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.
Our List ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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