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Bath & London in March--

Hi,
My husband and I are flying in to London the second week of March. I know, the weather may be chilly, but this is when we get the school break. We have the last 7 days of our trip reserved for London, can't wait to visit those Art museums, but have the first 4 to use for some combination of Bath, Salisbury, and the Cotswolds. I could have set it up for London first, which might be better weather-wise, but wanted to make sure we were near enough to Heathrow for the day of our flight home.

Here's the deal: we'll arrive on a Sunday morning. Will it be tough to find connections to Bath on a Sunday? Also concerned that we might be too tired to tack on a train or bus trip that day. Would it be better to spend one night at a hotel in London, and then take a day trip out to Stonehenge & Salisbury, ending in Bath, and staying there?

Thank you!
Cheryl

Posted by
6898 posts

Cheryl, the easiest way on public transportation from Heathrow to Bath is probably the National Express bus. About £20 if you book in advance. Some bus runs are direct and take 2hrs35min. Some runs have a bus change at Bristol and take 4.0hrs. Here's a link to a picture of what I see. http://gyazo.com/c799ada8090c526859c1601a832953dd It would be best to reserve. I believe that if you miss your bus, you pay £3 or £4 to obtain a reserved seat on the next bus with available seats.

Once in Bath, there are tours by Mad Maxx to Stonehenge, Avebury, Castle Coombe (which I recommend), Lacock and Cotswold Village. http://www.madmaxtours.co.uk/ In the evening, you must sign up for Bizarre Bath - The Comedy Tour. It's really a hoot and quite entertaining. Then, there are the Roman Baths, a great pedestrian shopping mall, the Jane Austen museum, the Regency Crescent and other treats. We stayed at 3 Abbey Green which is about 500' from the Roman Baths and about 200' from Sally Lunn's house which is the reportedly the oldest house in Bath. It's also a very nice restaurant. Here's a link to a picture of the area I am discussing.

http://gyazo.com/08e50bf3e882975d1d065b0d99445688 The train and bus station are at the bottom of the map.

For getting to the Cotswold, you might consider renting a car for a day trip. Very limited train stations and I don't think the National Express buses are that direct. If you like the public gardens, consider Stourhead Gardens (part of the National Trust). It took us 2.5hrs just to visit and walk around the lake and see all of the trees and plants (they're labeled).

Posted by
261 posts

Cheryl, last year we landed at Heathrow and took the Heathrow Express train from the airport to Paddington Train Station. From there, we took at train (90 minutes) to Bath. The trains run every 30 minutes, though that may be dialed back a bit on a Sunday (we arrived on a weekeday). It was very easy and relatively affordable. I would suggest the train route over the bus. You won't have a prolem adding this on, even if you are a bit jet lagged. Bath is great and we enjoyed our time there immensely, touring around a bit (including the Cotswolds) before returning to London to finish our trip. Enjoy your travels!

Posted by
11450 posts

First time I visited London and Bath was in fact in March. Yes, very cold, windy , rainy and worse.. it sleeted ( snow/rain mix)ugh.. bring gloves and hat!
I would stay in London and daytrip to both London and Salisbury. I took train to Bath.. think it was less then 1.5 hours and very pleasant. Took bus to Salsibury.. unfortunately that day it was just such horrid weather I was mostly preoccupied with getting warm so not much help or advice re Salisbury,, think I found a pub for a looonngg lunch. lol

Now if you are lucky,, as I was, ,I was in London on March 17th,, which is St Patricks Day and a lovely day to find a nice pub and enjoy folks singing, wearing real clover, and generally enjoying the holiday( it doesn't seem to affect any sights etc..so don't worry about that )

Posted by
1887 posts

I guess it depends on how you do with jet lag. We are so lucky that it doesn't bother us so we would just continue on to Bath. We stayed at The Henry, a lovely B&B about four blocks from train and very near to center of town. LOL, must have been to London the same time as Pat several years ago in March, we had rain, sleet and snow. It was raw weather but we had just layers and managed, just like you would do here on east coast.

Posted by
114 posts

Wow, thank you all for such great tips! It looks like it is certainly do-able to get out to Bath after the flight. We get in very early, so that should help, though I have seen some serious delays in the past due to foul weather on this side of the Atlantic. Can the train or bus tickets be bought on the spot? I would rather buy them ahead online, but if we have a weather delay, then we'd miss our transportation.

Ugh, sorry to hear about that nasty weather. Makes me think that flipping the trip might be better. However. I've already reserved the hotel for the last 7 days, and besides, we WILL be there for the 17th, hadn't even given St. Patrick's Day a thought when planning. So that will be fun!

Posted by
6898 posts

Cheryl, I believe that if you miss your reserved National Express bus, you can pay about 4pounds and they will put in a reserved seat on the next bus with available seats. (At least they used to). Taking the Heathrow Express back to Paddington and then taking one of the frequent trains to Bath isn't too bad either. About 20-30 minutes longer.

Posted by
4536 posts

The amendment fee in this circumstance is now £5. This concession is only made for coaches booked from airports; miss your coach elsewhere and you would need a new ticket.

Regarding the train alternative it will be quicker in most cases to take the Railair coach to Reading to pick up the train there rather than to backtrack to London via the Heathrow Express. It certainly is from terminal 5. Likely to be cheaper too.

Posted by
783 posts

I took the national express bus from Heathrow to bath and it was very easy. It's not like Heathrow is in the city center anyway. You can look up the bus schedules pretty easily on the Internet. I landed on a Saturday and the bus left every couple of hours. I think Bath is a quaint, easy to navigate city and a nice starting point when you are jet lagged.

The trip to Stonehenge is much shorter from Bath. someone else mentioned MadMax tours and I would second that recommendation. It is a small tour and the guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable.

Have fun!
Keisten

Posted by
114 posts

Thank you, great advice. I will check the bus website. I'd wondered about the Heathrow to Reading to Bath plan myself. It's just that we'll arrive on a Sunday, so I hope they don't "roll up the sidewalks"!

Looking forward to the trip! Cheryl

Posted by
8391 posts

I think your plans will also depend on what time you arrive. Flying from the East Coast you will likely have most of the day. Flying from the West Coast, I was tired by the time I got to my London hotel by 2PM so I stayed in London for the night. If I had gotten there earlier in the day I would have been good to go to Bath that day.

I will put in an endorsement for The Kennard Bed and Breakfast in Bath. Just lovely Georgian Townhouse and an awesome breakfast. I also did the Mad Max tour and thought it was excellent.

When you plan your trip back to London, I thought the scenery was much nicer by taking the Southwest Train to Waterloo station than it was taking the First Great Western train to Paddington. The scenery may not matter much your time of year, though! It would also depend on where in London your hotel is and which station would be more convenient. The Southwest train is slower, has more stops, but I found it just as comfortable as the First Great Western.

Posted by
571 posts

Cheryl,
The transfer from airport to Bath can be tiring, but it is helpful to wake up the next morning already at your destination and ready to tour. My wife and I booked a session at the Thermae spa in Bath (portions open until 8pm and 9:30pm, I believe) on the day of our arrival. After a long flight, a quick bite to eat on the train journey to Bath and a bit of time to check into our room, we spent from 6pm to 9:30pm with a massage and a soak in the heated pools. We were back in our beds by 10:30pm local time, sleeping soundly and hungry the next morning for the hearty breakfast served by our B&B. More importantly, we were relaxed and adjusted to the local time and hit the city by 9am.

Posted by
114 posts

Wow, that sounds like a great way to cure jet lag! We usually try to walk alot the first few days.

Checked out the RailAir option and it does indeed look like a good one. I see I have time to get the discounted tickets now, too. Hopefully, if the plane is late, the bus will still honor those tickets. Presumably it will be an extra L5 in that case.

Thanks for the info on the Southwestern train, too. We'll be heading to Victoria, though, but could probably transfer there from Waterloo. May be spending a day in the Cotswolds before going to London, may cut back a day at the 3 Abbey B & B to do that though. I see they have a fine for cancelling any days. Wish I'd noticed that before signing on. But the place looks so nice, and the area is wonderful!

Posted by
4536 posts

From memory the direct SWT service from Waterloo to Bath is very limited - of the order of 3-4 trains a day, compared with 2 an hour from Paddington. However there are others that require a change at Salisbury which may suit your plans.