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Liverpool - arriving, Beatles, day trip, and next stop

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As a continuation of a previous thread, I have decided to focus this one a bit more. Any advice is most appreciated.

1. Arriving in Heathrow at ~11:00 AM (if more specifics were known ahead of time, we'd have flown into Manchester, but unfortunately this is fixed at this point and we just have to work with it). How much time should we allow within Heathrow itself (probably very little baggage) before planning a train trip to Liverpool the same day (what's the soonest train you think we could take out)? Is there a way to tailor the trip to be especially scenic, or is there generally 1 main line that we'll have to take?

2. What, in your opinion, is the best way to get a taste of Beatles history in a short period of time? We probably won't have a car unless our hosts offer one and don't expect to be able to go far without one. We looked online at the Magical Mystery tour but the times don't really fit with our travel plans/times. We know about Cavern Club but I'm curious how "authentic" it feels. We'd just like to be able to experience the music and maybe get some sense of the inspiration behind it, if possible.

3. As I mentioned in another thread, I'd really like to get to Ludlow and visit the castle. Is this a reasonable day trip from Liverpool? Is this train ride particularly scenic?

4. Again from another thread, using Liverpool as the launching site, we'd like to either head north toward Newcastle (and Edinburgh if we can) or head west to Wales. We thought that seeing the sites in Wales made more sense geographically with visiting Ludlow and being in Liverpool and all, but with no car, I'm not sure how practical it is. Any thoughts?

I know these are a lot of questions, thanks in advance!

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