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The finest small group vacations in rural Britain


flights · money · calling home · visa & passports · shopping


One of the most frequently asked questions is how best to travel from the various airports. We consider five of the main airports here:

London Heathrow:
Heathrow is now served by the Heathrow Express every fifteen minutes into Paddington Station for a cost of around £14 single, £22 return. It is quick (15 minutes into London) and easy, just follow the signs irrespective of which terminal you are in.

When you arrive at Paddington station, if your bags are light, the tube will take you wherever you need to go in London relatively efficiently or on to other onward rail stations. If you have heavy bags, hail a cab outside the station. It will cost a few pounds for a journey in Central London. The cost of a taxi between the airport and London is a possibility. It will cost around £40 and will take up to five people.

Manchester Airport:
Manchester is increasing capacity significantly and has a rail station at the airport. This serves many destinations such as Yorkshire and the Lake District directly, many more by a simple change. It is two and a half hours from London.

London Gatwick:
Unless you are going in the small hours, a taxi will get caught up in traffic from London Gatwick. An hour would be quick, we know people who took two hours to make the journey. It will cost around £70 to make the journey. Take the Gatwick Express from the airport to London Victoria. There you take a cab to your destination or next station. If your bags are light, try the tube.

Birmingham International:
This airport on the outskirts of Britain's second-largest city has a station on the mainline, is an hour/ hour and a half from London and has good connections to the rest of the country.

Edinburgh: There is no train here, but an airport bus takes you directly to the city and its station in less than half an hour. If your bags are heavy, ask for a cab. It will cost more but the journey is only twelve miles.



The currency used in the U.K. is Pounds Sterling. Each pound is divided into 100 pence.

Banks are available in towns from 9.30 until 3.30, many however are now open until 5.00 or 5.30 depending on the branch. Some branches (but not all) are open Saturday mornings.

Many travelers to this country rely on travelers' checks for security reasons. All major issuers (AmEX, Visa, etc) are widely accepted by banks. PLEASE NOTE: Travelers cheques are rarely accepted in shops, restaurants and so on for payment of goods. You will need a bank to change your travelers' checks (some hotels also do this) and are therefore often limited to banking hours to get money.

We recommend highly bringing part of your personal expenditure as debit/credit cards. Credit cards are accepted widely in the U.K. ATMs can be found much more frequently than banks and offer good rates of exchange. In addition, Visa, Cirrus, Plus and MasterCard are widely accepted by ATMs.

The most common notes or bills (£5, £10, £20 and £50) are issued by the Bank of England. The Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank all print their own banknotes( including £100). The Bank of Ulster in Northern Ireland also prints banknotes. All notes are legal tender throughout the United Kingdom, they are all Sterling, there is no exchange rate between them.

For our guests coming on a LancasterAuthentic vacation, we suggest the following: Some local currency (not a great amount but enough for a day or two), also a credit card and one or two debit cards of the type mentioned above. In rural areas we will not be coming across banks very often and exchanging travelers checks can cause problems.


Calling home

Phone boxes in the U.K. take coins and phonecards (available from many newsagents, post offices and stores). The minimum cost of a call is 20 pence. To call home to countries outside the U.K. directly, dial 00, followed by your country code (e.g. 1 for the U.S., 49 for Germany) followed by the area code and number. If your area code starts with a zero, omit this.

BT(British Telecom) phone cards work by inserting them into the phonebox and dialing directly. Other phonecards available can offer greater savings but require dialing a Freephone (Toll free) number THEN a pin number before making a call.

You can reach USA operators without cost by dialing (AT&T, USA Direct) 0800 89 0011 (MCI, Call USA) 0800 89 0222 Phoning from hotel rooms can be very expensive as additional costs apply. These vary from hotel to hotel, so check before using.


Passports/Visa requirements

When traveling in the U.K., you need a valid passport, a round trip ticket and spending money! For U.S. citizens a visa is not required. Non U.S. citizens should contact their nearest British Consulate. Further information can be found on the web at



Generally, shops are open from 9.00 to 5.30, every day except Sunday. Some major stores may extent opening hours, especially in major towns and places of touristic interest. This is dependant on the store. Some stores open on Sundays for a maximum of six hours. Again, this is often dependant on place and store.

Many privately-owned stores and village shops observe "half day closing", typically on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons and will also close on Saturday afternoon until Monday morning.



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    The finest small group vacations in rural Great Britain. Lancaster Authentic, Tour operator of quality Walking Vacations & Driver Guide Tours
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