Day trips fit for royalty

By Harriet Cooper, British travel writer.

Photography by Getty Images 

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May 2018

It’s one of the most high-profile events of the year, but if you haven’t managed to secure an invitation to the royal wedding, fear not, we’ve got you covered with these royal experiences – all just a short journey from London. 

Castles and stone circles 

The trip: Windsor Castle – Stonehenge – Oxford

Royal credentials: Nothing says majesty more than Windsor Castle, a royal residence for 900 years and counting. You might not get to meet the Queen, but start your day with a snoop around the sumptuous state apartments and the grounds, which include Gothic masterpiece St George’s Chapel, the burial place of Henry VIII and Charles I, and, of course, the site of 2018’s royal nuptials. Afterwards, hop back on your luxury coach and make for prehistoric Stonehenge to soak up 4,500 years of history, myth and intrigue. Indeed, as legend has it, this ancient stone circle is the burial place of King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon.

Don’t miss: Literary types will appreciate the final leg of this trip: a walking tour of Oxford. As you take in Trinity College, the Ashmolean Museum and more, learn why ‘the city of dreaming spires’ inspired fantasists Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

In the know… The tour, which operates daily from Victoria coach station, costs £99 including admission to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge.

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As legend has it, this ancient stone circle is the burial place of King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon.

  • Hire a daysailer and follow the wind across England’s largest lake © Getty.

    Boating bliss 

    From windsurfing and sailing to kayaking and paddle boarding, there’s a range of watersports to try on Lake Windemere. 

    Discover the Lake District
  • Explore the landscape that inspired the works of Wordsworth © Getty.
  • Discover the rich history of this historic, 2,000 year-old city ©Alamy.

Monarchs and a maze 

The trip: Hampton Court Palace

Royal credentials: King Henry VIII may be buried in Windsor, but the flamboyant monarch is most closely associated with his grandiose palace at Hampton Court, which he acquired from Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. Spend your day immersed in the Tudor way of life, explore the grand halls with their rich tapestries and paintings and hang out in the kitchens, which once produced 800 meals a day for the hungry royal household. Don’t miss The Chapel Royal with its star-studded vaulted ceiling and exact replica of the crown worn by Henry VIII on display in the Royal Pew, where Henry himself would have sat wearing it.

Don’t miss: It has to be the 60 acres of gardens - marvel at the 250-year-old Great Vine and lose yourself in the famous maze, the oldest surviving example in the country. Can you conquer its twists, turns and dead ends?

Need to know… Bear in mind that Hampton Court Palace ground host several major events during the year.

  • Soak up the iconic spectacle of Stonehenge  ©Getty.

    Neolithic grandeur

    A great day-trip for kids, explore Stonehenge’s visitor centre which explains the engineering of this awe-inspiring site. 

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Ruins and roman baths 

The trip: Windsor – Stonehenge – Bath

Royal credentials: Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle has since been the home of 39 monarchs – to this day, Her Majesty spends most of her private weekends there. Just over an hour’s drive east and you’ll be at Stonehenge. Explore the ancient stone circle on foot, step inside the Neolithic houses and take in the on-site exhibition, where you’ll come face-to-face with a 5,500-year-old man. Last stop: the Georgian splendour of Bath. As well as a panoramic tour of the city’s sights, you’ll be able to explore the remarkably preserved Roman Baths – one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world, which still flow with natural hot water.

Don’t miss: When at Windsor Castle take a peek at Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House with its library bursting with original works and fully-stocked wine cellar – it even has electricity, running hot and cold water, working lifts and flushing lavatories.

Need to know… The tour, which operates daily from Victoria coach station, costs £105 including admission to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths.

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Lakes and literature 

The trip: Lake District with afternoon tea

Royal credentials: Ok, so we’re talking literary royalty here – both Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth called the Lake District home. Jump on a train from Euston to Oxenholme, deep in the Cumbrian countryside. Here you’ll be met by a local guide who’ll take you on a whistlestop tour of the medieval village of Hawkshead (where a young Wordsworth went to school), billowy beauty spot Tarn Hows, and Yewdale, passing Yew Tree Tarn, a star in the film Miss Potter. At Waterhead, you’ll join a cruise of Lake Windermere for further photogenic views of the Fells.

Don’t miss: Afternoon tea at the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in Bowness, which was once owned by Beatrix Potter. As you feast on homemade scones, keep your eyes open for Peter Rabbit and friends, before being whisked off to the station for the train back to London.  

Need to know… Make like Her Majesty and travel first-class (£265.32) or go standard (£203.25) – train ticket, tour and tea included.  

Book your ticket

Looking to do your royal day out by car? Book your road trip with British Airways, in partnership with Avis