Tag Archives: touring england

England – it’s a great time of the year to explore all it offers

England - touring and exploring

Delights of the English countryside are awaiting visitors

England is just brimming with history and diversity

IT’S a glorious time of the year right now to visit England. It is possibly at its most vibrant at this time of the year as its short summer comes to an end.

The forecast is an optimistic one, for pleasant warm weather across much of the country for the rest of August. Yes, you may encounter some rain but this is, after all, what makes England so pretty at this time of the year.

And, besides scenic beauty, there is so much else on offer in the way of stone circles, hillforts, castles, ancient and modern architecture, variety of cultures and regions, social and industrial history, crammed in to such a relatively small area when compared to other countries.

The beautiful rolling chalk downland of the south of England makes the area ideal for a touring holiday with short driving times between a multitude of attractions ranging in diversity from old coaching roads to antique shops and the Georgian splendour of Bath.

There is the Garden of England in Kent and the haven of outstanding beauty that is Sussex. You can follow ancient pilgrim routes to Canterbury or see the site of the famous battle of 1066.

Georgian Brighton, Roman Chichester, and the wonderful Isle of Wight all beckon as do Stonehenge and the world heritage prehistoric temple at Avebury. Further west lies beautiful Devon and the narrow country lanes and villages of Cornwall and Land’s End.

I could easily lose myself in London for weeks. It remains one of the most fascinating cities in the world with most of its museums free and brimming with art and culture. For those who don’t like cities, it’s a good setting off point for a heart of England tour taking in the Chiltern Hills, the Cotswolds, the Shakespearian centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and the Thames Valley.

A couple of hours’ drive north from London is Derbyshire and the Peak District, a magnet for walkers, and Nottinghamshire and Robin Hood country.

Head further north for the impressive cities of Liverpool, Manchester and York, and the wonderful areas surrounding them, both rural and brimming with their urban history of canals, railways and so forth.

Most northerly county of Northumberland has the Cheviot Hills and the cathedral city of Durham and the industrial grit of the Tyne and Wear to offer while to the west there is Cumbria and the Lake District, full of the scenic beauty that so attracted and inspired the Lakeland poets.

We’ll get round to Wales, Scotland and Ireland another time!

England - Chichester Cross

The 15th century Chichester Cross is the centrepiece of the cathedral city

England history - HMS Victory

Lord Nelson’s famous flagship, HMS Victory, can be found at Portsmouth

 

England - thatched roof cottage

Thatched roof homes are a common sight in southern England

 

Have car will travel – touring from Newcastle to the Algarve

h2/h2
a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg”img class=”size-full wp-image-61″ title=”Have car will travel – road trip from Newcastle to the Algarve” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/photo.jpg” alt=”Touring – road trip from England to Algarve, Portugal” width=”478″ height=”640″ //a Touring by car gives a whole new dimension to the joy of travel

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;

nbsp;
h2/h2
h2Touring by car offers freedom of the road/h2
nbsp;

Taking the open road to the sun can be a little bit pricey these days but the further south you go in Europe the cheaper it gets. And touring by car offers so much more freedom that maybe price comparisons with other holidays miss the point. Getting overnight accommodation in France, Spain and Portugal is so easy you can decide your stopping points as you go along – for example, will the first stop in Europe be Paris for the nightlife or Rouen for its medieval history?

To help balance the budget a bit, we have been taking a look at the sort of costs motorists will face this year if they tour in Europe.

First of all, don’t expect fuel to be much cheaper. You’ll pay over E1.70 a litre for 95 octane gasoline on roads in France and  in Portugal. Spain proved the cheapest with E1.50 a litre.

Then there are the tolls on the best routes to take. In France in particular these are becoming excessive and forcing many cars back on to the Route National which is slow going and can be badly congested in areas.

For less than an hour on the A28 from Rouen to Alencon, we were expected to pay E29.40. The circumstances were exceptional as we were diverted off it on to the RN because of a tanker crash but it still smacked of highway robbery.

If you’ve plenty of time to explore,  the RN roads can be fun, weaving their way, for instance, through the towns and villages of the Loire Valley.

If you are in a hurry to get to the  Spanish or Portuguese coast then it has to be the toll roads.

The bill for our car through France was 60 euros for tolls but it got cheaper in Spain and Portugal.
h2Electronic tolls/h2
In Portugal a href=”http://www.victoryag.org/”pokies online you/a encounter electronic tolls and, if you don’t want to risk falling foul of the authorities, you have to buy a card from a post office or service station.

You pay a refundable deposit of more than 20 euros for the card and it is advisable not to pay cash but to pay by debit or credit card.

Toll road fees are taken automatically from your card as you travel and when you hand your card in at the end of your trip you get your deposit back. Time-consuming and shrouded in controversy, but that’s the Portuguese way now.

Most things get cheaper the further south you go, particularly  the price of food and accommodation and wine.

We paid  96 euros for a room only in an Ibis hotel in Bordeaux while in Valladolid in northern Spain a Novotel room plus a meal for two and parking came to 101 euros.

In the Portuguese city of Castelo Branco an overnight stay in a Best Western hotel cost 93 euros but this included dinner for two, breakfast the following day and parking and a room with a balcony.

Getting accommodation is easy with a laptop if you travel outside of peak holidays and can be arranged the night before as you travel or even on the day.

You can often be given a room with just a shower so if you like a good soak at the end of a journey it’s worth asking if you can have a room with a bath or indicating on the web your preference.

The Channel Tunnel may be the quickest route across the English Channel but its also the most boring, twiddling your thumbs in a train carriage as it nips through the subterranean passage.

A one-way hour and a half ferry crossing with DFDS at £45 was almost half the price and probably more relaxing.

But don’t get too bogged down in the practicalities as this mode of travel gives you so much freedom to pick and choose what you want to see and do.

Our five-day trip to the Algarve gave us the opportunity to visit the historic medieval town of Rouen, the brandy lovers’ mecca of Coignac,  the sophisticated city of Bordeaux, the typical northern Spanish town of Valladolid, the historic  Portuguese city of Castelo Branco and then the Algarve where we could spend an enjoyable couple of weeks.

The trip fom Newcastle to the south coast took little over six hours and was broken up with a stay at Brighton. The route in France avoided the excitement of the Boulevard Périphérique ring road and headed via Rouen and Bordeaux to the south.
h2The bills/h2
The total fuel bill from Calais to Praia da Rocha, on the Algarve, was 280 euros.

Toll road bills in France were 60euros, in Portugal 50 and in Spain just 10. Total toll road bill was E120.

Mileage clocked from Newcastle to Praia da Rocha was 1988 miles

a href=”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp” rel=”nofollow”http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/classic/planner_main.jsp/a