29 Nov Through England. Part 1.
My trip in England in 2016 has been amazing. Not only that I loved what I have seen there but it also sparked a series of trips that started with Thessaloniki, Thasos, London, Barcelona, Bansko, Venice, Rome, Athens, Puglia, Ibiza and one or two left in the bag for later days.
Being accommodated in Birmingham I studied before all the options for reaching the places that I desired to see and came to one simple conclusion: I needed a car.
Yes, I could have gotten up at 5 in the morning, walk a few kilometers till the train station, catch a train, change it, arrive at Bath and go on an organized trip from there to some places but in my opinion I would have become tired before actually embarking on the trip.
Now, I don’t know how you feel about England but bellow I will list my itinerary for you then go into details to see why I chose to rent a car for two days and drive 800 kilometers during these 48 hours.
Day one and half of day two were spent in Coventry where I attended a workshop then on the evening of the second day I moved to Birmingham from where I departed on all my trips.
Day three was dedicated to Stratford upon Avon.
Day four was the first hard day. Stonehenge. Avebury, Cherhill White Horse, Silbury Hill, Castle Combe and Lacock and back to Birmingham.
Day five, the second day driving, was dedicated to the Cotswolds. Chipping Camden, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, The Slaughters, Bibury.
Day six was for Shrewsbury and day seven was used to reach Warwick Castle and its surroundings.
Don’t know what you think but whenever I try to remember the exact places I sit and wait and count and I always feel like I’m missing or I forgot something.
Before starting I must warn you that this driving is pretty hard to do. Never mind the fact that you’re driving on the other side of the road (England, remember?) but also you must keep in mind that this country is heavily regulated, cameras and police so you must really, really respect all the warnings and indicators.
Add that a chunk of almost 400 kilometers/day and you can start to get the big picture.
However, when all things were done, I must confess I didn’t feel so tired at all. I found driving on the other side extremely easy but it could be to the fact that I’m a lefty so…great for me in England.
Maybe if you decide to rent a car you’ll split your route differently but if you look on a map you will see that from Birmingham it is pretty hard to split it in another way. The distance you have to cover between the city and Cotswolds is big and spending more days would only mean driving back and forth a few hundred kilometers.
What I will try to do is write a few words about each day and let you decide, with the help of pictures, which city you want to visit.
I will start with day three for a simple reason. Days one and two were spent in Coventry at a workshop. While I had half of first day free to visit Coventry I must say that in my opinion this is not a must see place. Yes it is nice and clean but you don’t need a whole day to visit this place but rather, if you insist, a 3 hour tour and you’ll be ok with it.
Day 3: Stratford upon Avon.
Shakespeare’s birthplace. I got there by train and then upon arriving in Stratford I walked around this little town, letting my feet take me between places.
My main interest was Shakespeare’s House, which I visited, but I ended up buying a mixed ticket that allowed entrance to another few objectives so I visited Harvard House and Hall’s Croft as well.
Now, I don’t remember exactly what type of pass I selected(there are quite a few combinations available as you can check on the internet too) but I had access to Shakespeare’s house and another 2 or 3 places so if you manage to secure passes online (where you can get discounts ) they are more than worth it.
I saw many people arrive at the place and just take pictures outside of it without entering and that is too bad.
The house is great and very well maintained. It is really a pleasure to stroll thru its rooms, to take your time and see/try to imagine the times in which Shakespeare lived.
There is no need to rush since this is not a palace but rather a place you can walk slowly and observe all the small details without going over 30-40 minutes in length.
Coupled with the entrance to the other houses this one is a little piece of history which you should visit if you are in town even if you are not a fan of Shakespeare’s work.
Later edit: When I first wrote the post I did not include Harvard House. But when I looked back to the photos, picking them for the post I remembered this special little place. It was also included on my ticket with entrances and I visited and really enjoyed it. It is small and delicate and my advice would be to see it for yourself since 20 minutes of your time is not that much but the interior is really nice and well, it is paid already if you bought a multiple site entry.
Now, if your first stop in Stratford upon Avon was Shakespeare’s Place then later on your steps will take you to another lovely place, Hall’s Croft.
When buying a ticket online or at the entrance of Shakespeare’s House you will have access to this place also and that is good because it really deserves a visit.
After stopping by Shakespeare’s Home I walked slowly on the streets of Stratford upon Avon until my steps brought me here.
Maybe because it was pretty early in the morning or maybe because it is in a more quiet part of Stratford but I enjoyed the whole place in the company of a handful of people. Thus I had the chance to walk slowly, study each room, look at the objects inside the house and enjoy sitting on a bench in the rear courtyard.
In my opinion Hall’s Croft deserved a visit on its own even if it wasn’t somehow connected to Shakespeare.
The staff is great and they offer maps of the house at the entrance so you can see in which room you are and even though this is not a big house it is really pleasant to read the map while walking inside the house.
Close to Hall’s Croft is the church where Shakespeare was buried so if you want to see where his remains lie you can sure go out and visit the place.
Many people think that by visiting London they understand England but that’s far from the truth. London when compared even to Birmingham (2nd city of England) is like a different place. A different country even. What you need to do (and what I also need to do for that reason) is go beyond London. See Bath, see Birmingham, see Manchester, Liverpool, etc. See the real country.
I definitely plan to go back another time for 3-4 special places (which I won’t list now) because I really think they deserve a visit.
That’s it for today. On the next post I will detail about days 4-6 of my England holiday. I hope you enjoyed this post and I do hope that someday you will reach these beautiful places.