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another base for exploring (besides London)

another base for exploring (besides London)

Oct 27th, 2013, 02:12 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,384
another base for exploring (besides London)

Hi folks
This is just a just-in-case scenario ...in case our tour of england falls through because of lack of numbers
We are happy to explore London for seven days on our own (daughter and i are going in late Feb) but as time ticks on we are getting a tad worried that our six day tour from London up to Edinburgh wont go ahead,
So my question is:
Where should we base ourselves in order to explore the centre and north?
We have six days..not a lot but were hoping to see York in which case...where could we stay that would enable us to visit other places within a doable radius?

We love history and scenery.

Im thinking that after our week in London we could catch the train up to York..get up to Edinburgh ( maybe) then head down south again...Chesters looks nice but maybe we need a bigger city from where we could get daily coach tours/train

Alternatively..I am prepared to hire a car ....get back to Heathrow and drive out of London that way? I can drive on the left-side of the road ...will get a gps and am willing to pay extra for a guaranteed automatic transmission

Any thoughts? two good bases perhaps...car vs rail?
thanks so much for any info!
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 03:33 AM
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IMO 2 or 3 days in York and the rest in Edinburgh would be perfect. You don't want to spread yourselves too thin. You do not need a car IN either York or Edinburgh and there are a few places you can get to from them by train. But to explore the Dales or much of rural Scotland you would want to rent a car.

I personally wouldn't try to squeeze in Chester or other parts of England.

One option would be to rent a car on leaving York and visit Hadrian's wall and the borders for a couple of days enroute to Edinburgh, drop the car and finish up in the city.

Or - rent a car for a day or two to explore bits of Yorkshire, drop the car and tak a train up to Edinburgh. Then from Edinburgh take a 1 or 2 day trip with Rabbies

janisj is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 04:02 AM
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If you want to tour the north from a city then you need to think with car or not. For example staying in the centre of Leeds offers you day trips by train to York, Manchester, Liverpool and all train based cities in between.

If you want to get out into the country you will do better with a car and while basing yourself in York looks good you do need a car park space in York (get the hotel to ensure it is provided). This opens up the North York Moors and the Dales to easy access and some of the most beautiful parts of the country.

If you follow my name or Morgana you get a good idea of what you can do around Yorkshire.

As Jansj says, no need for a car inside York itself, it is all walkable and easier on foot.
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 04:10 AM
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if you are locked into flying into and out of london, you could fly straight to Edinburgh, then work your way back to London via York.

alternatively if you want to base yourself in York for the entire 6 days, go straight there on the train, and then after a day or two exploring the city on foot, collect a hire car then and tour the area.

it would take a lot longer to drive to and from York so i would return to London on the train.
annhig is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 04:17 AM
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Thank you both janisj and bilboburgler!
Ive been thinking and reading about driving in England during winter while waiting for Fodorites to respond...
Now whilst im ok with driving on the left-hand side...im not experienced with driving in snow or along icy roads

It could well be icy in January...no?

If so, Im back to my original idea of basing ourselves in city that has good public transport or from which coach tours operate
I have looked at Bristol...there is a coach tour company ( and probably quite a few) but it doesnt indicate whether it provides tours in winter ( apart from the popular Christmas period)
Then theres Oxford...as a base..or no sense since it is too close to London
could well get out to Bath from Oxford (a place we definitely need to visit and could also get to from London)..and of course the Cotswolds

Janisj...I think my daughter would prefer staying in England and save Scotland for another trip...Edinburgh was on my mind cos the original tour was going to take us there (but no further)

Leeds...hadnt thought of that ...Leeds or Bristol?

thanks again!
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 05:28 AM
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annhig..that is certainly a plan..but i prefer rail to planes...at least we might see something...good bad or something in between lol..

anyone suggest a scenic route via train or even bus? as far as york and any other place to use as a base?
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 05:47 AM
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Nothing scenic between London and York really. But from York you can get dat trips by either train or coach.

As for Bristol, there are better rail and bus connections from there than from Bath.

But if it was me, I'd think something along the lines of London to Cambridge for one day/night, then up to York and finally back to London ( if you must fly in/ out of London )

Or better IMO would be fly in to London and home from Manchester. Then your excursion would look something like London > Cambridge > York > MAN.

You wouldn't need a car at all.

But if you can convince your daughter to include Edinburgh there are tons of lovely tours from there w/o having to drive.
janisj is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 06:06 AM
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"Nothing scenic between London and York really".......(fingers druming)

Yes Jan could be icy or snowy anywhere in the country.
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 06:17 AM
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Have you considered Oxford, not that the Cotswolds will be at its best in January? You could get to Ely from Cambridge, not sure where else.
tarquin is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 06:25 AM
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I would use York and Edinburgh as based for north of England and south of Scotland. Six days will let you see quite a bit by car - and if you have;t bought tickets yet you can fly home from Edinburgh or Glasglow.

Based on the fact that you are going in Jan - really think you need to focus on cities - not countryside that will be col, rainy (possibly snows) and brown and crunchy.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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annhig..that is certainly a plan..but i prefer rail to planes...at least we might see something...good bad or something in between lol...>>

I suggested the plane as it's the quickest way to get to Edinburgh [which you mentioned in your original post] and you could have flown there straight from LHR.

however if you want to stick to England, and as you have mentioned Bristol, it too would make a great base for a few days; lots to do in the city with galleries, museums, loads of history and more shops than your DD can possibly look at in that time. A nice place to stay is the historic "village" of Clifton, which is just a short bus ride from the centre, and has its own restaurants, shops, cafes etc.as well as being near the Zoo. [i can recommend the Avon Gorge hotel which overlooks the clifton suspension bridge].

you can get the train to Bristol from london Paddington [an easy journey from LHR].

it's also then an easy train journey to Bath, where you could spend a couple of nights on the way back to London.
annhig is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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Since you mentioned Bath and your love of history, Bath would be a great base. Easy, fast train connection with London and Oxford, and day trips offered by local companies to Cotswolds villages. That would give a nice contrast with London. Bath is beautiful with Roman baths, incredible history, gorgeous architecture and literary connections to Jane Austen.
Sassafrass is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 05:01 PM
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Bilbo . . . I meant nothing s Enid much on the train . . .
janisj is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 05:34 PM
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Oops - silly auto correct on the iPad

. . . I meant nothing is scenic much on the train . . .
janisj is online now  
Oct 27th, 2013, 10:53 PM
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okay..im going to thank you all..thanks for taking the time to do some thinking for me
now it has been remis of me...but i didnt tell you that this is a leg of a bigger trip..sorry ..now i realise that i should always give a bigger picture so the good people of fodors dont try to figure out everything for me to the last flight! ( do so appreciate it!)

we are actually doing the following:
january : daughter and I are in england on our own for two weeks

february: meeting OH in London and then flying to dublin and doing a weeks drive round the north

then we fly to Paris for five days...then OH goes off to Budapest whilst daughter and I continue either in France or swish over to Switzerland for about 8 days

then fly from paris to Singapore for five days..then home to Oz
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 27th, 2013, 11:09 PM
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err..that should read : 'remiss'

ok ...i have booked accommodation in leicester sq already for the first week in london
i have been to bath before and stonehenge and canterbury leeds castle and dover but daughter hasnt ...so we will do some of that when in london...havent worked out the order and of course theres so much to see in the city itself

so come the monday the 27th jan,
if the tour doesnt go ahead im thinking we zip up to YORK then head back to BRISTOL...have to meet OH on saturday night to overnight in LONDON ( we have booked accomm and flights out to ireland already for that sunday)

Is there any advantage in doing it the other way around?
ie work our way up the country and then return to london from york? are there more trains from bristol or from york? anything that I need to know?

i might tentatively book the accommodation before i leave ( this will be in dec when i'll hear whether the tour's going ahead or not)..can always cancel if we are running a day late

back to do some thinking...

clifton sounds lovely but do we want to maybe stay right in town where there is action at night and be close to the train station?
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 28th, 2013, 02:27 PM
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if you want to be near the action, then you may want to look at the area around the River Avon where the Marriott hotel is - lots of restaurants, the St. Nicholas market, close to the theatre [old Vic] and hippodrome, and the historic Small street area, and on a direct bus route to Temple Meads.

you can also get buses from Broad street - up to Clifton, or even out to Bath.
annhig is online now  
Oct 29th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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thank you so much annhig..all of this info is really reassuring..nothing like getting advice from someone who knows the area!

now..re the actual train trip up to york...is it really that 'meh'?

is there another route we could take? perhaps a coach? or do they basically all follow the same road north from London?
I guess everyone's idea of "meh' is a little different but what is it that you actually see along the way to york?

thanks to all again
lanejohann is offline  
Oct 29th, 2013, 05:31 AM
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The road and rail cut through basically the same route. (you can see one from the other) a fair bit of the way. The view is of English countryside and towns. I like it. Still, no mountains . The drive is less pleasant and considerably slower.
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 29th, 2013, 05:34 AM
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Having done this train trip numerous times (I live near York but often work in London) it definitely isn't 'meh'. It is also less than two hours if you pick a fast train (some stop several times and therefore take longer).
If you go by car or coach you can practically double that time. And it can take considerably more if there is an accident and/or road works.
It's pretty flat all the way up. Once you shrug off the suburbs you generally pass through a rural landscape of fields with distant villages and church spires. You cross rivers and canals, cows and sheep grazing in fields etc.
I think what people mean is that there is nothing spectacular to see - no coastal views, no hills or mountains, no famous landmarks to spot. Yorkshire itself is pretty hilly in places but York is situated in the Vale of York which is again a flat landscape.
This is the exact opposite to the train journey from York to Edinburgh which I am also very familiar with. Doesn't matter how many times I do that particular journey my book always remains unread as I gawp at Durham Cathedral, Holy Island, the Northumberland coast etc. But I do tend to read my book from London to York.
Morgana is offline  

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