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17 Days UK with 6-yr-old child and 15 yr-old teen

17 Days UK with 6-yr-old child and 15 yr-old teen

Old Feb 2nd, 2020, 07:02 PM
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17 Days UK with 6-yr-old child and 15 yr-old teen

Hi all,

This is our family's first trip to UK. However, we will be visiting in early-mid-Dec which I understand will not have the best of the weather. We enjoy the following: mix of city, small towns, rural cottages and seaside. Our teen is not exactly a great fan of museums and architecture sites, enjoys nature and outdoors more. My DH and myself like visiting museums, historical architecture sites, love nature and outdoors too. 6-yr-old DD is a relatively easy traveller, likes adventure, sea and outdoors. This is a draft plan that I've come up with to seek advice and help:

Day 1 - 5 Fly into LHR. Explore London and 1 or 2 day trips (4N London)
Day 5 - 7 Train from London to York. Explore York. (2N York)
Day 7 - 13 Fly from York to Inverness. Pick up hire car and begin Scotland road trip, ending in Edinburgh. (6N Scotland)
Day 13 - 16 Fly from Edinburgh to either Exeter or Bristol. Explore SW England either by car or join a small tour group. (3N SW England)
Day 16 - 17 Train back to London for last night. (1N London) Dept flight at 2030 from LHR on Day 17.

Does the above plan look feasible? Any parts look too rushed or can do with better alternatives? I did not include Ireland or Wales in the above plan? Will it be advisable to swap some nights for either of these 2 places?

Thank you and appreciate any help and suggestion.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2020, 07:17 PM
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"Does the above plan look feasible? " Not in any why at all. Back to the drawing board -- This is not a good plan Sorry

just random things to think about:

4 nights in London nets you 3 days and you'll be jet lagged to boot . . . not enough time to see almost any of London.

And out of that measly 3 days you want to take 1 or 2 day trips. So essentially no time in London itself.

Planning a road trip in northen Scotland in December is pretty much a non-starter. Even IF the days weren't VERY short . . . like sunrise at 9 AM and sunset at 3:30 PM in Inverness . . . driving in rural Scotland can be treacherous even when there isn't a winter storm.

Same can happen in rural Devon/Cornwall

If it was me (and it isn't) Upon landing at LHR I'd immediately fly in to Edinburgh - stay 4 nights. Take one day tour with Rabbies IF the weather cooperates. Train to York - stay 3 nights. Train to Oxford - stay 2 nights. Train to London and stay a week with a day trip 'maybe'.

I think you should start all over again -- and forget about a driving tour in Scotland.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2020, 07:21 PM
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meant to include https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-...from-edinburgh
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Old Feb 2nd, 2020, 07:33 PM
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I agree that you need to rethink this. I grew up in England, and to me December says cold, grey, damp and dark. (I've been back occasionally in December and it hasn't changed.) Personally, I would stay south. I know janisj is fond of Edinburgh, but I would go no further north than York, and probably not that far. You could consider Bristol, along with Bath, Salisbury, Winchester, Portsmouth and Canterbury, plus, of course, either Oxford or Cambridge.

If you really want to go to York, I would start in York, train to Cambridge (side trip to Ely), train to London. Day trip to Hampton Court, Greenwich or Windsor. (Janis - will Kew Gardens have the lights up by then?) And forget the sea, there's a reason Brits go to the Med for seaside holidays - and that's in the summer.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2020, 09:25 PM
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To explain some of my reasoning -- The reason I recommended Edinburgh, York and Oxford (or Bath would be good instead) and London is that they are all very festive in the holiday season wit decorations and LOTS to fill your time indoors if the weather is dreadful. Now -- I was just in London at the end of Nov/early Dec and the weather could not have been better cold/cool but sunny and calm . . . however the week before I arrived and the day I flew home winter returned with rain and biter cold.

While Edinburgh is far north and likely colder than down south (though no guarantees on that) - being a city-centric visit, the weather doesn't matter that much. Also it is easy to get to Edinburgh on arrival day by flying up. If you start in York -- there would be a bit of a hassle crossing London and then taking the train north. So that's why I recommended Edinburgh > York > south -- mostly for logistics. BUT if you want to stay to the south that would work too.

It is very soon to have booked your flights but I assume you have since you already know your flight times. If not, you could fly in to Manchester, take the train to York then train somewhen south (Bath or Oxford or Cambridge or ??) the train in to London for the last week.

"Janis - will Kew Gardens have the lights up by then?"

Yes -- Christmas at Kew runs from about the 3rd week of November through early January.

Last edited by janisj; Feb 2nd, 2020 at 09:28 PM.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 12:05 AM
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jeeze -- typos . . .

That should say "Not in any way at all". Like nope - nada - no way

Plus several other typos like bitter, with, etc etc . . .

Last edited by janisj; Feb 3rd, 2020 at 12:09 AM.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 02:32 AM
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Thank you so much janisj and thursdaysd for your great advice and suggestions! Exactly what I need to kick-off the planning on the right track. Will focus on London and perhaps 2 more cities. If that's the case, will we be fine relying on trains and other public transport? Or will it still be easier with a hire car outside of London, to explore places like Bristol, Bath, etc? How about N Wales? Advisable to include any destination in N Wales?

Will probably leave Scotland for another trip (hopefully) in summer!

Thank you!

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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 04:05 AM
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If you're mostly staying in towns and cities, a car would be more trouble than it's worth: use the trains to get from one to the other - as the old advertising slogan had it "Let the train take the strain". Use www.nationalrail.co.uk to check times and fares, and look at pre-paying a railcard for some significant fare reductions - www.railcard.co.uk. Also spend some time with www.seat61.com for general information, advice and tips on rail travel.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 06:23 AM
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I did north Wales by public transport recently, see: England and Wales by public transport

However, I wouldn't go in December. The Great Orme tramway and the Snowdon railway will be closed for the winter, and some B&Bs may be too. The reason janisj and I are advocating cities is so that you will have things to do if the weather is bad. While it is true that you could hike, the paths are likely to be muddy and you will need to take along boots and heavier duty outerwear.

Patrick has given you the right sites for train travel. There are also long distance coaches, see: https://book.nationalexpress.com/coach/#/choose-journey The local bus company will vary by location but Rome2Rio should give you the correct name.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 09:09 AM
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North Wales has exactly the same problems as Scotland -- the castles and fabulous scenery are impossible to see if there are winter storms and you won't know what the weather will be until the day or two before you travel. As mentioned -- for cities or even major towns trains will be 100000% better by trains/other public transport than having a car.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2020, 10:14 AM
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Add me to the list of those suggesting you cut back. The SW can be wonderful that time of year but i can also be appalling [I should know, I live here] and there are far fewer wet/bad weather options unless you stay in a city like Bristol or Cardiff. I certainly would not recommend December for a first visit to the area. And it would be best to end up in London so you don't split up your time there.

Going with your now much better idea of only 3 places, like JJ I would fly straight to Edinburgh, spend 5 nights there, then get the train to York and stay 3 nights, then train down to London for the rest of your trip. I can see that your elder child likes the great outdoors but there are plenty of opportunities to be outside in Edinburgh and in London in particular - the London parks, Hampstead Heath, a day trip to Brighton, Kew Gardens - with lots of inside options if the weather turns bad.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 01:33 AM
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Thanks once again for the advice and the helpful links! Will definitely check them out.

With the re-drawn plan focused on cities, I have a few questions:
i) Will it be fine for us to fly straight to Edinburgh from Heathrow after our 14.5 hrs flight? How many hours after the ETA is safe for this transit?

ii) Edinburgh(4N)-York(3N)-Manchester(3N)-London(6N) : Will what we see and experience be rather similar in these cities? Should we swap 2N for Bath? Will Bath offer a more varied experience?

Appreciate your help.
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 06:30 AM
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It depends on your medical conditions. When I fly to NZ I do two 12 hour flights with an hour off in an airport and suffer no ill effects, others like to have days off between.

Edinburgh(4N)-York(3N)-Manchester(3N)-London(6N)

It really depends on you
Edinburgh is a city built into granite hills and as well as the whole Scottish thing is frankly interesting to get about
London is enormous (6 days will not touch it)
York has a medieval city centre with a national railway museum bolted on one side
Manchester (of the four is the least exciting to me), but it has some fantastic art galleries, China town etc and has more to do than Bath. Bath is smaller and has one of the few Roman remains in the UK which has been in continual use since the Romans were here and it also has some lovely stony buildings from the modern era.

Your decision
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 07:08 AM
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An important bonus about London is most of the museums are free. So even if you think your teen wouldn't like a museum you can just pop in for a short while and leave if you want without spending the whole day to feel like you got your moneys worth. The museums also have usually good cafes and shops for browsing. And explore in advance on the museum websites the free docent led tours available. The ones at the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are great, about one hour long and focused on either highlights or a special topic.

Another fun thing for families is London Walks. Kids under 15 are free. https://www.walks.com/how/
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Old Feb 4th, 2020, 09:18 AM
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What time do you land at LHR? I fly from the west coast US so with connections I am usually traveling for 17-18 hours before getting to LHR. If I arrived By mid afternoon I'd definitely book my onward flight to EDI about 3.5 or 4 hours after ETA. But if I arrived later/in the evening, I'd be inclined to head in to somewhere around Kings Cross and sleep off the jet lag a bit and take a morning train to Edinburgh. I'm not a fan of splitting the London time but sometimes logistics do require it.

Or another option - reverse everything -- a week in London, train to Manchester, train to York, train to Edinburgh, fly down to LHR the evening before your flight out and stay at a hotel at LHR the last night.

I'd tweak you division of time a bit. You will want a full week in London and even more if you plan on any day trips (Bath or Oxford or ?? ) So I'd do 3 or 4 nights in Edinburgh, 2 nights in each York and Manchester, and the rest in London. The other three cities each have a some great sites/sights but London has MANY times more.
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