Planning a UK and France Trip

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by barbaralawrence, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. barbaralawrence

    barbaralawrence Senior Member

    I'm planning a trip to England next spring and also hope to visit Dunkirk. Does anyone know the best way to do that? I hate to drive, get lost in a bucket, so would prefer to use public transportation. Joining a group might be ideal, but I don't care about staying in fancy places and would like to find people with similar interests in WWII. Any suggestions would be very welcome!


  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Barbara,

    I moved your post from the 1940 book thread to attract more attention.

  3. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    i dont know where in the UK youre staying but once youre here make your way to Dover, you then have the the channel ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Ostende just a short ferry ride away. Sail to Dunkirk and you could even use a taxi although car hire would be a better idea.

    This link will give you some ideas as to fery costs. Theres lots more if you search google:

    Cheap Ferry Crossings - Ferries to France from Dover to Dunkirk
  4. Stormbird

    Stormbird Restless

    Could you please elaborate a bit on your main interest in WW2 ? This whole island is one huge WW2 memorial. You'll have to make a few choices.

    If your main interest is in the war in the air generally and the Battle of Britain specifically, I have some advice to offer.

    Sorry to learn that you don't wish to drive. It would make it all so much easier. If your worry is about left-hand driving; forget about it! Decide to drive on the left, dedicate a map-reader and you're done! (Yes, in my country we also drive on the other side of the road :)

    If I have to give one tip only, it will have to be: Go to Dover, to Capel-le-Ferne and take in the Battle of Britain Memorial. If you don't, you haven't been in the UK.

  5. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    Without knowing what and where you want to visit, it's difficult to give specific advice.:D

    If you're using public transport, then this website will probably be helpful: Route Planner | Public Transport & Car Journey Planner | Transport Direct

    Bus fares can look expensive, but most companies do (at least) daily and weekly rover tickets which generally work out cheaper if you're travelling any distance. Some local councils (Wiltshire for example) also issue their own daily rover tickets which can be used on multiple companies' buses within their area.

    For journeys over about 30 miles rail or coaches are a better option. However, coach tickets have to be pre-booked: usually cheaper online and often ridiculously cheap if you book well in advance online and are prepared to travel at unusual hours!

    National Express Coaches // Coach & Bus Travel Throughout The UK

    Megabus are pretty good between certain cities too: | Low cost inter city bus and train travel throughout the UK

    Understanding rail fares - especially for the uninitiated - sometimes makes quantum physics look simple, but here's a link to the National Rail Enquiries site:

    National Rail Enquiries - Journey Planner

    Bear in mind that there are things like BritRail passes which offer discounted travel, but you have to buy these before you arrive. This might help too:

    European routes and trains, European train tickets | Rail Europe

    Also, note that most bus and train timetables tend to be revised in late March or early April.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'm not sure if the ferries from Dover to Dunkirk have a walk on/walk off service.

    Personally I wouldn't go and do some Dunkirk related sightseeing without a car-A lot of it like Wormhout, the canal perimeter, and Cassel is inland.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I'm not sure if the ferries from Dover to Dunkirk have a walk on/walk off service.

    Indeed they don't that is one of the selling points on that route, NO foot pasengers.
    Dover -Calais do though.
  8. barbaralawrence

    barbaralawrence Senior Member

    Hi - Thank you everyone; these suggestions are a great help. I was in the middle of posting a reply and hit a key that erased everything, so I apologize in advance if this posts twice.

    I'm researching the story of my British family during WWII. I know my grandfather, who was a corporal in WWI, was an ARP warden in London, and my grandmother was, I think, with the WVS. My uncle Kent joined the RASC in September, 1939 and was sent to France with the BEF. He was later evacuated from the beach at Dunkirk, and worked in Salisbury at Synecote House assigned to the Airborne. My mother had been an actress, but enrolled in the VAD on 8-12-1939. (that;s my mother and uncle in the photograph). I think she trained at Lambeth Hospital and was then "mobilized as C.N.R. to Netherne Hospital Couldson" on 12-6-1940. That put her near Kenley and I know she went through many bombing raids, including one in which a bomb severely damaged her hearing in one ear when it hit the Nurses Home while she was working in surgery. I have not yet identified where or when that happened and the only bombing I've found of a Nurses Home at Netherne did not explode. Some of you have told me it is very unlikely that bomb would have made enough of a sound wave to injure her so badly.

    What do I hope to do and see while I'm in Great Britain? I wish I had lots of money and could stay longer but I'm grateful I can get there at all. Still, I'll have about two weeks and will have to travel fast and light. I'll stay in London a few days, hoping to see places where my family lived and worked, and places like Edgate tube station where I think my grandmother sheltered during the Blitz. Then I'll set off for Dover, go to Dunkirk if I can, return to Dover and Folkestone, where my grandfather lived for a while, and make my way across Kent and over to Dorset where I have cousins who run a B+B. I'll visit Salisbury and then go to Wells to meet Jim who was a passenger on the same voyage my mother took to the US, and then go to Frome where my family had a house, and to Bath, where my grandmother lived and is buried. I want to go to Dover to see where my uncle is likely to have returned after being rescued from Dunkirk, and to see the beach at Dunkirk where he waited for a ship.

    So the itinerary is tied to my research and the wonderful people I've met online who have helped me with it. There are so many of you now and I'd love to have a party and get you all there to raise a few pints of warm British Beer!

    My best to you - with thanks!

  9. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    If you're planning on travelling round London a lot, then this site will also be helpful: Home | Transport for London Particularly the tickets section - investigate Oyster cards, which are by far the cheapest way to go.

    The Bath-Frome-Wells triangle is easily navigated by bus in either direction. Most services are from FirstGroup.

    Wells bus network map:

    There are some other local services which might not be on the journey planner I linked previously, so this might help too: Traveline South West.

    I can recommend several good pubs in both Wells and Bath ;)
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Barbara -
    Kiddo - your'e pushing it inside two weeks - I often visit the Uk - usually for a month at a time and ALWAYS buy an England only Britrail pass and find it the best way to get around as last time I was at Gatwick - London - Bournemouth - Weymouth -Stockton on Tees - Stafford - Wolverhampton and back to not go near Gatwick.....

    your route appears to land at Heathrow - London - Dover - Dorset - Somerset- Salisbury - London - Heathrow.....that is SEVEN journeys in fourteen days - yeah right ! - get yourself an 8 trip X 8 weeks Britrail pass - and you will kiss the drivers and pay off your Visa before you leave !

    One time went to Kirkcaldy- Scotland by "luxury" coach from Victoria London -ended up with a sore bum - took the train back..!
  11. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    The London-Dover-Folkestone bit is logical and easy enough to plan, but after that it really depends on where your friends in Dorset live. Dorset is a county which is generally far easier to travel through E-W than N-S.
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    here is the link for the England only Britrail passes in US currency as you can see the 8 day FLEXI pass is the one I recommed at $265 - but the 2nd class is invariably full so I go for the $400 first class as that gives a better seat and more comfortable situation with service of Tea or Coffee - Biscuits - newspapers etc without any hassles and at $50 per trip - i'ts worth it - I usually buy when my itinerary is finalised and paid off before leaving home, so all you need then is spending money - and watch your card as the exchange when you get home is a killer..

    BritRail England Pass Prices & Discounts - Rail Europe

    Cheers - and have a good trip
  13. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    ive lived in bath, wells and frome so any help required let me know.
  14. barbaralawrence

    barbaralawrence Senior Member

    Fabulous help! Thank you. Tom - I know you're right about 2 weeks and I appreciate the suggestion about the route. I've been comparing the bus vs the train passes, so your comments are helpful and timely, though the bus seems more flexible. I was thinking about going to Gatwick, but will scratch that idea. Vitesse - thanks for the transportation links and link to Traveling South West which are a huge help. Now about those pubs - names please!

    Thanks again,

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Out of curiousity - Whats wrong with Gatwick?
  16. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member


    Coeur de Lion: traditional boozer tucked away in an arcade. If there are more than fifteen people in the bar, it feels like a Tokyo metro carriage!
    Crystal Palace: tastefully updated with extensive food offering, just a stone's throw from the Abbey.
    Tramshed: chic, modern, gourmet, expensive. Converted tram shed (funnily enough!), glass fronted, so light and airy.
    The Bear: modern pub, recently refitted, on the site of one destroyed in the Bath Blitz.

    City Arms: just about everything a good pub should be!
    King's Head: cavernous place which looks tiny from outside. Excellent beer!
  17. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    I'm amazed a system like Britrail available to foreign visitors for such a cheap price when it costs me a quarter of the price of the 8 day ticket just to get to London for the day. I'm presuming it must be subsidised in some way by the Government?

    Is a similar scheme available for EC visitors to the US?
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Paul -
    it might very well be subsidised by the Govt' to ensnare unwary tourists into going there to buy petrol at the unwarranted prices that are charged - then the food prices are astronmical also - and hotels - sheeesh.Those prices by the way have to be divided by 1.52 for GBP's

    No such schemes in North America as the tourists are not gouged here-
    although one can be enticed to sleep off the Highway - and find your bed overlooks the local Railroad Marshalling yard - and everyone is on night shift..!

    While awaiting a bus at Swiss Cottage noticed a barber reading his sporting life so popped in for a haircut - the barber then regaled me as to how London was the gouging capital of Europe - for SIX whole minutes- then charged me 10GBP's -I could only believe him- next time I avoided him and was stuck in a men/womens den for the whole treatment which cost me 30 GBP's.

    Don't suppose there is much wrong with Gatwick per se - BUT- at 86 years old -it's a bit hard to find that your gate of departure is somewhere on the South coast - with no first aid stations on the way - Heathrow is way ahead - even Term 5 which is about ninety miles away from Customs and Immigration

  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Tom - I've not flown since 2004 and that was from Brize Norton.
  20. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    I'm amazed a system like Britrail available to foreign visitors for such a cheap price when it costs me a quarter of the price of the 8 day ticket just to get to London for the day. I'm presuming it must be subsidised in some way by the Government?

    I was thinking the same thing, a very good deal indeed and wish I'd known about last month when some friends visited from the U.S.

    Is a similar scheme available for EC visitors to the US?

    Very unlikely, rail isn't a viable means of personal transport in the US anyway. Some cities have good local metros like BART in San Francisco but that's it. Although there is talk of building a high-speed rail link between SFC and LA.

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