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Favorite Place in the UK outside London?

I never thought I would be asking a "where should we go?" question, as I usually build my plans aournd places we already know we want to visit. But our next trip we may end up with a few extra days at the end, and since we are flying out of Heathrow we'd like to be fairly close to London (2 or 3 hours away). We have been to London 5 times and love it there, but thought maybe we should explore someplace new. This will be in early November, so while I would usually pick something involving lots of outdoors time and walking, like the Cotswolds, that won't work so well here. We love history and walkable cities. Have been to Salisbury/Stonehenge before, and also Bath (not my favorite). Never been north, like York. If we chose that, what else if anything should we see that time of year? This would be 2 or 3 nights. Paris would be an option too; we have been there before but not since 2004.

Posted by
6238 posts

Hmmmm. Simply because of possible inclement weather I'd opt for the Eurostar to Paris. Even if it rains at least there are museums, galleries, bookstores, restaurants, cafes, bars, churches and theaters, to keep you dry. It's so close. It's Paris!

Posted by
1831 posts

"Favorite Place in the UK outside London?" Scotland.

Posted by
3428 posts

I ahve to agree with Monte- Scotland. But that is more than the 2-3 hours from London that you need. I'd say York or Cardiff Wales. Both are very walkable. York has the edge on history and interesting architechture. It is also a great shopping city (the Shambles have mostly unique, artsy-craftsmen type shops, then there is the market, and finally it has a great central shopping area with traditional "high street" stores - especially lots of great jewelery stores). Cardiff is fun and funky, but much more modern. I enjoy the shopping there, but find it more of a day trip, but if you wanted there's lots in the area that we haven't explored- castles, etc.

Posted by
12929 posts

Great suggestions! I looked at th ecost of Eurostar to paris and that is probably out; even the cheapest tickets (120 days in advance) would cost us 206GBP and for that we could have a great time in London. York sounds great and Wales is an interesting suggestion. Never been but they have a new coastal trail that attracts me, although that might be iffy in November. Any votes for Oxford, Cambridge, etc.?

Posted by
214 posts

If you end up with more than 2 days open I would suggest either Cambridge or possibly even taking a train to Stratford Upon Avon or Moreton On Marsh etc and stay in a B & B along with taking some local walks. If you research the area you should be able to find some good places to stay, some B & Bs will pick you up at the station if needed. Good luck !

Posted by
1986 posts

You have been to Salisbury which would have been one of my top recommendations. Winter= York definitely, easily good for two full days. nearby are some ruined abbeys but those would be better with a car. Stratford, especially if they have theater going; Lincoln, Canterbury, Cambridge, Winchester all good for at least a day. Have done Winchester by train from London in Winter. How about visiting some "stately homes" including Hampton Court, Blenheim

Posted by
12929 posts

I am really pleased with these suggestions! Nigel, it is just the two of us this trip, and we are by no means tired of London. But we love it there so much we have rarely ventured beyond. We will have an opportunity to stay in London on our way, so thought this would be a good time to go somewhere new. I just remembered that my husband has expressed an interest in seeing Cambridge, where Watson and Crick did their DNA work. So this could be the time. Cambridge and York? I won't know how many nights we have until I book the flights, so I will pencil in Cambrige and add York if we have more than 2 nights. Now to look at connections from Cambridge to Heathrow. Could we do that if our flight departs LHR around 15:30?

Posted by
1424 posts

My favorites: York, Winchester, Hampton Court, and Cambridge. Not everyone sees it the same way, but I loved our day in Cambridge vs. when we went to Oxford.

Posted by
1010 posts

We have been to Oxford once, but Cambridge twice. After you get off the train in Cambridge, you cross the street and can immediately get on a Hop-on, Hop-off bus. It takes you around the city. We took it twice and just stayed on the bus, except for two stops. You can see the college kids punting on the river. You can also eat over there looking at the little river. We also went to the beautiful, modern mall and had coffee, twice. In our opinion, Cambridge is a lot nicer. The town is quite quaint. When we sat up on the upper deck of the bus, some of the trees whisped by us. We are going to do a day trip to York in June. We have never been there. We are going to take a train from Kings Cross station at 7:08 AM and then come back around 10:00 PM from York. We don't want to have to take our luggage with us and locate a hotel. We like using London as our base. We have used Evans Evans tours (booked through Gray Line tours here in the U.S.) to such places as all around London, Bath, Stonehenge, etc. You can easily do a trip on your own to Cambridge, Oxford, Wimbeldon, etc. As we have done a day trip to Bath (three years ago), we are going to just take a train to/from there, in June, on our own. We have also taken the Eurostar from London to Paris, but stayed in Paris for a week. In my opinion, there is too much to do in Paris to just go there for the day. You don't even have the whole day there if you take the Eurostar. Our Eurostar had some tracking problem, so it took us an additional 45 minutes. We would like to take a train to the Lake District, but it is too far for a day trip. We also gather that you walk around there and come right back.

Posted by
27426 posts

I'm thinking... is it the whole family? I'm sure you realize the shortness of the days and that the further north the shorter the day. I'd love to get you someplace you could walk. My wife has some ideas. She reminds me that you can get to Paris in less time than it takes to get to York, or about the same. If the weather breaks you have some many indoor activities that are waiting - and I agree with her. But the fare can be spent elsewhere. She also agreed, though, even with the shorter days, with York. My counter thought is that York is a pretty small place and would you find yourself, and family, short of walking? Then again, tea at Betty's.... She then said, how about up to York and then stop in Cambridge on the way back? Oxford/York is probably harder by train or car (you usually train don't you ?) than Cambridge/York. Cambridge is great for walking around but not long distance walks... very scenic. If you're tired of London (you know what Johnson says, "when you are tired of London you are tired of life") perhaps a coastal walk? Or more time in London. We can't think as we are so conscious of the dark and possible nasty weather... sorry

Posted by
27426 posts

oooh double helix time. Last question first, 50 minutes Cambridge station to London Kings Cross, a few minutes walk to the Piccadilly Line Tube and 50 minutes to Heathrow, a couple of hours all in, the 10:15 from Cambridge should get you there 12:15. Maybe leave one or two before for a fudge factor? Easy Peasy. I was in the pub frequented by Watson and Crick and saw either a blue plaque or something similar on another building. Cambridge is a really really cool place and with a goal, like tracing their career there as a focus it could be a blast. I know you'd do the research (see what I did there?) ahead and have a plan. That sounds like a great adventure. Do you like Pepys? (just the odd 300 years earlier...) His diary and library are there and for a few hours a week are open (free). We went there on a lark a few weeks ago and it was magical. Where I live now we are only 50 minutes away by car.

Posted by
12929 posts

Wow. Thanks! My husband has an advanced degree in biology/ genetics and would love to make this pilgrimage to the DNA home turf. I haven't read Pepys since high school but I will re-acquaint myself with his writing. This is just the kind of thing we love to do in our travels. Thanks to all for your suggestions! I may keep this last stop as a surprise. He totally trusts me to do the planning, and he'll love this one.

Posted by
27426 posts

My wife reads http://www.pepysdiary.com/ daily, you can pick any date and the default is the current date. They've just about reached the end but you can certainly go back. My wife started doing that after we visited St Bride's Church in the City off Fleet Street and found that it was the church he was baptized in. Over time I will see what I can dig up for you in and around Cambridge. No car, right? There may well be some links to places at University College London as well.

Posted by
209 posts

Way too many places to choose from. We like the outdoors these are walking people's choices. Harlech Castle in Wales, walking Hadrian's Wall near New Castle, or anywhere in the Lake District. But you say not outdoors because of the weather. I'd say York for the Minster and the old city streets; Oxford or Cambridge; Edinburgh.

Posted by
12929 posts

OK, I am pretty well focused on Cambridge and York. We should find plenty to see and do, even if the weather is bad. We will not have a car and do not mind walking in the rain (we're from Seattle and have the clothes for it). I see on Tripadvisor that people who live in or around Cambridge prefer the National Express bus over the train/tube combo for getting to Heathrow, even though it takes longer. Sounds good to me, actually-I don't care much for the tube at all. Is ther any reason not to take this advice? Looks like the bus stops at T5 where our flight would be.

Posted by
1238 posts

Look into the "Treasure Houses"...these are the great estates such as Chatsworth that have wonderful art and furnishing...usually they have fab gardens and woods even in November. Check the National Trust UK site. As you go north more things are closed starting in October. Remember that this will be like going up to BC daylight and weatherwise. If you didn't like Bath then York may not be your cup of tea...it's fairly small...but it has the Minster and the Train Museum. You are close to Castle Howard...but it is a bit of a drive. One advantage to York is that you can train direct.

Posted by
1986 posts

"Tube/Train combo". Actually Lola, a large part of the tube from heathrow to London is above ground, so you get to look out the window, and of course the train is all above ground. I enjoy the scenery going by. A little more freedom in tube and train over the bus in my opinion

Posted by
993 posts

At first I thought Brighton! then I saw November and had to change gears. I agree with any suggestion of York. There are lots of interesting places to pop into to escape any rain or cold. The Minster, The National Railway Museum, The Castle Museum, Jorvik and of course Bettys... The Shambles. If you were driving I'd go so far as to suggest Whitby or even Staithes.
My favorite Place in the UK outside London? Cornwall or N. Wales

Posted by
11450 posts

lola,, the prices you looked at for the Eurostar are not accurate for november. First off as you know you can only book 3 months out, which takes you into August, when the Olympics are on,, the cheap tickets are mostly all sold out for then( i did see on for 34 gbps though on Aug 6 at 5.45 am left though, lol ) , thats as high as high will go season! The Eurostar booked 120 days out for november will likely cost you about 100 gbp for both of you . Train tickets to Scotland won't be much if any cheaper, and the weather for walking in UK in November will likely be quite grim,, at least as pointed out in Paris there are plenty of indoor sites,,

Posted by
8193 posts

We loved York, didn't love Bath. They're nothing alike imo. If you like James Herriot you can take a quick train ride from York to Thirsk and see his house where he lived and worked.