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Southampton to Dover, thence LHR

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When our cruise ship returns to Southampton in June, 2020, we would like to rent a car, drive to Dover, stopping along the way at some beautiful coastal towns.  In Dover, visit the White Cliffs (which I remember my father talking about their beauty when he as in WWII), the Castle and perhaps the town.  Then head back to LHR for a flight out the following morning.  Can anyone help me with this itinerary:  ie.  Timing; duration; ability to get a car at the cruise port (I believe their is a Hertz agency there); sites to see going and returning?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Hertz, Europcar, National, Alamo, Sixt  & others all have depots close to Southampton cruise terminals and at Heathrow.


The one major player which doesn't have a depot near the port is Avis,  whose nearest depot is at Southampton airport about a £20 / 25 minuter taxi ride (or a train ride) away.

But altho the roads in Southampton aren't desperately difficult, Avis / Southampton airport is close to the motorway network & means no city driving in Southampton, which might appeal to some.


There are some great south coast routes through towns & villages & countryside, and some coastline between Southampton & Dover. But they're slow & tortuous - this example is over 5hrs 30 mins (plus photo-stops etc) compared to under 3hrs  using the boring but much faster motorway loop


You can trim this route a little by straight-lining in a number of places (eg. the Arundel & Brighton by-passes) but this coastal route & the motorway loop (M3 - M25 - M26 - M20)  are miles apart so you can't switch between the two routes.

The first part of this route is fairly fast but quite boring divided highway as far as Arundel (castle, cathedral, antique shops) then slow past Worthing to Lansing (Gothic college on the left), then dropping down alongside the River Adur & following the seafront through Hove & Brighton. Veer off-route for the Birling Gap, Seven Sisters (much more attractive than the White Cliffs of Dover), Beachy Head (favoured suicide cliff)  & along the seafront at Eastbourne (known as "God's Waiting Room", because of the high number of elderly residents :classic_wink:). Now coastal towns & villages like Pevensey, Hastings, Rye, Dymchurch & Folkestone, and finally the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial atop Capel-le-Ferne before dropping down into Dover.


Alternatively this cross-country route


up the Meon Valley (A32) then cross-country on the A272 is much more rural with historic towns like Midhurst, Petwoth, Cowfold, Royal Tunbridge Wells, but no coast.

Again,slow roads, but a little quicker at 4hr 30mins.


You did say you have a week for this journey? :classic_biggrin:


Dover Castle is worth a full afternoon, but if you have the time for one of those routes, google for info & pics of these places then choose & post, and we can fill in some gaps


JB :classic_smile:

Edited by John Bull

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Sounds like a great trip to do post cruise, I would definitely allow more than one day, I think you would need at least a second day if not more. As John said a week would be good.

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Such wonderful information.  Too bad  we only have the one day for the visit.   My thought had been to at least hit Brighton before enjoying Dover, the castle and cathedral.  It appears, however, we may have to cut the trip down as, unfortunately, I don't "have a week."  Since it's only about 2 hours to take the boring route to Dover, that may be our best option, giving us plenty of time to explore that area.  Your comment regarding Birling Gap and the other coastal towns entice me to change the plan; but, as stated, I kinda want to see the White Cliffs in honor of my father.  So, it appears a direct route to Dover thence the 2 hours back to LHR on the motorway may be our best option.  


Your insight and practical information is truly appreciated and, oh, so helpful.  Thank you, again.

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