Travel advice for a friend

An American friend, probably will have a Fri lunch to Mon evening weekend to disport himself in Southern England in Sept. Been to England many a time, lived here as a kid, isn’t about to do StonhengeBathStratfordOxfordCambridge then Paris on Tuesday.

So, Southern England, where to go? Both Bath and Brighton (he was a mod back in the day) have been discussed. Where else? 4 days along the Ridgeway isn’t the style – urban is our lad. And not so much a goherethentherethen but a place to amble and taste the flavour of.

Could sorta suggest Salisbury, say, for the Cathedral, but after that, well? Which is the problem I’m having coming up with other ideas. There’re lots of places to go to do the one or two things. But where for 4 days?


46 thoughts on “Travel advice for a friend”

  1. Glastonbury area. Wells, the he can tell everyone he’s seen the Hot Fuzz set. Worked for another Yank I knew

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    If he’s on the train, from Salisbury on to Exeter, which is nice in parts, and then on to Plymouth for some naval history? Its the same line so he might be able to get a good deal on a ticket. Its a long drive for a few days.

    Alternatively, from Salisbury down to down to Winchester then Pompey.

    Or if he fancies something a bit different, the train up to York and then Newcastle.

  3. Just kick around London. Lots to see & do, and mercifully devoid of tourists at present. Plenty of lesser attractions outside zone 1 to keep him busy for a long weekend.

  4. London’s been done, many times.

    The aim is to find some place – not a series of them – outside where he’a already been many a time.

  5. When a man is tired of Bath he is tired of life, as they say.

    I would have said London too. He may have done it many times but I bet he hasn’t done all of it.

    Anyway, you’re right about Salisbury; great cathedral but not much else.

    My plan B would be Bristol. It’s a fun city, lots going on for its size, has a quirky geography and easy to get to. But to get the most out of it he really needs to talk to locals.

  6. If you’ve discussed Bath, add in Bristol. Close enough together. If he’s got wheels, Wells and the countryside are there.

    And he can drive through Keynsham, k e y n s h am and mebbe win the pools…

  7. Trouble is, everywhere except London is too small to entertain one for 4 days. Also, if he was a mod, he would hate Brighton now. Quadrophenia it ain’t!

  8. The East Kent towns (Canterbury, Margate, Deal, Dover, etc). Not enough in any one place to amuse for four days, but stay in one (Canterbury?) and get around by train. Plenty of historical and architectural interest; urban grit (and decay) rather than tweeness; and the countryside and the beaches when the city streets pall.

  9. I’d go for Newcastle; lots of great old historical stuff and plenty of new. Social scene is second to none, and on the periphery, great countryside and coastline. Travel around is easy via the metro.

  10. “The East Kent towns (Canterbury, Margate, Deal, Dover, etc)”
    During my exodus to France I rented flats in Margate & then Dover as final footholds in the UK. I would regard either as equivalent of being sentenced to a stiff term on Devil’s Island sans sharks. There is absolutely nothing to do in either. No decent pubs or restaurants or anything else. Curiously, Margate probably features more pet shops than any other town in the UK. No doubt to cater for the locality’s sizeable population of dogs on strings. Charity & second hand shops feature strongly as well. Main industry is social security benefit collecting. Dover does have the advantage of the Ferry Terminal. The escape route is clearly marked.

  11. Solent is another idea – Winchester, Southampton, Portsmouth and perhaps a day trip to the Isle of Wight, plus New Forest or south downs if some countryside is wanted (and Salisbury not too far).

    All close enough that any can be used as a base and travel between by train/bus/car.
    – Portsmouth particular has various Naval museums (historic docks, forts, submarine, boat trips), plus Spinnaker tower and shopping.
    – Southampton has its own mix of history and shopping (Titanic links etc),
    – Winchester has its cathedral, Grand Hall with its round table and an attractive ‘English’ high street to amble along; St Catherine’s Hill is also nice to walk up.

    Other place to consider is Bournemouth/Poole, Bournemouth has great beach, shopping and various attractions, lots of students and stag dos so must have some flavour. Poole just next door has lovely docks with some interesting shops and less touristy feel.

  12. Jenner in Gloucester is topical.

    He’ll definitely need transport to get to Berkeley. But once there, the castle is also worth seeing (assuming it’s open) if he’s into history.

    And if he’s in Berkeley with transport and likes wildlife, Slimbridge isn’t far away either.

  13. Brighton, Portsmouth, New Forest, Thorpe Park if he likes fast rollercoasters, faster than a lot elsewhere (my mother loves them despite her age). Lots of things to do that I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

  14. London’s been done

    Thing is, if he wants to be outside of London, but isn’t interested in the countryside, the pickings are slim.

    A tour of slightly shabby seaside towns? Or of cathedral cities?

    Don’t send him to Brighton though, for God’s sake. It is a terrible hole.

    I have a mate who lives just outside Bournemouth. It has a truly magnificent beach, but the town is awash with scum, even before the weekend tourists arrive.

  15. I’d second the Solent if he must stay in the south. But the obvs answer is not to stay in the south and go to Edinburgh for a few days. Or, though it’s rather small, he could look in on Norwich. Then take a boat on the Broads, even visit the north Norfolk coast – dine on Cromer crab, that sort of thing. Come back by way of visiting Ely Cathedral – one of the best.

  16. Bit off the beaten track, but historic Norwich and Norfolk, the Broads, Thetford Forest, elegant or tatty seaside towns Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Skegness with Cambridge and Lincoln fairly near?

    I’d avoid Downham Market though.

  17. Bristol will easily occupy 4 days

    If he’s more open minded Cardiff is the obvious place

    Loads to do there

  18. …but a place to amble and taste the flavour of.

    Could sorta suggest Salisbury

    Cathedral, yes, also Ted Heath’s home, the Skripals and the flavour of Novichok.

  19. Another vote for Oxford. Museums are the equal of London (go to the Pitt-Rivers and see the shrunken heads before they’re bowdlerised by the new curator), and of a size to suit a day trip (whereas the British Museum needs at least a week on its own). And much of the city is still beautiful:

    Oxford is on the whole more attractive than Cambridge to the ordinary visitor; and the traveller is therefore recommended to visit Cambridge first or to omit it altogether if he cannot visit both.
    Baedeker’s Guide to Great Britain (1887)

  20. Pottering around Hampshire can be nice, but stay away from Aldershot. It’s not covid quarantined, it’s just a shithole.

  21. Apropos my suggestion of Norwich etc: he could also look at Stamford, a lovely wee town, and pop into Burleigh House. If he thought the itinerary too short he could add Lincoln: my memory is that the cathedral sits impressively on a ridge. Also add St Albans: the Roman remains are interesting. Plus Wisbech, King’s Lynn … And all that assumes he’ll keep Suffolk and Essex for a different trip.

  22. Longleat and the Bath Arms in Horningsham next door. The George in Norton St Philips – oldest pub in Britain. Plenty to do in Bath.

  23. If he’s into that sort of thing, a flying day at the Shuttleworth Collection can be magical. The IWM at Duxford is nothing to sneeze at, either.



  24. Just south of Salisbury is the New Forest: Ashley Walk bombing range from WW2. The Grand Slam crater, a set of ‘submarine pens’ on a hill miles from the coast, lots to see for those so inclined…
    But not urban.
    Winchester makes a good add-on to Salisbury though.

  25. And another thing. If he’s game for the Solent to Poole area, he could also push a few miles further west and visit The Bovington Tank Museum. I was fascinated by it.

    Has he ever been to Stonehenge and Avebury?

  26. “Don’t send him to Brighton though, for God’s sake. It is a terrible hole. ”

    You’re right MC. Anybody voluntarily goes to Brighton must be barking mad. Good dogs on strings territory, though.

  27. Another vote for Bovington Tank Museum. There’s also the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. Don’t go anywhere near the sea at the moment, it’ll be rammed with tourists. There’s the Great Western Railway Museum in Swindon, close to the Station too. If he has any interest in railways a trip on a preserved steam line would be a must, the West Somerset railway is the longest preserved steam line in the country, and makes a great day out. In fact Bovington Tank Museum and the Swanage railway would make a good day out down there.

  28. Another vote for the Bovington Tank Museum, plus, if he’s a history buff, in an hour extra, he can visit both the grave and the site of the death of T.E. Lawrence. The crash site especially is very evocative.



  29. Heh, at one point – although possibly not at the time of the crash – my grandfather was the commanding office of Aircraftsman Shaw…..

  30. +1 for Yeovilton. When we went there was rather a lot of gold braid about, and it turned out to be a flying day in memory of ‘Winkle’ Brown, RN test pilot who flew more types (487) than anyone else in history. Lots of Fleet Air Arm aircraft flying that you never otherwise see in air displays, plus a MiG 15.

  31. Arundel. A picture perfect 11th century Castle you can actually visit, a relatively modern and woefully under appreciated 14th century church and a cathedral which is only 150 years old but looks considerably older. Followed by a trip to the Tangmere Military Museum.

  32. Cardiff is a short train ride and just outside is St Fagans with the heritage museum which is a collection of buildings taken apart brick by brick and reassembled on site so a good day out to explore the various buildings. The on-site traditional bakery is great as well though they sell out of fresh stuff pretty quickly. The row of terrace houses each one representing a different time they were occupied from 1900 to 1980’s is a favourite.

  33. Definitely Winchester over Salisbury. Both have cathedrals (and Salisbury’s is probably better), but there isn’t much else in Salisbury whereas Winchester is more of a decent town. The Black Boy is definitely recommended.

    Also from Winchester it’s easier to get down to Portsmouth if he likes naval stuff, or if he is going for the Tank Museum, Wool is on the same train line as Winchester (they do a little live action display weekday lunchtimes in the holidays, but book in advance if he is going; daughter goes horse riding at Bovington and I’ve seen the museum has been putting the ‘full’ signs out from about 11am).

  34. Oxford would be my favourite too, but I’m told it’s all still very covid-fearmongeringly restricted at the moment.

    Bournemouth is a shit-hole. Yes, it’s got a big beach, but that’s packed with people and the town is unpleasant even when it isn’t over-run with tourists.

  35. Tank museum does sound fun. One of his businesses was running the spare parts centre for the American tank training ground. They run/ran Soviet tanks, someone needed to have all the metric spanners and spare parts for those Soviet tanks. Which was his little shop there in Death Valley.

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