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Countryside and seaside rambles: Day trips and weekend escapes from London

Not only is there an incredible number of things to do and see in London, it is a great base to explore the rest of the UK.  Below are some great destinations that you can reach easily from London in a day or for a weekend.

46 Brighton cliffs

Brighton

Best for: Pebble beaches, seaside sun, retro markets, hens/stag parties.
When to go: Spring and summer.
What to see/do: 1. Rides and games at the end of the Pier, 2. Markets, chic cafés and retro stores in The Lanes, 3. The beach, 4. Banksy street art.
How to get there: South West Train or Southern train from Victoria Station or London Bridge Station (£8-£12 return off peak per person), National Express (£10-£35 return) from Victoria Coach Station.
Where to eat: Fish and chips on the beach, 24 St Georges, Pop Pie, Blue Mango.

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Portsmouth

Best for: Maritime history, seaside sun, history in general (launch of the first fleet to Australia in 1787).
When to go: Visit anytime the sun is out and the wind is mild
What to see/do: 1. Follow the Renaissance Trail along Portsmouth‘s Millennium Promenade, 2. Go to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Royal Marines Museum, 3. See the view from atop the Spinnaker Tower.
How to get there: Train from Waterloo Station or Victoria Station (£22-£50 return off peak per person), National Express (£10-£30 return) from Victoria Coach Station.
Where to eat: Grab a quick bite or Jamie’s Italian in the Gunwharf Quays shopping complex, or settle into a beer garden and enjoy a pub lunch at Spice Island Inn or Old Portsmouth in the sun as the ferries glide past.

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Oxford

Best for: UK history lessons, architecture, pubs.
When to go: Anytime.
What to see/do: 1. Join a guided walking tour from the blue gates of Trinity College (£9-£12 per person), 2. Explore the quads and buildings of the colleges, 3. See the view from the top of St Mary the Virgin Church (£4 per person), 4. See the famous great hall and grounds that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone film were based on.
How to get there: First Great Western train from Paddington Station (£18 – £48) or the “Oxford Tube” bus from Victoria Station (£18 same day return).
Where to eat: Oli’s Thai, St Giles Cafe, and The Covered Market.

Deer

Richmond Park

Best for: Countryside, wildlife, picnics, walking.
When to go: Visit on a sunny day.
What to see/do: 1. Take a picnic and games, 2. Walk through the forest, 3. Watch the deer frolic in the wilderness.
How to get there: National Rail train or District Line tube to Richmond Station and then catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham.
Where to eat: take a picnic or find a local pub nearby.

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Woodstock & Blenheim Palace

Best for: UK history, architecture, walking, countryside, wildlife, a family day out, pubs.
When to go: Anytime. The Palace is open 10.30-17.30 daily until 20 December.
What to see/do: 1. Tour the Palace and walk through the vast parkland full of wildlife, 2. Visit the Formal Gardens and The Pleasure Gardens, 3. Enjoy the village atmosphere and pubs in Woodstock.
Entry to Blenheim Palace: Palace, Park & Gardens £22.50 per adult, Park & Gardens only £13.50 per adult. Tickets to events can be purchased in advance online.
How to get there: First Great Western train from Paddington Station (£18 – £48) or the “Oxford Tube” bus from Victoria Station (£18 same day return) to Oxford Station then catch the S3 bus towards Chipping Norton and depart at Blenheim Palace (£3.50 one way). Allow 2.5 hours for the total journey each way.
Where to eat: Blue Dog & Sought,Woodstock ArmsThe PunchbowlThe Blenheim ButteryThe Crown.
Where to stay nearby: The Blenheim Buttery (£85-£125 per night), Macdonald Bear Hotel (£98 – £169 per night), The Feathers (£199-£319 per night).

Peak District. Photo: Richard Moore

Peak District & Chatsworth House

Best for: UK history, picnics, a family day out, Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen fans.
When to go: Anytime. Visit on a sunny day to enjoy the coutryside.
What to see/do: 1. Explore Chatsworth House and its manicured gardens (£16 entry), 2. Discover rugged moorland, rolling hills, lush meadows and leafy forests, and derelict mills near Lumsdale, 3. Visit 19th century Riber Castle with glorious views over Matlock.
How to get there: East Midlands Trains train to Matlock from London St Pancras International (£20 – £26 each way) allowing 2.5 hours each way.  Catch the 217 bus to Chatsworth House (£4.80 for a daily).
Where to eat: Charlies for fish and chips in Matlock Bath, Matlock Meadows for real dairy icecream.
Where to stay in Matlock: Red Lion (from £70 per night), Castle Green Guest House (from £85 per night), Riverbank House (from £90 per night), Ellen House B&B (from £110 per night). In Cromford: Alison House (from £70 per night).

 

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