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salisbury, winchester, exeter

hello everyone! I am spending a few weeks in southwestern england this summer and am checking out cities that sound interesting. I am landing in london, heading southwest and my first stop will be salisbury, then on to winchester, and farther south exeter. Will eventually head down to lizard but for now am wondering am I missing anything worth stopping and seeing in this area? Not much of a swimmer or beach person so dont want to spend time sunning on any beaches. Also is exeter worth the stop? I also heard that skipping Dorset is ok not much there to see. Thanks in advance! Laura

Posted by
211 posts

I stayed in Exeter (nice town) and did day trips to Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, all part of the English Riviera. Lovely scenery and seaside towns. Also took the steam train from Paignton to Kingswear and then took the ferry across to Dartmouth. Another town worth exploring is Totnes.

In Dorset you can find some beautiful coastal scenery like Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Castle Corfe is definitely worth a stop as is the town of Lyme Regis.

Posted by
3318 posts

Exeter was extensively bombed during WW2 but the old center of the city was somewhat spared. Really beautiful cathedral that is well-worth seeing.

Posted by
1838 posts

You really need to say whether you are using a rental car or public transport. If using a car, people are likely to suggest more awkward to reach places. If using public transport, they will give tips on that.

Posted by
9 posts

i am using public transport..thanks for reminding me!

Posted by
338 posts

I can speak to Winchester. Be sure to see Winchester Cathedral. The Great Hall, West Gate and military museums are also interesting. If you're a Jane Austin fan, her house is not too far away. On the weekend there is usually a lot of activity downtown. Although its been a while since I've stayed there, I would recommend the Wykeham Arms as a place to both stay and eat.

Have fun!

Posted by
1838 posts

The first thing you need to know is that to get to Winchester or Salisbury from Heathrow, you should take the shuttle bus to Woking where you can catch a

The other important site you need is to find the train schedules & fares. Short hops are just as cheap to pay on the day but longer distances can be cheaper for advance booking. In the region that you will be travelling, most trains will be First Great Western so you should consider using their site for pre-booking tickets.

However, those outside the country can also buy a Britrail Pass and for you, the south-west Pass might be suitable but check the price of this v the cost of buying tickets for each journey.
Scroll down the map and such a pass is valid on the routes marked in yellow. One disadvantage of this pass is it is not valid on Cross Country Trains. However, all lines that have CC also have First Great Western Trains though - on some routes, these will be slow stopping trains. (The ones going to/from Paddington will be Air Conditioned Expresses). Alternatively, to reduce costs, consider a railcard -

Another useful site - especially for local routes by bus is

You could go to Salisbury to check into a hotel and take a day trip to Winchester or go to Winchester & check into a hotel. However, no direct rail line exists between Winchester & Salisbury so you must either get a bus from Winchester to Romsey & then train to Sailisbury or bus from Winchester to Salisbury or go the long way round by train. You may therefore wish to consider giving Winchester a miss.
When in Salisbury, you should certainly see the Cathedral but also consider going to Stonehenge.
Dorset has some lovely places but is a little more difficult by public transport. Lulworth Cove & the walk over the cliffs (very High) to Durdle For would be my pick. However, I would give Dorset a miss being as you are heading further west.
Exeter is OK & has excellent transport links. Having stayed in Salisbury for 2 nights, I would go by train to stay in Totnes for maybe 2 nights.
From Totnes, I would take the ferry to Dartmouth - or do trip in reverse. This seems the cheapest but others do exist:
You might like to consider then taking a bus to Salcombe (& bus back to Totnes) or doing that on another day from Totnes.

Plymouth is worth a look - if only to see where the Pilgrim Fathers left the quay for the New World & the statue of Drake. After Plymouth, I would continue by train to make a Cornish base in Truro. From here you could do day trips to different places as it has good transport links.
Consider these from Truro: Falmouth - you may like to take the train one way and the ferry the other?
You can easily go by train all the way (one change) to St.Ives (or you may prefer to stay in St.Ives)
The Eden Project is just N of St.Austell - Also consider Heligan but check transport links. Also consider visiting Tresco Gardens -
If you have the rail pass, you will notice that it covers a large area. Rather than go straight back to London, you could even have a night or 2 in Bath & Oxford on the way or even Cardiff.