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Castles and Coast in 4 Days: England or Wales?

Castles and Coast in 4 Days: England or Wales?

Old May 8th, 2017, 07:06 PM
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Castles and Coast in 4 Days: England or Wales?

Two friends and I are visiting Europe for two weeks in June. We have finalised 2/3 of our itinerary. We will spend four days in London before travelling by Eurostar to Paris, where we will also spend four days. We have a return ticket to London on the ninth day.

My problem is figuring out our itinerary when we return to the UK. We have tickets to a play on 17 June so we intend to stay another night in London, but no definite plans for 18-21 June. Our flight home leaves at 2:40 PM so we must be at LHR by 12:30 PM.

I would like to go into the countryside, which I previously found very beautiful. My friends would like to see castles, coasts, and mountains. Based on my research, the best place to find all three is Wales.

My question is: would it be feasible and practical to visit Wales within a four-day period? I understand that at least half a day on either end of that period would involve travelling by rail or car.

If so, which is a better choice: North Wales or South Wales? For each, what is a good town or city to use as a base?

If not, do you have any suggestions where we can go closer to London? I understand Dover Castle and Hever Castle are good day trips, but I am uncertain about whether the area they are found in have enough scenery for four days. Is a trip to Northumberland to see Alnwick too troublesome?

My friends and I would like to do walks and hikes. We can do very long drives (but we can't drive a manual) and we are also amenable to taking a train then renting a car. Our jobs have prepared us to wake up very early and to sleep very late. Our daily budget for food, accommodations, and transportation is $150 per person.

Things that may be relevant in case you think it is better to stay in England: Two of us have been to the UK before, so we have "done" Bath and Oxford and the nearby areas (though not for more than two days). We have no preference between self-catering and bed & breakfasts. We are OK with taking public transport instead of driving a car.

Hope you can give some advice! If there is any information you need, feel free to ask!
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Old May 9th, 2017, 05:17 AM
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North Wales, around Snowdonia National Park, would probably be the area in Wales where you'd have the closest proximity of castles, coast and mountains. It's not a super easy place to get to and with your limited time logistics might become annoying. But it's pretty terrific.

You mention Alnwick and the Northumberland coast, and in fact that would be my suggestion given the time. It's very easy to reach by from London. You could take the train (or fly) to Newcastle or Edinburgh, get a car and drive to Alnwick, Bamburgh, the Holy Island... in a couple of hours or less. From the coast you could drive inland to the Scottish Borders where there even more castles, or end the trip in Edinburgh with its own rather famous castles.

Being on the North Sea coast rather than the Atlantic, you also might have slightly better weather in June.

Taking nothing away from the Welsh countryside and castles, but I'd probably save that area for a visit when you have more time.
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Old May 9th, 2017, 05:38 AM
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Kent and Sussex have a number of Castles, some very beautiful [Leeds Castle for example is stunning] but and there is certainly beautiful coastline, but no mountains I'm afraid.

The countryside however very attractive - the Weald of Kent around Chartwell [Churchill's house, a NT property] is stunning. In 3-4 days you could make a very good tour of the area without spending a lot of time travelling to distant parts of the UK.

Whilst Gardyloo is right that the flight to Newcastle or Edinburgh itself may not take that long, the hassle of getting to the airport, check-in etc and ditto the other side always makes air-travel take longer than you think, and then there's the timetables of course which may mean that flights are at inconvenient times. IMO it would be much easier to take the train to Tunbridge Wells, say, and use that as a base for touring Kent and Sussex. train time about an hour and services are very frequent so you won't lose any time getting there. There are several car hire companies nearby.

many interesting places are within an hour and a half's drive - Dover Castle, Rye, Hever, Chiddingstone, Leeds Castle, Penshurst, Northiam, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter [both lovely gardens] etc. etc. and there is loads of good walking in the area.
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Old May 9th, 2017, 03:46 PM
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It has to be North Wales - Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Harlech, Cricieth, Dolwyddelan, Ewloe...

Catch the train from Euston to Llandudno junction (about three hours,plenty to choose from and much quicker than driving) and stop in either Conwy (lovely medieval walled town) or Llandudno (Victorian Seaside town). Hire a car once you get there. There is superb walking, but make sure you are equipt for mountain walking as conditions can change rapidly.

If you do decided on the South East, also think about Leeds Castle, Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, Scotney Castle, Penshurst Place, Deal Castle, Knole House, Ightam Mote....

If you head to Northumberland, there is also ther ruined Warworth castle near to Alnwick. Also Bamburgh Castle. If tides allow, visit Holy Island with its ruined Priory and castle. There is wonderful walking along Hadrian's Wall.
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