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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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help me ballpark a UK trip span? need to book soon.

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Hello all! Am under flight booking time constraints, so hoping for some initial impressions/advice on how long my July/August 2014 trip needs to be to encompass the places I want to dip my toe into, as gleaned from my research thus far. (Sorry this is so long, but trying to provide any needed background info along with my questions).

Sky's not totally the limit; aiming for 4 to 6 weeks, I suppose (?) I hope to use a combo of train and car - am traveling alone and I prefer someone else drive so I can look out the window, but am happy to spring for a car in places w/ tricky public transport. May also bring along a cute folding bicycle for a little local pedal fun. I'd like to include some easy to moderate bikes/hikes (or walks) on a handful of days.

Other pertinent points:
- Cannot fly open jaw - must go in and out of Gatwick - and thought I'd save London til the end of my trip.
- Years ago I did many of the major London sights with a school group so I can skip some biggies like the Tower and changing of the guard.
- In general, I have more interest in lively pubs with friendly locals, lovely landscapes, tasty food, and wandering in cute villages than, say, Windsor Castle or the National Portrait Gallery. At least one amazing big house is a must (Blenheim?) but I don't need to see every National Trust estate I pass near. Same with awesome gardens/grounds and staggering cathedrals - 2 or 3 is good; 5 or 6 will start to all blend together for me. Landscape-wise I'd like to hit one or two windswept desolate areas - beyond that, I'd prefer my vistas with nice trees or mountains and rivers or lakes, or flowers and thatch! On the other hand, countless cute towns are FINE, as is loitering at places good for picnicking and checking out animal-related things (livestock fairs, sheepdog trials - heck, even sleepy cats in shop windows).
- Finally, I *am* one of those people who is fine with ambitious schedules. I visit places I love on successive trips and plant myself down for a leisurely stay at THAT point. But I realize transit will take time and don't want the WHOLE trip to be pell-mell.

So! Here is my very rough preliminary wish list, in totally no particular order:

1. Bath - use as base for Avebury/Stonehenge, Salisbury, Wilton House, Stourhead. Can I see Tintern Abbey from here too? Is Glastonbury worth a visit?
2. Cotswolds. Chipping Camden, Stow on Wold, Blenheim. Want to spend time in Oxford too - perhaps base myself there and foray out to the above? This sounds like perhaps a car area.
3. A taste of Wales. Conwy, Caenarfon.
4. Lake District. (Possibly some Peak District too? See, I feel like that is too much to squeeze in if I'm not even certain yet what's there!) I could be tempted by some Pemberly action (Chatsworth House/Lyme Park) but not if it's far off an otherwise logical path OR, if say, Blenheim (for example) is just tops in the fancy house category and will suffice. Also, this is another car area, no?? Jeez..
5. York.
6. Edinburgh.
7. Some Scottish Highlandy-y (and island-y) places. I gather Inverness and Loch Ness are 'meh' - do I need a loch replacement plan, or are they just all over? And as for getting a bit coastal, I'm not sure if I should aim up for Skye, or if Mull/Oban/Iona will be easier to reach but similar. AND this looks like STILL another car area, but not sure if I could/should do a one way rent to be efficient, and if so, where to do my rental[s] from - wasn't getting good search results experimenting online. Complicating factor: there are highland games on Skye or near Stirling in early August. I'd *love* to see some caber tossing action while in Scotland (obviously!), but those dates are getting toward the possible end of my trip, and honestly, I was trying to stay faaaar away from Edinburgh when Fringe/Int'l Fests occur. Was actually considering starting the trip from up there (overnight train from London on arrival day, maybe?) and working my way back down. But then I miss seeing the games.
8. Min one distillery. Not an aficionado so it doesn't matter much which one, but I've had and liked some peaty whiskys before and would like to check an operation out.
8. Wind up in London. Required days there tbd.

So.... any immediate thoughts/gasps/howls of concern/flashes of brilliant strategizing? :D Many thanks in advance!

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