london day trips

Hi- I am going to London in July- last week of July- I would like to take some day trips to leeds, dover, cotswold. Is is advisable to buy trips before we leave the US. I want to make sure that we can do the tours and didn't want to take a chance of everything being booked up. Any ideas?

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

You might want to consider York instead of Leeds, unless you have a particular reason for going to Leeds. Nothing against Leeds, only that York might be more historically significant and visually interesting.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
657 posts

I agree about Leeds, not that much there unless you have personal reasons for going. York is better if you want to go that far afield, though IMO a day trip to and from there leaves little time for the things you want ot see. I'd make it overnight at least to justify the travel time. Dover is easy, a couple of hours train from London and back, but not that much to see there, mainly the castle. No need to plan ahead for a day trip. I haven't been to the Cotswolds and wouldn't consider a day trip from London to see them. From what I've heard on this board and elsewhere, they justify more time. There are organized day trips there, here's one with a very good outfit: http://www.walks.com/Standalone/Oxford_Tour__The_Cotswolds/default.aspx.
It doesn't require reservations and includes Oxford. I have to think you'd "see" the Cotswolds very fast and superficially. But it may work for you. If I had only a week in London, I'd spend it in London and maybe some day trips to closer places like Windsor or Greenwich. But you may alread have seen a lot of London and want to get further afield. I don't think you're risking things being booked up. But train fares get more expensive the closer you get to the date. Myabe Nigel will have more practical advice on this, he's a valuable player here.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
677 posts

I may be wrong, but I suspect "leeds" is actually "Leeds Castle", which is in Kent (Leeds, the village) and a long way from the city of Leeds. It depends what you mean by "tours". You can visit Leeds Castle easily enough by public transport, making your own arrangements for rail tickets (there is a transfer service from Bearsted station to the castle itself). The consideration is not whether the trains will be "booked up" but whether you get a cheaper train ticket by booking in advance. You can check this at nationalrail.co.uk, as i say above for Leeds Castle you want Bearsted station. Cotswolds is an area rather than a specific place. If you want a general overview and won't have your own car, then I think taking an organised tour makes good sense (you could do it yourself by train/bus but timetabling means you will be much more restricted in what you see). How likely they are to book-up if you wait, I don't know - the ones out of Oxford do book up but they only use small mini-buses. Out of London they either send you by train for the first portion and then put you on a larger bus, or run a coach all the way from central London. I think one advantage in waiting is that you might have a better idea of the weather - trundling around the Cotswolds in heavy rain would not be ideal. I agree there isn't much to Dover, if you want to visit the coast, consider Brighton instead.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I may be wrong, but I suspect "leeds" is actually "Leeds Castle", which is in Kent and a long way from Leeds. Of courses, that makes perfect sense. Good catch. Maybe Fred will come back and clarify.

Posted by Katy
London, UK
130 posts

Hi Fred, I always suggest posters should look at the London Walks day trip offerings. You don't have to pre-book, just turn up at the railway station at the advertised time. walks.com. (I see Dick above has already suggested looking at this company.) I have done some of their one day trips. I did their whole day trip to the Cotswolds and I see they are offering that on Sunday July 28th. Its terrific. They also do a trip on Wednesdays to Oxford and the Cotswolds, but I wouldn't recommend this as I think its too much in one day and the Cotswolds is a large area and the whole day trip to just the Cotswolds would be much better IMO.
Unfortunately their Leeds Castle and Rochester trip is August 3rd so assume wouldn't be an option for you. (They also go to Bath on Thursdays, Stonehenge and Salisbury on Tuesdays, alternate 3 options on Mondays, have different tours every Saturday etc.)

Posted by fred
atlanta, ga, usa
2 posts

Thanks for all the replies. I just wanted to clarify what I wanted to do. I saw a leeds castle tour with trip to dover to see cliffs and then to canterbury and back to london on thames river cruise. Has anyone done that? It is an all day tour. I was also considering a trip to cotswold area- by rental car. I would like to experience some of the smaller towns and also get in oxford and stratford. I have been to these areas and am taking another person that hasn't been before. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1687 posts

Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury AND a Thames cruise sounds extremely rushed as a one-day trip to me.

Posted by Nancy
London, UK
159 posts

I agree with Phillip - while you may get to each of those places on a one day trip the memorable part of the daytrip would probably be not being about to remember anything about each individual place. Maybe it is just me but each of these places has its own charm and history and deserve more time.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
657 posts

I haven't been to Leeds Castle so can't add value there. Canterbury and Dover could be a day trip, a mite rushed perhaps but Canterbury makes it worthwhile. You can ride a boat up or down the Thames between Westminster and the Tower, or Greenwich, or Hampton Court in the other direction, on your own another day. I wouldn't try to combine all these things in one day, it will be a blur.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8726 posts

This thread is a prime example of why it is important to use the correct names for places and not to abbreviate - especially in the United Kingdom. There are many places, in the UK and Germany especially, with similar names or the same name with a qualifier, at very different places in the country or adjacent countries. Examples: Leeds is a pretty bleak northern industrial city with an abbatoir where my wife and I got lost once, near York. Leeds Castle is a lovely attraction in the southeast of England close to France. Stratford is the part of East London where the Olympics were headquartered last year.
Stratford-upon-Avon is the home of the Bard, in rural Warwickshire over 100 miles northwest of London and is also the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has an American Fountain. Chipping means market. Chipping Norton and Chipping Campden, while both in the Cotswolds, are very different. It is Chipping Campden which is the more quaint and nearer to Hidcote Manor Garden. Chipping Norton is where the Prime Minister is from, as is Jeremy Clarkson, and Ronnie Barker. Bourton-on-the-Hill is a small Cotswold village; Bourton-on-the-Water has cute tearooms and a lot of tourists, a car museum, and a model village. Rothenberg-ob-der-Tauber is chock full of Christmas shops. Rothenburg is a small village in Saxony on the Polish border. There's another one northwest of Leipzig. And one just north of Luzern in Switzerland. Then there's Fribourg, Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisbau ... If it is possible, please use the whole names for things to avoid confusion. And boy am I glad that you are looking at Leeds Castle and not Leeds in West Yorkshire.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7949 posts

Ahem. 'boy am I glad' The Royal Armories stuff has been drug out of Tower of London and tossed where, exactly?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8726 posts

and the number of folk who go to ogle it is how many?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7949 posts

Well, when Legendary and I went, there were at least three others.
And the new construction across the way was up to ten percent occupancy. And there's not a bar or place to eat within walking distance. But there was a narrowboat tied up in the canal. Most amazing was the exhibit about how youse Brits try to make real guns out of starter pistols - - somebody could get bad hurt. When we went looking for the stuff at the Tower the dude said it'd all been moved up to Leeds to give the economy a boost. I must have missed something.