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London, Brighton, Scotland

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I'm considering a visit to Scotland in late July, need some advice on the itinerary and best transportation method.

Firstly, I'm thinking of visiting for a week, maybe two, depending on the answers I get on here.

I'm thinking of flying to London and then continuing the journey to Scotland (I'm thinking Edinburgh) by train. In Scotland, I'll probably rent a car to explore. Same thing for the return journey except in reverse: going back to London by train, probably spend a night there, and then fly back home.

Some questions I have:
1) Would you recommend regular or sleeper train?
2) Where should I base myself in Scotland, any recommendation of a particular hotel / B&B?
3) If I don't want to drive, is there any way for me to still be able to visit some of Scotland's natural landscapes (public bus/shuttle bus/train)?
4) I have a friend who lives in Brighton who's keen to meet up. How can I fit Brighton into my itinerary?

Thank you so much!

PS. I'm the kind of traveler who is very mellow. I like slow travel, enjoying the surroundings, observing people, walking / hiking / biking aimlessly. Not much for parties or nightlife.

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