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Wifi and Phones in the UK?

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Hello, I am visiting the UK next month and would like to know the best options for local cell phone and cellular data use. I will be spending 10 days there.
Getting an overseas plan for my current phone from my carrier here is very expensive and I am not sure Verizon even works in the UK.

I have heard the best thing to do is get a cheap pre-paid cellphone while I am there for making local calls. Do these generally work all over the country? We are visiting southern England and Wales.

For cellular data, so we can search the internet and check email, do the pre-paid phones work well for this? Or should I rent a mobile hot-spot device?

Also, would it be a fair guess to say that I should not get these from the airport? Where would be a good place?

Thanks for any help!

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