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Bryan W.





Joined: 27 Oct 2007

Posts: 198

PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2011 8:54 pm    Post subject: Trip Planning (Great Britain)         Reply with quote

Hey everyone. I'm off to Great Britain for a bit this spring and I figured I'd ask and see if there was anything in particular (sites, museums, particular castles, etc) I should make time for?
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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Mon 07 Feb, 2011 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

oh boy where to start

it's a small country but takes a while to get around, so my first question is where are you headed & why?

second question how long do you have?

you could honestly spend a week in London and not be bored just hitting the main museums there (the BM takes at least 3 half-days to start doing justice to, don't try to more than a half-day at a time you will start getting 'case blinkers').

what are your interests? anything in particular strikes your fancy? do you want historic sites, un-restored castles, 'old' stuff?

obviously for arms and armour there is the royal armouries in leeds (easily accessible by train) and the wallace collection in central london, there is a tiny bit in the tower.

if you want 'off' the beaten (outside of the south-east) track then York is a great option (walled city with more churches than pubs) or even more so Lincoln, gorgeous place, steep hill up to the cathedral/castle is mostly medieval buildings (the best tea shop ever in a C12th stone house)

bath is also gorgeous for completely different reasons (mostly georgian architecture) and within spitting distance of stonehenge

something for everyone

N.

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John Turner




Location: East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Joined: 31 Jan 2011
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb, 2011 2:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryan,

The Uk is full of History, both collections of arms and armour, and buildings and sites that may be of interest.

In general terms , the Wallace Collection, the National Armouries in Leeds, the British Museum and The Tower of London may be good places to start.

Do you have a particular time period that you are intersted in? do you have a particular interst in a subject that you wish to visit further? (arms and Armour, Castles, Battle sites etc.) I have run Battlefield Tours relating to The English Civil War, the Wars of the Roses and The Anarchy (Stephen vs. Maud) so can give you steer on those in particular, but if there is anything else I may have been there, done it or otherwise be able to rcommend (or not!)

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

Edmund Burke

"If History is so important, why is it so easy to forget?"
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb, 2011 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would stop by York if you decide to go to Leeds or north to Scotland. An awesome place, lots of nice museums and historic sites.

There are also some awesome sites in the South, Portchester, Winchester, Carisbrooke there are loads of neat castles and historic sites there.

RPM
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb, 2011 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bizarre, I started doing this exact same thing yesterday, that is putting together and English vacation and research trip. So far I have for my trip route (in order):

The British Museum
The Wallace Collection
The Tower of London
Temple Church (as a maybe seems like a quick easy side trip)
Westminster Abbey
Runnymede (as a maybe, not sure what there really is to see here except various monuments many of them set up by Americans)
Salisbury Cathedral
Stonehenge (you have to go to Stonehenge it's obligatory)
Avebury (as a maybe mostly a restored site so not sure I'm that excited about it)
Oxford (as a maybe, is it pretty much just a college town at this point?)
Warwick Castle (as a maybe is it too touristy?)
The Royal Armories in Leeds
Hadrians wall (as a maybe it's awfully far North)
Sutton Hoo (as a maybe its been panned by the reviews but still...)
Orford Castle (as a maybe good reviews but...)

I've marked off Glastonbury as being too new agey but am I wrong about that?

Of course there's also the Museum of London, the Victoria and Albert, the entire friggin City of York...

and I very much want to see what other responses you get to this thread (especially I hope from the British members). I'm sure there are piles of things I haven't thought of.

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Chris Kelson





Joined: 19 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb, 2011 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dover Castle had a massive overhaul a year or so ago to get it to look like it would (internally) for the reign of Henry II, and is a pretty spectacular castle as well.
But there really is enough in central London alone to keep anyone occupied for a week solid, maybe 2 weeks. But it is nice to get out of London, so if you have a month or 6 to use though, you still wont run out of places to visit.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb, 2011 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I fell in love with the austere Norman keep at Rochester Castle. I recommend a visit if you would like to see a relatively untouched castle. I visited about 10 years ago and I was the only person there on that rainy day!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester_Castle

Jonathan
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E.B. Erickson
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 4:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you head towards Wales, visit Caerphilly, Conway, and Carnavon castles. Conway is in the far north, Caerphilly in the south, and Carnavon not too far from Conway, so if you do an automotive tour, you get to see a lot of Wales in between viewing the castles.

Pevensey Castle, on the south coast not far from Brighton, is a small, mainly ruined castle that has a lot of character.

If you appreciate "henges", visit Avebury, which is a small town built in the middle of a circular ditch and associated stone monoliths. Not as impressive as Stonehenge, but a very interesting place.

If you're in the downs country, stop and see the Uffington White Horse. As I recall, it dates from the bronze age(?).

Everyone else already mentioned all the main museums. But don't forget to check out all the little local museums: they can sometimes have some real gems tucked away and are worth a visit.

--ElJay
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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
Joined: 22 Mar 2005

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello
Should you manage to get up to Scotland at al, then the three sites I would recommend as a minimum are:

Stirling Castle
Bannockburn Visitor Centre; small and not laden with artifacts at all but it is so evocative...
Edinburgh Castle
National Museum in Edinburgh

OK, I realise that's four sites but what the heck; LOL

Whatever you do when you get to the UK enjoy yourself!
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A.V. Dolan




Location: Tokyo
Joined: 24 Dec 2010

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Bizarre, I started doing this exact same thing yesterday, that is putting together and English vacation and research trip. So far I have for my trip route (in order):

The British Museum
The Wallace Collection
The Tower of London
Temple Church (as a maybe seems like a quick easy side trip)
Westminster Abbey
Runnymede (as a maybe, not sure what there really is to see here except various monuments many of them set up by Americans)
Salisbury Cathedral
Stonehenge (you have to go to Stonehenge it's obligatory)
Avebury (as a maybe mostly a restored site so not sure I'm that excited about it)
Oxford (as a maybe, is it pretty much just a college town at this point?)
Warwick Castle (as a maybe is it too touristy?)
The Royal Armories in Leeds
Hadrians wall (as a maybe it's awfully far North)
Sutton Hoo (as a maybe its been panned by the reviews but still...)
Orford Castle (as a maybe good reviews but...)

I've marked off Glastonbury as being too new agey but am I wrong about that?

Of course there's also the Museum of London, the Victoria and Albert, the entire friggin City of York...

and I very much want to see what other responses you get to this thread (especially I hope from the British members). I'm sure there are piles of things I haven't thought of.
Avebury is great. It's got a huge henge there, bigger than Stonehenge, and it has a crossroads running through it with a pub at the crossroad. It's the only henge I've ever heard of with an en suite pub.
Vincit qui se vincit
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Russ Ellis
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Joined: 20 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A.V. Dolan wrote:
Avebury is great. It's got a huge henge there, bigger than Stonehenge, and it has a crossroads running through it with a pub at the crossroad. It's the only henge I've ever heard of with an en suite pub.


Thanks for that bit. On the one hand, it's my understanding that they had to put the whole place back together after the stones were buried or in some cases even destroyed in the 18th/19th century on the other hand at least you can go up to the stones there, unlike at Stonehenge. That REALLY aggravates me about Stonehenge by the way. Another case of a few idiots ruining it for everyone I guess.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I'm thinking about it, can folks recommend "MUST" go to restaurants while in London and Britain in general. I've heard the usual about Britain not being known for it's cuisine and I am NOT eating black pudding but I can't help thinking there must be some good food somewhere.
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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even though the UK seems rather small, it's not really designed for commuting. If you want a relaxing day out (and not a day out sat in traffic) restrict your journeys to about 100 miles (each way).

I'd recommend planning to stay in several places over the course of your stay; rather than basing yourself in one place (for example, London). For example, spend a couple of days in the South West (the 'West Country'); a week in London; an overnight stop in Cambridge; a day or two around York; and a couple of days around Edinburgh. That'll give you the chance to look around the local area without having to travel hours back to your base camp.

When looking for accommodation I'd recommend searching for 'boutique hotels'. These (non-chain) hotels offer classier accommodation and more personal service at not much more cost. And you can almost guarantee the rooms you stay in will be unique.

As for food: well, if you can't find somewhere good to eat in central London then you're not trying! London has some of the finest restaurants in the world.

Of course, there are all the usual chains you get anywhere (Golden Arches, anyone?...)

Outside of London, I'd ask the hotel staff for a local pub serving good food. Many pubs now serve restaurant-quality food. They're often known as 'gastro pubs', and are well worth seeking out.

It would also be criminal not to partake of the UK's national dish - curry. Again, ask the hotel staff for the best curry house in the area.

Finally, if you're coming over in the summer look out for any re-enactments in your local area. Any weekend in June, July or August there's probably half a dozen re-enactments going on, of various periods. Subscribe to something like The Re-enactor (http://thereenactor.webs.com/) to get an up-to-date listing of the events in your area. If nothing else, see how a UK re-enactment differs from a Renn-Faire!
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Eric Meulemans
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So much depends on where you'll be, what your interests are, etc., as has been mentioned, but I strongly second the recommendations for Avebury and York. If you visit the former be sure to also check out the West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, both just across the road.

York itself is fantastic and worth several days on its own as well as serving as an excellent base of operations to visit other sites. Of these I recommend Fountains Abbey extremely highly. Depending on your tastes, you may also be interested in Castle Howard or a number of other stately homes in that region. If time allows certainly try to make it to Hadrian's Wall and hit Vindolanda and/or Houseteads. You could also day-trip to the town of Whitby, which you can get to via the scenic and historic North York Moors Railway (this also is the train featured in the Harry Potter films, if you happen to be a fan).

I'm surprised they've not yet been mentioned, but certainly the cities of Bath and Canterbury should be on one's list!
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 7:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
It would also be criminal not to partake of the UK's national dish - curry. Again, ask the hotel staff for the best curry house in the area.

I thought the national dish was fish & chips... Which, by the way, I tried in London, and it was awful. Razz

Next time I'll go for beef and gravy.
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Andrew W




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 14 Oct 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is pretty basic advice, but my family has to be constantly reminded of it because we always think we can tough it out: don't try to do too much. Jetlag will slow you down at first, and it's worth taking a few days easy with a light agenda so you're rested for the rest of your trip. The last thing you want is to spend the whole visit tired because you never caught up on your sleep.

I really love York - it's a cool city, and the minster is beautiful.

And I'll back up what people have said about Conwy, if you make it into Wales. It's a walled town with a lot of character (like York, only more compact and the walls are more complete) and a fantastic castle.
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David Evans




Location: Rotherham, West Riding
Joined: 09 Sep 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simon G. wrote:
Quote:
It would also be criminal not to partake of the UK's national dish - curry. Again, ask the hotel staff for the best curry house in the area.

I thought the national dish was fish & chips... Which, by the way, I tried in London, and it was awful. Razz

Next time I'll go for beef and gravy.


Bad chippie then....;-) Go north for good chippies. Smell first before going in, if it smells off then move on..... A really good chippie fries in beef drippiing, which makes all the difference.....
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glennan Carnie wrote:
Even though the UK seems rather small, it's not really designed for commuting. If you want a relaxing day out (and not a day out sat in traffic) restrict your journeys to about 100 miles (each way).

I'd recommend planning to stay in several places over the course of your stay; rather than basing yourself in one place (for example, London). For example, spend a couple of days in the South West (the 'West Country'); a week in London; an overnight stop in Cambridge; a day or two around York; and a couple of days around Edinburgh. That'll give you the chance to look around the local area without having to travel hours back to your base camp.

When looking for accommodation I'd recommend searching for 'boutique hotels'. These (non-chain) hotels offer classier accommodation and more personal service at not much more cost. And you can almost guarantee the rooms you stay in will be unique.

As for food: well, if you can't find somewhere good to eat in central London then you're not trying! London has some of the finest restaurants in the world.

Of course, there are all the usual chains you get anywhere (Golden Arches, anyone?...)

Outside of London, I'd ask the hotel staff for a local pub serving good food. Many pubs now serve restaurant-quality food. They're often known as 'gastro pubs', and are well worth seeking out.

It would also be criminal not to partake of the UK's national dish - curry. Again, ask the hotel staff for the best curry house in the area.

Finally, if you're coming over in the summer look out for any re-enactments in your local area. Any weekend in June, July or August there's probably half a dozen re-enactments going on, of various periods. Subscribe to something like The Re-enactor (http://thereenactor.webs.com/) to get an up-to-date listing of the events in your area. If nothing else, see how a UK re-enactment differs from a Renn-Faire!


Thank you sir. First on behalf of Americans everywhere I would like to apologize for inflicting the golden arches upon you. Talk about some foul swill! Good thought on the reenactments, I'll have to work that in. Also, I'm glad to hear that there is good food, in a major city like that I thought that there practically HAD to be. Happy

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Meulemans wrote:
So much depends on where you'll be, what your interests are, etc., as has been mentioned, but I strongly second the recommendations for Avebury and York. If you visit the former be sure to also check out the West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, both just across the road.

York itself is fantastic and worth several days on its own as well as serving as an excellent base of operations to visit other sites. Of these I recommend Fountains Abbey extremely highly. Depending on your tastes, you may also be interested in Castle Howard or a number of other stately homes in that region. If time allows certainly try to make it to Hadrian's Wall and hit Vindolanda and/or Houseteads. You could also day-trip to the town of Whitby, which you can get to via the scenic and historic North York Moors Railway (this also is the train featured in the Harry Potter films, if you happen to be a fan).

I'm surprised they've not yet been mentioned, but certainly the cities of Bath and Canterbury should be on one's list!


I can't believe I left off Canterbury... thanks!

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E.B. Erickson
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 2:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For good food, try some of the Indian restaurants. I first learned to appreciate Indian food on my first trip to England.
--ElJay
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