Day trip to Blenheim Palace and Woodstock town via Oxford

Woodstock Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 14 › view all entries
En route to Oxford

It really is such a nuisance when things don't go the way you planned. In this case, not even my fault. But Evans Evans suddenly pulled the plug on me. I really wanted to see the Wolds, but going through my Frommer's book, it looked like a hassle getting their on your own using the public transport. Plus, the good villages (Bibury, etc) are not the easiest to get to by public transport, whilst the commercial market towns are pretty easy (but those aren't the prettiest). Besides, with the exorbitant prices of National Rail, I really didn't want to lose too much money and go to a place that I'll regret later. So I decided, well might as well carry on to Oxford, and onwards to Blenheim Palace, at least keep up with half of what I was planning on seeing anyways.

En route to Oxford

I couldn't sleep very well the previous night - I kept waking up (I was also dead hungry), munching on some protein bars I'd brought with me from the US, and finally at 5am, I walked up to a newsagent by the end of the road and bought the essentials - eggs, bread, butter, milk and Onken Yoghurt.

Not related to my trip report I know - but I reckon this Onken Biopot deserves a shout out. Amazing! I loved the little mango pieces they throw in, not to mention it's texture... it's not as thick as American flavoured yoghurt is, it's a bit liquidy, it's just really really good. Onken is definitely my new Thorntons!

Anyway, got done with breakie, and headed to Paddington station by 730am. Bought my ticket to Oxford, the return train ticket was 48 GBP (Wow!), and the onwards journey took forever.

Outside Oxford railway station
It made pitstops in almost city, it took about 2 hours to reach Oxford (so much for the travel books saying it takes 45 mins max). But the train ride was lovely, especially after the Reading stop when most of the crowd disappeared. It was amazing seeing lush green England again. One could tell that it had perhaps rained the previous week. Everything looked green, yet 'dry' enough.

I arrived Oxford around 10 am, the station was your typical English railway station, and I made my way to catch the bus that offers service to Blenheim Palace. I met 3 Americans -2 had flown in from Portland and another, a Professor was living in Bristol for the last 3 years. It was good talking to them, esp the Bristol Professor. She's toured the UK quite a bit and gave me great advice regarding Cornwall area.

entry to the palace

The double decker bus service to Blenheim was fairly picturesque, classic travelbook England that I don't really need to talk about much. The bus reached Blenheim Palace by about 1115 am and I was on my way through the long long gardens and fields towards the castle. At the outset, the palace appeared very Hampton Court / Culzhean Castle-ish - same greenery, same ambience, same rich family feel.... This palace has been touted as Britain's answer to Versailles Palace. It's from the Baroque era, and is the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough, who is related to the first duke John Churchill. Queen Anne gifted Churchill this palace when he defeated Louis XIV's troops in a village named Blenheim, by the banks of the river Danube.

Entrance to the Palace
This palace is also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

I loved the look of the palace I must say. The architecture presents lots of photo opportunities, the inner courtyard has really been sculpted very well as the photos show. But for me, the undoubted highlight was the "Blenheim Palace: the stories untold..." experience. It's really a very nice idea, and very well done. One of the maids, Grace Ridley is the virtual maid who takes us through different rooms and unveils different stories about the palace and its residents. I really liked the concept, very well executed. This "tour" takes about 40 minutes or so. From here, it was well past noon and I was hungry. So had a vegetable hotpot at the palace cafteria, very well done. And WOW at the setting - the rsnt looks into the Roman gardens, it's amazing. The care and detail that's gone into the design of the garden is JUST spectacular.

Gardens outside the palace
After lunch, this garden and the other one behind (which has been blocked to visitors, WTF!) both merited a 15-20 min walk each. not to mention the sprawling never ending lawns. One of our popular Bollywood films "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum" was shot in part here at Blenheim.

However, I felt the palace also had a few pitfalls - for starters, 13 GBP entry fee is way more than what it has to offer. As one walks through every room or corridor of the building, it's all a bit deja-vu. This p(a)lace reminds one of Hampton Court Palace, Leeds Castle and Culzhean Castle. Having said that, I thought it lacks a certain grandeur, both internally and externally when compared to the aforementioned places. Second, it's a BAD idea to block off the most beautiful part of the gardens to visitors. I don't know if it's a permanent thing or just for the day that I visited, but eitherways, bad!

I wandered around the various gardens, got all kinds of strangers to take my pictures, walked to the lower level to the fountains, pretty much hung around for about 1 hour here before I started walking out to the corridor, towards the maze.

I didn't quite make the maze, but I did go to that UTTERLY pointless Butterfly House, couldn't stay there for longer than a minute, it was boring as hell. I did want to do the maze but it was hot and I was bored and I just wanted some rest and some shelter! So instead I had an ice cream, and started walking out of Blenheim towards the town Woodstock.

Woodstock is a nice little town. I felt the roads were narrower than most British roads. It looks really lively though, and the city centre is very well contained. it was about 3 pm by now, so I started making my way back  to the bus stop. I caught the bus to Oxford, I ran into the same 3 Americans I met on my way to the palace. I got down a couple of stops before the train station and Oxford and walked around the city. Boy, it's crowded! And I don't know if it was crowded in a nice way (like say, Leicester Square or oxford Street in London).

It appeared that here, the crowd was a bit of a mess. For some reason, I have never quite connected with Oxford as I had/ve with Cambridge. Forget the spires, forget the University, forget the reputation - I've always just considered it a bit cold for me.

I caught the train back to London and reached Paddington at about 5pm. More on that in my next entry...

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
En route to Oxford
En route to Oxford
En route to Oxford
En route to Oxford
Outside Oxford railway station
Outside Oxford railway station
entry to the palace
entry to the palace
Entrance to the Palace
Entrance to the Palace
Gardens outside the palace
Gardens outside the palace
the gardens
the gardens
Rsnt facing the garden
Rsnt facing the garden
Lunch - veg hotpot and home made g…
Lunch - veg hotpot and home made …
One word - Spectacular!
One word - Spectacular!
the completely redundant Butterfly…
the completely redundant Butterfl…
Narrow lanes leading upto Woodstoc…
Narrow lanes leading upto Woodsto…
random shot of Woodstock town
random shot of Woodstock town
Woodstock
photo by: tj1777