While I was in the UK for Christmas and New Year, I decided to go exploring. I didn’t plan to, but just got the urge to do so. I had no idea where to go, so I started searching the internet for places to visit. At first, I was thinking about going and staying somewhere, like Cardiff, but then I decided to go on day trips. So, I was on the hunt for places I either couldn’t ever remember visiting, or hadn’t been to for yonks and was interested in rediscovering. In addition, it had to be within easy reach of London, so no more than a two and a half hour journey by train or coach (bus). The cost of travel was also an important factor, so I had to rule out a few places.
If you’re like me and in need of a bit of adventure, you could try going for days out from London, There are lots of places you can visit for the day. Here are four day trips you might be interested in: Colchester, Windsor, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Bournemouth. Even though I stayed in Bournemouth for a few days, visiting friends, I have included it because it is possible to visit it on a day trip from London.
The first place I went to was Colchester. My boss is from Colchester and I couldn’t recall ever visiting, so I decided to go, especially after finding out that it was the capital of Roman Britain. It was the history that drew me to it. Thankfully, I managed to get a cheap off-peak day return, so I went by train, which is generally my preferred mode of transport. When I arrived at Colchester Town, I followed the crowd and that took me to the centre of town. As it was Christmastime and the sales were on, the town was packed with locals hunting for bargains.
I didn’t have a plan, nor did I have a map, so I just wandered around, looking at the buildings and used the signs to guide me. Colchester Castle and the museum were closed when I was there, so I wandered around the grounds. It’s a Norman castle, but there used to be a Roman temple on that site. When you walk around the town, you will see the remains of the walls, thought to be the oldest in Britain, that once helped to protect the town, and Balkerne Gate, the largest Roman gateway in Britain.
Once you’ve had your fill of history, you can stop for lunch and wander around the many narrow streets of the town. I spotted a few vintage clothes shops.
The Windsor’s weren’t at home during my visit, which was a shame. Having tea with HM The Queen is on list of things to do, but it wasn’t to be on this occasion. I think I need to give a bit more notice of my arrival next time. Nonetheless, I had a very pleasant day wandering around Windsor and Eton. That’s the thing, it’s a two-for-one deal. When you go to Windsor, you only have to walk over Windsor Bridge and then you’re in Eton. How handy is that?
Windsor Castle is probably the biggest draw. There were tons of tour groups wandering around when I was there. You can escape them by going on the Long Walk in Windsor Great Park. Apart from the fresh air and exercise, you get a great view of the castle. Other things you can do is to take a walk across Windsor Bridge, over the River Thames, to Eton. Eton was a lot quieter the day I was there. You can also go for a stroll along the river where swans seem to outnumber humans.
Oh, and I found out that Windsor is a great place for retail therapy. You can go shopping before heading back to London on the train.
In need of a bit of culture, I headed off to Stratford-Upon-Avon. I hadn’t been there for years, so it was time to reacquaint myself with this 800-year old medieval market town. It happened to be a lovely day with a clear, blue sky when I was there, so it was perfect for walking around the town and seeing the sights. Unsurprisingly, everywhere you turn, there is a reminder of Shakespeare.
If you like walking, you can easily get around on foot. It’s a pleasant walk to Anne Hatherway’s cottage from the town and back again. You can go for a circular walk from the Tourist Information Centre in the town, past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Holy Trinity church which is where Shakespeare was baptised and is buried, over a bridge, and then stroll along the riverside back to where you started. Obviously, there’s also Shakespeare’s birthplace and Hall’s Croft which is where Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband lived.
Bournemouth is much newer than the other towns mentioned. Until the town was founded in the 19th century, it was only visited by fishermen and smugglers. It wasn’t until the latter part of the century, when the railway arrived, that the town really began to grow. Having said that, in the last hundred years, ancient artifacts have been discovered around the region.
So, if you fancy it, you can have a day out by the sea, enjoy the superb Victorian gardens, have a dip in the sea, or head out on a surfboard, if the surf is up before heading back to London.
Have your say
There are so many places you could go on a day trip from London. Where would you go and why?