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Itinerary Advice- 10 days in South/Southwest England

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Hello all! I've only ever lurked on these forums (and shamelessly stolen great advice from many posters!), but now I'm in need of some help- hoping for some itinerary advice.

My husband and I (we're in our [very] late 20s, from the US East Coast) will be in the UK in late October for 10 nights. We've been having a lot of trouble settling in on an itinerary (probably because there's just so much we want to see and do!). At first we had considered starting in Edinburgh for a few days, travelling south via a few days in the Lake District, then ending up for the last few days in the Oxford/Salisbury/Bath area. This seemed like a LOT of driving, so we thought about saving Edinburgh for another trip and doing a giant "loop" (of the slightly-less-than circular variety) of Winchester/Salisbury, Cardiff, Peak District, Lake District, back south to Oxford. This itinerary continued to look like too much driving/too many location changes, so we've been tentatively rethinking the north-south axis of the trip and considering swapping out the Lake District for a drive into Devon and Cornwall. We LOVE scenic drives and scenic walks (so had been looking forward to the Lake District), but the Southwest looks to have these in abundance as well. My question here centers around whether this is a realistic change for the better for our itinerary? And part two of my question, if we did this itinerary focusing on the South and Southwest, which places would make the most sense for us to base ourselves in for several days at a time? In late October, with shorter daylight, how far is realistic to drive for a day trip?

Places we definitely want to see include: Oxford, Winchester, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Avebury, Bath, Wells, Cardiff (we really want to see the Doctor Who Experience, don't judge!), maybe Stratford if we can work in a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company (only overlaps with our trip for the last few days). We had really wanted to see some of the stately homes in the Peak District, and are still considering it if our itinerary takes us that way. If we end up going to the southwest peninsula, we'd like to do some coastal driving/walking, and places that intrigue include St Ives, Penzance, St. Michael's Mount, the Eden Project, Plymouth, and exploring some of the moorlands (Dartmoor or Exmoor, still trying to read more about these places) on the way in or out.

To give an idea of our travel style, we don't mind trips that move around a lot. We did 12 days in Italy a few years back with stops in Torino, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Padua, and Milan- but that was with all travel done by train, so none of the driving fatigue to worry about. We obviously didn't see everything there was to see in any of those fabulous cities, but we loved that trip and didn't feel that we were too rushed. We've also done several recent trips with a lot of driving (west coast of Ireland, California coast) but with only 2-3 bases, so we weren't changing our lodging too often. This time we'll be renting a car, so we're flexible, but really want the itinerary to make sense and not feel too crazy, though we are ready to cover some ground. We love history, architecture, cathedrals, scenic drives, scenic walks/hikes, and great pubs.

So again,
a) Is switching up our trip to swap out the Lake District for Devon/Cornwall really making our itinerary more manageable? Or are we better off considering one of our earlier itineraries?
b) If we do this sort of itinerary, which town(s) would you choose as our base(s) for lodging?

I hope this wasn't too long an explanation or too amorphous a question... we've been going back and forth for weeks and needed some advice. Thanks in advance!

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