by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:24th March 2020

Code Breakers, Bards, Smugglers and Mariners

There are so many incredible places to visit just a stone throw from London, that you are virtually spoilt for choice.

Whether it’s a spot of history you’re after, a golden sandy beach or you want to stroll in William Shakespeare footsteps, we have you covered.

This article is a follow on from part 1 of our day trips from London. The medley that I’ve chosen here will give you a fascinating taster of what you can discover from the doorstep of old London town.

The majority of these tempting locations you’ll be able to reach by public transport, others due to practicality of time and accessibility you may need to jump in a car.

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The view across the grounds to Hever Castle, as you approach from the gatehouse.
The view of Hever Castle, Kent
So, wait no longer, here are a few more locations that Gary and I have loved.

Our List ...

We'll be discovering the following;
You can click on the link to jump to the section, and to return, just click on the title.

Two of my favourite subjects in one, history and the nautical life on the open waves. The Historic Dockyard Chatham is an enthralling fun day out for all the family, and it’s a full day out.

Here are just a few of the activities you’ll enjoy at Chatham Dockyard. Head down below on the submarine HMS Ocelot and manoeuvre your way through the hatches and experience where submariners spent hours upon hours underwater.

HMS Gannet, at home in its dock at the Historic Chatham Dockyard with its rigging contrasted against the blue sky.
The elegant HMS Gannet

Discover where and how rope has been made for 400 years, in the ¼ mile long old warehouses on the Victorian Ropery tour.

Then take a wander around the historic warships of HMS Cavalier built-in 1944, and HMS Gannet a sloop that was built just a little further down the river Medway in 1878.

Book your free tours on arrival and then plan the rest of your adventures around them.

Inside the Ropery at the Historic Chatham Dockyard where an old bike, the only transport to cover the distance, rests against the equipment.
The only form of transport in the Ropery

Chatham Dockyard has also appeared many times on the TV as its historic lanes, effortlessly transport you to another era in time.

For those of you who are fans of the BBC drama “Call the Midwife” you’ll most certainly recognise it.

You can even book yourself on a “Call the Midwife” tour.

Visiting the Historic Dockyard Chatham is a full fun day out and also extremely educational.

Important Tip

If you want to join the Call the Midwife tour, then ensure you book in advance. This is a popular tour, and you may end up disappointed.

Gary and I both loved our visit to Bletchley Park, the intrigue and secrecy that went on behind closed doors is incredibly fascinating.

Stories are shared of the codebreakers lives and discoveries during one of the most important times of our history.

The Mansion at Bletchley Park, with deck chairs placed in the shade in the foreground.
The Mansion, Bletchley Park

Take a stroll around Bletchley Park in the footsteps of the mathematician Alan Turing and see if you too can break the Enigma code.

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the effort and determination that was undertaken 24 hours a day.

Inside a hut at Bletchley Park, with a holographic wartime codebreaker working on a code on a blackboard.
Codebreaking, Bletchley Park

The exhibitions that are on display throughout the museum and wartime huts are unbelievably informative.

You will find yourself leaving at the end of the day with so many more questions than when you arrived.

Don’t forget to bring a picnic and enjoy a pew next to the beautiful pond and make a full day of your visit.

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Grab your bucket and spade we’re heading to the Kent coast and the golden sandy beach at Broadstairs. The beautiful Viking Bay is a lovely place to kick off your shoes and enjoy the sand between your toes.
A view of Viking Bay as it sweeps around towards the harbour. On the left hand side you can see the lift What takes you to and from the promenade. also stretched out along the sea front you can see the bathing cabins.
Clifftop view of Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Broadstairs is full of so much character, colourful beach huts lining the shoreline, boats bobbing in the harbour and listen out for those captivating smugglers tales.
The quaint historic lanes that weave their way through the town are full of charming independent stores, cafés and truly offer that little something different.

The view from the Harbour towards the Tartar Frigate pub with Bleak House on the hillside above.
Bleak House on the clifftop in Broadstairs

Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor to Broadstairs.

Bleak House that stands pride of place on the cliff edge with stunning views across the English Channel is where Mr Dickens penned David Copperfield.

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Stratford-upon-Avon in the heart of Warwickshire is a delightful historical town. It has such a laid-back feel about it. Whether it’s all the families and friends enjoying the boating on the River Avon, or the relaxed pace of life through the picturesque town I’m not too sure.
A pleasure boat approaching a bridge, in front of a Ferris wheel, on the River Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Along the river Avon, Stratford-upon-Avon

However, what I can be sure of is if you love half-timbered buildings, streets full of history, you’ll certainly embrace Stratford-upon-Avon.
Of course, the theme that flows through the lanes is the life of William Shakespeare. Dotted all around town are charming tactile statues depicting characters from his novels, which bring a lovely quirky feel to the parks and streets.

Shakespeare's house in the centre of Stratford upon Avon. The beige coloured half-timbered Tudor home stands now was a museum to the playwright's legacy.
Shakespeare's Birthplace

If you fancy picking up one of the bard’s plays while you’re in town, head to the RSC on the banks of the River Avon.

Don’t worry if you haven’t booked, we strolled in on the day and bought two standby tickets and obtained a 60% discount.

Tempted to?

Discover more of the Great British Isles, why not jump in a car and tour the country at your own pace. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

I personally think that Hever Castle in Kent is one of the most beautiful castles in the UK. Encircled by a charming moat which is enjoyed by nonchalant ducks and swans.

The wooden drawbridge lures you into the intriguing walls beyond, and the picturesque Italian gardens and boating lake are just stunning. What more could you want?

The beautiful Hever Castle on a bright, sunny, autumnal day from the edge of the second moat.
A view from across the second moat to Hever Castle

Hever Castle has some incredible history, as it was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife (she was later beheaded).

Hever Castle from the exterior is striking, if you arrive in Autumn, you’ll be able to catch the Boston Ivy creeping its way over the turrets and towers. Although if you visit in the summer months, you may even witness Knights jousting or enjoy a scenic row on the boating lake.

The view from the lake edge of Hever Castle towards the Italian styled Loggia
Lake & Italian Loggia, Hever Castle

The inside of this cosy castle is kept impeccably. You’re able to stroll although the rooms, enjoying the detail and style that has been so lovingly preserved.

However, save time to visit the gardens and get lost in the maze.

Our Advice

If you plan your visit to Hever Castle ahead, buy your tickets directly online, and you’ll save yourself a couple of pounds.
This is where the course of British history all changed, on the battlefields just outside Hastings, East Sussex in 1066.
The twin-towered medieval gatehouse of Battle Abbey.
Great Gatehouse from the inner courtyard

Over 950 years ago William the Conqueror and his Norman troops headed over from France to take on King Harold’s army. In just one day on the 14th October 1066 the English were defeated.

Now, the battlegrounds are such a serene and peaceful place to visit. Strolling amongst the abbey ruins and the tranquil walled gardens, it’s just the wildlife you can hear.

You are free to wander around the battlefield where the deadly onslaught took place. However, it feels so sacred that we just keep to the perimeter and let the sheep graze through the open field.

A wooden statue of a kneeling archer aiming in the direction of the Abbey from the edge of the battleground.
Wooden carved archer on the Battlefield

Visiting the site of the Battle of Hastings is incredibly interesting, and you really don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate it.

English Heritage now lovingly maintain the site and regularly hold events for all the family throughout the year.

English Heritage Membership

If you are planning on visiting multiple English Heritage sites, then you may want to consider an annual pass. You’ll be amazed at how much you will save, click on the banner below.
Ahh, the ancient town of Rye, where smugglers and ne’re-do-wells make for a very intriguing past. The quaint town of Rye is full of so much history while strolling the old cobble-stoned lanes you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into another era.
Boats moored up on the River Brede which runs through Rye, East Sussex, on a bright winter's day.
The River Brede, Rye, East Sussex

Rye is a beautifully kept town with half-timbered cottages, historic haunted inns and bursting with antique shops and charming independent stores.

Rye has been used on many occasions for period dramas and has had notable residents too. Ensure you don’t miss a thing and discover all the tiny lanes around Mermaid Street.

Of course, you must pop into the haunted 15th-century Mermaid Inn, this old tavern has so many fascinating tales to tell. Not only are its corridors ghostly, but its secret doorways and hidden staircases have concealed many people on the run.

The view down the cobbled Mermaid Street in Rye, East Sussex
Looking down Mermaid Street, Rye
The old Tudor houses at the end of 'The Mint' that are now shops, restaurants, and a Bed & Breakfast hotel.
View down 'The Mint', Rye, East Sussex

If you stroll into the rear bar of the Mermaid Inn, take a seat by the Giants fireplace.

You could just imagine the Hawksmoor gang, sitting in the corner with their tankards of ale, smoking pipes and flintlock pistols at the ready.

Yes, I’m heading back to the seaside, although this time we are on the Norfolk coast. This is such a delightful part of England to discover.
Looking down from the clifftop promenade to the elegant Cromer Pier reaching out to sea on a bright summer's day.
The elegant Cromer Pier
Cromer has such a pleasant, laid-back character, where you feel that life has slowed down. Families young and old enjoying their multi-coloured beach huts and couples promenading arm in arm along the historic pier.
A couple walking along the narrow Jetty street, lined by colourful terraced period homes, towards Cromer town centre.
Leading to the town, Cromer
The tower of St Peter and St Paul's church catching the sunlight as you stroll along Cromer's High Street.
Heading towards the Cromer's church

There are ancient cobbled lanes to stroll around and also search out Cromer’s famous crab. If shellfish isn’t your thing, then you must try the local fish and chips.

Who doesn’t love being at the seaside?

If you're intrigued by Norfolk, a UK county with an interesting past, then why not check out  "The Little Book of Norfolk".  Full of facts and obscure information. It's a fun read on the region.

You can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old hardcover. (Depending on region)

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