There are many areas of beautiful countryside, dotted with picturesque little villages, within easy reach of London as well as historic market towns and cities and sacred pre-historic monuments.
Some of these are accessible by public transport, others by car. Let me know what you would like to do and I will design a bespoke itinerary for you.
The total cost of the day for the group is made up of my daily fee (see contact & terms) + any entrance fees + transport.
In general, travelling by public transport is more affordable. You would need to pay the fares for the group (and for me as your guide) and I have given an indication of prices. If travelling by car or minibus, I will help arrange the hire of a private vehicle and chauffeur for the day. Prices vary depending on the number of people so I will quote you individually.
A trip to Oxford
Oxford is famously a city of “dreaming spires” and home to the oldest university in the world. It lies nestled between 2 rivers, a beautiful city of honey coloured stone. You will feel history come alive as we stroll the narrow cobbled streets and peek into the hidden worlds of the colleges. Oxford has inspired many who have lived and studied here from Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein and Evelyn Waugh to JK Rowling and Colin Dexter (writer of Inspector Morse) more recently. It is hard not be swayed by its charm!
Oxford is accessible by train from London Paddington, taking approx 1 hour and costing approx £25 for an adult return.
A trip to Windsor
Windsor is a beautiful town on the Thames, dominated by the medieval Windsor Castle – the Queen’s weekend country house. Windsor has been home to the royal family for over 900 years but the Castle is more of a mini walled town in its own right, with a village green, chapel and homes as well as the royal apartments. It is also home to the Order of the Garter, the UK’s highest order of chivalry. Explore the medieval St George’s Chapel, final resting place of many great British kings and queens including the House of Windsor, then be awed by the State Apartments where HM the Queen entertains visiting heads of state.
After the grandeur of the Castle take a walk around the town with its picturesque riverside location and excellent shops and restaurants.
Windsor is accessible by train from London Paddington or Waterloo. The journey takes just under an hour and costs approx £11 for an adult return.
A trip to the Cotswolds, including Blenheim Palace
The joy of the Cotswolds is to drive along its winding country lanes, stopping off in different villages to sightsee according to your mood. The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where Man’s presence, seen in its patchwork of fields divided by ancient hedgerows and traditional villages, actually seems to enhance the landscape. Most Cotswold villages reached their heyday during the medieval period when they prospered from the wool trade based on the sheep that still graze its gently rolling green hills today. We will spend a day exploring some of the area’s most lovely villages (a very tough competition!), admiring little architectural details in the cottages, soaking in the views and adjusting to the gentle way of life.
The Cotswolds is also home to Blenheim Palace, one of the grandest country houses in the whole of England and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill it is historically important as well as awe-inspiring.
The Cotswolds can be explored as a day trip from London but 2 days (staying overnight) would allow you to explore into the northern Cotswolds as well. The Cotswolds was the main rural centre for the Arts and Crafts Movement, a major aesthetic movement in arts, craft and design at the turn of the 20th century, and these links are kept alive today in towns like Chipping Campden and Broadway. The Cotswolds is also famous for its gardens and Hidcote Manor with its series of intimate “garden rooms” is a must for any gardener!
Exploring the Cotwolds is easiest by private vehicle. In most cases I will suggest a travelling by train from / to London (approx £40 for an adult return) and then hiring a vehicle upon arrival.
A trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle
Birthplace of William Shakespeare and charming market town, Stratford is a pleasure to discover. The must see is of course Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the black and white timbered house with traditional Elizabethan-style gardens where Shakespeare was born and grew up. Equally moving is the quiet little church where Shakespeare is buried. We can see some of the places where Shakespeare himself would have lived, worked and played and reflect on the enduring legacy of the greatest writer in the English language. The romantic at heart may like to take an easy walk through the water meadows, the same walk taken by 18 year old Will, to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, the home of Shakespeare’s wife.
Near to Stratford is Warwick Castle, a country stately home inside a medieval castle with battlements and turrets.
Stratford-upon -Avon is accessible by rail but the journey is not direct and takes approx 2.5 hours. I would recommend a private vehicle in most cases
A trip to Bath
Famous for its healing hot spring waters, Bath was founded by the Romans and contains the largest and best preserved Roman Baths in the country. Visitors have always come to Bath to “take the waters” and it reached its heyday in the 18th century when its iconic Georgian terraces were built to house the well-to-do visiting for “the season”. This is the sort of elegant society captured by Jane Austen in her early 1800s novels and we can follow in the footsteps of her heroines promenading in its cresecents, circles and squares and visiting the Assembly Rooms. It is even possible to bathe in the famous thermal waters at the modern Bath Thermae Spa.
If you plan to combine Bath with Stonehenge then I would recommend hiring a private vehicle, however, for a day trip to Bath alone public transport is probably more convenient. The journey takes approx 1.5 hours and costs approx £60-70 for an adult return.
A trip to Stonehenge
The prehistoric stone circle of Stonehenge has intrigued and mystified visitors for centuries and continues to do so today. Built between around 3,000 and 2,000 BC, Stonehenge stands in the centre of a landscape with great sacred importance scattered with other smaller henges and barrows (burial mounds). Archaeologists continue to unlock the secrets of Stonehenge and we can only guess its purpose, but the sheer achievement of its construction by our ancestors so long ago is still impressive and moving.
A trip to Stonehenge is easiest by private vehicle. However, it can be arranged by public transport as part of a day trip with Salisbury.
A trip to Salisbury
The peaceful cathedral city of Salisbury rewards the visitor with its serene architecture and elegance. To step into the cathedral close is to enter a hidden gentle world of lush green lawns dominated by the beautiful spire of the Cathedral. The 13th century Cathedral was built in just 38 years in the Early English Gothic style and has a coherence and lightness seldom seen anywhere else. The view of its spire that inspired the painters Constable and Turner in the 19th century remains the same today.
Salisbury is accessible by train from London Waterloo. The journey takes approx 1.5 hours and costs approx £40 for an adult return.
A trip to Canterbury
Like Chaucer’s medieval pilgrims we will make our way to Canterbury, seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Church of England). It was in Canterbury Cathedral that Thomas Becket was hacked to death by 4 knights seeking to please their furious king, who may or may not have said “who will rid me of this turbulent priest”! As well as the Cathedral and historic town visitors can see the remains of St Augustine’s Abbey founded in 598 by St Augustine who reintroduced Christianity to Britain and burial place of ancient Anglo-Saxon kings and queens.
Canterbury is accessible by train from London Victoria or Charing Cross. The journey takes approx 1.5 hours and costs approx £30 for an adult return.