Friday, February 6, 2015

London Weekend Getaways - 2

Adding onto the list of ideas on what to do in and around London, here is some more information on places you can get out to on a weekend - Cambridge, Cotswold,  Seven Sisters, Windsor, and Country Houses like Ashdown Park, Lainston House and Pennyhill Park.


Cambridge is a quick 50 mins ride from London Kings Cross (on a fast train), and a great way to spend a relaxing day in a student town, with a slower pace than London. I have been to Cambridge before, but last year I had to go there a couple of times for work and was impressed with how easy it was to get there!

I took a quick walk after work around the student town just to soak in the feeling of the old buildings around, the student vibe of the place and totally loved it. Even so near London, it felt like such miles away! It was winter when I was there but would definitely recommend doing punting on the river - maybe this summer?


We spent our anniversary weekend last year in the Cotswold area, in the village of Bourton-on-the-water. Funnily enough I have been to Cotswold before and had ended up staying in the same village even last time - I need to change it up! Anyways, again it was a quick ride away from London, a 2 hour train from London Paddington, get off at Moreton-on-Marsh and take the frequent public bus to Bourton.

Bourton is a very picturesque little village, with its yellow houses, around the little stream which runs through the middle, lot of eating places and shops all around. You can cover the whole village in 5 mins, but the beauty of Cotswold actually lies outside its villages.

Of the two days we were there, the first day we just walked around the village, went up a hill and then came down, then walked in the other direction through some random fields and then were back in the village to explore the local craft and antique stores. Not surprisingly, even just walking around aimlessly felt so very relaxing compared to the running around we do in London. (Tip - 3G/4G does not work too well in such parts of the country. So before you leave the hotel, have in hand the walk you are going to do. Else you might just walk around randomly without clear directions (like we did)!)

The next day we did one of the walks around the village- from Bourton to the village called Little Rissington and then onto Great Rissington. The walk was for about 2 hours one way, and was sometimes well marked, while other times you just had to figure out which way to go.

Our trek:)
We jumped over fences, walked around lakes, waded through muddy fields, went up and down hills and basically had a very adventurous day! There was no one on the walk as it wasn't the time for Cotswold walks. Also, it wasn’t as comfortable a day as it was rainy and we got out boots full of mud. In sunny summer weather I am sure, it would be lovely. Though I enjoyed even now, it felt almost like a mini adventure:).

Of the villages, Little Rissington barely had 10 houses, so there was nothing to do there. However Great Rissington had a pub called Lamb Inn which provided us something to eat after the long treacherous walk! And also the energy to walk back:).

In Bourton, we stayed at Cheltam House which was a small hotel right in the village. It was quite average actually. But the food options there were nice. For dinner we went to L'antara in the hotel which was nice. As was Croft which we visited for breakfast - right next to the river. Since we were coming back on Sunday, the public buses were not running and we found it tough to get a cab till Moreton-on-the-Marsh. It felt like such a different place, very tough to sometimes imagine that there are places where you can't just Uber it:).

Seven Sisters trek

The Seven Sisters trek is near the city of Eastbourne on the south coast of London, and part of the Seven Sisters Park. Its called so as the trek goes up and down seven white marble hills (sisters) overlooking the sea.

We took a train from London Victoria till Eastbourne which took about 2 hours. Then we started on the trek just out of the station. It starts going up from Eastbourne, giving panoramic views of the town on the sea, and then goes up and down the seven hills.

The seven sisters, in white
The trek offers breathtaking views of the sea and the greens on the other side. The weather makes a lot of difference to the whole experience - when we went it was sunny and warm and so we loved it. You can even take breaks during the trek as there are a couple of restaurants on the way to have a quick bite. You also pass by Beachy Head which has historical relevance for UK’s World War history.

We finished the whole trek in about 3-4 hours, and then took the bus from the Seven Sisters Park back to Eastbourne (12, 12A or 13) to get the train back to London Victoria. Its a definite recommend for a quick trip outside London.


Windsor is a very nice option if you just want to get out of London quick! Its just under an hour from Paddington - take a train till Slough and change for Windsor. The train from Slough to Windsor is exclusively to take tourists to the royal abode!

Boating on the Thames
This was my second trip to Windsor, so I did not explore the palace. But I still loved it just for a charm of being in a nice little town away from the madness of London. The Thames flows through Windsor and one thing I would suggest is to take a boat and run it on the river. They allow you to rent boats for about £25 which I think is pretty cheap.

Windsor castle
Rest you can also take a walk along the Thames - its got green parks which give quite a lot of introspection time. Or else just eat at the many restaurants all along. A definite recommend for a quick saunter outside London.



The next three getaways are all typical English countryhouses around London which offer a nice weekend away, in the lush suburban green lands, with a couple of activities for you to keep busy. They are pretty expensive I must say, but a nice option if you are willing to splurge within the UK:).

Ashdown Park

I spent almost a week in Ashdown Park and was impressed with the place - quite a huge old countryhouse, with a big abbey in between where we had dinner. I took multiple walks in its grounds, and they were pretty, going up and down through woods and forests! The rooms were not as impressive though as the other two!

Lainston House

Lainston house is located near the city of Winchester, and takes about an hour from London Waterloo. You need to get off at Winchester and take a 5 min cab ride to the house.

Its a nice house, with green gardens all around. But what I must definitely mention about the rooms in Lainston House is that they are the biggest rooms I have ever seen in a hotel!! Almost the size of our house in London! The area around looks fun for walks, though its a pity I went there in the winter:( and was busy the whole day!! Also you can always visit the Winchester cathedral when you visit there, another thing I did not do.

Pennyhill Park

Pennyhill Park is located about an hour from London Waterloo. You need to get off at Sunningdale and take a 15 min cab ride to the house.

Its a luxurious hotel again, with huge rooms, outside pool area, a big spa, tennis courts and a golf course within its grounds. Its very popular for weddings apparently. Again, the rooms were spacious and tastefully decorated. And it felt very very English, with fires burning in every room and loads of seating area in the main area to just sit and relax.

Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa

Climping Beach
Adding onto the list of country houses, I spent 3 days in Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa in Dec this year (2015) on an office training.  It wasn't the best time of the year for sure, but still a memorable experience. It is located very close to Brighton, near the village of Littlehampton, and it takes about 2-3 hours from London to reach there. Its 5 mins walking from the Climbing beach, which may be good in summer. The stony beach held no sway for us in the winter though

Bailiffscourt was definitely not as luxurious a countryhouse as the others above. In fact it didn't even look like a countryhouse!! It looked more like a farm:). But its location, amenities and affordability definitely make it a good weekend choice. The accommodation was all spread out across multiple small buildings and the rooms were all very spacious and pretty. The beach is not much to write home about, but then it IS a UK beach:). There are two swimming pools in the property, both heated, one outside and one inside. And of course a proper spa and gym etc..

It is definitely a great place to spend a very relaxing weekend away from London. One thing which helps (or maybe not) is that the phone signal there is very very weak. So if you really need to be away from everything, this is the place to be! The overall grounds are also pretty though we did not get much of a chance to explore around. (Somehow I have gone to all the countryhouses in UK in the winter when walking outside is never the preferable option. How sad is that?)

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