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2 Weeks in UK - Itinerary Ideas?

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Jan 18th, 2011, 08:06 PM
  #1
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2 Weeks in UK - Itinerary Ideas?

My wife and I will be in the UK for 14 days (not including travel days from/to US) late May/early June. We plan to fly to London and spend about 4 days there, take train to Salisbury for 1-2 days, 1-2 days in Bath and then "something", ending with about 3 days in Edinburgh where we will catch our return flight. That 3-4 day "something" in the middle has me baffled. No great interest in seeing the Cotswolds just to see Shakespeare country or Liverpool/Manchester area. And since we will be heading to Edinburgh, it would make sense to be heading north after Bath. So I was thinking either the Lakes District or Yorkshire or even heading all the way up to Inverness and backtrack to Edinburgh. Thoughts?
As for us, we are interested in history, castles, museums, scenery (including possibly some short hikes) and shopping. And we tend to want to stay in a place for 2 nights minimum rather than hop from hotel to hotel every night.
Also, depending on our path, would it be better to take the train north or drive? Outside of the large cities, I have no problem with "wrong way driving".
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Jan 18th, 2011, 08:23 PM
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York and Hadrian's Wall! Or Wales and Lake Country!
We spent 13 days last August on driving loop, after 4 days in London, from London to Oxford to Wales through Lake Country (fast) to Hadrian's Wall to York to Dover back to London (with other stuff in between). So if you want to see what we did here's the trip report; we were hopping from B&B to B&B each night, though. But you can see what we covered in a few of the areas you might check out. York would be my number one suggestion for you , though, plus ??
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...fm#dest-header
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Jan 19th, 2011, 12:32 AM
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York or the Lakes both leapt into my mind; although a good, and off piste alternative would be Dumfries and Galloway. Not much visited and absolutely delightful
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Jan 19th, 2011, 02:18 AM
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I'm not sure why you dismiss Manchester, as it's the perfect half way point between Bath and Scotland, on a main rail route and has easy communications by road, rail and air. It's a great city with lots to see and do.

You could though forego this basket of riches and head for the Lake District. Stay at Windermere or Ambleside, and with 3/4 days you can make forays into Yorkshire.
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Jan 19th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for the info so far. Regarding dismissing Manchester, we're already spending a majority of out time in large cities, so I was thinking of something a bit more rural. But it's location of the main rail route is something to think about. I was thinking of renting a car once we get to Salisbury and keeping it until we headed to Edinburgh. Are there penalties in UK for dropping off the car in a different location? What about a whole other country!??!
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Jan 19th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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There is not a huge difference in 1st and 2nd cl on the AV/ES trains in Italy. It's certainly not like the big difference in economy and 1st class on long distance flights.>

If going mainly to citis like Bath and Salisbury and Edinburgh then a car is useless once there and trains will take you right into the city centres. And you seem not interested in places like the Cotswold Hills where trains are pretty useless to get around and even buses are problematic it seems. And you can take a train right to the heart of the lake District at Windermere and once there there are very very frequent buses that circulate incessantly around key sites in that fabled rural wonderland.

But if you want to drive thru the countryside and stay at perhaps small village B&Bs or farmhouse B&Bs then the car is obviously better.

anyway for lots on British trains and railpasses (whose key calling card on such an itinerary IMO is that you can hop on at will any train anytime and there are always zillions of trains - the cheapest way if you want to lock yourself into often trains with restrictions on changing or refunding would be to advance book on sites such as www.nationalrail.co.uk. But if you wish flexibility to just show up at the station and hop on the next train then these fully flexible fares can be really expensive and make a railpass a good deal IF flexibility is required. Some great sites for planning a British rail trip - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com. I admit to, after using railpasses in Britain annually for decades partial to the complete flexibility they offer but if you can live with pre-booking then strongly peruse nationalrail.co.uk and see what discounted fares you can come up with.
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Jan 19th, 2011, 11:45 AM
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As you are going to Edinburgh, why not add the Highlands to your trip?

you could see quite a few castles in 3-4 days, bot to mention lochs and mountains.

or the lakes [the Lake DISTRICT, not country, BTW]. here's the link for the train timetable [it wouldn't do May, so I put in tomorrow's date] for trains from Bath to Kendal. you could pick up the car there, return it in Edinburgh.

May-June is an excellent time for visiting the Lakes. far fewer tourists, long days, hopefully decent weather.

IMHO, Wales is a bit off your route on this trip.

http://www.thetrainline.com/buyticke...mand=TimeTable
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Jan 19th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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the train timetable [it wouldn't do May, so I put in tomorrow's date] for trains from Bath to Kendal.>

Having been to both a few times I would prefer basing in Windemere for the Lake District and if going by rail you can go the whole way by train - Windermere is the railhead for the Lake District proper - the touristy part of the vast lake district with near it Wordsworth's Rydall Mount, Beatrice Potter's Hilltop (?) cottage a nice short enough hike after taking the chain ferry across Lake Windermere, etc.

Kendall is reached by a bus link from probably from Penrith, further north so a bit more travel time. But Kendall is nice too - check out the Pencil Museum there though many erase it from their itineraries. Graphite exhibitions. If you do go for a railpass it will take you in full to Windermere but only I believe to Penrith then you'd have to pay for the bus to Kendall a few quid.

There is absolutely no need for a car in the Lake District - at least for what the average tourist wants to see as the double-decker hop on and off tour buses circulate frequently between all main sights - everything you'd want to see.

An easy day trip from the Lake District by train also goes to Hadrian's Wall though here you would need to use the Hadrian's Wall bus to actually easily get to the main portions of wall and fort, etc.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 12:15 PM
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even heading all the way up to Inverness and backtrack to Edinburgh.>

Inverness sounds neat but as a town it is IMO so-so especially for a very limited amount of time - you would basically get there, spend a day doing a Loch Ness tour - the loch is well out of town I believe and to me is just another lake - the Inverness area however is IMO wonderful but only if you have some days to spend exploring it - like taking one of Europe's most scenic railway lines from it to the Kyle of Lochlash - thru the Highlands scenery etched in your minds' eyes. But just to bop into Edinburgh and then go back down to Edinburg I think would be a waste of time that could be better spent in places like the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales or Border Abbeys just south of Edinburgh (easily reached by bus from several train stations, including from Edniburgh.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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"Windermere is the railhead for the Lake District proper"

Windermere is the only train station in the Lake District proper but it's on a spur line. If heading for the northern Lakes it's probably better to take the train to Penrith which is a mainline station then a bus from there. You can also use a VERY slow branch line along the west coast of the Lakes if your interests are in the lesser explored areas of the Lakes.

Personally I'd be considering places like the Yorkshire & Durham Dales as well as Northumberland on the other side of the Pennines. The Durham Dales are really off-piste for non UK tourists.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 12:27 PM
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"even heading all the way up to Inverness and backtrack to Edinburgh."

Given OP is in Bath they could fly to Inverness from Bristol. Alternatively start their trip in Bath (couple hours from LHR by coach & good place to recover from the flight), work their way back to London, fly or take the sleeper train to Inverness then work their way back to Edinburgh that way.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 12:32 PM
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If you do go to York, don't miss Castle Howard, about 10 miles north of it. Great place to visit. Also, not much farther north are some of the most beautiful of the ruined abbeys -- we drove from Castle Howard on to Rievaulx Abbey. And a bit further north is Durham, with the amazing cathedral, one of the most important in the world.
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Jan 21st, 2011, 09:37 AM
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Windermere is the railhead for the Lake District proper"

Windermere is the only train station in the Lake District proper but it's on a spur line. If heading for the northern Lakes it's probably better to take the train to Penrith which is a mainline station then a bus from there>

Well Oxenholme, where you change for Windermere has at least hourly trains on the West Coast mainline that stop there as well and the connecting shuttle train to Windermere is waiting on the next platform - and you will be in what I at least consider a nicer Lake District base than you would be in Kendall after changing from train to bus at Penrith - maybe not I have not checked but seems so.
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Jan 21st, 2011, 01:59 PM
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The fabled Borders Abbeys like Melrose and Jedburgh are some of the most romantic things I've seen in my decades of European travels and are easy to include in any trip up to Edinburgh, either by car or excellent bus service from places like Carlisle or Edinburgh itself.
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Jan 24th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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between Bath Spa and Edinburgh it is also easy to include a visit to fabled Hadrian's Wall - the wall built by the Romans to fence off the barbaric Scots from England (not sure the real reason!) - anyway an evocative structure that runs for many miles and it is easy to do by car or train and bus as well. I took a train to Hexham, a town that is a great base from which to hop to portions of the wall and some ancient ruined forts, etc built along it. From Hexham and other points such as Carlise, on the main West Coast rail and road routes to Scotland you can hop Hadrian's Wall bus - which is a tourist bus but not that expensive that simply provides transportation to the main wall sites that are indeed hard to reach by ordinary public transports. And Hexham is the quintessential small English town with a raft of typical B&Bs, etc. The type of place many tourists dream to stay in but never do, instead sticking to big cities like Bath, York, Edinburgh, etc
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Jan 25th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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Jan 31st, 2011, 07:07 AM
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Thanks again for all the ideas. Things are slowly coming together. Current plan with flights and most hotels/B&Bs confirmed:
- Arrive London on Sat. morning. 4 nights (Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue) in London. Spend rest of Saturday and 3 more full days exploring in London. Any ideas for Sunday morning activities prior to most attractions opening?
- Take train to Bath on Wednesday morning. 3 nights (Wed, Thu, Fri) in Bath. Explore Bath on Wednesday. On Thursday, pick up rental car, drive to Stonehenge and Salisbury. Friday is a bit of a question-mark still - I'm sure we could spend more time exploring Bath. Are there any other "must see" sights within an hour drive or so?
- Saturday is a mostly a travel day - Hit the road heading north with a quick daytime stop in Stratford-upon-Avon and then continuing to the York area for Saturday night. This is the Bank Holiday weekend and I'm having a tough time finding a B&B for just 1 night close in to York. Any ideas? Looking for something in the $100-125 range. If we have to stay in regular hotel, that's fine but would prefer a B&B.
- Sunday - Explore York and drive to Durham. Durham for 2 nights (Sun, Mon). Monday - Hadrians Wall and Durham.
- Tuesday - Drive to Newcastle, drop off the rental car and catch the train to Edinburgh. Still working on the timing of this. We can catch an early train to spend more time in Edinburgh or spend more time in Durham and catch a later train. Note that National does not appear to have an office in Durham. Otherwise we would just catch the train there.
- Edinburgh for 4 nights (Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri). Explore Edinburgh with a possible all-day bus tour to the Highlands, Loch Ness. I'm usually not a fan of bus tours but I'd rather not drive it and we would really like to see the area. Any suggestions for a good tour company if we decide on it?
- Saturday - Fly home to Houston with probably a HUGE craving for Mexican food.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 07:21 AM
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Wells is a short drive from Bath, magnificent cathedral, the Vicar's Close is charming and the Bishops Palace surrounded by a moat a must see.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Rabbies is a good Edinburgh tour company w/ lots of day trips.

Your Bath to York day is a bit problematic. Just Bath to York via Stratford is a full 5 hours driving (if you are lucky w/ the traffic - could be longer). That doesn't include the amount of time it takes to actually navigate into central Stratford, park, and get on the road again. So realistically you are talking about 6-7 hours of driving w/o any time seeing anything.

The detour into Stratford will easily add 4-5 hours to your already long day.
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Jan 31st, 2011, 09:57 AM
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oops - hit post too soon. I'd skip any detours and just drive to Yorkshire. It is still a long drive but it would give you a little more time in York. If it was me --I'd stay 2 nights in York and one in/near Durham -- for 2 reasons. • You will have a long drive and probably won't want to get on the road again the next day, and • it will be easier to find a B&B if you are staying 2 nights that weekend.
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