12 Days in England

Old Apr 7th, 2011, 05:51 PM
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12 Days in England

My husband and 2 boys (11,7) will be in thet UK (well, mostly England) in Late June/early July. We'll have 12 days, and with so many options want to make sure we plan ahead. We know we won't be able to see everything on the list, and came up with a skeleton - will be happy to hear comments and tips!

Day 1: Arrival - night flight from Boston (US), landing at Heathrow around
10:30am. I'm sure we'll be too tired to do much so plan is to get to
hotel, go out for a walk and go to bed early.

Days 2-3: London
Depending on energy: Tower of London, Big Ben, Trafalgar sq., London Eye, maybe a museum visit. I love London and haven't been there in a long time, but we decided to spend more time in the countryside, so will not do much.

Day 3: Hampton court or Windsor

Day 4: Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon

Days 5-8: Yorkshire and/or Lake District
Open to suggestions on this part - ideally would be spending a few nights in a place from which we can do day trips and see the areas.

Day 9: Ludlow Castle
We want to get to Ludlow or Warwick, Ludlow castle was chosen because of the Festival as we hope to catch the open air production of "Twelfth night". We're not sure if this is a good thing to do with the kids - although a 2:30 Matinee sounds safe enough.

Days 10-12: Bath/Oxford/Stonehenge
We want to tour the area, hoping to rent a narrowboat for a canal trip as well... Debating between a one-day rental and overnight. Any thoughts on that? Any recommendation as to where to get a boat and what would be a good trip?

Then back to Heathrow and fly home...

any ideas or comments will be welcome!

Thanks
Gali
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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Your itinerary looks great. I would absolutely spend a few days in the country side surrounded by the rolling green hills and the wonderful natural beauty of England. You could rent an old authentic English cottage through the National trust for a very special and distinctive English experience out of a fairy tale. There are many cottages within an hour from London in the county of Kent. This website lists cottages all over the UK. http://www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk/

If you prefer newer and more modern cottages you can find endless listings through google too!

One comment I will make regarding the lake district is that it's nice, but nothing special for someone coming all the way from the US and is certainly incomparable to the spectacular natural beauty of Austrian and Swiss lakes, for example.

One part of England I would very highly recommend in the summer is Cornwall, especially lovely picturesque beach towns like St ives, where you would be vacationing with Brits and very few, if any, foreign tourists.
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 06:39 PM
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If I had to choose between Hampton Court and Windsor, I would choose Hampton Court. At Windsor they allow you to see a few select rooms, the doll house and the chapel.

At Hampton Court, the grounds and gardens are spectacular as well as the interiors of the buildings. You can spend an entire day there. My son loved the live kitchen demonstrations they were doing while we were there. If you can try to plan your visit around that because they don't do it often. I think on select days and weekends. He got to light the tinder box and turn the meat on the spigot by the fire pit.

I can't offer comments on the countryside as we mostly only toured London.
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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I'm having a tough time getting my head around your route. Lay out a map of england and you'll see than Oxford/the Cotswolds/Stratford/Warwick/Bath are all in the same general area. The Cotswolds lie just a few miles from the eastern edge of Oxford - and Stratford is a few milesfrom the northern edge.

You are sort of doing a huge figure 8.

It would be more efficient to do something like London > Bath via Stonehenge > the Cotswolds (base there for 3 or 4 days for Oxford/Stratford and Warwick) > Ludlow > York. Drop car and take the train down to London the day before your flight out of LHR.
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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oops -- I really screwed that one up

should have read >>Oxford lies just a few miles from the eastern edge of the Cotswolds
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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Gail, how do you plan to get about? What kind of accommodations? B & B?

Thoughts for your boys - near Cambridge is the air museum, London - Imperial War Museum, Portsmouth has Royal Naval Museum, HMS Victory (Nelson's flagship) and Henry VIII's Mary Rose.

Staying near Birmingham would give you Stratford, Warwick Castle and Ironbridge. There is an open air museum between Ironbridge and Birmingham. Think Sturbridge, MA.

Enjoy.
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Old Apr 8th, 2011, 12:18 AM
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Come to Somerset, drink some cider and walk on the Mendips - relax!
Whatever you do have a great time!!
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Old Apr 8th, 2011, 06:17 AM
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Thanks so much for all the responses!

We'll rent a car, and would either rent a cottage (depending on how long we can stay at one place) or B&B. Again - recommendations welcome.

janisj - you are correct about the route - however we wanted to be in the north during the weekend so that was the reason for the way it came out. We will tweak it once we decide where to go.
europeannovice - thanks a lot! we thought to skip Windsor and after reading your comments, sounds like a good plan.
jsmith - thanks for the extra ideas!
chillout - that's an interesting point about the lake district... photos do look similar to what we have in New England.

So the question now - if you had to choose between the Lake District and Somerset/Cornwall - what would you do?
Also any thoughts about narrowboats?
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Old Apr 8th, 2011, 07:02 AM
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Narrow boats need to be booked now, try to avoid taking canals through major cities (Birmingham for example) but other than that have a go. Note that UK weather is always about to change and on a canal boat there is only down below to hide.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 07:40 AM
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Gali,

Glad you are thinking of Hampton Court. I forgot to mention they also do re-enactments throughout the day. We did not catch any that day because we were busy doing our own thing but we did see and take pictures with "KIng Henry and Lady Katherine" as they meandered in the courts and gardens. Also with an 11 and 7 year old don't forget to go to the maze. It was fun. Do try to look at the schedule on their website to see if the kitchen demonstrations will be going on as that was a highlight.

The one room my son enjoyed at Windsor was the room with all the crests but we really enjoyed Hampton Court a lot more. I equate visiting Windsor to visiting the White House. You wait on a long line just to see a few rooms. Whereas, at Hampton Court it is so spacious and you are not restricted for the most part so you can cover a lot of ground at your own leisure.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Went over more books and web resources, and we may skip the Lake District in favor of in-depth tour of more southern areas. It looks like a lovely area but since we're short on time it may be a better idea to focus instead of driving around and seeing only little of many things.

We're thinking of adding more time in the midlands (another day in the Cotswolds + Blenheim castle) and going south of London for a day - Brighton & beaches. May get to York but still not sure.

Also, looking for B&B recommendation in the Cotswold and in the Bath area, again this is for 2 adults and 2 children, so need family rooms, or 2 not too expensive rooms.

-Gali
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 04:31 AM
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Gali
The Lake District is certainly scenically beautiful (and having been to New England several times, very different) BUT the area is far more than just a series of pretty vistas. Whilst people do visit to admire the views, there's also so much history in the area. The Lake poets for instance, or all the Beatrix Potter associations. My children loved to visit Hilltop.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-hilltop
Or you could have a ride on the Gondola on Lake Coniston.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-gondola
And Castlerigg Stone Circle is just amazing. The pictures on the link below hopefully show just how unique the Lake District is, and incomparable with anywhere else.
http://www.visitcumbria.com/kes/cast...one-circle.htm
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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Morgana, thanks for the links - you're making my decision harder
My perfect vacation will include just be what you described - a few quiet days in the countryside sound just right. But, my husband wants to visit Blenheim castle and Portmouth (thanks jsmith!) - both not on the original plan. If we add these it leaves us about a day for the Lake District, so I think it makes more sense to let go and (hopefully) get there on another trip.

So this is plan B - I liked plan A better, I think it was more about the English countryside I had in mind. But I may need to compromise...

Days 1-3 London
Days 4-5 Dover, Brighton, Portsmouth
Days 6-8 Oxford, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Castle
Days 9-11 Bath, Stonehenge, Stourhead, Taunton
Day 12 Hampton Court

And, still looking for a castle - we won't make it to Ludlow castle if we go south. Warwick castle sounds a bit too disnely-like to our taste (although the kids will probably like it).

Not enough time
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 06:49 AM
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I am a bit confused on day 4-5 as I don’t think you are giving yourself enough time to see these places, if you lay it out like this:

Day 1 Arrive in London

Day 2 – London

Day 3 – London

Day 4 – train to Dover (buy your tickets 90 days in advance for cheapest options) spend day in Dover – I would see the castle here – I believe that’s the reason for going to Dover generally.

Day 5 – pick up car and drive to Brighton (I think about 2 hours if you go via motorway back around London – more if you take the smaller coastal roads). Spend night in Brighton (leaves you the afternoon and evening in Brighton).

This is where you lose me – how do you have time to do all three in 2 days?

Day 6 – drive to Oxford from Brighton/Portsmouth? Portsmouth (still not sure how you plan to get here by day 6) is 2+ hours on a good day from Oxford so that’s just under half a day once you are on the road giving you the afternoon and evening Oxford. It will be even longer from Brighton as you will need to circumvent London if you take the M roads…

Day 7 – Drive through Cotswolds

Day 8 – Blenheim plus more Oxford

Day 9 – drive to Bath – again about 2 hours on a good day – spend the afternoon and evening in Bath

Day 10 – do you plan to do a loop and drive to Taunton and then Stourhead? That will be a good 3+ hours of just driving without stopping in the towns if you plan to stay in Bath again…?

Day 11 – Stonehenge? I would then stay in Salisbury this night and then take the train back to London in the morning.

Day 12 – Hampton Court

You could change this so you spend an extra day in London and see Hampton Court at the beginning and then after Stonehenge you drive back to Heathrow for your last night in maybe Windsor and then take your flight home on Day 13.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Thanks for the input, I thought I'd get something like this when I posted plan B...

Days 4-5 - I agree - too much to do, too little time. We may skip Dover, go only to Portsmouth.

Days 9-11 - won't necessarily stay in Bath. I only listed what we'd like to see in the area, then what will actually fit in the plan may be totally different.

We're usually quite focused on our trips, tend to stay more in one area, but this trip is becoming tricky... We're trying to avoid an england drive-through but on the other hand there's so much we do want to see. 9 days out of London sounded pretty good when we started, now not so sure.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 07:53 AM
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I know how hard it is! I always find the best vacations to be the ones that we are very selective in our locations.

Have you thought about flipping this so you are in London all together?

Day 1 - land and bus to Windsor, see castle spend the night.

Day 2- pick up car and head to Cotswolds via Oxford (Approx. 1.5 hour drive from Windsor to Oxford then another hour or so to Burford)

Day 3 – day trip driving through Cotswolds

Day 4 – Blenheim and more Cotswolds

Day 5 – drive to Bath (approx. 2 hours) and spend the day and night here

Day 6 – Day trip to Taunton OR Stourhead (why these two places btw? Just curious) sleep in Bath (I say this because its quite difficult to find accommodation in Bath for 1 night)

Day 7 – Stonehenge (try to get an early start on the road), spend an hour at Stonehenge then drive stay in Portsmouth this night.

Day 8 - Portsmouth

Day 9 – train to London London

Day 10 - London

Day 11 – London – day trip to Hampton Court

Day 12 – London

Day 13 - home

Are you shortchanging some places - yes, but it will give you more time to enjoy what you are seeing.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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jamikin's route makes HUGE sense. Definitely consider it

Besides Warwick - a few other castle possibilities include Sudeley and Broughton in the Cotswolds
http://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk/
http://www.broughtoncastle.com/

Arundel -- not too far from Portsmouth
http://www.arundelcastle.org

Corfe -- in Dorset between Bath and Portsmouth
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-corfecastle
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 09:41 AM
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That should have read >>Besides Warwick and Windsor - a few other . . .
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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jamikins, thanks a lot! Once I removed Dover things looked better, got to a similar itinerary. So now instead of thinking of what we WON'T see started to enjoy the list of what we will do. The rest will have to wait for the next trip.

janisj - thanks for the castles list. Will look into this tonight.

We already have a hotel reserved in London so will start there.

We want to see the gardens in Stourhead, but open to suggestions. Not sure we'll get to Tanunton, I think it's there as an idea, will just go where we feel like... If I wasn't concerned about accommodations I'll just leave London and see what happens, but I know it's a busy time and don't want to worry about that, so will plan more than we usually do.

Speaking of busy - should we try to avoid the Cotswolds on the weekend? I'm afraid it will busier than midweek and if that's the case will do London-Cotswolds-Bath-Portsmouth.

Also, still looking for B&B recommendations!
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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I just stayed here in Bath: http://www.thehenry.com/ Very comfortable, good breakfast. They have a family room. I found it very convenient as it's easy walking distance from the station and the center of town, however with a car you'd have to pay for parking.
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