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Best way to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath leaving out of London?

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Old Jan 5, 09, 3:46 am
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Best way to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath leaving out of London?

Hey everyone, I have a question/problem, what is the best and/or more cost friendly way to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath leaving out of London? (on vacation in London from USA)

I have been searching extensively and I can't find a train ticket for really any day (in march) for less than about 32 pound from London to Salisbury (to get to Stonehenge for example) That's like $45+ USD ?

So it really started to seem like the cost adding up. Train to Windsor, Train to Salisbury, bus to Stones, bus back, train to Bath, back to London, etc.

So in my searching I started finding these day tours. There seem to be many companies offering them and all about the same price around 69 pound or so.

This seems like a great deal but in reading people's comments they all say they wish they had more time in Windsor and Bath.

So my problem is buy a rushed tour, but I can afford it, or break the bank buying all these individual train tickets? Also as an American all the train options and websites have me a little confused too. I see unlimited passes too but again more money than I thought... I don't know I guess I just expected the train to be cheaper. I would like to go off on my own, maybe spend the night in Bath before going back to London. Is about 32 Pound normal to Salisbury ? and then I was seeing about 14 pound from Salisbury to Bath.

Any other options out there?

P.S. sorry I'm so stupid on all of this. Never been to Europe and using trains is unfamiliar to me. I did go over the FAQ's and such.
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Old Jan 5, 09, 4:57 am
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There's lots of opinion on Stonehenge on this forum if you do a search - I'd say the prevailing advice is "Do it if you really must, but there's really not a lot to see and your time could be better spent elsewhere"

As for Bath and Windsor, both are nice places to spend some time. You can do Windsor as a day trip from London, whereas Bath merits a night there. Cheap rail tickets go on sale approx 12 weeks in advance of travel - again there is more info on this forum about booking UK rail tickets, or look here http://seat61.com/UKtravel.htm

An alternative to the train, allowing you to tour around and perhaps include Stonehenge, would be to hire a car.
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Old Jan 5, 09, 5:56 am
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For cheap tickets to Salisbury, you'd need to be travelling to/from London, and book via megatrain.com.

Otherwise, to/from Bath, your best bet would be to get a ticket direct to Bath from London Paddington, then Bath to Swindon (from where you can visit Avebury and - if you must - Stonehenge), then Swindon to Slough, from where you can going the branch line to Windsor & Eton Central. All are on the same high-speed(ish) line, and the maximum you should have to pay for the return is £48 as a walk-up fare (you can break your return journey where you like with that ticket) plus the branch line fare to Windsor - you may well get a better deal when Advance fares are available (often 10-11 weeks rather than 12 on FGW, it depends).

Oh, and that assumes you'll be staying overnight somewhere (probably Bath). Otherwise, it's cheaper if you split your ticket in Didcot Parkway (you obviously have to get trains that stop there) and buy Day Return tickets instead of Off-Peak Return tickets. All of this assumes you're travelling outside peak times.

If you're starting in Heathrow, you can start the railway portion of the journey in Reading, which is quicker/cheaper still.

Last edited by stut; Jan 5, 09 at 6:04 am
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Old Jan 5, 09, 8:37 am
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Why aren't you considering simply renting a car?

If it's the driving on the other side of the road I can tell you that it's not that hard.

FWIW, I think Stonehenge is still worth seeing once and I'd spend a couple of days in Bath. Windsor is an easy train day trip from London.
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Old Jan 5, 09, 3:44 pm
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I was not considering renting a car because everyone said not to.
I had done some research and read other posts and other websites, they say not a good idea if you are a 1st timer to left side driving/manual, etc. Not to mention the traffic and being in an unfamiliar place. You are really the only person I have seen recommend getting a car?

Of course on the other hand I find this whole train system thing confusing. I have read so many things and I think I am just overwhelmed and I don't understand what all a ticket does and gets you. Like switching trains, different stations, I mean how many tickets do you need or does 1 ticket get you everything?

I think I can understand the Tube system in London, that's something I can get I think. But the trains I don't get so much. It seems there are so many different ones, but each website sells tickets for everyone? And I dunno, I'm just a bit overwhelmed being a 1st timer. I wish we had a great Train system here in the USA but we do not and so it's something I have never used in my life.

And I have read how everyone is unimpressed with Stonehenge. I can understand that, I guess it is just a bunch of boring rocks and you cannot even get close or touch, right? It's all roped off? Or does that 6 pound or so get you entry? I could live with skipping it I guess or if I am spending time
in Bath and change my mind it seems like there are half day trips out of Bath for about 15 pound.

I mainly want to do Bath and Windsor. People have said Windsor is close to Heathrow, my problem is what do you do with luggage? I would love to go straight to Windsor when I get in at Heathrow but what would I do with my bag? I'm planning on packing as light as possible, small suitcase only and hopefully there are places to do laundry in the cities or hotels?

That actually brings up another question, like if I have gaps, where I am checked out of a hotel and not anywhere, are there places to leave decent sized baggage? Like do train stations or some of the main attractions have large lockers that would accommodate a small sized suitcase (like 2 feet long [or tall?] 16in wide, 9in or so deep?) and are there like laundromats around the city so I can pack only the bare min? Sorry for all these really stupid noob questions.
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Old Jan 5, 09, 5:17 pm
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Left luggage facilities are rare if non-existent at railway and coach stations because of previous terrorist actions dating back to the 1970s.

You can find launderettes in most towns, try googling the name of the town and then launderette, but you may need extra tumble drying time - and coins - to get everything bone dry. Some places offer service washes, where you can leave your bag of dirties with an attendant who will do it for.

Taking the train to Windsor and Bath is easy.

If you are time poor and want to be taken to each site and coached, companies like Evan Evans offer day and two day trips from London.

And DON'T FORGET your umbrella or a waterproof as it can rain in the UK at any time of year!!!!
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Old Jan 5, 09, 6:49 pm
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My first trip over there a few years back with the 3 (then teenaged little P1s) I rented a car. Many people thought I was nuts. (well, more so than usual)

It is easy- just get behind someone and drive on that side. Pay attention to right turns, because you have to go almost throught the intersection for them (like lefts here)

Rent that car, then you can do that, Glastonbury isn't too far from Bath. You can move at your speed, do some side trips, and really enjoy it.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 4:55 am
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Originally Posted by darkhunter View Post
I was not considering renting a car because everyone said not to.
I had done some research and read other posts and other websites, they say not a good idea if you are a 1st timer to left side driving/manual, etc. Not to mention the traffic and being in an unfamiliar place. You are really the only person I have seen recommend getting a car?

Of course on the other hand I find this whole train system thing confusing. I have read so many things and I think I am just overwhelmed and I don't understand what all a ticket does and gets you. Like switching trains, different stations, I mean how many tickets do you need or does 1 ticket get you everything?

I think I can understand the Tube system in London, that's something I can get I think. But the trains I don't get so much. It seems there are so many different ones, but each website sells tickets for everyone? And I dunno, I'm just a bit overwhelmed being a 1st timer. I wish we had a great Train system here in the USA but we do not and so it's something I have never used in my life.

And I have read how everyone is unimpressed with Stonehenge. I can understand that, I guess it is just a bunch of boring rocks and you cannot even get close or touch, right? It's all roped off? Or does that 6 pound or so get you entry? I could live with skipping it I guess or if I am spending time
in Bath and change my mind it seems like there are half day trips out of Bath for about 15 pound.

I mainly want to do Bath and Windsor. People have said Windsor is close to Heathrow, my problem is what do you do with luggage? I would love to go straight to Windsor when I get in at Heathrow but what would I do with my bag? I'm planning on packing as light as possible, small suitcase only and hopefully there are places to do laundry in the cities or hotels?

That actually brings up another question, like if I have gaps, where I am checked out of a hotel and not anywhere, are there places to leave decent sized baggage? Like do train stations or some of the main attractions have large lockers that would accommodate a small sized suitcase (like 2 feet long [or tall?] 16in wide, 9in or so deep?) and are there like laundromats around the city so I can pack only the bare min? Sorry for all these really stupid noob questions.
Rent a car. The difficulty of driving on the "wrong side" is way overblown by most people.

The trains are definately confusing, it took me a solid 12 months of living in London to understand how they all work and you always seem to be discovering new trains that you never knew existed.

I would be in the 'dont bother with Stonehenge' camp. It really is just a bunch of roped off rocks. Unless you have a particular interest in Druid history then it's not worth wasting a day.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 5:49 am
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The trains aren't that tricky, it just depends how you look at them. There are long-distance trains that operate like airlines, and short-distance trains that operate similarly to the Tube.

The companies mostly stick to a region or particular route, with some duplication. Generally speaking, your cheapest ticket for long journeys will be just like on airlines - tied to a specific train, and bought in advance. You pay a premium for flexibility, late purchase, or peak travel.

Imagine that all the railways are in one big 'alliance' and so then yes, they all sell each others tickets (so you can connect between them). Sometimes a through ticket is cheaper, but sometimes, because of difference pricing structures and availability, a split ticket is cheaper. Again, just like the airlines.

The one complication is that Network Rail (who own and repair the tracks) only publish their maintenance schedules 12 weeks in advance. As a result, no operators sell train-specific tickets more than 12 weeks in advance, as they're not sure they can stick to timetable.

Personally, I find driving here easy enough, but slow, boring, and the motorways full of tailgating eejits in 4x4s. I'd always take the train unless I had to head somewhere not covered by it (or an easy train/bus train/bike combination). London - Bath and London - Windsor (and Bath - Windsor via Slough) would be a no-brainer by train - 1h30 to Bath for £9.50 - you won't get better than that. If, however, you do fancy heading out into the countryside, then yes, get a car.

Incidentally, Oxford is a very easy trip on that route too, and more interesting (IMO) than Windsor. Some great food to be had there too.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 6:38 am
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You could try a personalised guided tour . The tour guide, picks you and your group up, shows your precisely what you want to see (might be able to it all in one very full day depending on how much you want to see at Bath/Windsor) and drops you off.

Tour guide also doubles up as driver.

It maybe a bit more expensive, but you avoid all the hassle, worries and concern and are able to pack the maximum in that you want to include. Most Americans have limited vacation time and madly dash around.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 3:24 pm
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I agree with the others about Stonehege.
We drove past it on our way to Salisbury in 2003 & my husband was really disapointed.
If you want to get up close to stone circle, rent a car & drive to Avebury which has a village within the Stone Circle & B&B's close by.
You can then visit Silbury Hill & Kennett Long Barrow which are both within a few miles drive of Avebury before driving on to Salisbury & Old Saurum.
Go back the long way round & overnight near Winchester in Hampshire & take a look at King Arthur's round Table & Winchester Cathdedral where Jane Austen is burried.
You can always drive past Stonehenge en route to Salisbury & make up your mind when you get closer to it.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 4:35 pm
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thanks everyone for the ideas and help. I 'm still undecided and thinking about it all, again thanks for the opinions though.
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Old Jan 6, 09, 4:40 pm
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hire a car

If you want to control how much time you spend at each of these venues, you want to hire a car so you can control arrival and departure times.

I'd avoid driving in central London. You'd be fine to hire the car at LHR and drive from there.

Have a GREAT visit to London!
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Old Jan 15, 09, 1:34 am
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Renting a car is a great way to get around, especially as public transport is so expensive these days. If you're worried about the cost, check out carrentals.co.uk.
You can compare all the car hire companies at the same time and make sjure that you get a good deal.
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