London to Paris for the day. Lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Exploring the Louvre, Musee Rodin, Musee Picasso, Saint Chapelle. Tea at Montmatre. Then back to London by Eurostar in the evening. Sounds fun, no?
Nonetheless, I still said no when a friend asked me to join her/ £300 for a ticket to be in Paris for 1 day?! Sorry, can’t afford it! Which begs the question: what counts as a day trip? Technically we could travel to Edinburgh and back in a day- we just wouldn’t be able to see much! Personally, I’m too old for all the rushing about, and I’m a late riser, so if it’s not an overnighter, I like to keep it nearby: I was going to say under 1.5 hours by train, but I really want to do day trips to Rye and Whsitable which are slightly over that :P, so let’s say 2 hours, give or take? Oh and did I mention you wouldn’t need a car? 🙂
As you may, or may not, know, my European Invasion plans are currently stuck in limbo, what with the British Government holding my passport and all. And facing the sobering thought that, at the end of those 2-3 months, subject to a quirk of fate, my visa may be refused and I may just have to leave the UK, I have resolved to see as much of the UK as I can, without a car. Over the next 3 months, you’ll be seeing at least 1 post on each place, every Wandering Wednesday, on hapinesswherever.com 🙂
Note: I haven’t actually BEEN to most of these places, so don’t have photos of them yet. But a picture paints a 1000 words, so I’m using random photographs from my old holidays!
When it comes to day trips from London, people always flock to the time-old Salisbury, Stonehenge, Stratford upon Avon, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge… but why not take the road less travelled and try something new? Here are my Top 10 picks for history-filled day trips from London:
1 St Albans (Entry: free!)
Been there, done that! 🙂 Especially recommended for lovers of Roman history.
Quaint houses, ruins, history, warrens of streets, “secret” alleys- what’s there not to love about St. Albans?
2. Hampton Court Palace (Entry: £18.20 online or £19.30 at the gate)
Actually, this is in Zone 6 (so you can use your oyster!), which means it’s not technically a Day Trip Out Of London. But hey, anything outside Zone 1 is a Day Trip to me 😛 It’s 35 minutes from London Waterloo, with trains every 30 minutes. You can even take a boat from Westminster but this may take up to 4 hours, depending on the tides. Better hope you’re not sea-sick!
- It’s haunted. Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. Henry the 8th was like a (not so) modern day Bluebird. Most of his brides had gruesome fates and Queen Catherine Howard was dragged down the Chapel Royal Gallery, pleading with Henry to spare her. Her ghost is said to haunt the hall, still screaming for mercy.
- It was featured in Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. Johnny Depp. Need I say more?
- It’s got something for everyone. History buff? This palace has seen no shortage of important events, and was not only the honeymoon destination for Prince Charles 1, it was also his palace & prison. Architecture buff? The building is said to be amazing. Nature Lover? The maze has drawn tourists for years. (Unfortunately, school children too :P)
Upcoming events at Hampton Court Palace:
- Daily 11.30/ 12.45/ 2.30/ 3.45: Costumed tours! Kitschy, but I love them.
- 18 & 19 Sep: Luna Theatre (Theory of Everything & Ghostbusters respectively)
- 26-27 Sep: Sleepover!!! Sounds SOOO Cool. But you have to bring your own sleeping bag. And it’s £140.
- 3-4 Oct: Learn about historic cookery!
- 31 Oct: Halloween Ghost tour!
- 20 Nov to 4 Jan: ice-skating – if I have to go home, I’m doing this first! Ice skating – although I don’t know how!- in London(ish) is on my bucket list!
- 14 Nov: Opera
- 4-6 Dec: BBC Good Food Festival Fayre!!
- 21 Dec: carol singing
3. Bexhill-on-sea (Entry: free!)
I’d never even heard of this town, and here it is, #3 on my list. That said, these are actually listed in no particular order 😛 It’s 1 hour 50 minutes by train, direct from London Victoria. (You can also go from London Bridge or Charing Cross)
- It’s the 3rd best seaside town to live in, according to a 2007 survey.
- It’s By The Sea. Sorry, Londoners are nature deprived 😛 Award wining beach too.
- Any place that was the 1st to allow mixed bathing- and the first to host the British motor race meeting- must be Cool.
Another town by the water, this time in italy: Cinque Terre
4. Egham & Runymede
2 more tourist destinations that I’d not heard of before. Either i’ve picked extremely random, not very interesting locations, or I was woefully ignorant before. You need to train to Egham then take the First 71 bus (towards Slough) from the High Street or Church Street to get to Runymede. It’ll be a 15-20 min ride, and you alight at “Old Windsor- Bells of Ouzeley” before walking BACK (in the direction the bus came from) for about 0.4 km.
- 15 June, 1215: King John was forced to agree to the Magna Carta. In case you’re not familiar with the Magna Carta, its signing was an event that showed that not even a monarch is above the law, giving birth to the idea of the individual in the UK.
- Situated by the river (Thames), Runymede has rolling hills, county walks, meadows & wildlife. In this romantic setting, you’ll find Benedictine priory ruin as well as the oldest tree in the National Trust: 2,500 year-old Yew which is said to be where Henry the 8th courted Anne Boleyn. Not sure she had much choice in the matter, and much good it did her too!
- Instead of bussing from Egham to Runymede, why not take a nice country stroll of only 5.9 km, moderate difficulty, estimated to be 2 hours long? (Bring wellies!)
5. Winchester (Entry: free!)
What is English history without King Arthur & his knights of the Round Table? Even better, it’s only 1 hour from waterloo.
- The Great Hall, found at the top of the High Street just to the left of The Westgate, contains The Round Table (of King Arthur fame) and is all that remains of Winchester Castle today. Winchester is also associated with another great English king. After years of the Danes terrorising England, King Alfred finally defeated them at the Battle of Edington and drew up a peace treaty with them. Winchester was England’s old capital and the seat of King Alfred.
- John Keats stayed in Winchester and it was here that he was inspired to write the ode “To Autumn”- you can even follow in his (2 mile) footsteps and maybe you’ll pen a masterpiece too. Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness indeed.
- Take bus 64 to Alton, from which you can visit Jane Austen’s house in Chawton. Maybe meet a Mr Darcy? 😛
Jane Austen fan? Stop by Bath, setting of 2 of her novels, Northanger Abbey & Persuasion.
6. Colchester (Entry: free again!)
1 of my friends used to live here. I probably should have visited then! Procrastination, thy name is Zen 😛 1h 10 min from London Liverpool Street Station to Britain’s oldest recorded town with over 2000 years of history.
- Capital of Roman Britain when London was just a trading stop. Awwww. Colchester also has the largest surviving Roman Gateway and the oldest town wall (Roman) in UK,
- Colchester Native Oysters! ‘nough said.
- Blueprint for Tower of London & site of the first Royal Castle outside London.
Well, these are actually Maldon Oysters from my Billingsgate Tour this morning. But an oyster’s and oyster 🙂
If you’ve been, or are going, to these places, I’d love to hear what you thought of them 🙂 I will update these with pictures of the real places once I’ve actually been 😛