Flight Centre Fitzroy Travel Expert Jessica Hancock may hail from the Cheshire county in North West England, but she still has plenty of love for the treasures down south. Here she spills the details on a recent southern England sojourn, which included everything from Harry Potter filming locations to fish and chips by the sea.
Tell me a little bit about your holiday
A friend and I did a TV, film, literature and music tour that I put together. We hired a car and travelled to different places, including Bath to see the Jane Austen Museum, Cornwall for the little villages from the TV show Poldark, visited Oxford to have a drink in The Eagle and Child where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis used to meet, and stopped at the National Trust-listed village of Lacock where they’ve filmed Downtown Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and, of course, the Hogwarts cloisters from the Harry Potter films at Lacock Abbey.
There’s so much to see, and because everything is quite close together compared to Australia, you can fit a lot in. We finished in London where you’re spoilt for choice with entertainment icons! We walked across Abbey Road a la The Beatles, visited Sherlock Holmes' ‘flat’ at 221B Baker Street as well as 23 Brook Street where Jimi Hendrix used to live, saw an amazing West End show and hit the Camden pubs for live music.
What was the most amazing moment of your trip?
It’s really hard to pick just one thing but I had a real ‘wow’ moment in Bath. I was overlooking the main bathing pool at the Roman Baths, and because the walls are so low, I could see Bath Abbey – which is over 500 years old – in the distance, along with an 18th-century coaching inn next to it. At night it’s all lit up and just looks incredible; there’s so much history in one scene.
Also, because I’m such a Harry Potter fan, walking through Lacock Abbey, which was used to film the cloister scenes from Hogwarts was very exciting!
Did you have any ‘only in Britain’ experiences?
The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and staying in a medieval coaching inn in a tiny Somerset village where the ceilings are super low, wooden floors uneven and bedroom doors look like they were built for a hobbit!
Did you visit in summer or winter?
Summer, and surprisingly, it does actually get quite hot in the UK! It’s so green and beautiful. You shouldn’t be put off going in the winter though, especially around Christmas. The markets are incredible and if you’re lucky enough to get snow, it’s really magical.
How did you get around?
In London, the underground is incredible. You can get anywhere! Tip: buy an Oyster card as it’s a lot more cost effective than buying single trip tickets. Also try and avoid rush hour in the week.
We hired a car outside of London – it’s an amazing way to get around, as there’s so much to see and do. There are beautiful little Cotswold and Cornish villages that don’t have train stations or a regular bus services. A car gives you so much more freedom.
What was your foodie highlight?
There are loads of cute little tearooms in the villages, where you’ll get freshly baked cakes and homemade jams etc. The pubs in the countryside do amazing food, especially in Somerset and Dorset where the chefs are keen to use local produce and aren’t shy with their portions. London obviously has some incredible places to eat, with no shortage of options. The highlight for me though was fish and chips at the seaside in Cornwall – simple, but amazing.
Were there any destinations you wish you had more time in?
London, because there is just so much to do. I’d love to have been able to try more of the bars and restaurants and visit more of the museums and National Trust properties.
What are the must-dos when in the south of England?
Try and do as much as possible! Even if you don’t hire a car, it’s really easy to join day trips or catch the train from London. Oxford, Bath, Stonehenge and Stratford-upon-Avon are great options.
In London, Kensington is a brilliant area to stay. You can walk to a lot of the must-see destinations, and you’re close to great bars and restaurants, gorgeous old buildings. Plus, places like Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are close by if you just want to relax.
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