Help me see the gorgeousness of the UK for a week using public transit?
June 21, 2017 4:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the UK for a week in August, and want to spend my time there absorbing as much nature as I possibly can—I want to see the outdoors more than anything. I arrive in London and have a gig in Salisbury, but am able to travel if there's a better base from which to set up camp. I do NOT have a car, so public transit will be utilized. Where should I go, what should I see, and how do I do it?

Two things I would really rather not miss:

— Stonehenge, which I hear is very close to Salisbury and so shouldn't miss.

The Ridgeway, though I have no idea of the logistics of getting to it.

I am easily swayed by others' enthusiasms, so if somebody were to come in like "yo FUCK the Ridgeway, y'all need to check out the amazing green hills of [_______]," I'd probably listen.
posted by rorgy to Travel & Transportation around Manchester, England (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you hike? Take the train from London Euston to Oxenholme (~3hrs) and go hang out in the Lake District.
posted by corvine at 4:26 AM on June 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Lake District is the obvious answer and it's pretty easy to do by public transport - Oxenholme and Windermere both have train stations for the southern end, or Penrith station (and then a bus to Keswick) for the Northern end. Transport within the lake district is generally pretty good too.

Worth bearing in mind though that, in August, it will be incredibly busy. It will be hard to just show up and get a hotel room somewhere - you'd almost certainly have to pre-book (although, honestly, this pretty much applies to anywhere touristy in the UK in August). The more popular walking routes will also be quite busy, which isn't necessarily a problem but it mightn't be the tranquil wilderness you'd hope for.

If you're down Salisbury way, the New Forest is nice; alternatively head a little ways north to the Cotswolds, which is also very lovely (but will also be stupid busy). Actually, that whole part of the world - the Mendips, the Quantocks, etc - is generally scenic in a "amazing green hills" kind of way, so you mightn't have to go too far.
posted by parm at 4:59 AM on June 21, 2017

Best answer: Get the train down to Brighton (less than an hour, don't do it on a Sunday you might end up on a rail replacement bus), then get the open-topped double-decker #77 bus up to Devil's Dyke. From there you can walk along the South Downs Way (with great views) and either take the #77 back down again to the station (or all the way to the seafront) from where you started, or end up at Ditchling Beacon and get the #79 back to the train station. Or you can do the opposite route if you want to finish with a drink/food at the pub at Devil's Dyke.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:20 AM on June 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I would head to the New Forest - close to Salisbury / Southampton and accessible by train or bus. The villages are small and surrounded by heathland and woodland through which wild ponies roam. There are plenty of good walking routes.
posted by Stark at 6:22 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to do the Ridgeway, you absolutely can via public transport! Check out the map here: Plan your personalised visit to the Trail for access points, and Rambling Man seems to have some good practical information - it looks like the ends are difficult to access by public transport, but you could hike a good section of the middle by bus or train.

I also really enjoyed walking on the South Downs Way mentioned above - I did the "Seven Sisters" section from Seaford to Eastbourne a few years ago as a day trip from London and it was a lovely longish-but-easy walk (also there's a bus that runs close to the route so you can shorten it easily if you get tired or the weather turns). If you're heading to Salisbury and Stonehenge and the Ridgeway, though, the South Downs might be out of your way.
posted by mskyle at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're going to allow a 3 hour train journey, most of southern England is within range (Salisbury-Plymouth is 3 hours).

If you're going to see Stonehenge, I think you should see Woodhenge and Durrington Walls as well. If you're going to walk on the Ridgeway, try to hit Wayland's Smithy, the Uffington White Horse and Uffington Castle.

What kind of country are you looking to see? The list of National Parks might be a good starting point. Have you considered coastlines? Do you like ponies? (New Forest, then).
posted by Leon at 7:19 AM on June 21, 2017

Best answer: Stonehenge, tragically, will be as overwhelmingly crowded in August as the Mona Lisa's room in the Louvre. We stopped by with high hopes in 2015 (in August) and left regretting spending precious time moping through the crowds instead of going to any of the other megaliths and earthworks nearby.

You know what will be surprisingly not crowded at all? Tintern Abbey and surroundings, which are dotted with trails and easy to get to from Salisbury. You can swing through Bath and Bristol on the way, both of which are wonderful to visit and gorgeous in the summer, and judge for yourself whether you'd like to take your time coming back on the return to see them in closer detail.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Buying train tickets can be weird in the uk. You need to pre book if possible -the trains can be very very expensive.
posted by 8k at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can get a bus from Salisbury to Marlborough and then walk to Avebury (which is part of the Ridgeway.)
With a week to spend I would plan a two centre holiday so that you see a bit more of the variety of the UK countryside. Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons in Wales are the opposite extreme compared to the gentle rolling Marlborough downs.
posted by Lanark at 5:06 PM on June 21, 2017

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