The shuttle service from Chandler’s Ford Railway Station is great for commuting into Eastleigh and Southampton but is also a wonderful way of visiting Salisbury. The total journey time is just over an hour and there are some fantastic views of the country en route, particularly after Romsey. Most images for this post were taken by me.
I’ve seen egrets on this route (just outside Southampton in fact), something that would have been unheard of only a few years ago. But then this is one of the great joys of train travel. I’ve seen views and wildlife I certainly wouldn’t have seen if driving (or if being driven).
(This latter point is especially true for my recent holiday in North East Scotland where the train to Wick is right on the sea edge in places with the A9 higher up and further back. This has meant seeing seals sunbathing as the train passes right by the beaches at Golspie and Brora. There is no chance of seeing the animals from the A9.).
The other great advantage of train travel, especially in a historic city like Salisbury where the need for car parking was never anticipated when the place was built, is that parking the train is someone else’s problem!
The only thing I would like to see available on board our shuttle service is a refreshment facility (though this can be available at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station now thanks to Three Rivers Community Rail, but this is not always open when the station itself is and I would love to see the station itself open for longer hours).
Salisbury is a lovely place for a day out and so easy to reach from Chandler’s Ford. I have visited the Cathedral several times, Sir Edward Heath’s home, Arundells, a couple of times, one or two of the smaller museums and enjoyed the walks in and around Salisbury as set out in the Station Walks book I reviewed some time ago.
It is also possible to pick up a coach directly outside Salisbury Railway Station to take you to Stonehenge. This service runs seasonally but means you can get to the stones by public transport, spend some time there before catching another coach back, and know you will be taken to the door of the railway station on your return.
Even if you don’t get out at Stonehenge, if you just want to look at the stones and have a nice run in the Wiltshire countryside without having to drive this is a great way of doing this.
For anyone thinking of visiting Arundells, I would recommend going on the guided tour which are at regular intervals. It pays to pre-book (this can be done online) as the tours are limited to about 10 people per tour. There is a wealth of information given on the tours and the house and gardens are stunning.
I can understand only too well why Sir Edward Heath wanted to live here (and have no doubts as what his views would be on the recent EU referendum!). My son and I also loved his collection of political cartoons (many of which were directed at himself!).
A magnificent building with a steeple recognizable from miles away on a good day. Years ago when visiting family in Wiltshire, my younger sister and I tried to outdo each other in seeing who could spot Salisbury Cathedral’s famous steeple first. I didn’t always win!
My favourite things in the Cathedral are the Medieval Clock, the stained glass windows, being able to see one of the original copies of the Magna Carta close up, the beautiful model of the Cathedral itself and the lovely cloisters.
Being a keen fan of a decent cup of tea/hot chocolate (my seasonal variations!) and cake, I also recommend the Refectory (though it is not cheap. I take the view I’m not here every day and using the Refectory is another way of supporting the Cathedral. Admittance is free though obviously they welcome donations which go to the upkeep of the building. They do suggest a recommended amount though this is not compulsory).
The Tower Tour
The Tower Tour is not for the faint hearted and anyone worried about heights as you climb half way up the famous steeple (it’s not possible to go higher than that, unless you are a steeplejack with the necessary equipment!). The stairs get narrower as you go further up and bulky items like handbags have to be left in lockers at the bottom. The Tower Tour does incur a separate cost (see the link) and has to be booked but the views are magnificent.
I hope to take this tour again at some point as the last time I went I used what would now be considered an old fashioned camera to take photos and left my spare batteries in the locker. Guess whose camera suddenly needed batteries as I stepped out on to the viewing platform hoping to take some shots of the splendid views!
Guess who just couldn’t face going all the way down and back up again (even if I had been allowed to do so)! (I went and bought a few postcards from the Gift Shop to make up for my faux pas – and this idea means you can still enjoy the views without the unforgettable climb!).
The next time I go up I will use my camera phone to take shots and ensure it is all charged up the day before. I’m not planning on being caught out a second time! On a good day you can see three counties, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, from the viewing platform (though beware this is very narrow and again you really must have a head for heights).
The Medieval Clock is one of the oldest working time pieces in the world. And the copy of the Magna Carta is housed in a beautiful chapter house. I “felt” the weight of history as I looked at this precious document which is in remarkably good condition. The Cathedral provides translations from medieval English into a variety of languages including modern day English (it is needed)! The rest of the chapter house here looks at human rights around the world and is thought provoking.
The stained glass windows are magnificent as are the choir stalls. I am so glad I don’t have to clean any of them!
I particularly enjoyed the Station Walks book tour 1 which takes you through the water meadows to get to the cathedral. While a small section of this (Harnham Road) is a little boring as you are walking close to houses etc, the vast majority of this walk is pleasant and the water meadows are as beautiful now as when Constable painted them.
At some point I may try and take in a play at Salisbury Playhouse as that is a very short walk down from the railway station but whether this comes about or not, I do know I would not plan to visit Salisbury in any other way than the train. From our part of the world, it really couldn’t be more convenient.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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