Day trips out of London

Hello! It’s been a while. I suppose the nature of a travel blog means no recent updates due to the current global pandemic! But I really wanted to share something with you, and so it got me thinking – what can we do right now if not a dreamy holiday abroad?

I’ve done quite a few day trips from London over the past few years, so I thought why not share them. Staycations will be quite popular this year, so I will also share ways to turn these day trips into a weekend away. There is so much to do in England and it’s important we venture out closer to home too.

 

The Tinwood Estate winery

Fancy taking a day trip to the winery? From London Victoria you can take a train straight to Chichester and from there a 10 minute taxi to The Tinwood Estate. The grounds are beautiful (see below), the wine tasting is amazing and served with some delicious cheese pairings. This was the first time I ever had honey on blue cheese – game changer!

For the weekenders: I visited The Tinwood Estate on a weekend away. You can read my previous blog post on Chichester here. There are also lodges you can rent at the winery – not too shabby!

 

Dockey Wood, Buckhinghamshire

I remember this place fondly. We were on our way back from visiting my Baba for his 90th birthday and visited Dockey Wood on the way home. There’s the well known Mayfield Lavender in Surrey, and then there’s this place – bluebells galore. It is so beautiful! I will say though, that the walk around the bluebells is quite short. There might be longer ones (I didn’t research too much as it was a stop off), but the circuit we took around the bluebells took 30 mins max.

Good to know: peak bloom is around the first week of May and that’s when the colours will be bold and vibrant. We went by total chance on May 2 and it worked out well.

For the weekenders: I did a spa weekend at Champneys Tring last year and it was so relaxing. Nice grounds to walk around (or sunbathe like we did as the weather was so hot) and the place itself felt like a big mansion. Champneys is a chain, and the Tring location included an indoor pool/sauna and gym/classes. We also had our meals included which made the weekend total relaxation. Anyway, point being – Champneys Tring is a 15 min drive away from Dockey Wood, so roaming the bluebells could be a nice afternoon.

Champneys Tring

 

Ray Mill Island

This was one of my most recent discoveries and visits (last weekend actually). Ray Mill Island is a cool little place in Maidenhead, right by the river Thames. I had never heard of the place before lockdown, but after some searching, also found a nice riverside pub called Boathouse Boulters Lock and some pretty walks in the area. And it was indeed. We went for a morning stroll on Ray Mill Island, had lunch at the pub (with some pretty sweet views), and finished with another walk in the other direction,

For the weekenders: We were told if you continued walking along the river, you’ll end up in Windsor! I love Windsor with the cobble streets and tea rooms. You could easily spend the night in Windsor – walk the grounds and visit the old town, and then head to Ray Mill Island the next day.

 

Epping Forest

This was one of the earlier roams I’ve done, and funnily enough, this day trip to Epping Forest is what inspired the purchasing of camping gear! The plan was to come back and camp. This hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve explored camping in other parts of England (you can read more about camping around wild ponies here) and it’s been good fun.

Back to Epping Forest – nature, fresh air, tall trees, nice greenery. You can walk for hours in the woods – it’s refreshing. If you’re looking for a nice long walk, this is your place.

For the weekenders: As I mentioned above, make a weekend out of it by camping here! I know camping isn’t for everyone, but another option is to find accommodation nearby and venture in for some nice long walks over a weekend.

 

Brighton

Brighton has been a childhood favourite of mine. And as an adult, it’s a very cool place to go. Good cafes, bars, restaurants, and of course your standard seaside chips and vinegar, soft serve ice cream, donuts etc. What a dream! I’ve been to Brighton a few times – you can lay on the beach all day (it is a pebble beach though), roam the shops and visit Brighton Pier. If you like rides, you can go on one or two or buy the unlimited rides pass and make your head spin to your heart’s content (did this and highly recommend). It aint no theme park, but trust me, it’s the little things.

For the weekenders: Eastbourne is the neighbouring town and really beautiful if you go right to the top of the cliff and look at the views. Beachy Head lighthouse is a good photo spot and picnic. Eastbourne being another seaside town, has your usual seaside musts (mentioned above) and is nice to walk around. When I went, we stayed in Eastbourne and ventured to Brighton for a day trip, but personally I would stay in Brighton and venture out to Eastbourne. I think there’s a lot more happening in Brighton if you were to stay there (including evening and night spots), and Eastbourne is better enjoyed in the day time.

Beachy Head lighthouse, Eastbourne

Brighton Pier

 

Margate

My memory of Margate is honestly like a beach holiday. I’m almost certain the water wasn’t crystal blue (much worse actually), but the day we went was scorching, and all I remember is chilling in the sea, having a nap on the beach, eating and drinking…on repeat, all day. It was bliss and genuinely felt like I was on holiday. That’s actually all I did that day, but if you were to skip the beach bit, you should definitely do the coastal walk passing Botany Bay, Joss Bay and Broadstairs. Beautiful views and well worth the trip.

For the weekenders: My trip to Margate was actually a weekend and Saturday was spent as a beach bum (Saturday night out in Ramsgate – I don’t know if that’s good or bad so don’t judge) and Sunday was spent doing the coastal walk. I recommend both but you can definitely do just the one and make a great day of it.

Behind the scenes:

  • If you’re taking the train to any of these places, book ahead. It will give you something to look forward to and you’ve not spent a fortune to travel.
  • Before committing to a weekend away, make sure there’s enough for you to do and enjoy. We all enjoy different things and it’s important your experience is tailored to you. Be sure to research tea rooms, pubs, restaurants, shopping centres, activities, nature spots, spas, local heritage spots etc.

Final thoughts:

  • In all seriousness, I think we’ll start to appreciate the country we live in more as international travel isn’t the most accessible right now. We should try and make an effort to travel more local – there’s a lot to see and it doesn’t have to be very expensive.
  • I’ve come to realise how many beautiful spots there are in England. I still have lots of places to visit like Cornwall and Scotland (I went a few times when I was younger but would like to experience as an adult), but I’m slowly checking places off.

PS – I received a scratch map of the UK as a gift and was convinced I would be scratching a lot of it. The reality is I’ve done maybe 30% . Proof that there is a lot more to see.

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