While London is its own territory to be experienced, the regions outside of London feature some of the most spectacular natural and historical wonders in the world. The beauty of visiting London is that these wonders are all within reach and can be experienced in a day.
England is a relatively small country. To put it in greater perspective, you can fit nearly 3 and a half Englands in the state of California. Many tour companies offer coach tour options to explore places like the Lake District, Oxford, Windsor Castle and more. This is an excellent way to avoid getting burned out by the sometimes overwhelming energy of London’s bustling pulse.
One such tour operator is Evan Evans. They offer a number of day excursions including one that makes stops at some of County Kent’s most celebrated points of interest. The bus departs early morning from the Victoria Coach station in central London. Audio boxes are dispensed upon boarding for the commentary at forthcoming destinations. As the coach rolls out of London, passengers get a taste of London’s dubious history and dynamic culture from the tour guide.
It takes a good hour to get out of London and about 45 minutes to reach the tour’s first stop. Leeds Castle, the home to many notorious, tyrannical kings including Edward the 1st and Henry the VIII.
The 13th century castle was bequeathed to a non profit trust by its previous owner and today it is open to the public and considered one of England’s most popular destinations. Known as the “loveliest castle in the world”, modern day Leeds Castle hosts all sorts of events from jousting to concerts and film screenings. On this particular day, part of the 500-acre property was closed off due to the filming of a Bollywood film (by the set design, it looked like the Leeds estate was the set for an Indian wedding).
Tour goers can advance through the castle at their own pace and admire rooms in their preserved state. The property hosts ferry and train rides, a maze, garden and what just may be the world’s only dog collar museum!
The next stop on the Kent day tour was Dover and its landmark white cliffs which are approximately 45 minutes from Leeds Castle. In transit it is difficult to not gaze out the bus windows at the magnificent English countryside with its lush green hills. Entering Dover, the sun, which had been dominant throughout the early half of the tour, became concealed by the clouds. They say on a clear day you can see France across the English channel. We didn’t see France but we did see a lot of clouds. Considered one of the main ports of the UK, Dover is home to only 31,000 people. The tour bus stopped for about 15 minutes to allow people an opportunity to photograph the cliffs and then we were off to the final destination: Canterbury.
The inclusion was for the Canterbury cathedral, an ancient place of worship and tomb to many archbishops of the church with a somewhat dark history (a saint, Thomas Becket, was murdered in the cathedral by order of Henry the 2nd). While the cathedral was a lovely work of architecture, the town of Canterbury is well worthy of its own exploration. Reminiscent of Stratford-Upon-Avon, this lovely village is full of quaint shops and pubs. Old Buttermarket Pub deserves special mention for offering an authentic English pub experience with modern dining variations (like a vegan pie that is to die for!). The town folk are so friendly and another hour to fully experience Canterbury without rush would have made this day tour from Evan Evans near perfect!
For those looking to get a mix of metropolitan and small town England without the stress of driving, day coach tours out of London are an ideal option. Be sure to ask your authentic travel agent about choices available to you.