4 weeks in the UK

Old Oct 31st, 2014, 10:45 PM
  #1  
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4 weeks in the UK

We have a 4 week travel window in late March, early April. Husband, 11 yr old son and me, coming from Australia. We want to see as much of the UK as we can in that time ( and maybe a trip across to Paris).
Looking for inspiration as to where to start my planning. We have no real 'must dos'. Our son is used to traveling long distances so we don't mind a few long drives. We have no specific travel interests. We just like to see different places, especially those that we've read about in novels.
I know my ancestors came from Yorkshire so I'd like to check that out. I'm a great fan of Diana Gabaldon's 'Crosstitch' series so a visit to Scotland sounds wonderful. And then there's everything Irish that appeals and all those wonderful Welsh town names. So much to choose from and so little time.
Can anyone suggest a likely 'circuit'?
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 12:12 AM
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There are (quite literally) hundreds of options. • A driving tour w/ a lot of moving around; • a series of one week stays (say for example - Scotland, Yorkshire, some rural bits in more southern England and London); • Or a few 4 and 5 day stays (Edinburgh, some other place(s) in Scotland, Yorkshire, the Lakes, north Wales, the Cotswolds, somewhere in the SW, London; • Or 4 or 5 days in Paris, 4 or 5 days in London Yorkshire, and 2 weeks in Scotland. . . . or any other combo.

You need to get a couple of guide books and study up on the options.

I would not try to dilute the time too much adding Ireland or more than a few days in Paris. Re Yorkshire . . It is a HUGE county. and where the family comes from would definitely affect where you go -- the Moors, Dales, York, some of the bigger/industrial towns. You could easily spend a week in Yorkshire.

So study up a bit, come back w/ the framework of a plan and we can help you refine/improve it.

In your planning -- don't assume you can do the same sort of long distance driving days like you do in Oz. In scenic parts of the UK 100 miles is a VERY long day. Figure 35-40 mph general touring.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 03:21 AM
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This really is a chance to see a lot of the UK, but you need to be a bit more concentrated on where you want to go as it's bigger than you think. Presumably you'll fly in and out of Heathrow? The first thing is not to take on a long drive after coming off a long (overnight?) flight, it's a recipe for a road accident. Hire your car and head for somewhere close to LHR like Windsor, where you can relax and get a good night's sleep before heading off.

Leave London itself to the end of the month, give it a good week and include your Eurostar trip to Paris before you return to London and fly home. That leaves 3 weeks to do your "circuit". Although it sounds a long time, it really isn't, so you're going to have to be selective. Where in Yorkshire do you want to go for the family thing?

From Windsor, maybe take the M4 to Wales, drive up the west coast and into North Wales, then Manchester, Lake District, Scotland, Yorkshire, leave the car there and train to London. You won't need the car again after this point.

How you divide your time between the various stops depends on what you want to see and this is a only a rough outline that will maybe help to start the train of thought.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 03:25 AM
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kwaussie,

as a Brit I've never done this sort of trip in the UK [we tend to pick a place and go and stay there for a few days at least, much as I suspect you do at home in OZ] but we did a 5 week trip to OZ and NZ last year, so i might be able to give you a bit of help.

1. You will quickly become very tired and fed up, as will your son, if you keep moving all the time. THat said, a few 2 nights [never 1 nights, they are awful] can help you to move from one area to another whilst having enough time to see what there is in between.

2. if you pick the right bases, you can easily spend at least 5 nights in once place before you move on - and some places, like Yorkshire, merit a stay of at least a week.

3. You could always add Paris on the end if you book open jaw flights. [into London, out of Paris, using Eurostar to travel between the two cities or alternatively flying to Paris from somewhere like Bristol, Manchester or Edinburgh/Glasgow].

4. Easter Sunday falls on 5th April in 2015, so you probably want to decide where you want to be over that weekend and the 2 weeks after quite soon as accommodation will book up quickly over the school holidays as they are popular times for family holidays.

Hope that helps a bit!
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 04:22 AM
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Good advice above, a few more
1) you don't want a car in London.
2) you can use the train system (it is pretty useful to get long distances out of the way without the pleasure of UK roads in late winter)

I'd look at a clock wise or anti-clockwise trip along the lines of
Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales/West Country, London, this misses out loads of the country but you want to see stuff and at best I'd stay 3 nights at each base

I propose

A) Train or Bus to Salisbury from LHR (no jet lag danger and a nice little town to enjoy for a couple of day) hire car on day 2 and tour around to stuff like Stonehenge etc. Stay in the city for say 3 nights
B) Drive to Wales (sorry, despite living in the UK for 54 years I still find little I enjoy here ) but DYOR
C) Drive north maybe Liverpool or the Lake district and then to Glasgow (dump car)
D) Fly up to Orkney for a few days, hire car required
E) Fly to Edinburgh
F) Train to York and hire car to tour around
G) Train to London

If you can fit that all in and the weather is not unkind to you then you will have seen a lot
B)
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 06:08 AM
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Four weeks - lucky you! We had two weeks this summer and spent them in the Isle of Skye, Edinburgh and London.

You may want to take a look at Rick Steves England and Scotland tours just to use as a guide to come up with a driving plan. Be aware that distances are misleading, especially when visiting a new place. This past summer we went to Scotland for the first time and what should have been a five hour drive turned into an eight hour drive because we kept stopping to admire the beautiful vistas in the Highlands.

It can be quite meaningful (for some people) to visit a place that has genealogical significance. My mother-in-law was of MacLeod ancestry and we stayed at a cottage located on the grounds of Dunvegan Castle where the MacLeods are from. She passed away earlier in the year and it was a particularly poignant trip for my husband. Do your ancestry homework before the trip - it can be quite fulfilling!

You mention wanting to visit Scotland because of the Diana Gabaldon book series. There are several guides conducting tours of locations used in the book; you can always look those up and then make up your own tour. I would think Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield should make your list.

Once you put together a loose itinerary let everyone here take a look - there are some very knowledgeable and helpful people on this forum and don't be put off by critical advice - the goal is for you to have a great trip!
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 09:34 AM
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much good advice/insight above . . . w/ one slight disagreement . . .

>>You may want to take a look at Rick Steves England and Scotland tours just to use as a guide to come up with a driving plan
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 09:57 AM
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You need to do some research, to narrow things down. I'd skip Ireland and only do Wales if you really want to go there.

We have flown into Heathrow and taken a bus to our first stop. Options are Bath, Oxford, Brighton, Windsor, Salisbury. Probably more. After a day or so to get over jetlag, we pick up our rental car. (From Windsor you'll probably have to go back to Heathrow -- not far -- to get a rental car.) And, if you plan to spend any time in London, it makes a good place to get over jetlag. Lots of things to do, day and night.

Sights are dense in England. You can base in one place and do lots of excursions. This is not so true in Scotland, where you will do more driving.

Places your son might enjoy:

London: the Tower of London, the Imperial War Museum, the Natural History and Science Museums, Hampton Court Palace

Harry Potter sights in London and Scotland
Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard
Warwick Castle
York
Hadrian's Wall
Edinburgh Castle
Stirling Castle

There are probably many more options. I'm sure others will chime in. Kinda depends on your child's interests. But do get your son involved in the planning. His being interested will add to everyone's enjoyment.
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 04:49 PM
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Thanks for the prompt replies everyone. I realize I need to do a lot more research but I'm a bit time poor during term time & I'm just looking for a 'big picture' plan so I can book some airfares while they're on special.

Looks like the consensus is that we'll have to skip Ireland? This will make me sad but I know when others ask my advice about Aus or NZ I always caution them not to bite off more than they can chew. It's just that everywhere is such a long way from us that when we get there we like to see as much as possible! We spent 8 weeks in the US a couple of years ago and were able to cover an amazing amount of ground. We manage to travel fairly lightly ( although I do like to shop so the bags get heavier as we go!) so moving from place to place is not an issue for us.

My ancestors come from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. I have no idea if there's much to do there but I fancy treading the ground the my genetic forbears tread before me.

The Gabaldon tour idea sounds great Mrs Wilde- or maybe I'll just check their brochures & self drive. I figure a look at the Highlands will help me survive the gap between her books!

So, leave out Ireland & maybe Wales as well?

Thanks of all your advice so far. I'll be back with a skeleton itinerary
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Old Nov 1st, 2014, 06:48 PM
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>>I'm just looking for a 'big picture' plan so I can book some airfares while they're on special
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 01:28 AM
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Holmfirth is where the Last of the Summer Wine TV series was filmed, so can get a bit "busy" some days when the coach parties turn up.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2014, 02:55 AM
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My office is near Holmfirth which is a tiny town about 5 miles from Huddersfield. Although you are looking for family locations, the whole thing shouldn't take more than an afternoon as you can walk across Holmfirth in 10 minutes.

There won't be many if any coach parties in late March/early April and apart from a small vineyard, yes there is one on the outskirts, there's not a lot to recommend the place, especially if you're from somewhere that never heard of Last of the Summer Wine. I have and am no better for it!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 02:21 AM
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So, I've done a wee bit of homework and started to flesh out a route. Turns out airfares in and out of Paris were considerably cheaper than London so that's what I've booked.
We fly into Paris on March 13th. How does this look for a skeleton plan ( keeping in mind we don't mind driving and our son is a great traveler )
4 nights in Paris - train to London - Pick up car
3 nights Cornwall
3 nights Lakes District
6 nights Scotland
4 nights Yorkshire
5 nights in London - train back to Paris
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 03:11 AM
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Train to London, means you have to drive out of London, you may prefer to pick up a car at a station outside London. I can't remember if it stops anywhere in the UK first, but if it does...

Optionally take a train from London to Cornwall (it is a long way) then hire a car.

Good idea to keep London as one stop

Good skeleton
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 09:34 AM
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Optionally take a train from London to Cornwall (it is a long way) then hire a car.>>

well, it's not so far from here [i live in Cornwall] but I agree with bilbo that taking the train is a better option than driving all the way, unless there are things that you particularly want to see en route. Parts of the train journey are particularly scenic - the stretch around Dawlish where the line goes between the cliffs and the sea [which is why it got washed away last winter] and the crossing of the Tamar just after Plymouth, where you have the pleasure of using Brunel's famous bridge.

You can hire a car at the station in Truro or Penzance and then set off at your own pace without being exhausted by a 6 hour drive. you could then fly to the north from Newquay for your stay in the Lakes - otherwise it's a very long drive and you'd need to stop at least once on the way there.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 09:37 AM
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Some Eurostar trains stop at Ashford or Ebbsfleet. You can pick up a rental car at either. But it's a longish drive to Cornwall, 5 hours plus, not including stops. But plenty of nice places to stop overnight to break up the drive.

However, your Eurostar ticket would be an open jaw (Paris to Ebbsfleet/Ashford, London to Paris). Don't know if you can get the early booking discount on that. (Early booking makes for a BIG savings on the Eurostar.)

If you continue by train from London to Cornwall, you'll have to change stations in London, from St. Pancras to Paddington. Crossing town with bags can be a bore, either in a taxi in traffic or on the tube.

You've another long drive from Cornwall to the Lakes. And the Lakes to Scotland drive time depends on where you're going in Scotland.

But you've got a good start.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 10:14 AM
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Random comments:

>>train to London - Pick up car
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Old Dec 23rd, 2014, 12:19 PM
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If you continue by train from London to Cornwall, you'll have to change stations in London, from St. Pancras to Paddington. Crossing town with bags can be a bore, either in a taxi in traffic or on the tube.>>
actually crossing London from St P to Paddington isn't too bad - we've done it a few times and it doesn't require any changes. but jj's ideas are much better.

FYI, you can fly on Flyby.com from Newquay to LGW, and Manchester, and from Exeter to Paris, so you could fly to Exeter, pick up a car [it's about 100 miles or 2 hours to Cornwall from the airport] and at the end of your tour, drive to Newquay, return the car, and fly to Manchester. See the lakes, then return the car in Edinburgh/Galsgow and fly to Paris.
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Old Dec 24th, 2014, 02:31 AM
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Thanks for all the prompt replies. I'll look into the domestic flight options but, as I said in the OP we don't mind driving ( just did 5000 km round trip to Alice Springs in 12 days last holidays) and having the car gives us a bit more flexibility about stops.

Mimar - can you explain 'open jaw' more thoroughly for me?

janis- we were intending to go to Paris anyway so were going to have Eurostar or plane tickets to buy either way ;-) I will certainly look into flights from CDG to Bristol.

We're hoping to get right up to Inverness. Am I being too ambitious?

Happy Christmas everyone
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Old Dec 24th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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>>We're hoping to get right up to Inverness.lucky to average 35 mph. Now you may occasionally get up to 50 mph, but you'll come around a bend in the road and be in the middle of 50 sheep who will move on their own sweet time, or a lorry parked setting out construction signals, or a caravan (travel trailer) going 30 mph. So 35 mph is a good rule of thumb.

I would definitely look at a linear trip -- either from south to north and fly from Scotland back to Paris -- or -- North to south (fly from Paris to Scotland, work your way south ending up in London and train back to Paris). You just don't have the time to drive the full length of the UK twice.


Open jaw (usually called multi-city on airline and booking sites) is where you fly in to one city and home from a different place. They usually cost about the same or only a little more than RT in/out of the same city and save the hassle of having to back track to the original city.

In the long run it is often cheaper to do open jaw and is almost always less hassle.
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