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UK first leg

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Hi All,

I'm refining a question I asked earlier in the forum. Some awesome folks pointed out a bunch of amazing holes in our itinerary. I wanted to come back to the collective brain trust with a revised version and some lingering questions we have. We are doing 17 days in the UK/Italy as a engagement present to ourselves.

Days 1-7 are reserved for this leg of the trip. I'm trying to see if my timeline/logistics work out:

We are flying into London on July 1 (land about 9am local time at Gatwick). We are looking to grab some cheap/convenient lodging near to Salisbury. We will probably take it easy there for the day and rest up. Day 2 we want to see Stonehenge and then use day 2 (pm) through day 5 to explore the Cotswolds. We haven't come up with with firm itinerary for that yet - but I'm hoping 3 days is enough to explore a bit. The only non-negotiable here is Stratford-Upon-Avon.

We then want to use days 5 (pm) through 7 (pm) to jump over to Snowdonia for a day trip - we then need to make a beeline for Manchester to catch our Italy flight. We will be returning to London to finish the trip so the city-sites will be reserved for later.

Logistical questions:
Is it too ambitious to shoot for landing in Gatwick that morning and spending the first night out near Salisbury?

Is leaving 3 days to do the Cotswolds (however that ends up looking) enough time? How would you all suggest doing this? Picking one place to stay as home-base and driving to explore? As a side-note we love to drive and realize this front-loads a lot of drive time in our trip.

Has anyone done a side trip to Snowdonia? Does anyone know of some good spots to stay near there?

Also open for discussion:
Advise on lesser-known or better-known places to visit in the Cotswolds
Advise on whether to book small AirBNB type lodging, hostels etc.
Are we being too ambitious with what we are trying to fit in?
Of note: we are two women - pretty seasoned travelers - we do not need high-end or luxury lodging.

Thank you in advance for any ideas/insight.

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