Join us on a Day-Trip to the charming and historic 'Dickensian' town of Rochester (approximately 50 minutes away by train from Victoria Train Station in central London). On the trip we'll also be visiting the annual Rochester Christmas Market taking place in the castle gardens - one of the most famous Christmas Markets in the UK. In addition we have also booked a private guided walking tour of Rochester and a visit to the town museum. My brother and I spent the day in Rochester last week specifically to ensure the careful planning of the trip.
Brief details of this day trip are included immediately below. However, you will need to scroll past the larger photographs of Rochester below to read the very detailed itinerary and what's included in the price.
Romans, Saxons and Normans have all occupied Rochester at various periods and their architectural remains are still clearly visible.The architecture from these historical periods can mainly be seen in the impressive Norman Castle which overlooks the River Medway, the grand cathedral, the picturesque cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings. The town is also particularly notable for its independent shops and boutiques.
Rochester's most famous son is the 19th Century writer Charles Dickens, who based many of his novels on the town and lived nearby. The town is most famously described in his novels Great Expectations and Pickwick Papers. Many of the streets and buildings are also referred to in several of his other novels. Rochester holds the Annual Dickens Festival in the summer to celebrate the links. Walking through Rochester is essentially experiencing the world of Charles Dickens.
We'll be travelling by train instead of private coach as it's only a relatively short journey unlike most of our previous trips. There'll be so many meeting points throughout the day that no-one will be left alone for long periods of time (although we do realise that some people prefer to explore locations by themselves and therefore following every aspect of the itinerary is not compulsory).
We've already arranged a private guided walking tour of the town for our group when we arrive. We have booked two tour guides (so the group will then be divided in two - although only for the duration of the 90 minute guided tour).
We'll also be visiting the Rochester Guildhall Museum. This is a lively, informative and colorful treasure trove of Rochester and Medway's history. The museum is housed in the beautiful 17th Century Guildhall building. It's home to thousands of objects that illustrate the history of Rochester, its people and its development through time. There is also a special 'Charles Dickens Discovery Room' - where you can find out what Dickens said and wrote about Rochester and Medway.
Afterwards we'll make our way to the famous Rochester Christmas Market with over 60 stalls already confirmed. The setting for the Christmas Market in Rochester Castle gardens is perfect. There you can view the exterior of the castle which is described by the world-famous Rough Guides Travel as 'one of the best preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England'. At 125 feet tall, 'the keep' at Rochester remains the tallest castle keep in Britain. It's also ideally located less than 2 minutes away from the busy High Street.
ITINERARY AND WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
MEETING POINT - 9:15 am - We will meet by 'Boots' the chemist in Victoria Railway Station. We will be holding up a green and white hand flag to help you recognise us. Please ring us on the mobile number provided below in the very unlikely event that you can't find the location.
Below we have attached a photograph of our exact meeting point to make it easier for everyone. You can also download a map of Victoria Railway Station if you 'Click Here' - our meeting point is marked as number '27' on the map.
Victoria Railway Station is very close to Victoria Underground Tube station (and the Railway Station is clearly signposted as 'National Rail' from the tube station).
We will leave the meeting point at 9:30 am - so you 'must' arrive by this time. We will then walk to the platform and catch the 9:52 am train. Return train tickets are included in the price. Please note that as we have bought discounted group tickets, we must all travel as a group (you will not be able to travel separately on either the inward or outward journey).
10:40 am - Arrive in Rochester. We will then walk 10 minutes to the Visitor Information Centre (located at No.95 High Street). Everyone will then have a short break before our guided tour starts at 11:15 am. This location will be used for various meeting points throughout the day. There's a convenient cafe and toilet facilities at the Visitor Centre.
11:15 am - Private Guided Walking Tour of Rochester (included in the price). The tour will take approximately 90 minutes. The tour meeting point will be conveniently located outside the Visitor Information Centre.
12.45 - 2:15 pm - This is free time for lunch and to continuing exploring Rochester. At past events members have either divided into small groups for lunch or some prefer to use this time to explore by themselves. Many members often bring a packed lunch to maximise their time sight-seeing.
2:15 pm - We will meet once again at the Visitor Information Centre and head a very short distance to the Rochester Guildhall Museum (described above). Even though the museum has no admission fee, we have made an advanced group booking to ensure entry is guaranteed.
3:15 pm - We will meet outside the museum entrance and then head for the Christmas Market in the castle gardens (just a 2-3 minute walk) The Christmas Market is open until late and has an even more 'festive-feel' when the evening becomes dark around 4:15 pm.
5:00 pm - Optional meeting point at one of Rochester's many pubs on the High Street (or alternatively feel free to continue exploring the Christmas Market). For those who want to visit the pub, we will meet once again outside the Visitor Information Centre. There are a number of possibilities (and we have already spoken to the management in many pubs when we visited Rochester). However, it has not been possible to reserve an area on a Saturday as the town can be so busy on Christmas Market day (this is very common at major tourist events/locations). So the pub we choose will be selected on the day (my brother Terry or myself will scout ahead 30 minutes before our optional meeting point to find a suitable pub that it is not too busy). There are many large pubs so we'll definitely find somewhere suitable (we already have a preference for one particular pub on the high street and near the castle). This method worked exceptionally well on previous day-trips.
5:50 pm - We will meet once again at the Visitor Information Centre. After a maximum 5/10 minute wait we will make the 10 minutes walk to Rochester train Station. We will be catching the 6.22 pm train back to London. Once again, as we have bought discounted group tickets the National Rail terms state we must all travel as a group from Rochester to Victoria Station. Exiting separately at different stops is not permitted as part of the ticket terms and conditions.
7:10 pm - Arrival time back in Victoria Railway Station
As this trip is much shorter and we'll be arriving back in London much earlier than most previous events, we haven't arranged a London night out afterwards (even though we regularly have at past events and will continue to do so on longer coach trips). However, we can easily be persuaded to go for a last drink near Victoria Station when we arrive back in London if members ask :-)
Included in the price:
• Return Train Tickets
• 90 minute Private Guided Walking Tour of Rochester
• Fully planned Day Trip with very detailed itinerary and numerous optional meeting points and activities throughout day.
As already stated, we'll be able to view the beautiful castle exterior when we visit the Christmas Market taking place in the castle gardens
However as our itinerary is so full we will not be visiting the interior as a group on this day trip. In any case, the castle staff could not guarantee us entry as it can be so busy during the Christmas market and they can only allow access to a limited number of visitors (and they do not take advanced bookings during this period).
However, if you do want to visit the castle then you can pre-plan this yourself. The cost is £5.80 and last entry is at 3:15 pm (although as stated, entry cannot be guaranteed). Please click here to be taken to the official webpage of Rochester Castle if you require further information. Just remember it's over 200 steps to the top and the cobbled steps make it a difficult climb. Inside it's an impressive ruined castle with most of the flooring between levels now missing. However, from the ground this does allow for some great open-plan views of the castle and its open roof.
Once again, as our itinerary is so full we have decided against visiting the inside of Rochester Cathedral as a group. However, if you do want to visit then please feel free to do so. The cathedral will be pointed out to you on the guided tour.
Rochester Cathedral has free entry for individual visitors. However, if you visit as a sight-seeing group they charge £2.00. Last entry is at 4:30 pm. Please click here to be taken to the official website of Rochester Cathedral if you require further information
Emergency mobile phone number to contact during the day:
Please ensure you take the following mobile phone number that you can ring during the day (please only ring if it is absolutely necessary). My number is[masked] (Martyn). Ensure you take this number before your arrival at the start of the day. However, we will be unable to delay the arrival/departure times or other planned events as we have to adhere to a tight schedule. It is also unlikely that we will be able to respond to texts or voicemails.
All payments are to be made online via PayPal in full if you decide to RSVP (you will be taken to the payments page after you RSVP).
Please note you do not have to have a Paypal account to pay via Paypal. If you do not have a Paypal account, choose the option to 'pay with a debit or credit card' and fill in your card details, address, email etc as directed by the screen.
Please 'click here' to view an organiser's meetup group set-up with instructions and screenshots on how to pay without a Paypal account.
Payments are non-refundable unless the trip is cancelled or rescheduled. However, if you have booked on the trip and can no longer attend, we will refund your money only if the meetup is full and someone else takes your place (and pays for the place) from the waiting list. If you have booked and can no longer attend, please ensure you email me first before changing your RSVP to 'no'. Included in the price of £18.50 will be a contribution to my brother and I for organising this day trip.
Due to the fact we have booked a discounted group ticket, individual tickets do not need to be handed out. This makes the event run much more smoothly. Organisers can collect the pre-booked tickets on the day, show the tickets to the guard and then we can all be let through as a group.
Another reason why we won't be allocating individual tickets is because group tickets have to be bought in groups of 3 or 4. Therefore, if we handed out individual tickets, you would be required to stay with the same group of 3 or 4 people as there is often a guard on the train (which is almost impossible in a large group). There can also be problems with attendees getting off at different stops if they have a separate ticket. So if an attendee got off early, the tickets initially allocated to that specific group of 3 or 4 would not be valid. That is why we clearly state above that we must travel as a group. This method worked exceptionally well on our last trip.
Please note that we can only offer this trip to adults aged 18 or over due to concerns over increased legal responsibilities that may otherwise be involved.
If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact us. We'll be more than happy to answer any queries. You can contact us at any time via email (click on organiser photographs for the 'send email' option) or by mobile phone after 6pm [masked]).
Martyn and Terry