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Visiting Highclere Castle

For anyone who has been to Highclere Castle, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments. I am going to London next year. I know you have to book your tickets very early so I am going to do that as soon as they have tickets for when I am going.
I want to know how you went by public transportation to Highcleare or if you took the Brit Movie Tours?
I will not have a car.

Was the Brit movie tours worth the price and what did you see and do on the tour and how many people were on the tour. Full details of the tour and how you bought the tickets and where you met and where you were dropped off in London would be most appreciated.

If you did not take the Brit movie tour, how did you get there? Did you take the train from Paddington Station and a taxi? How much was the taxi approximately and was it easy to get a taxi to and from Highclere? I can get to Paddington easily on the tube. How long as the train ride and the taxi ride. I will be on my own for this day so I want to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Thank you for your responses.

Posted by
789 posts

We went to Highclere last December for a Christmas Ball, it was amazing. Some tours include transportation from London with the ticket. I would try Viator, i’ve had good luck with them in several countries in Europe.

PS: the Harry Potter studio tour is great and well worth the time.

Posted by
2807 posts

To get there on public transportation you can take the train from London Paddington Station to Newbury. There are taxis at the Newbury station, but you may want to call ahead to reserve a taxi. If you Google "taxis Newbury UK" you should get a selection of companies.

You may want to ask the taxi company the relative advantages of (a) calling for a taxi back to the station when your tour is over, or (b) paying for your driver wait during the tour. The latter will surely be more expensive, but might help assure that you'll catch your desired train back to London.

If you're flexible about getting back to London, know that there are several pretty good restaurants in Newbury's high street, easy walking distance from the station.

Posted by
70 posts

I visited Highclere Castle in May 2017 through a tour offered by Viator, which I highly recommend. The tour I took was to Highclere Castle, Bamton Village (aka Downton Village on the show), and Oxford. The tour left from Victoria Coach station. Our bus (coach) was almost completely full. I lucked out and didn't have anyone next to me.

The tour of Highclere Castle was nice. You tour several rooms on the first and second floor of the house. You are not permitted to take pictures of the inside of the house. The tour ends in the basement of the house. There is a cafeteria down there. There is a shop in one of the smaller buildings behind the house. You have plenty of time to walk the grounds. Also with this tour we received Lady Carnavon's book about Highclere Castle.

The tour to Bampton Village was nice. It is a tiny village that is approximately one hour from Highclere.

The tour to Oxford was wonderful. Plenty of time to see the town and the Ashmolean Museum.

The tour day was long but well worth it. We had an excellent guide. On the way back to London, she asked each of us where we were going to after the tour. The coach made a scheduled stop on Cromwell Street and a final stop at the Victoria Tube Station. The guide kindly told each of us which stop was best for us to reach our final destinations in the shortest amount of time. I was on my own for the tour and am glad that I booked it. Enjoy!

Posted by
1173 posts

Thank you all for your responses which have been most helpful!

Colleen, thank you for your tour experience explanation. This sounds like a good way to go! As long as I get to a tube station, I can get back to my hotel. I know where I want to stay again and it is near two tube stations. Sounds like a full and fun day!

Thank you Donald for suggesting Viator, never heard of it. I generally go on RS tours and spend time before and after on my own or with a friend. I would have loved to go to that Christmas ball, how did you score an invite?

Posted by
70 posts

Hi Ann. You're welcome. I went to the Viator website and they have this tour available on many dates in 2018. The cost is around $180, which includes transportation and ticket entry into Highclere.

I will add one additional piece of advice if you decide to book this tour. Viator is basically a tour consolidator. So when you get to the Victoria Coach Station for the tour departure, you will not see Viator listed anywhere. You'll hear another tour company name when departures are announced. The departure boards will only list the cities that the coach is going to. There were a few employees with clipboards in the gate area who provided assistance to passengers with questions, so be sure to seek them out to ensure that you get onto the correct coach/bus.

Posted by
409 posts

I love that place, and so many want to go there!

I strongly suggest NOT doing a tour but rather booking tickets through the castle, itself. Unless thats' just your only option. We got 5 people together who wanted to go that were at our hostel, drove, found all kinds of cool places around the area. VERY picturesque villages that weren't on our radar, at all! We ended up seeing another grand house that one lady had read about, on the way back. There's also something used over there called blablacar that's ride sharing. Maybe someone is doing the same trip and is willing to share the space!?

Susan
Expat in Waterville, Ireland (married to a Brit).

Posted by
1010 posts

Yes, my husband and I toured Highclere in August, 2016. I went to the website and sent an email. I was told a party of two would not be turned away. We just bought our tickets at a booth right before entering Highclere. We had our driver take us out there. He parked his car and we toured Highclere for two hours. We even had tea outside. There were probably only 30 people total, while we were there. We totally enjoyed ourselves. We wished we could have spent more time, but our arranged driver was driving us to the Cotswolds for our 8 night stay.

Posted by
204 posts

I visited Highclere Castle with my mom and sister in summer 2016. We took the train to Newbury Station, and took a taxi from there. There were taxis lining up outside the train station, so we had no problem getting one. I got the sense from our driver that when the castle is offering tours, they do a lot of ferrying people back and forth. It was about a 10-15 minute drive to Highclere. When we were done, we asked the folks at the admissions booth to call us a taxi, which they happily did. We waited maybe 15 minutes for the taxi to come out to Highclere, and then drove back to the train station. I don't remember the precise cost, so it must not have been too high.

The whole process was very easy and hassle-free. I'm not much for tours, so I'd say given how straightforward it is to go it alone, you may as well just do it on your own so that you are free to spend as much time as you like at Highclere.

Posted by
1173 posts

I want to thank everyone for all your responses and replies. Very helpful and appreciated. Looking forward to my visit.

Posted by
2788 posts

Late to the party, but wanted to add that Viator is a middle-man that books your tours, pockets a fee for doing so, and then turns around and books you with a tour company. Viator will most likely book you with one of the two companies below.

The tours that someone spoke of are by Brit Movie Tours. They have two tours to choose from that include Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle.
https://britmovietours.com/bookings/downton-abbey-tour-coach-london/
https://britmovietours.com/bookings/downton-abbey-tour/
The village that they take you to (that is Downton Village in the TV series) is the village of Bampton, included on both of the above tours.

I would actually book directly with Brit Movie Tours.

They have a variety of other tours, including an Outlander Tour, Game of Thrones Tour, London Movie Locations Tour, Bridget Jones Diary Tour, and more.https://britmovietours.com/

Another very good tour company that has a trip to Highclere Castle and Bampton Village is
Golden Tours (Gray Line):
https://www.goldentours.com/downton-abbey-filming-locations-and-highclere-castle
I would book directly with them.