For the last leg of our summer trip we spent a scant two days in the English countryside. I picked up our rental car in London after arriving from Paris. This was my second time driving on the left side of the road, so after getting accustomed to the car I drove off heading southwest towards our first destination, Stonehenge. After being stuck on the M25 for what seemed like forever, it was a delight to drive through picturesque countryside. After cresting a hill you get your first glimpse of Stonehenge sitting in a vast field. We spent the afternoon investigating the ancient site, in some of the prettiest weather we had during the trip. The sun shone down on us illuminating the green grass and tour groups that wandered around the solid stone circle.
After we finished snapping countless photos from varying angles, it was time to move on towards our hotel for the night. I drove us towards the town of Winchester, which was once the capital of England. It was especially relaxing to spend a nice evening in a town that could be considered quaint in comparison to the major metropolitan cities of London and Paris. We spent the evening strolling through the parks around the Winchester Cathedral, walking through small village streets, and enjoying an amazing dinner in Union Jacks. Content after conversation with locals and a hearty meal of pork chops and treacle tart, we retired to our hotel to rest up for our last day in Europe.
The next morning we awoke to the final day of our trip and we would be ending this day back in London so we could depart the next morning. With it being our last day we wanted to extract every last bit of travel out of our trip and I had an inkling to see the White Cliffs of Dover. We discussed whether we should make the more than 2 hour drive in the opposite direction of our final destination over breakfast. I pleaded and then even bribed with an opportunity to see Leeds Castle, which has been dubbed The Loveliest Castle in the World. The castle would be on the way from Winchester to Dover, so it would be a great opportunity to visit.
Having swayed my wife to make the journey, we set off. We headed out full of energy and excited to finish the trip strong. However, our energy waned as we sat stuck on the M25. If I thought we had spent a lot of time stuck on the M25 the previous day, I was in for a shock. It got so bad that eventually I decided to get off the motorway and take alternative roads. The unexpected delays resulted in us arriving at Leeds past closing time, so we weren’t able to see the castle. What a disappointment. Well, no time to pout, so onwards to Dover.
We encountered a much smoother trip after switching to the M20, and we finally arrived in the port town of Dover, greeted by an expanse of open ocean and the bustling movement of people heading home after a day of work. The road to the Cliffs wound steeply up a hill and was flanked on both sides by tall amber colored grass. A small parking space was carved out on the side of the road, with a sign indicating a trail leading to the Cliffs. We strolled along the trail taking in the view of the English Channel to the right of us, and the pastures of green to the left of us. A single horse curiously lingered at the edge of a fence on the trail, allowing us to visit with him before he sauntered off. We took photos of the Cliffs and surrounding fields, and overall just enjoyed the peace and tranquility of our location. A unique golden hue spread over the land as the sun set behind us.
After taking in the sight of the Dover Castle overlooking the bay we decided that it was time to end our impromptu visit and head back towards London and eventually, home. During our drive we recounted the amazing experiences that we shared on this journey, discussing our highlights and most cherished memories of our two weeks in Europe. Ultimately, this trip took us to two amazing cities and various destinations in the English countryside. But, while our days were packed with sights and wonders, we felt we had just scratched the surface. So, in normal fashion, I began to plan our next trip before this one even ended.