December London trip--day trips

Old Sep 1st, 2022, 12:52 PM
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December London trip--day trips

Hi All,
Looking for help with a couple questions re: 2 planned day trips from London. Some general background---we are 2 adults arriving on Friday, December 2 and will depart on Thursday, December 8 for Paris We've been to London many times. We are independent travelers so planning to take 2 day trips out of London on our own. One to Bath and the second to the Cotswolds. I'm going to buy "anytime" train tickets so we have the flexibility to come and go when we choose. Since we'll likely pay a premium to get these, is there any benefit to buying "anytime" tickets now vs. when we get there? Ideally I'd like to wait and check the weather before committing to a specific day but if ticket prices become significantly more expense the closer to departure, I will buy them now. I believe that once we buy we are committed to a specific date?

Bath--We've never been and the purpose is to go to the Christmas market. Is there a better day of the week to go? I imagine weekends are really crowded so would Monday to Wednesday be better option, or maybe Sunday? Are stores open on Sundays around the holidays?

Cotswolds---We've been but it was about 20 years ago and not in December. The purpose is photography---I thought towns like Broadway, Cheltenham or Burton on the Water could be pretty but open to suggestions. Our plan is to take the train from London to Oxford and pickup a car through Hertz for the day. Is here a better location to pickup a car besides Oxford? I drove in the UK 20 years ago and didn't have issues but I'm reluctant to pickup a car at LHR due to high traffic. There's two locations near the Oxford rail station but of course the closest one does not have an after hours drop off. The further location: Oxford, Park End St, Oxford OX1 1HS, United Kingdom does have an after hours drop. So we could pickup the car at the rail station and drop it here---hopefully no fee but will check. It's showing on Google Maps to be around a 15 minute walk to the station which is certainly doable. Is anyone familiar with the area? Since it will be dark, I just want to make sure it's truly walkable and not a high traffic area without sidewalks. I imagine we'll drop the car between 7-8pm and then walk to the train.

Hoping someone familiar with this area might be able to weigh in---Janis, anyone?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by ILUVPARIS; Sep 1st, 2022 at 01:48 PM.
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Old Sep 1st, 2022, 02:35 PM
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Just one quick comment -- I personally think your plan for the Cotswolds is a non starter. For one -- "I imagine we'll drop the car between 7-8pm and then walk to the train". By the time you drop the car the sun will have been down between 3 and 4+ hours. Nothing dangerous about walking in Oxford after dark - that isn't the issue. It is that photography in the Cotswolds is a day time/daylight activity. A simple central Oxford > Broadway > Bourton-on-the-Water > Oxford itinerary is three hours car time, plus several hours walking/photographing/exploring. And it would not touch the best of the Cotswolds. And if the weather happens to be crap -- your day could be a total wash out. In winter you'd really want an over night in the region to give you at least a little more time to explore . . . and IMO I wouldn't pre-plan a Cotswolds December day trip because it would be so weather-dependent.

A day trip in June with the 17+ hours of daylight is a totally different thing.
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Old Sep 1st, 2022, 02:48 PM
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ps: On the other hand, a day trip to Oxford would be fine. Beautiful city, combo of indoor and outdoor attractions, etc. Even taking a local bus to Woodstock to visit Blenheim decorated for Christmas is totally doable. A driving tour of the rural Cotswolds not so much (at least not on a date certain)
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Old Sep 1st, 2022, 04:06 PM
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Janisj is spot on about weather, short days, drive times, etc.

Bath is absolutely beautiful and very nice for walking. IMHO, it would be a real shame to go to Bath and not see the Roman Baths, the gorgeous Abby and take the free history walk provided by the city to see the architecture and learn about the history and historic figures of Bath. The Christmas market sounds really fun too. Since you have been to London before and not to Bath, I suggest you spend at least most of two days there and at least one night.

You could take the train to Oxford, spend most of the day (perhaps tour the colleges and Blenheim and Woodstock, which are actually quite nice) and take a late afternoon or early evening train on to Bath. Have the next morning to tour Bath and the Roman Baths and the afternoon and evening for the Christmas market. Head back to London the next morning.

If you stayed another day in Bath, there are tours from Bath to the Cotswolds. Mad Max does some and they were good, with plenty of time to wander and take photos in at least three lovely villages. you could return to London late or stay another night.

If you wished to skip Oxford (though most people really enjoy Oxford), you could spend more time in Bath and certainly do a tour from there. There is still the problem of weather and short days and I don’t know if you could do a tour last minute. If they were not completely booked, maybe you could.

Thinking about it, I would look at schedules and see if it would be better to see Bath first or Oxford first.
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Old Sep 1st, 2022, 05:03 PM
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I would replace Burton-on-the-Water with Lower Slaughter which is close by. Lower Slaughter is more photogenic that Burton and less crowded. There is a short walk from Lower to Upper Slaughter also.
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Old Sep 1st, 2022, 11:24 PM
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"Advance" tickets don't just commit you to a particular day, they commit you to the specific train you pick. You'd best look at "off-peak" tickets, which offer more flexibility, provided you travel outside the peak/rush hours for that train (and, if memory serves, are less likely than "Anytime" fares to go up).

https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-...to-train-fares
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Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for your input. Instead of Anytime tickets, I'm going to look into a 3 day raiil pass so we have flexibility on the days we travel out of London. We've been to London maybe 10 times around the same dates (our anniversary) and have always been fortunate to have really good weather. Let's hope the pattern continues. if it rains for 7 days while we're there (well, that would be a major bummer) but, I'll hang onto the pass and use it in June 2023 when we return to London for an event.

I thought of staying in Bath and the Cotswolds but I really hate checking in an out of places every day or two. It's a major time suck and also, if we did so we'd be locked into specific days so weather-wise, not a great idea. These locations are only about an hour from London so think it's easily doable. I like being based in London because if it rains, there's loads to do indoors. I fully realize that June has longer days but it doesn't have Christmas lights. I always thought it would be pretty to photograph these villages after dark. I assume stores are decorated with lights so in this case, most photos would be taken at dusk or after dark (blue period).

We went to Oxford on a previous trip and although it's a pretty city, it's not exactly what we're looking for. I will check out the Slaughter villages. I realize we will only have time to photograph 1 or 2 villages after dark (which is like 3:53pm) and that's fine.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 11:37 AM
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OK -- to help with the logistocs . . .

First of all there is no reason at all to 'substitute' the Slaughters for Bourton-on-the-Water -- Lower S. is less than 2 miles from B-o-t-W so if you visit one its a no brainer to visit the other.

"These locations are only about an hour from London so think it's easily doable." To get from London to Oxford by train then get the car and drive out into the Cotswolds would take considerably more than an hour. The train alone take an hour. Then from central Oxford to Bourton on the Water is about another hour. So just basic transit to/from the Cotswolds is 2 hours each way give or take. A good route from Oxford train station could be something like:

Oxford > Stow-on-the-Wold > the Slaughters > Bourton-on-the-Water > Bibury > Burford > then either back to Oxford . . . or . . . drive to LHR and drop the car there and take public transport or a car service in to the city. The Oxford > Oxford loop would be about 2.5 hours car time plus all the stops so you'd need to get a really early start out of London -- which is a problem because peak fares don't end til around 09:30.

Bath is more more than an hour from London - the train from Paddington takes 1:20 plus time to get to Paddington means you need to count on two hours each way. Still totally doable as a dat trip.

BUT an option would be to give up just one night in London, take the train to Oxford, drive the villages I mentioned reversing Bibury and Burford, drive to Bath in the late afternoon. Burford > Bibury > Bath is about a 90+ minute drive so with a 30 minute photo OP stop in Bibury (that's all that's needed there) you could be in Bath by dinner time. Drop the car, stay the night, explore Bath all day and take the train back to London early evening.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 11:41 AM
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. . . and if you don't mind 'eating' a night in London -- I'd keep the same hotel booking, just take a tote bag carrying a change of clothes each/a few toiletries, and not have to check in/out and back in again.
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Old Sep 6th, 2022, 06:58 AM
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Thank you, Janis. Your suggestion is definitely worth considering but will all depend on what we get for weather.

Last question----are stores open on Sundays in Bath and the Cotswolds?



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Old Sep 6th, 2022, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ILUVPARIS View Post
. . . Last question----are stores open on Sundays in Bath and the Cotswolds?
Mostly yes - not so much in in small villages that really don't have much in the way of shops, anyway. But in places like Stow-on-the-Wold/Bourton-on-the-Water/Burford most will be open. Its one of their biggest trading days.

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