Self drive in UK can be fun!
Our 12 days self drive in UK, including England, Wales and Scotland, we did not cover Northern Ireland. We booked Malaysian Airline as it has a better deal but we have to transit at KL and fly from Singapore. Total of the whole journey is about 15 hours.
We arrive at 6 am in the morning at Heathrow Airport. There are 5 major international airports in London, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted.
As it was still early, we had some tea and coffee at the Costa coffee at the airport. Costa Coffee is a British multinational coffeehouse company which you can see everywhere in UK, more than Starbuck and Coffee Bean. You can also find Costa Coffee in the petrol station in the rest area. The size of medium is quite huge, cappuccino cost about GBP 3 and a hot chocolate also cost around that price. By the way, I don’t drink hot chocolate and coffee at all.
If you forget about getting roaming service for your mobile, you can always get one from the vending machine at Heathrow Airport. Cost about GBP 25 for one from the vending machine. It is better to subscribe your roaming back home.
We booked our car rental from Sixt car rental, it was our first time to book from Sixt Car rental, originally from Germany. Now, it has about 4,000 locations in over 105 countries but mainly in Europe.
Car rental Sixt
Sixt car rental is located very near Heathrow Airport, there is a Shuttle bus service from Sixt to pick up their customers. We arranged the pick up timing at 7.30 am but since we were early and did not want to lose more time so we used the phone in the car rental desk and call them to come early. There is a car rental desk at the arrival hall and there is a phone to use to call Sixt car rental operator, free of charge. Actually the shuttle bus services is very frequent and you don’t have to wait too long.
The shuttle mini bus is quite spacious and the staff are friendly!
As it was still very early around 7 am, when we arrived at the Sixt car rental to do our registration, many of their staffs were not yet there. But we managed to do our registration smoothly with one of the early bird staff.
Once we gotten our car rental, we set our destination in the GPS in the car. I was glad to find out the GPS is quite big compared to the one in Japan and Taiwan. It is about the size of a mini ipad. Very comfortable to see.
UK weather is unpredictable, it was raining heavily when we arrived in the morning. It make us more nervous to navigate as we were still not familiar with the car yet.
However, we managed to get by and drive to the outskirt of London. Once we were at the outskirt of London, there were less cars and we felt less tense and slowly started to get use of the car function.
On the way to Salisbury, the weather was getting better. At least the rain was not as heavy. The sky started to clear up a little.
What kind of car should you get when self drive in UK? The road in UK is pretty narrow and parking lot is really small. If possible try not to get a really huge car unless your driving skill is very good. Some roads are super narrow and can be quite scary.
When we approaching Salisbury, the sky turn bright and sun came out.
Car Parks Problem in UK – Rule no 1
Rule no 1 to self drive in UK, it is not easy to get a car park in UK, always do your homework. We already knew where we should park, so we entered the car park name in the GPS when we arrived at Salisbury. By the way, this is our rental car, Benz. We needed to take a picture in case we forgotten how does it look and for the number plates. Mercedes Benz C class cost us about SGD 100 per day. The body is not as big compare to Jaguar, originally we wanted a Jaguar but concerning of the narrow roads and parking spaces we try something smaller instead.
Salisbury is a small town, about 45 000 population. It was quite quiet and clean and pleasant to walk around.
Glad the rain has stopped and sunny weather but still very windy and cool. We parked our car at one of the nearest mall and walked to the town.
Some shopping streets in Salisbury town center. As it was still very early there were not many people as yet.
What do you have in Salisbury?
Salisbury’s gem is the impressive Cathedral, which has the tallest tower (404 feet) in England. It is very stunning when we saw the complete and huge Cathedral in front us.
There were few status at the front of the Cathedral. What I like about the place is, there is a very big and spacious green lawn outside the Cathedral which make the whole place so beautiful. It also enable you to see the whole Cathedral, including the imposing spire/tower without any obstructing view.
We arrived around 10 am and there were already few groups of tourist from Europe with guides. Didn’t get to see any Asian tour, may be this place is not popular among the Asian tourists because there are so many Cathedral in UK, may be they prefer Cathedral in London area.
Beautiful green lawn with tiny white flowers in front of the Cathedral.
This is a pet friendly Cathedral, people bringing their dogs to visit as well. I was glad to have a chance to play with some of the dogs there.
Artwork at Salisbury Cathedral
The statue head is red which matches very well with my red hat! Both have mono eyelids too!
The Salisbury Cathedral was built from 1220 to 1258, only about 38 years, quite short I suppose as the stone building was extremely huge. It also has the oldest working clock in Europe (1386).
You can walk around the Cathedral freely but some green lawn are not allowed to step on it. Look out for the sign.
Some artifacts found at the corridor before entering the Cathedral. Below show “King John’s Taxes”. It say John, the King massively increased the payments his subjects had to pay him.
Throwing Down the Gauntlet
If a knight threw his gauntlet at your feet, he was challenging you the single combat. If you picked it up, you were accepting the challenge.
This is truly a magnificent Gothic Style architecture which provide many great photo opportunities with unblock view.
Some old stories of the Peregrines of Salisbury Cathedral.
The one I saw here are not peregrines, I believe these are pigeons.
Observed some of the old craving at one of the old door, quite scary head found in front of the door.
This is also a place to see the original copy of Magna Carta, if you are interested in history. This is a very huge Cathedral and can take up to whole morning if you interested in all the details and if you go up the tower. I was too tired from the long flight so only spent about 1 hour plus to finish the whole site. I din’t get in the Cathedral but if you are interested, you can always do so. Just give a donation when entering the Cathedral, no specific fees.
Some view at the front of the Cathedral, as you can see only some humble houses built in front of this Cathedral and a huge lawn in front. What it means it will give you a perfect and unblocked view of the whole Salisbury Cathedral. That is why it is so beautiful and you can take picture from all angles.
I was sitting at a restaurant in front of the Salisbury Cathedral. It is the glass roofed Refectory Restaurant, I choose to sit outside as the weather was very good, except quite windy. Still a perfect spot to admire the beautiful Cathedral and sip some hot drinks and enjoy some sunshine.
Always Order 2 meals to share among 3 person in UK – Rule no 2
After visiting the Cathedral is time to go back to Salisbury town again to get our lunch. Found some open markets selling their plants. We ended up ordered some fish and chips and a chicken burger. Normally you can order two portion to share among three person. The portion size is quite big.
Bought some strawberry and mulberry, surprisingly cheap. A box of strawberry cost GBP 1 and 4 boxes of blue mulberry only cost GBP 1. Oh, yes we bought some grapes too, GBP 1.
Fruit Stalls selling at cheap price
Have you seen the biggest panties, also the cutest. The picture can’t tell how big these are. I can tell you about 4 times bigger than the normal size.
Some plant selling at cheap price, not sure what these are.
Where to park in Salisbury?
- Park at : Old George Mall Car Park
- Address: 6 New St, Salisbury SP1 2PH, UK
We went back to pick up our car at Old George Mall and set our GPS to our next destination.
From Salisbury to Stonehenge is only about 20 mins drive. However we were lost few times and make few turning back to the place. We actually can see the Stonehenge from the highway already but we just could not find the proper route to get in the car park. The GPS brought us to a pebble road which was very hard to drive and quite scary as there are many holes and water. It was an adventurous drive in the pebble road.
Took few pictures along the highway from afar when we still struggle to navigate the car park in Stonehenge.
The car park is actually located at the Stonehenge visitor center which is about 1 miles away from the Stonehenge. Then you can take the shuttle buses from the visitor center or you can choose to walk 1 mile+ one way and back 1 mile + . There is a fees GBP 19 to pay for the shuttle services and entrance fees to see up-close and the audio guide. What we did was, we choose to view it from afar. We did it FOC. Audio guide can be heard from youtube FOC. To be frank, the view is better from afar. Also the tourists at the visitor centers are super crowded, be mentally prepared for the long queue at the visitor center.
Mystery of Stonehenge
This is the most mysterious place in the world, the stones was laid out in concentric ring and horseshoe shapes on the Salisbury Plain. People believed the age of the stones are 4,000 years old.
What is the purpose of Stonehenge?
Nobody knew the exact reason, only speculation. People think it may be an ancient healing center or could be an alien landing site. I wonder how the ancient people transport such huge giant rocks to the plain without modern truck and technologies. Quite an interesting site to visit.
Self drive in UK
- London Heathrow Airport
- Costa Coffee
- Car rental Sixt
- Salisbury Cathedral
- Refectory Restaurant Salisbury Cathedral
- Where to Park in Salisbury?
- Mystery of Stonehenge
- What is the purpose of Stonehenge?