UK Spring Trip
January 25, 2005 2:32 PM   Subscribe

UK Towns/areas to visit in the spring? (MI)

so I want to make a trip to the UK soon ,(in the spring) to see friends /family. However, I also want to spend a long weekend somewhere outside of London, and am looking for suggestions. Somewhere scenic with nice pubs, where I don't need a car to get around. I've been to Oxford and Edinburgh, and am looking for other ideas from UK Mefites
posted by darsh to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
A few suggestions...
Bath (maybe including nearby Bristol), York, Ironbridge
posted by chill at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2005


The New Forest is gorgeous, and very train-able from London.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2005


Same goes for (a lot of parts of) Sussex, some lovely countryside + farms etc. (sorry; link just to churches)

More or less anywhere in the UK on a nice day is gonna be pretty good though.

What about the coast? perhaps Brighton, which is funky and close to London (45mins on train)
posted by selton at 3:49 PM on January 25, 2005


I spent a nice couple of days in St. Alban's, which is a short (1 hr?) bus ride out from Heathrow. Scenic, nice pubs.
posted by transient at 3:52 PM on January 25, 2005


Halifax.
OK. Maybe not Halifax.
But,

Come to Halifax in west yorkshire. Caught between Manchester and Leeds you can visit local places like... Hebden Bridge, which has nice cafes and a thriving hippie/lesbian culture; Bradford, home of the curry house and the Museum of film and theatre; That place where the Bronte's grew up; The largest ex-carpet factory in the world, which is now a Gallery and an office park; The grave of Sylvia Plath; A really old guillotine which was invented before the word Guillotine; Canals; Nice walks; A big old square which now hosts some of the worst jewellry shops in the country; A Macdonalds with elephants engraved into the walls; A Goth Bar for the under 15's.

etc,.
posted by seanyboy at 4:43 PM on January 25, 2005


Gotta echo York. Incredibly cool little city. (And, yes, it's a city, since Time Immemorial, Royal Charter and all that.)
posted by eriko at 5:10 PM on January 25, 2005


Chester (photos)
posted by quam at 5:20 PM on January 25, 2005


Manchester or Glasgow, definitely--great people, culture, architecture, museums, nightlife...
posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2005


Bath, New Forest, Cambridge.
posted by Leon at 6:04 PM on January 25, 2005


St. Alban's is great -- the Campaign for Real Ale is headquartered there, and you can get some great beer in the pubs.

Second (third?) Bath -- between the Abbey, the Roman baths, and the Georgian parts of town (the Circus, Royal Crescent, Pump Room), it's a great place to spend a day or three.

York is also great -- the Viking Museum is incredible.

The Cotswolds are impossibly quaint. Bourton-on-the-Water is the only one I've been to more than once, and it was very touristy. I very much enjoyed the easy walk from Bourton-on-the-Water to Lower Slaughter and then on to Upper Slaughter. The Cotswolds also put you within striking distance of Oxford, a great town to explore. Poke around the colleges, have lunch and a pint at the Turf Tavern (students -- including Bill Clinton -- have drunk here for centuries), and browse at Blackwell's bookstore on Broad Street.

Oxford is also close to Blenheim Palace, built for the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill. It's an amazing stately home.
posted by Vidiot at 6:25 PM on January 25, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'd also go for Chartwell, Churchill's home. (Sorry, too lazy to google a link.)
posted by Doohickie at 6:36 PM on January 25, 2005


Try Portmeirion in Wales - where they filmed The Prisoner! A beautiful Italianate folly... and you can stay in the apartments hotels if you like.
posted by skylar at 6:41 PM on January 25, 2005


Bath is very nice. It's very unified architecturally -- the Georgian part at least. They have free walking tours. The Roman Baths are neat. They have a costume museum. It's a little far by train from London (2 hrs maybe?), so it's a good place to stay over.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 PM on January 25, 2005


Cambridge is nice, plenty of pubs, much to see (colleges, museums, taking the train (10min) to Ely Cathedral which is stunning, but maybe a bit too too filled with students and tourists.

The prettiest place in the country (that I've seen) is Cornwall, right down to the tip. It's like PEI with a castle, but I was there in the heat of the summer, and had people to stay with (actually in said castle), so I didn't have to go anywhere (don't know how easy it is to get around without a car).

Lincoln is amazing downtown - the best fish and chips I've every had, and a fair bit to see just walking around - castle, cathedral (also very impressive, though I prefer the romanesque Ely), medieval coffee shops on top of canals, one of the oldest extant urban houses in Britain (maybe the oldest?).

I would second Bath, if only because it was certainly the best place to have a long weekend in the eighteenth century.
posted by jb at 2:20 AM on January 26, 2005


The prettiest place in the country (that I've seen) is Cornwall, right down to the tip.

I've just moved to Cornwall and was gobsmacked this Sunday which was the first decent weather day that I've had free to look around since I got here. It is absolutely gorgeous here, and I haven't even made it to the Lizard yet, which is supposed to be amazing. Having said that, it is out of the way, 4-5 hours from London by train and isn't that easy to get around on public transport. Maybe <4 hours if you decide to go to bath or bristol. if you want nice country then you can get some walking in around the vale of york, which also lets you visit york of course. you can get train times at national rail enquiries. intercity bus times at http://www.nationalexpress.com/home/hp.cfmbr>
Sorry about the mess, links are messing up in preview for some reason, delete the br> from the end of that URL.
posted by biffa at 3:34 AM on January 26, 2005


Bus times.
Train times.
posted by biffa at 4:15 AM on January 26, 2005


The time of year could make a big difference to your choice. As a general rule, from the middle of March to the end of April the whole of the south of England explodes into colour. During that time, climaxing in middle to end of April, the South of England is truly divine. The effect ripples in rather reduced form to the North, to Scotland and to Wales, about three weeks later.

If you're travelling before then, the natural appeal of the countryside is much less, it's rather stark and you will want to have more in the way of town or cityscapes to keep your mood up. The weather is always unpredictable.

Bath's a good choice, very pretty, old and some great pubs. It's also a very attractive place to just walk around in, but there is no nightlife worth speaking of and the Spa is still not open, a national joke. There's easy access by bus to Stonehenge, Salisbury and the Cotswolds. If you want something a bit more lively it's hard to beat Brighton, scruffy, funky, very gay and home of the Worlds Weirdest Building. Just don't expect a nice beach. Both are easy to get to from London.

Some complete left-field suggestions. Dartmouth; tiny, unspoiled, maritime, perfect. Durham, the most spectacular Cathedral site in the North. Keswick in the Lake District for fresh air and beautiful walks. Conwy or Caernarfon in North Wales for astonishing Castles, forts and old-town charm. Oban or Ullapool in Scotland for that 'Local Hero' scent of a quite different culture. You can't go wrong really.
posted by grahamwell at 4:33 AM on January 26, 2005


I second Chester - only been there once, but it was lovely.

Have you considered Ireland? Most people tend to go South, but Belfast is cool, good night-life, lots of things to see and do and various festivals in the Spring - plus cheap to get to from London on any of the low-cost airlines. Might be a bit further out than you're wanting to go though.
posted by eatcherry at 6:13 AM on January 26, 2005


Stratford-upon-Avon fits your criteria.
posted by squealy at 7:18 AM on January 26, 2005


Stratford-upon-Avon can be nice, will be chocker with tourists from the spring onwards but then so will a lot of other places on this list. It would give you the chance to also visit Warwick which is a nice enough village but is also notable for having an excellent castle which you can easily spend most of a day at. It's in excellent repair, has plenty of historical info and lovely gardens. Kenilworth castle is also not too far away but could be a bit of a pain to get to on public transport. Plus there's Birmingham nearby.
posted by biffa at 7:48 AM on January 26, 2005


You guys have been great. Thinking Bath and Bristol (although the SO prefers York) for this trip, but I shall definitely bookmark this thread for future visits!
posted by darsh at 1:51 PM on January 26, 2005


York York York York York for definite. Full of history. Beautiful city. Easy public transport links. Gorgeous cobbled streets. Old houses that lean into each other. The Viking Museum. The National Rail Museum. Some of the most welcoming and gorgeous pubs anywhere.

You can walk anywhere in York, and see and touch history. There are stone sarcophagii (empty) underneath an archway in the park, as well as the ruins of an old fort. There's just so much history, they don't know what to do with it! York, for definite.
posted by lemonpillows at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2005


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