Is two and half days enough to drive from Dover to Portsmouth ?

IN EARLY MAY THIS YEAR I AM HIRING A CAR FOR SEVEN DAYS TO TRAVEL FROM LONDON TO DOVER THEN MAINLY FOLLOW THE COAST TO PORTSMOUTH BEFORE REACHING BATH ON THE THIRD NIGHT. IS 2½ DAYS TO DRIVE AROUND THE COAST ADVENTUROUS, AND DOES IT LEAVE US ENOUGH TIME TO SEE THE LOCAL SIGHTS? IS THERE A GPS WITH LOCAL HERITAGE THAT I CAN HIRE FROM HERTZ OR OTHERWISE AVAILABLE?

Dover to Portsmouth is just over 200 kilometres if you follow the coast, about 3 hours 20 minutes drive time according to the AA Route Planner . There’s a couple of places you’d probably want to stop along the way, such as Hastings and Brighton, but it’s perfectly do-able in a day. Portsmouth to Bath is just 135 kilometres, less than two hours if you take the fastest route, so no problem there either. I’m assuming you are not planning to stick to the coast for this part of the drive because if so, you’re going to be still behind the wheel at midnight. Portsmouth to Bath via Penzance takes in some glorious bits of coastal Britain but you need two days at least to make this journey with any hope of taking in the highlights. The roads that take you to the small coastal towns and villages are narrow, and agonisingly slow.

Although point-to-point distances in the UK might be modest, beware of underestimating the time it might take. You can gallop, sure, but there’s heaps to see that you really don’t want to miss.

You could hire a GPS from Hertz but that’s not going to give you the local heritage information that you’re probably after. You could team it up with a guidebook such as Lonely Planet’s excellent England Travel Guide, and that would do the job.

This question and answer first appeared in The Tripologist column of Fairfax’s Traveller. Read more at www.traveller.com.au




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