Advice for a 14-day Britain itinerary

Old May 26th, 2004, 07:28 PM
  #1  
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Advice for a 14-day Britain itinerary

I am planning a two-week trip to Britain in August and need some advice. Itinerary is as follows:

4 days in London
2 days in Bath (spending a day driving around the Cotswolds)
3 days wandering around Wales/ N. Wales
2 days in Edinburgh
2 days in York
1 day in London (fly home next day)

My husband and I will be renting a car on our last day in London and plan to drive the rest of the trip. We like the idea of having a car for more freedom. Is this trip feasible in the time we will be there? Are we doing too much driving? After our last night in North Wales, we plan to visit Blackpool and then drive to Edinburgh. However, I heard it was a 4 hour drive from Blackpool to Edinburgh. I also heard it was a 4 hour drive from Edinburgh to York. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 09:03 PM
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Yes, you are doing a lot of driving , but will see some pretty countryside. My husband and I tend to keep on the move and have made 6 trips to England, 5 to Scotland, 1 to Wales. You have mentioned mostly CITIES, and traffic is bad, unless you don't mind. We drove in central Edinburgh just 3 weeks ago and did fine, and my husband is very good driving most anywhere. I've heard that driving in York is awful, and we also did that a few weeks ago. Some of this last trip we DID stay at lovely places in small villages OUTSIDE the cities...and one can usually find parking a lot easier at those hotels or B&B's. Some people might say to shorten the trip and perhaps concentrate on northern England and parts of Scotland an hour or two north of Edinburgh.(although Wales is absolutely beautiful) You can also take a nice train from London to York and rent a car there, thus giving you a BIG head start. There are loads of possibilities.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 09:22 PM
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Thank you mari3. We plan to stay at some B&Bs near city centers, but would like to just park the car and take public transportation while we are in the city. What kind of driving did you do in the cities? Do you think public transportation would be a good way to go in Bath, Edinburgh, York? Also, how far outside the cities did you stay, and how was parking when you drove into the cities? Thank you.
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Old May 26th, 2004, 09:33 PM
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Have youe been before? If not this is a pretty hectic itinerary. the only place you seem to be slowing down even a tiny bit is in North Wales.

If you just want to see towns/cities (except for the Cotswolds/N Wales) you'd be better off using the trains. London to Bath to Edinburgh to York to London would be a LOT easier by rail. Now, I seldom use trains except for the odd day trip from London and do most of my touring by car. BUT I don't try to see three countries in 2 weeks either. (I lived in England for several years and spend 2 to 6 weeks each year vacationing in the UK)

Think about this itinerary to cut waaaaay back on the distances traveled:

Spend 5 days in London w/ a day trip to Bath via train. Then pick up a rental car and drive to the Cotswolds for 2 days. Then to N Wales for 2 days. York - 2 days. Drive to Edinburgh and return your car. 3 days in Edinburgh withh a local tour day trip to somewhere in the countryside. Then fly from Edinburgh to LGW or LHR (whichever you are flying out of)

This trip would be about 1/2 the driving of your plan but would see everything (except Blackpool which really isn't that great)
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Old May 26th, 2004, 10:04 PM
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You're covering a wide area for 14 days, and adding to the pressure by focussing on cities. Yet it's so hard deciding what to cut out, isn't it? I recently spent 14 days driving in UK, but it was easier for me because I've done Edinburgh & York before. This time I did Bury St Edmonds, Cambridge, Ely, Rutland and the Peake District around Buxton & Bakewell, down the Welsh border to Shrewsbury & Hay-on-Wye, then Bath, Dartmoor, South Devon and along the coast through the New Forest to Gatwick.
If I were to adapt your itinerary to a 14-day one, I'd do London & Bath as you intended (call at Avebury between them) then Cotswolds to Shrewsbury, maybe cutting a day off your North Wales section but definitely staying over at Chester, through the Yorkshire Dales to Edinburgh (around Hawes is a good overnighter on that leg), down to York via Whitby and the North York Moors and overnighting at Pickering (before York) and on to London via Peterborough & Cambridge.
Note that I've tried to fit in overnight B&Bs at smaller places in between the cities. You'll find that it's easier, cheaper, homelier, friendlier and less stressful.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:09 AM
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Hi, I live near York. The traffic there can be pretty heavy but I would always go for the car option to get around. The roads are well signposted and you will get by.
Driving times - these vary wildly but I would say that 4 hours from Blackpool to Edinburgh is fairly accurate. It would also take roughly 4 hours to drive between Edinburgh and York.
Is there any particular reason for wanting to go to Blackpool? I am trying to ask this tactfully!!!
A very good website for planing your driving in England is www.theaa.com They have a routefinder giving details of any journey.
If you want any further help regarding your time in Yorkshire please don't hesitate to ask.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:46 AM
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To elaborate on Morgana's comment about Blackpool, the place is bold, brash, caters for the easy-to-please brigade and can be a lot of fun. If you want to try the Big Dipper, the trolley ride on the promenade, fish and chips and buy cheap souvenirs, then Blackpool will be fine.

If it's not your scene, why not take a cruise through the Lake District on your way from Wales to Scotland? You could take in places such as Grasmere (Wordsworth) and Keswick and the scenery is spectacular at any time of the year.

Post back if you need more information.
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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This is our first time to Europe and appreciate the great advice. I thought that Blackpool would break up the drive from N. Wales to Edinburgh. Would it be worthwhile to stay somewhere in the Lake District on the way to Edinburgh instead? To cut down on the amount of driving, should we turn in the car in Edinburgh and take a train to York, then to London? We would also like to visit Cambridge? I get the feeling we are being quite ambitious. Is this too much?
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:04 PM
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A car gives you more flexibility to go where you want and my choice would be to spend a day in the Lake District with an overnight stop.

Looking at your itinerary, Cambridge is not only ambitious, it is definitely not car friendly. The City Council have installed a fiendish device known as a 'rising bollard' to trap the unwary if they try to drive into a restricted zone. If you get caught by one, it literally punches a hole in the floor of your car.

If you have had enough of driving by the time you get to Edinburgh, the train to London via York is a relaxing way of doing it. Once again, you won't have the problem of parking in York.

My advice would be to cut back on the number of places you are trying to cram in. Instead, spend more time exploring the ones you do, and come for a second trip in the future.

Wherever you stay, don't hesitate to ask for help and advice. People are pleased to help out.
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Aleashia, some of the most gorgeous scenery we saw on our trip was in Cumbria. We stayed in Bowness on Windermere and took a day trip to Ambleside and Grasmere. Then we headed up to Stirling. It really is hard trying to fit in everything that you want to do!
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:19 PM
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I would agree with the several suggestions that Blackpool should be omitted. I think you would be better off taking two days for Wales and staying overnight in Chester, a beautiful old world town near the border with England. I would drive to Edinburgh through the Scottish borders, stopping in some of the border towns such as Melrose. This might take a full 8 hours. I think your secondary suggestion of turning in the car in Edinburgh and taking the train to York and then to London is far and away the best. Parking in Edinburgh and York is a nightmare. Both cities are geared for walkers.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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I don't know enough to give solid itinerary recos but I can give a little information from a trip I took last week:

York - for York itself no reason to have a car - all the sights and restaurants of York are in easy walking distance. In Yorkshire however you do need a car to go to places like Castle Howard & experience the landscape.

1 day in York is fine, more would also be fine; Yorkshire is big so a day is the minimum I'd say just to see a couple of things.

I loved the Lake District. BUT have read over and over that it is horribly mobbed in August, which could be a factor - it was paradise in May, nobody in our way.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 06:56 PM
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I know the Lake District would likely be crowded in August, but wouldn't Blackpool be as well? I'd rather be surrounded by hordes in the lovely Lake Distrcit than in Blackpool!

I'm afraid I can't be tactful about Blackpool. I found it pretty horrifying and couldn't wait to get out, even though we only stopped ther for an hour - however I know some people love it. Depends on if it's your kind of thing or not.

The Lake district is lovely. So is the Peake district (Buxton, Bakewell). Cotswolds is loveliest of all in my opinion.

We tend to do lots of driving on our UK trips and we really quite enjoy it.
Last time we did the following:
1 week London, 1 week Paris, then back to London for 2 nights.
Left London late in the afternoon, and headed North - 1 night stop in Leicester. Then over to Buxton for 1 night. Then up to the Lakes (Grasmere)for 3 nights. Back down through Chester (love it) then 1 night in North Wales (stayed in Snowdonia and visited several castles around North Coast). Then 1 night in Shrewsbury enroute to the Cotswolds where we stayed in Broadway for 3 nights.

On 2 other occasions we have gone to Edinburgh, stopping in the Lake District on the way up and York on the way down.
Once we went to Scotland with stops along the way, back to London for 3 days, then all around the southwest.
But we obviously LOVE to drive....
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Old May 27th, 2004, 07:16 PM
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Oh - I completely missed the bit about this trip being in AUGUST. This is a problem -- many (most, actually) hotels in Edinburgh have a 3 or more night minimum in August. Plus, by now most will be fully booked up. There are several world famous festivals plus the military Tattoo all running simultaneously and the city literally doubles in size during August.

So unless you find a hotel -- like TODAY -- you will have a greatly simplified itinerary. A loop from The Cotswolds to N. Wales to York and back to London would be much more doable in your limited timeframe.

(just about the only three areas in the UK where you need to book far ahead in August are Edinburgh, the Lake District and Cornwall)
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Old May 27th, 2004, 09:42 PM
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I would say drop Edinburgh. We've driven up there from Windsor, and it was a long haul! I wouldn't go any further than York, myself.

Wales is very beautiful. It will take you longer than you might think to get there from Bath because the roads are smaller and the scenery and small villages are so enticing that you might find yourself making lots of unscheduled stops! We got out of our car quite often to take walks in the hills, stop in a pub or two, wander around sightseeing, etc.

I'd take the two days you have planned for Edinburgh and tack them onto Bath, especially if you'd like to see the Cotswolds. That area of England merits more than a daytrip.

Another thing to think about with your itinerary is that, as planned, you will be staying in SIX different lodgings in only two weeks. We went to Italy last year for two weeks and divided our trip thus: four nights in Rome, four nights in Sorrento, four nights in Umbria, and the last night back in Rome for an early morning flight home. We were wiped out at the end of two weeks, and we rented a car only for Umbria. You're planning on both doing major driving and major moving around--you'll need a vacation from your vacation if you do that! England is lovely to drive around, don't get me wrong (I've crisscrossed more of the country in the last 20 years than I can remember) but I do think you're taking on quite a bit.
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 11:18 PM
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I too would say (in addition to what I already said above) drop Edinburgh and put more quality into other locations this time. But if you must do it, don't let the busy-ness & 3-day minimum throw you. Stay instead at nearby Dunfermline and take the train into town. Much easier.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 04:34 AM
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Just to confuse you even further, I would skip Bath and the Cotswolds and explore the Yorkshire dales whilst you're visiting York instead. Every bit as beautiful but without all the crowds. We were in the Cotswolds a couple of weeks ago and it was nose to tail traffic everywhere. Then you could ditch the car, take the train up to Edinburgh (a beautiful ride once you get past Newcastle), then get the train back to London.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 05:57 AM
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I guess I was trying to be tactful about Blackpool. I'd personally avoid it like the plague, especially with so many other lovely places to explore and such limited time.
I noted from another thread 'UK Trip report, hotel reviews' - that Western Burn How Garden Hotel in the Lakes gets a very good review and sounds very reasonably priced - maybe a good stopping off place for you?
If you take the train from York to Edinburgh try and book seats on the right hand side of the train. A small point perhaps, but by doing this you get all the good views including Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and the seaviews where the rail hugs the coastline. I do this trip frequently for business reasons but I always sit on the right as I never tire of the scenery.
If you have a car in York then do try and drive to Fountains Abbey and Studely Royal. No words can describe how special this place is!
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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Wow! I wish I had discovered this site when we first started planning! Well, it looks like Blackpool and Cambridge are out. We do have reservations at the Turrett Guest House in Edinburgh, if we still want to make the drive up there. Here is a tentative revised plan, and thank you all for the wonderful advice.

4 days in London
1 day in Bath
4 days to: drive through the Cotswolds, Wales/N. Wales (which places would be best to visit/ stay overnight?)
1 day in the Lake District
2 days in Edinburgh (any suggeestions fot the Military Tattoo?)Drop off car here and take train to York.
2 days in York (train back to London)
1 day in London (fly home next day)

I'm not quite sure what to do with these 4 days in the Cotswolds, Wales. It sounds like we should definitely spend a night in Chester (last night of the 4, then drive to Lake District?) Are we too late for booking good B&B's in the Lake District? It sounds like August is very busy. I know Edinburgh is a ways North, but we would really like to visit. We don't mind driving (a few years ago we drove 2500 miles in 14 days on the East Coast of the U.S.!) But the drive to York, then London may be too much after the drive North. By the way, how do we go about booking train tickets for these 2 trips?
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Old May 28th, 2004, 11:35 AM
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Cotswolds: You can easily spend 2 days driving around to visit all the little towns. I recommend a book by Joanna Trollope called "The Romantic Road" (I know it sounds corny but it's great) which is available at TI offices in the Cotswolds. It's got great routes for driving all over the area taking back roads, and notes on things of interest. Lots of country pubs to stop at, gardens (ie Hidcote), etc. Stroll the high streets of the towns. Roman ruins. Tea at Buckleigh Manor Hotel.
Can highly recommend The Olive Branch in Broadway as a reasonable and lovely guest house.
Wales: The north coast area has a concentration of castles ie Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech, etc. It's about 45 min. from Chester to Conwy and 45 from there to Snowdon.
Mount Snowdon railway in Llanberis is kind of neat - or you can hike up the mountain if you like. And drive the pass through Betws y Coed.
Check out http://www.walesdirectory.co.uk
for maps and castle info with other links.
Wales is very different from England.
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