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Need advice for best way to see UK and Ireland

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Hello fellow fodorites,

Once again I need your invaluable help with a planned trip to the UK next summer.

My wife and I plan to fly to London and fly out of Dublin having spent around 6 weeks touring the UK.

Our plan is to book accommodation in London and spend 6 days or so looking around the English capital. After that, it gets a bit fuzzy :-)

We have toured Europe for a total of 14 weeks over the past several years and have always travelled independently. Catching trains from Base to Base and then pretty much walking or using local transport to get around to all of the wonderful sights and experiences that Europe holds.

With this upcoming trip, however, I am not sure how to best go about it.

My initial plan was:
1. Take a 10-day bus tour around England.
2. Catch a train to Edinburgh and spend 3 or 4 days exploring that city.
3. Take a 7 or so day bus tour around Scotland, focussing on the Highlands.
4. Take a Ferry to Dublin and spend several days exploring that city before ...
5. Taking another 10-12 day bus tour around Ireland and Northern Island before flying out of Dublin.

However, many people have suggested that ALL bus tours are rushed and most of the sight-seeing is done out of a bus window! Having done independent, leisurely trips in the past, this does not sound too appealing.

Still others have suggested that taking the self-drive approach is a nightmare due to traffic and a total lack of parking anywhere. And finally, unlike Europe (where for example we based ourselves in Brienz and made day trips to Interlaken and beyond; Lucerne; Bern; Grindelwald etc) I don't think exploring England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland would lend itself to that type of travel mode.

Please, can anyone offer some suggestions for getting the most out of a six-week visit?

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