England over the Winter Holidays
Replies: 36 - Last Post: Dec 21, 2012 2:07 AM Last Post By: ShayneM
Oct 8, 2012 10:28 PM
15Stay in Salisbury, it's a lovely town with a magnificent cathedral.
If you want to see Stonehenge, Avebury and the cathedral in Salisbury in one day, you'll either have to book a guided tour - if there are any just after Christmas- or rent a car.
And to repeat what has been said: You cannot take a train on Christmas day from Canterbury to London because there are not any trains that day.
Oct 9, 2012 1:11 AM
There is some transport on 26 Dec, just not very much. For example, there is a lot of big store sales in Central London and lots of sporting events on 26 Dec, and thus some transport operates to serve those. The only way to find out what is available on 26 Dec is to search in detail. But the National Rail website www.nationalrail.co.uk tells me there are no trains out of Canterbury on 26 Dec.
Oct 9, 2012 1:51 AM
17Exeter is much nicer than Plymouth but to try and do a day trip to St Ives etc, won't be easy. It is 2 and a half hours drive from Exeter to St Ives, if you're lucky. Cornwall's roads are not brilliant, and there is really only one, the A30 that is any good and that often gets very very congested. To do it by train, you'd need to get to Penzance and change or by bus.
Lands End is a dump since they opened a theme park there, and actually The Lizard is much better - far more spectacular and less touristy, but you won't get there by public transport. You can probably get a bus to the village and then walk (ditto Lands End). There are buses to Mousehole, which is fabulous, but you will not be able to do all three places in one day without a car, sorry.
Cornwall is not great for public transport because places are so remote....
Oct 9, 2012 4:31 AM
18#16 - I've obviously been living in Scotland too long! There are no trains in Scotland on new year's day, so I assumed that was a countrywide thing. My bad.
A quick look at southern railways tells me that there are no trains from Rye to Lewes on 26/12. Or on to Southhampton from there. Mind you, I'm not sure why you are going to either place at all (and yes, I've been there)
Oct 9, 2012 4:53 AM
19Flexibility is key at this time of year for the independent tourist dependent on public transport because of paucity of bus / trains for several days. Be prepared to walk and there is excellent hiking in many of the places you wish to go over a good network of public footpaths. Many of the sites chosen are worth lingering in and are not totally dependent on museums or other more commercial activities being open.
You should be aware that it will be dark by 4.30pm and where places are open there may be highly restricted opening hours.
You may also find difficulties in finding accommodation particularly for single nights. Many hostels, B&Bs will be closed. Pre-book in advance.
Long distance rail routes will be busy on certain days. Many of us go back to work on Wednesday 2nd January so expect New Years Day to be busy and tickets becoming increasingly expensive as you get closer to the date on the inter city routes.
You should be able to find a satisfying holiday if you trim back your ambitions.
Oct 9, 2012 10:57 AM
20I think you probably need to be slightly less ambitious with your travel plans and rejig it so that you can spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the same town, making sure it's one that is attractive and interesting to wander around if nothing is open. From your list, either Canterbury or Salisbury would fit the bill.
Accept that you won't be able to get anywhere on Christmas Day, but enjoy walking around the town and area where you're staying. On Boxing Day, most things will be open, but it's a question of whether you can get to them or not. I don't know whether any local tour companies will be offering transport from Salisbury to Stonehenge on Boxing Day but the local tourist office should be able to tell you.
I know it's frustrating but hopefully you'll find yourself somewhere nice to mooch around.
In answer to other questions, Southampton is a big and not particularly attractive city. There are a few attractive corners but it doesn't have the appeal of somewhere like Salisbury or Canterbury or indeed Winchester. I know it well, and wouldn't want to have to spend a day there when nothing is open.
The other option for Christmas/Boxing Day would be somewhere in the countryside with nearby walks, although a lot of hotels in the countryside will be busy with Christmas package tours.
Oct 9, 2012 10:57 AM
21I feel like something needs to give here. I would say you need to lose your time in Kent (Canterbury and Dover) or Devon and Cornwall, and even then it would still be a rush.
I would be tempted to start in Bath doing a day trip to Wells and spend Xmas and Boxing day in Bristol. Bristol has enough to see and do for a couple of days and there will be more, and probably open, to do as it is a vibrant regional city. Of course I may may be a bit biased about Bristol.........
Oct 9, 2012 11:14 AM
Oct 9, 2012 11:29 AM
I have lived in Bristol for virtually all of my life and never gone!
Oct 9, 2012 11:47 AM
Oct 9, 2012 3:31 PM
25"Is there any way I can re-work this so that I can actually do sonething on 12/24 and 12/25 rather than veg out?"
As everyone else has said, nothing touristy will be open on 25th. What I might suggest, if you can find somewhere not exorbitantly expensive to stay, is that you head to Rye on the 24th and stay there until the trains start again - it's a pretty town and imo would be a nice place to wander round on Christmas day. The downside is that accommodation is likely to be pricy there. You don't specifically say you're on a tight budget, but travelling by public transport suggest that may well be the case (is hiring a car out of the question, btw? It would give you more options.). To be honest, almost all hotels (and restaurants) bump up their prices significantly over Christmas, but that's going to be an issue wherever you decide to stay.
Oct 9, 2012 3:37 PM
Oct 10, 2012 6:34 AM
Oct 10, 2012 2:07 PM
281. Stonehenge looks fantastic on the photos you see. What you don't see on the photos is the fact that it's about twenty yards from the A303. You also don't get a sense of scale - people think it's like the pyramids or the sphinx or something, whereas the stones are about twelve foot high or something. Last time I went, which was in the off season, it was still stupidly busy. You have to pay to get in, and you end up tramping along a windswept path together with those people with the enormous backpacks with enamel mugs dangling off the back. I think what I'm trying to say is, it's a bit pants.
Avebury is nicer, because you can actually get right up to the stones and it's free. Still a bit of a circus though.
2. People have suggested renting a car. Bear in mind that hire cars over here will be left-hand drive of course, and most likely have a manual gearbox. It might snow. If, for example you're from California and you've never seen snow, I suggest the last thing you want to do is try and drive a totally alien car on the wrong side of the road in the winter. That's practically suicide.
3. As others have said, you need redo your itinerary. I think you're trying to fit far too much in. Try and plan your trip based on the railway network, if as you say, you're relying on public transport.
4. How about Cambridge - Ely - Norwich - Lincoln - York for instance. You could happily spend a day or even two in all of those places with the exception of Ely, which is tiny.
The point I'm trying to make in a roundabout way is that you can have an interesting time without necessarily dragging yourself round the hoary old tourist traps. Take Ely for instance - no one ever goes there, and yet it's a charming little place with a massive cathedral.
Oct 10, 2012 4:57 PM
29There's lovely countryside around many of the places you've mentioned. For Christmas, I'd suggest you stay in a town which is quite small, and then on Christmas day, get out and go walking in the countryside. Quite a lot of country pubs are open on Christmas day morning, so you'd be able to find a drink and some festive atmosphere (perhaps even Christmas dinner if you're really lucky, but you'd probably have had to book ages in advance).
The only difficulty would be managing to get out of town to somewhere worth walking in. Car hire would be good, but if this isn't possible maybe you could hire a bike??! If you could find a country village B&B open for Christmas that would be ideal.
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