The London Loop: Wales and England's Lowlands - Page 3

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Windswept and Wonderful: The rainbow-lit realm of Wales  (PhotoDisc)
A Test of Your Travel Intelligence: Oxford University  (PhotoDisc)

Day 8: Douglas to Betws-y-Coed (70 miles)
After returning to the mainland, travel about 70 miles southwest to Betws-y-Coed, the gateway to North Wales' Snowdonia Mountains and Snowdonia National Park (+; Options for outdoor adventures abound, especially with a thriving local mountain-bike scene and a wild (well, for the United Kingdom) landscape of mountains, river valleys, moorland, and thick forests. Rent a full-suspension bike in town and pedal the 17-mile Marin Mountain Bike Trail through the Gwydyr Forest. Not a knobby fan? Hike one of several trails that lead from town or hire a horseback-riding guide and trot the nearby bridle paths.

Day 9: Betws-y-Coed to Bewdley (100 Miles)
About 100 miles southeast, in England's Midlands, you'll discover one of the isles' last remaining tracts of ancient woodlands, the 6,500-acre Wyre Forest. About 20 miles of hiking trails meander around oaks, elms, and silver birch. The forest is a peaceful haven for birds—keep your eyes open for flycatchers, migrant turtle doves, woodpeckers, goshawks, and sparrow hawks, among many others. You may also glimpse several species of butterflies and wild woodland flowers like bluebells and lily of the valley. Tonight, stay in nearby Bewdley, a Georgian town on the banks of the River Severn.

Day 10: Bewdley to London (135 Miles)
It'll take nearly three hours to whip back to London, so break up the drive by spending the afternoon in Oxford. A university town, it's ideal for explorations by bike. Cycle by the quiet courtyards, stately facades, and green lawns of the 35 university colleges then past the Christ Church Cathedral, home to England's first spire. Before high-tailing it back to the city, save time for punting through town on the River Cherwell and a picnic at the University Parks. Then, once safely back in London, hit one—or several—of the places you didn't have time for the first time 'round, and end your adventures with a hearty (and well-priced) Japanese feast at Ramen Seto (19 Kingly Street) in central London, where your memories can mix with the sake.

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