Royalty, vineyards, a desert and Dickens
Grab your comfy shoes and let’s venture on a day out from London and see what incredible places there are to visit on your doorstep.
A small fishing boat at Dungeness
Whether you’re in search of palaces, castles, quaint villages or bracing seaside air, you can head to them all. As they are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the streets London.
This varied blend of locations is a continuation from part 1 and part 2 of our day trips from London. Within a short space of time, you’ll be winding your way through the luscious English countryside without a care in the world.
Across the churchyard at Snowshill in the Cotswolds
Many of these tempting locations you’ll be able to reach by public transport, others due to practicality of time and accessibility you will need to jump in a car.
So, here you have it a few more locations that Gary and I love to visit.
Rochester Castle from the bottom of Boley Hill
Just an arrow throws away, and you’ll arrive at Rochester Cathedral. In 2004 this delightful Cathedral celebrated its 1,400th anniversary. The Norman/Gothic façade which can be seen today was built by a French Benedictine monk in 1080.
Take a stroll around the Cathedral and visit the fascinating museum in the crypt.
The front of Rochester Cathedral
In more recent history Rochester and Medway were home Charles Dickens for 20 years. A few of Mr Dicken’s novels referenced Rochester, notably the Pickwick Papers and Great Expectations.
Rochester is a charming town to stroll around, look out for the Huguenot museum and also Kings School, the second oldest school in the world.
Eastgate House on Rochester High Street
While visiting Rochester head north across the River Medway to Upnor Castle. This fortress, along with Rochester Castle, is run by English Heritage.
The river-facing front of Upnor Castle
Upnor Castle was built by order of Queen Elizabeth I, between 1559 – 1567 as an artillery fort to protect the Royal Naval fleet at Chatham Dockyard. The castle is reasonably small, but it has some fascinating history, especially if you are Dutch.
Another reason I love visiting here is that Upnor village is so picturesque. Charming cobbled lanes and lead you down through the quaint High Street to the river’s edge.
The Kings Arms at the top of Upnor High Street
Visiting Rochester and Upnor is a full day out and also extremely interesting if you love history.
Sandringham House from the lawns
The immaculately kept abode is nestled within 8,000 hectares of lush landscape. However, Sandringham House itself is set within 24 hectares of attractively kept gardens.
Along with visiting the house and gardens, there is also the Sandringham Transport Museum. Which is full of the Monarchy’s cars and even some miniature modes of transport used by princes and princesses.
The duck pond at Sandringham House
One place you will recognise if you are an avid follower of the Royal Family, and that is St Mary Magdalene Church.
Every Christmas Day the Royals are seen attending this quaint little church. It is regularly used as a place of worship by the Royal Family and Estate staff.
The old mill at Lower Slaughter
The region that the Cotswolds are in is known as AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and covers around 800 square miles. The counties where these beautiful hamlets, villages and towns can be found in are Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
If you’re visiting by public transport, you’ll need to narrow down your options. However, if you’re on a road trip, then these golden villages are your oyster.
Touring through the Cotswolds
Timing can be a key factor in visiting the more popular places. However, we’ve visited some of the lesser-known locations, and they weren’t busy at all.
Some of my favourite Cotswolds towns that I’ve visited so far are Lower Slaughter, Castle Combe, Snowshill and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Dungeness is located on a desolate shingled headland in southern Kent. With abandoned fishing baskets, old tar ropes and deserted crumbling fishing boats. I may not be painting the prettiest of pictures, but Dungeness is fascinating and few places like this remain.
Past times on Dungeness beach
This private nature reserve in Romney Marsh is free for anyone to visit, although respect for your surroundings is uppermost, in what has been tagged 'Britain's only desert'.
The old lighthouse at Dungeness
Dungeness is one of those places that has an ever-changing feel and stay for a couple of hours, and the mood has evolved. Where else would you find a quaint miniature railway, a working nuclear power station, old lighthouses and a secluded weatherboard cottage once owned by film director, Derek Jarman?
An interesting read
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.
18th century Town Hall in Tenterden
The ‘Norwegian’ locomotive at Tenterden Town railway
If steam trains aren’t your thing; however, vineyards are, then I highly recommend a visit to Chapel Down. There are self-guided walks around the vineyards although if you can book yourself onto a guided tour and tasting then all the better.
Be warned if you’re on a road trip, you’ll need a designated driver.
A view from the Wine Sanctuary at Chapel Down Vineyard
Escape for a few days
When you stroll around the beautiful enchanting grounds at RHS Garden Wisley, you won’t believe that London is only a short distance away.
The tranquil gardens, winding woodland paths and meandering streams transport you to another place and time.
Jellicoe Canal and the Laboratory at RHS Wisley gardens
You can enjoy one of RHS Wisley’s 3 self-guided ‘plants trails’ or like us just wander amongst foliage and relish where your senses lead you to. So much love and care are undertaken by the staff at RHS Wisley all the way through its 97 hectares (240 acres).
There are so many nooks and crannies to discover here. However, you won’t want to miss the Glasshouse, Rock Garden, the Exotic Garden, the Jellicoe Canal and my favourite the Cottage Garden.
RHS Wisley gardens, a beautiful place to visit in Surrey
Find a little pew and sit and watch the butterflies and bees drift by and let the aromatic scents overwhelm you.
Don’t worry if you are unable to see it all at your first visit, if you become RHS member you’ll gain unlimited access to RHS’s four gardens.
The eye-catcher here though is most definitely the 900-year-old Cathedral. It is beautiful inside and out, and the cloisters are so tranquil and serene. As you stroll through either Erpingham or Ethelbert gates, you’re led into the Cathedral grounds and its enchanting 44-acre Close surrounded by flint cottages.
Just across from the Cathedral is a labyrinth of cobbled lanes and leaning medieval Tudor buildings in the district of Elm Hill & Tombland.
Not to be too outshone by the Cathedral, but Norwich also has a Norman Castle which was built for William the Conqueror as a Royal Palace. The castle is now home to a museum.
Looking down Elm Hill in Norwich
The Royal Arcade in Norwich
Head into the centre of town and take a wander through beautiful Art Nouveau Royal Arcade, designed by George Skipper.
I would also urge you to take a stroll along the River Wensum by Pulls Ferry, you’ll be rewarded with a lovely view back to Norwich Cathedral.
If you're intrigued by Norfolk, a UK county with an interesting past, then wy 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)
Yes, I’m heading to the seaside, and this time it’s the sandy beaches and the bustling harbour of Ramsgate.
We visited Ramsgate on a crisp winters’ day so, although it was a bright and sunny it wasn’t quite bucket and spade weather. Ramsgate definitely wasn’t lacking in nostalgia either.
Ramsgate Marina in the Royal Harbour
Ramsgate has an incredibly interesting past from the days of Napoleon to then being given the honour of a Royal Harbour in 1821 by George IV. Through to Operation Dynamo in World War II, when a flotilla of ‘Little Ships’ set off to Dunkirk to collect as many allied troops as humanly possible.
Heading to the Kent coast at Ramsgate
The historic Ramsgate in Kent
Ramsgate is currently in the throes of going through a bit of a rejuvenation, so there are parts not so quaint as others. That doesn’t distract from some of the lovely Regency, Victorian and Georgian architecture. Take a stroll around Spencer Square, Addington Street and Guildford Lawn.
Then to top off your day stroll the clifftop promenade passing Wellington Crescent and the bandstand.
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