have day-tripped to Cardiff, spent several nights in York, and spent about a week in Edinburgh. I'd choose York over Cardiff and probably over Edinburgh if only because it's 2 hours closer (by train) each way. However, if you're interested in Victorian architecture, you might reasonably choose Glasgow instead. I believe you might enjoy tracking down the Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings, and that's really more than a one-day effort all by itself. So I think Glasgow is better left for a later trip when you'll have more time.

Train time from Oxford:
Winchester: at least 1 hr. 10 min.
Cardiff: at least 1 hr. 46 min.
York: at least 3 hr. 30 min.
Glasgow: at least 5 hr. 30 min.
Edinburgh: at least 5 hr. 40 min.

Given the extent of the attractions in York, Edinburgh and Glasgow, I don't think any of them would fit well with the time you have available. I know some folks day-trip to York from London (a 4-hour round-trip), but I find it nearly unimaginable.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks all! You are confirming many of my suspicion. I confess I am traveling solo, and have had a hard time nailing down the itinerary with all the different options. (The hotel chain is Marriott)

Here's my newest thinking:
Wednesday
Heathrow to OXF via Heathrow Express
Check into Courtyard downtown Oxford Hotel (leave bags) @11
Check out OXF and see Windsor
Sleep in Oxford
Thursday
Train to Bath, return back via train to OXF late evening
Sleep in Oxford
Friday
One option is train to Stratford upon Avon to see Victorian Christmas festival and Bleinheim in the evening (Christmas special)
Sleep in Oxford
Saturday
Train to London, see Tower of London, Hop on Hop Off Business, evening show at Other Palace
Sleep in London
Sunday
More sightseeing in London (final itinerary not decided)
Late afternoon train to Cheltenham
Pick up car rental
Sleep in Cheltenham
Monday
Drive around Cotswolds
Sleep in Cheltenham
Tuesday
TBD
Wednesday
Train back to Heathrow (unless there is a better option (ie National Express) from Cheltenham, which I need to research

Thoughts? I am traveling solo and in my mid-50s

Posted by
4859 posts

Despite staying in Oxford you aren't in the latest itinerary spending really any time there apart from your arrival day where you will 'check it out' before back tracking all the way back to Windsor. This seems very ambitious in itself, even if not day 1; each leg uses up an hour or more. At least go to the castle as it is more or less next door.

I would not waste time and money trekking back towards London and then back out again on the train to Oxford either on day 1; take 'the airline' coach directly to Oxford Bus Station.

Train to Stratford is a bit fiddly than it could be via Leamington; to Bath less so via Didcot. You are though late for picking up the best fares, so try and crystallise your plans early would be my advice.

Going into London and then back out to Cheltenham is also backtracking on yourself, since the you will pass through Didcot each time. Cheltenham first finishing in London?

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Marco,

I see you are from Oxford.. One of the reasons that I wanted to stay in walking distance from Oxford to be able to eat dinners and check things out, especially in the evenings. Are there any interesting pubs that you would recommend for dinner (not partying)? Alice in Wonderland shop/museum is on my list, and I was planning to walk and see a few of the university.

Blenheim is a must...I want to do it in the evening with the Christmas lights, especially since that can be done without daylight which is at a premium this time of year.

Thanks for responding!

Posted by
2059 posts

I can’t see much point in relocating to Cheltenham and then hiring a car. You might just as well hire the car in Oxford and drive west to The Cotswolds. The villages that I think you should have on your hit list are:> Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, Chipping Campden, Broadway. On the map, you will see that these are roughly half way between Oxford & Cheltenham. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.8538045,-1.6311327,11.18z/data=!5m1!1e1

Please note that over the Christmas period that rail travel can be disrupted by engineering work.

Posted by
29221 posts

Are you sure that the place you want to rent a car in Cheltenham (beware, beware the exotic one-way scheme if you decide to drive into the town centre of Cheltenham!) will be open on a Sunday afternoon/evening?

Posted by
6140 posts

Be careful where you stay in Oxford, parking is a huge problem there. Make sure you have parking. We stayed in Chipping Campden and used it as a base to visit Oxford, Blenheim, Stratford Upon Avon and the Cotswolds. Loved it all.
Consider Chipping Campden and the Volunteer Inn, it has a great pub and Indian Restaurant.

We also did Winchester, Cardiff, York and more.
Check out our four week drive tour with details on what we did, tours and where we stayed. Tenby in Wales is wonderful.
28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
4859 posts

Are there any interesting pubs that you would recommend for dinner (not partying)?

Always hard to recommend a good balance between the pub atmosphere and food. The Old Bookbinders isn't a bad compromise between these, although it is a little out of the real centre into Jericho. The Rickety Press is a bit more artificial in the same area but still good. There are also a number of pubs left in the centre which are more drinking or student orientated, as well as the ones famous for more historic reasons such as the Eagle and Child, where the food (IMO) is OK but not great.