Between London and Whitchurch
April 27, 2005 8:44 AM   Subscribe

So the honeymoon is set. Banjo and I are flying out for a narrow boat cruise along the Llangollen canal. However, our flight gets in Friday morning and our boat will not be ready until Sunday afternoon. What to do between then?

We've done London a few times and outside of a stay there Friday night when we're zombies from the flight, we don't have much need to linger. So we'd like to see some other part of England, maybe stay in a B&B, and see some off the beaten path sites.

Any recommendations for places to stay, things to do, and most of all, best means of travel between London and Whitchurch (Shropshire)?
posted by robocop is bleeding to Travel & Transportation around London, England (11 answers total)
Well between London and Shropshire you have Oxford, Stratford, Coventry, Birmingham, Warwick, Kenilworth, Lichfield. All have some sort of history if that's what you're interested in. Birmingham perhaps if you're more interested in shopping rather than history but probably better to stay the extra day in London if that's your goal.
Coventry is weakest of the lot on history though has an attractive modern cathedral, I lived there 10 years and wouldn't really recommend it for the time limited tourist. Cov and B'ham are both easily accessible by train from London (Euston). Stratford you're probably already familiar with, some nice things to see but will be packed out with tourists on a weekend, local and international, if the weathers any good.
Warwick has a huge castle and grounds which are worth seeing but will be a pain if you're relying on public transport. Kenilworth is a pretty little village, if you drive to Warwick then worth popping in here too. More of a run down castle than Warwick. you can get here by getting the train to coventry and getting the 12 or X12 bus from outside the station.
If you're driving around near coventry, you might consider a stop off at meriden, it's the 'centre' of England and there's a lovely pub where you can get 'traditional' British meals, edible and everything.
Oxford might be a winner, lots of historical stuff (site of the first - and still the best? - UK MeFi meetup!), colleges, library etc, direct train from London.
With regard to transport in general, Whitchurch has a railway station but I suspect a little one and getting there from Oxford might be a pain. National rail enquiries suggests it takes longer to get from oxford to whitchurch than from london to whitchurch by train as you have to switch between main lines. The same isn't true of b'ham and coventry.
It may help you to know that Shropshire is also known as Salop for some reason or other.
posted by biffa at 9:19 AM on April 27, 2005

congratulations, robocop and banjo!
posted by matteo at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2005

Take a train from London to Swansea, and then another along the Heart of Wales line. Get off the train in Llandrindod Wells and stay there for those two nights. You'll be about 50 miles from Whitchurch (as the crow flies).

It's an awesome little Victorian spa town with a beautiful park, great town green and a lot of period architecture. I lived there for a number of months and tended bar. It and the surrounding towns will fill up your days plenty.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:58 AM on April 27, 2005

Actually, Chester might also be an option. Nice little river city, bags of history, the only UK town/city with a complete Roman Wall (complete in the sense that you can walk around the top of it without there being any big gaps).
posted by biffa at 11:15 AM on April 27, 2005

How about Ironbridge? It's in Shropshire, en route to Whitchurch from London, is a nice place, and the birthplace of the industrial revolution, so there's tons of nice museums to check out.
BTW, I had a holiday on the Llangollen canal 18 months ago, and had a great time.
posted by chill at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Second Chester - loads to see & do for tourists. In fact, if the happy couple will be travelling on the Shropshire Union Canal you'll go right past my old back garden...

Train from London is about 2.5 hours.
posted by blag at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2005

Great info. Banjo seems keen on Chester now too.

Chill, which company did you get your boat from? Any highlights not to be missed on the Llangollen?

Thanks, folks!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:12 PM on April 27, 2005

If you do go to Chester, I can't recommend The Arkle highly enough- amazing food, atmosphere and very reasonable prices for a place with a star. Perfect honeymoon luxury.

Consider a daytrip to Manchester/Liverpool too - both are less than an hour away by train.

Feel free to email if you'd like to know anything else. Congrats!
posted by blag at 5:41 PM on April 27, 2005

We used Marine Cruises, which go from Chirk. Can't fault them (though their web site is pretty rubbish).
Things not to be missed - you absolutely have to make sure you go over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
posted by chill at 3:21 AM on April 28, 2005

If you get a chance, report back after the honeymoon and let us know how the cruise went. I want to see if I can convince my partner to try that next summer. Do they have them in other countries, too?
posted by anapestic at 6:15 AM on April 28, 2005

Will do, anapestic. If it's a good time, I'd like to coax a few friends of ours into going back for a cruise in a few years.

We're using Viking Afloat and heading from Whitchurch to Llangollen. Looking forward to checking out the UFOs.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:11 AM on April 28, 2005

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