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Tours outside of London


Giantfan13

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WE will be in London for 5 days pre cruise and we would very much like to take a trip to Stonehedge and Bath. I have seen some of these tours advertised on several different sites, and I was wondering if you need a tour to get there or can you do it on your own?? I will not be driving. Also, are some tours better than others??

I have read that some tours just go to Stonehedge while others let you into the inner circle. I would assume getting right next to the 'stones' would be preferable??. What do the other tours do, just drive around, or how close can you get??

And my last question, most of the tours usually include another site to visit, either Windsor, Salisbury, LaCock or Winchester are just a few that I have looked at. We definately want to do Stonehedge and Bath, but the other stop is up in the air. Which one of the 4 would be most desirable, or more interesting??

Again, thanks for any help or advice.

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The first time I ever went to London (something like 27 years ago!) we took a tour to Stonehenge & Bath. Very enjoyable, even to my 8-year old self. At the time you could walk all around the stones, but now I believe the public is barred from doing that - you get about 10 feet away. You definitely need some sort of vehicle or tour to get to Stonehenge, but Bath I would think would be a relatively easy day-trip by train from London. Absolutely lovely city, wonderful for just wantering around. Sorry I can't recommend any particular tour company as it was so long ago and I was very young...*sigh*

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WE will be in London for 5 days pre cruise and we would very much like to take a trip to Stonehedge and Bath. I have seen some of these tours advertised on several different sites, and I was wondering if you need a tour to get there or can you do it on your own?? I will not be driving. Also, are some tours better than others??

I have read that some tours just go to Stonehedge while others let you into the inner circle. I would assume getting right next to the 'stones' would be preferable??. What do the other tours do, just drive around, or how close can you get??

And my last question, most of the tours usually include another site to visit, either Windsor, Salisbury, LaCock or Winchester are just a few that I have looked at. We definately want to do Stonehedge and Bath, but the other stop is up in the air. Which one of the 4 would be most desirable, or more interesting??

Again, thanks for any help or advice.

 

You do not need a tour to get to any of these places, but some places like Stonehenge, Avebury and Lacock are very isolated so its quite an expedition to get to by public transport and no cheaper than a tour.

The other 'advantage' of a tour is that you can cram three places in one day very cost effectively. The most popular tour is Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge which nearly all the main operators do for about 70 GBP ($135) - bearing in mind the included admission charges for Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths at Bath are about 34 GBP, this is very good value.

Although the temptation is to go on one of these tours fitting 3 major attractions in one day, you only get 90 minutes or so at each stop, not really long enough for places Windsor or Bath. But most people are time poor and feel these are worthwhile

 

If you want to see these places properly, Oxford, Winchester, Windsor, Salisbury and Bath are very easly done by rail from London. There is a HOHO bus that goes from Salisbury to Stonehenge and a couple of operators from Bath that run afternoon tours from there to Stonehenge, so you could combine an independent visit to Bath with a tour to Stonehenge.

 

The out of hours 'Special Access' slots to Stonehenge where you can walk among and touch the stones are worthwhile but the slots between 05:30 and 08:00 and 18:00 and 20:00 mean a very early or very late return from/to Stonehenge (its a 2 hour journey) to/from London.

Having a tour combining Avebury and Stonehenge is ideal. Avebury is a larger henge than Stonehenge and you can walk among and touch the stones at all times.

 

At the link below is a table with 28 day tour combinations currently on offer from London on a scheduled basis with links to the operators concerned. These cover the main full size operators and small group minibus tours as well as Stonehenge Special Access options.

There is also a link to private tour options like Harry Norman of London tours, with some possible itineraries. These tend to be at a more relaxed pace than the scheduled tours.

 

Day Tours From London

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We definately want to do Stonehedge and Bath, but the other stop is up in the air. Which one of the 4 would be most desirable, or more interesting?.

 

If Bath is important to you then I'd go for the Anderson's Tour that just does Stonehenge and Bath only, no more. You get 3-4 hours in Bath which for many people is still not long enough

 

If you had to choose I would go for the Lacock option with International Friends during the day or Premium Tours Special Access Stonehenge tour. Lacock isn't in the main guide books but its very worthwhile and you'll see some of the best of the English Countryside and the lovely medieval village of Lacock. Especially if you're a Harry Potter or Jane Austen fan with their associations

 

Salisbury is only outstanding if you either particularly want to see the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta or seeing Westminster Abbey, St Paul's etc in London doesn't quench your appetite for Norman Cathedrals and Gothic architecture.

Winchester is similar, instead of the Magna Carta you've got Jane Austen's memorial which ties in with Jane Austen at Bath. The Cathedral to me feels less touristy than Salisbury, everytime I've been there its felt more like a working church than Salisbury with meetings, little gatherings going on in the chapels.

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Thank you all for the great info.

 

Handfordr,

if we go on one of the 'regular' Stonehedge tours, how close can you get to the Stones?. Is it, as one has said, about 10 feet away, opposed to doing the all access tour where you can touch them. If you are not even able to get within 'smell' distance, then that would not be worth it, at least for us.

Also, you say if we do 3 stops in a day, we get about 1 1/2 hours at each stop. At Stonehedge, wouldn't even 1 1/2 hours be more than sufficient. What else is there to do there, but view the stones and listen to some stories??> Is there more to it than that, that would take more than say 1 hour???

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Thank you all for the great info.

 

Handfordr,

if we go on one of the 'regular' Stonehedge tours, how close can you get to the Stones?. Is it, as one has said, about 10 feet away, opposed to doing the all access tour where you can touch them. If you are not even able to get within 'smell' distance, then that would not be worth it, at least for us.

Also, you say if we do 3 stops in a day, we get about 1 1/2 hours at each stop. At Stonehedge, wouldn't even 1 1/2 hours be more than sufficient. What else is there to do there, but view the stones and listen to some stories??> Is there more to it than that, that would take more than say 1 hour???

 

On one of the regular tours of Stonehenge you walk a circuit around the henge. The closest you get is about 15-20 feet to the main henge stones. Its actually not too bad a thing in some ways as you don't get other people in your pictures this way. Its just a single rope fence about 2 feet off the ground around the monument.

The audio device tour that comes with admission takes 40 minutes from end to end. There are some token stones in the car park also. No coach tour will stay at Stonehenge 90 minutes, the most you will get is an hour, most less than that. These tours all have an uphill struggle keeping to time, these times are really best case scenarios.

 

To give you an idea of timings on a typical tour, below are the timings for 2009 for the Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath tours of Evan Evans and Premium Tours. Before departure from London Victoria they both do hotel pickup runs that take another hour. For Windsor, you also have to factor in a 10-15 minute walk each way from coach park to castle.

 

Evan Evans

Leave London 09:00

Arrive Windsor 10:00

Leave Windsor 12:00

Arrive Stonehenge 13:10

Depart Stonehenge 14:00

Arrive Bath 15:15

Depart Bath 17:00

Arrive London 19:30

 

Premium Tours

08:15 Depart Victoria Coach Station

09:45 Arrive Windsor Castle

11:40 Depart Windsor

13:00 Optional Lunch at traditional British pub

14:00 Leave pub

14:20 Arrive Stonehenge

15:10 Depart Stonehenge

16:10 Arrive Bath - Panoramic tour

16:15 Enter Roman Baths

Free time in Bath

18:00 Depart Bath

20:30 Arrive London

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:eek:

On our first visit to London in 2000, my family of 5 took the train to Bath for the day.

 

An option for guided day trips is London Walks: www.walks.com

 

Absolutely the best tour guides. The "Explorer" tours out of London are by rail. Much better than sitting on a coach in traffic.

You pay your own train fare and entry fees, but the tour prices are low.

 

Many of the guides are professional actors or retired college professors. The guide I had for the British Museum was a retired history professor. She knows all the inside stuff.:p

 

Don't miss their Jack The Ripper tour. The guides are expert about the Ripper story, and are rife with gallows humor.

Descriptions of the 19th century living, if you can call them living, conditions in London City were the most fascinating. Imagine a million people residing within a one sqaure mile area!! :eek:

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  • 1 month later...
:eek:

 

Absolutely the best tour guides. The "Explorer" tours out of London are by rail. Much better than sitting on a coach in traffic.

You pay your own train fare and entry fees, but the tour prices are low.

 

Many of the guides are professional actors or retired college professors. The guide I had for the British Museum was a retired history professor. She knows all the inside stuff.:p

 

Don't miss their Jack The Ripper tour. The guides are expert about the Ripper story, and are rife with gallows humor.

Descriptions of the 19th century living, if you can call them living, conditions in London City were the most fascinating. Imagine a million people residing within a one sqaure mile area!! :eek:

 

When you mention "Explorer" tours, are you talking about a specific company? If so, do you have a web site. And, with the Jack the Tipper tour, I found one online -- http://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/jack-the-ripper-tour-july.html -- can you tell me if that is the one you are talking about? Thank you.

 

Marilyn

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When you mention "Explorer" tours, are you talking about a specific company? If so, do you have a web site. And, with the Jack the Tipper tour, I found one online -- http://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/jack-the-ripper-tour-july.html -- can you tell me if that is the one you are talking about? Thank you.

 

Marilyn

 

The Explorer Tours are with London Walks (http://www.walks.com) - and are day trips outside of London. The "Jack the Ripper" tour is one of the London Walks tours. There are several guides, but Donald Rumbelow is considered to be one of the best. http://www.walks.com/Homepage/Mondays_Walks/Jack_the_Ripper_-_730_pm/default.aspx

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The Explorer Tours are with London Walks (www.walks.com) - and are day trips outside of London. The "Jack the Ripper" tour is one of the London Walks tours. There are several guides, but Donald Rumbelow is considered to be one of the best. http://www.walks.com/Homepage/Mondays_Walks/Jack_the_Ripper_-_730_pm/default.aspx

 

thank you for your help.

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Has anyone used Harry Norman Tours lately? After I booked a tour with him this coming July, I was told there was no guaranty he personally would be available. I booked his company on the recommendations I have read on Cruise Critic and needless to say am disappointed that he may not be available. The cost was quite a bit higher than I had originally anticipated -- $425, but from what I've read he is well worth it.

 

Marilyn

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Harry is certainly worth the money. If I were you I would email him and ask your question directly to the source. Harry is a one man company (at least he was last year) so I would find it strange that he would not be your driver.

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Has anyone used Harry Norman Tours lately? After I booked a tour with him this coming July, I was told there was no guaranty he personally would be available. I booked his company on the recommendations I have read on Cruise Critic and needless to say am disappointed that he may not be available. The cost was quite a bit higher than I had originally anticipated -- $425, but from what I've read he is well worth it.

 

Marilyn

 

I would put your question directly to Pat who 'manages' Harry and no doubt sorted out your reservation.

Harry is normally booked out well in advance and recently has been quoting for other driver/guides he personally has confidence in if he is not available. To my knowledge its always made clear this is the case if it happens and who will conduct the tour if not Harry, but clearly not in this case.

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I would put your question directly to Pat who 'manages' Harry and no doubt sorted out your reservation.

Harry is normally booked out well in advance and recently has been quoting for other driver/guides he personally has confidence in if he is not available. To my knowledge its always made clear this is the case if it happens and who will conduct the tour if not Harry, but clearly not in this case.

 

Pat is the lady who answered my emails. Here is what she said:

 

"Due to operational commitments at this busy time we don't guarantee a particular driver/guide however I have made a note of your request."

 

I've got my fingers crossed that we get Harry as our guide.

 

Marilyn

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Well since Harry's reputation rests on the folks he hires to be tour guids; I'm quite sure whomever you get will be just fine. Obviously things are good in the tour guide world for him to be hiring more drivers!

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Evan Evans

Leave London 09:00

Arrive Windsor 10:00

Leave Windsor 12:00

Arrive Stonehenge 13:10

Depart Stonehenge 14:00

Arrive Bath 15:15

Depart Bath 17:00

Arrive London 19:30

 

Premium Tours

08:15 Depart Victoria Coach Station

09:45 Arrive Windsor Castle

11:40 Depart Windsor

13:00 Optional Lunch at traditional British pub

14:00 Leave pub

14:20 Arrive Stonehenge

15:10 Depart Stonehenge

16:10 Arrive Bath - Panoramic tour

16:15 Enter Roman Baths

Free time in Bath

18:00 Depart Bath

20:30 Arrive London

We debated on these two tours last May while we were London. We decided to take the EE one that returned to London an hour earlier than the other, so that we could catch a train to Sheffield around 9pm.

 

The thing we didn't know was that the EE tour dropped everyone off at only a few places around London, and we ended up on a 40min taxi ride to the train station.

 

While the tour was good, although a bit hurried, we would probably take the other one if we had to do it again. FWIW, we used Premium for another 2 day tour and we very impressed.

 

jw:cool:

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We debated on these two tours last May while we were London. We decided to take the EE one that returned to London an hour earlier than the other, so that we could catch a train to Sheffield around 9pm.

 

The thing we didn't know was that the EE tour dropped everyone off at only a few places around London, and we ended up on a 40min taxi ride to the train station.

 

While the tour was good, although a bit hurried, we would probably take the other one if we had to do it again. FWIW, we used Premium for another 2 day tour and we very impressed.

 

jw:cool:

 

Its a good point, all the day tour operators make a big thing about hotel pick ups in the morning and do not mention anything about the end of the tour. A lot of people assume they are going to be dropped off at their hotel again in the evening which they don't, (and logistically can't given London's evening traffic congestion and driver hours legislation)

The majority of tours come back into London through Kensington and a drop off is offered at Gloucester Road Underground before going onto Victoria. Anthing else is a bonus.

If you've been to the Cotswolds. Warwick, Stratford or Canterbury you'll be coming into London on other routes but the same principle applies.

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