From coastal delights to northern wonders, Amy Moore lists locations outside London that can be easily accessed by coach.
Bournemouth is bound to impress, having achieved the accolade for Best UK Coastal Resort at the British Travel Awards 2014. Seven miles of golden sand and sparkling sea welcome groups to bask in its beauty, making it an ideal base to stay whilst exploring the overall scenic area of Dorset. A short stroll from the coast through beautiful garden scenery, will bring visitors to the heart of Bournemouth’s shopping district. Located nearby is the family-themed attraction Paulton’s Park, which is also home to Peppa Pig World.
Alternatively, older visitors could take a stroll along the Jurassic Coast or capture the sights of Corfe Castle and Durdle Door. Also nearby is Poole, New Forest, Wimborne, Weymouth, Studland, Salisbury and Christchurch. Avid shoppers could head to Castlepoint Shopping Park, labelled the largest shopping park in the UK. Bournemouth boasts great motorway links and adequate access via public transport – even housing its own airport with regular flights abroad. Kings Car/Coach Park is located approximately two miles from the town centre, with Queens Road Car/Coach Park available for groups requiring something a little closer. Coach drop off is available on Westover Road (outside the Pavilion Theatre), Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) and on Exeter Road Extension. A free group accommodation service is available online at www.bournemouth.co.uk
Brighton combines the bustling energy of the city with the fond freedom of the sea, making it one of the most cultural cities in Europe. Similar to Bournemouth, Brighton is the ideal base to explore the soothing Sussex countryside. Attractive when illuminated, the historic heritage of the Royal Pavilion is impossible to miss, with Brighton Pier and the newly installed Brighton Wheel offering a much clearer view. Cream teas, tours and discounts on guidebooks are available for groups of 15 or more visiting the Royal Pavilion, in addition to complimentary tickets for group leaders.
Brighton Pier is free to roam, with the Brighton Wheel welcoming coach parties of varying sizes, offering discounts from 15% per 15 guests. Brighton Wheel is conveniently located opposite the designated coach pick up/drop off points. Evening entertainment venues include the Brighton Centre, Theatre Royal, Brighton Dome and the Komedia. Shopping fans will have a field day with a range of independent shops stored in The Laines, in addition to the more mainstream at Churchill Square. Travelling to Brighton is easy. National Express services from London to Brighton take approximately two hours, with regular departures from London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airport. For more information see www.visitbrighton.com
Great Yarmouth in Norfolk houses a number of group/coach friendly activities and attractions, including the Sea Life Centre, Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, Time and Tide Museum and the Yarmouth Stadium. Six museums are available to view, with additional period properties housed in the heritage quarter. Heritage guides are available for both guided coach tours or guided walks. Great Yarmouth spans 15miles of golden sand that stretches from Hopton-on-Sea to Winterton-on-Sea. The Great Yarmouth coast is served with a number of conveniently located coach drop off bays. A spacious coach park is located 100metres from the seafront, with room for up to 100 coaches and toilet facilities for passengers. Parking charges apply.
Great Yarmouth has an additional drop off bay at Market Gates. For more locations visit www.great-yarmouth.co.uk/group-travel/coach-drop-off.aspx The Great Yarmouth Tourist Information Centre is located on the seafront, and the shopping destination of Norwich is an easy 30-minute drive away. For more information visit www.great-yarmouth.co.uk
The quaint and historic city of Bath is a designated World Heritage site and not without reason, attracting visitors for over 2,000 years. Bath is the only place within the UK where people can bathe in natural hot spa water, soaked with enriching minerals. Bath has a diverse collection of attractions to visit, including the world famous and original-style Roman Baths. The Thermae Bath Spa sits nearby, offering guests further opportunities to unwind. The Cross Bath is a separate venue for small parties of up to 12 people, with light bites, soft drinks and champagne available.
Groups of more than six should book in advance. Additional architectural wonders include Bath Abbey, which prominently stands at the heart of the city. Founded in 1499, Bath Abbey is the last of the great medieval churches of England. Groups of 10 plus are eligible for a guided tour. Coach pick up/drop off points are situated on North Parade and Terrace Walk. For longer stays, the Riverside Coach and Lorry Park is located on Avon Street – three-minutes walk from the city centre. Parking charges apply from 0800hrs to 1800hrs. An informative travel trade supplement is available to download online at https:// channels.visitbath.co.uk/groups/itinerary-ideas/group-itinerary-suggestions. For more information see www.visitbath.co.uk
Cardiff is a thriving city when it comes to culture. Located in the heart of the capital is Cardiff Castle, with a wealth of history that spans over 2,000 years. Wartime Shelters are the latest addition, created to commemorate the aged structure’s role as a place of refuge during the Second World War. Group visits organised in advance could be accompanied by a costumed guide, with Castle Tickets available for pre- booked parties of 20 plus. House Tours can be added at minimal price. Coach pick up/drop off is available immediately outside for easy access.
The Doctor Who Experience on Cardiff Bay boasts the largest collection of Doctor Who props and exhibits assembled within a free-flow exhibition that is regularly refreshed. Wales Millennium Centre opened in 2004, and is established as one of the world’s most iconic arts and cultural destinations. Visitors usually attend to enjoy musical performances, ballet and contemporary dance, hip hop and stand up comedy, alongside art exhibitions, workshops and guided tours. Situated next to Cardiff Central Station, Cardiff Bus Station is a hub for buses and coaches arriving from outside the city. For more information see www. visitcardiff.com
Liverpool has an unrivalled musical heritage, paralleled with the largest collection of museums and galleries outside the capital. Liverpool is perhaps better known as the birthplace of The Beatles, with groups invited to discover more at The Beatles Story at the Albert Dock. The Beatles Story celebrated its most successful year in 2014, since its opening in 1990. The Albert Dock is also the starting point for the Magical Mystery Tour, which includes a two-hour bus trip, taking in various Beatles-related landmarks including Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. It is estimated that almost six million people visit the Albert Dock each year, with coach visits in 2013 said to have increased by 17% compared to the previous year. Other attractions at the Albert Dock include the International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool. Named Coach Friendly City of the Year at the Coach Tourism Awards 2012, Liverpool offers 70 drop off/pick up, short and long stay coach bays, with a new Coach Welcome Scheme available at Liverpool Cathedral, the Albert Dock and Liverpool ONE. For more information see www.visitliverpool.com
2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, with Lincoln Castle housing a newly built visitor attraction in commemoration. Lincoln Castle Revealed is scheduled to open in April 2015, following a four-year, £22million restoration project.
Wall Walks will offer pretty panoramic views over Lincoln Cathedral, with improved access available to the atmospheric Victorian prisons. The Magna Carta Vault will become the new home for Lincoln Cathedral’s 1215 Magna Carta, which is one of only four surviving documents. New group travel itineraries have been revealed, in addition to a half/full day itinerary at Lincoln Castle. Visits can be combined with other tours, further offering groups the chance to explore the city, from rooftop tours of Lincoln Cathedral to guided walking tours of Lincoln Cathedral Quarter. For more information visit www. lincolncastle.com