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Critique on Leeds/London itinerary, please

Critique on Leeds/London itinerary, please

May 26th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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Critique on Leeds/London itinerary, please

OK, we finally got the details down. We have the plane tickets, we have the hotel reservations. Here's the itinerary. We're trying to have some 'random' time, as the husband complained I stuffed too much into the last trip. We will have a rental car from the 12th to the 20th, dropping it off in London.

I've gotten lots of good info from the folks here, and plan to repay that with a good trip report when I'm done.

Some of these are set in stone, as I've already reserved/ticketed them. Others are open -- constructive criticism and suggestions welcomed!

August 12th :
Arrives in London at 9:00am
Pick up car at around 9:30am
Drive to Leeds (3 hours)
Stop for lunch along the way – perhaps in Rotherham or Nottingham?
Check into Crowne Plaza Leeds
Rest in the afternoon, perhaps wander around
Dinner somewhere around the town

Saturday, August 13th:
Harewood House
Fountains Abbey
Devil’s Arrow

Sunday, August 14th:
Leeds – Royal Armoury (Shogun exhibit)

Monday, August 15th:
Rievaulx Castle

Tuesday, August 16th:
Castle Howard

Wednesday, August 17th:

Thursday, August 18th:
Bagshaw Museum, Batley
Leeds Shakespeare Festival at Kirkstall Abbey

Friday, August 19th:
Check out of Crowne Plaza
Drive to Nottingham, perhaps do lunch there
Drive to London
Check into Copthorne Tara
Drive down to Gatwick to drop off car
Tube back to hotel

Saturday, August 20th:

Sunday, August 21st:
Kew Gardens (9:30am-7:30pm)
Apsley House (11am-5pm)

Monday, August 22nd:
Buckingham Palace (9:30am-6:30pm)
Afternoon/evening: Avebury, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge with Vic’s Taxi

Tuesday, August 23rd:
Morning: 10:45am Historic Greenwich Walk at Tower Hill Tube Stop.
National Gallery (10-6)

Wednesday, August 24th:
The Roof Gardens (Kensington High Street Tube stop) 99 Derry Street
Evening: 7:30pm The Ghosts, Gaslight & Guinness Walk at Holborn Tube Stop exit.

Thursday, August 25th:
Parliament (have tickets for 1:30pm)
Westminster Abbey/Cathedral

Friday, August 26th:
2:00pm Shakespeare’s Globe ‘The Winter’s Tale’
Evening: 7:00pm The Along the Thames Pub Walk at Blackfriars Tube Stop exit 3.

Saturday, August 27th:
Borough Market 9am-4pm
St. Paul’s Cathedral

Sunday, August 28th:
British Museum

Monday, August 29th:
Check out of hotel and get back to airport for 10:30am flight back home
GreenDragon is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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Just realized that it looks a bit confusing -- I've put OPENING times next to some of the museums and such to remind myself of the limits -- it's not how long we are planning on being there!!!
GreenDragon is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 10:29 AM
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I have only one question and that is why don't you drive from Nottingham to Gatwick, drop off car and then take the express train back to Victoria Station. I'd think this would be easier than driving into London and then out to Gatwick.
Your schedule looks good and easily managable.
One caveat: To insure a visit at the time you want,I'd pre-book a tour of Westminster Abbey as the place gets overwhelmed at the height of the tourist season.
historytraveler is online now  
May 26th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Sounds good BUT
It will take more than 3 hours, I reckon. Perhaps 3.5 hours or 4.
Gatwick does not have a tube. It has a rail link to Victoria with frequent trains, either Gatwick Express or another service, which stops along the way. Gatwick is some 30 miles from central London.
I would advise against Nottingham. If u want somewhere, try Lincoln, but it is a bit out of the way and any trip off the motorway will eat into yoru time. You might find it frustrating enough just driving on the motorways without taking on other challenges like getting off at the right junction, finding a parking place, not getting clamped (NB - this happens a lot, so make sure you are parking legally).
Nigello is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Endorsing Nigello's comments. It's not quite true to say there's nothing worth seeing between London and Leeds, but you have to budget an absolute minimum of 2 hours in wasted time just getting to and from somewhere like Whipsnade Zoo, or the hills round Bedford that are the model for the countryside in Pilgim's Progress, apart from productive exploration time.

If there's something you're particularly interested in - stately homes, say, or cathedrals - say so and someone will suggest a useful detour. But Nottingham, and even less so Rotherham, really have little to offer the casual visitor.

Dismal though it might sound, the best place for lunch on the journey is the Marks and Spencer take-away at Toddington service area, on the M1 near junction 12. Otherwise belt up and down as fast as you can (and Nigello's right about how long it's likely to take), giving yourself as much time as possible for Yorkshire and the Dales.
flanneruk is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 12:14 PM
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I work in Leeds - let me know if you want suggestions for restaurants, and if so what sort of food you like.
I can tell you something for sure - it will take you much longer than 3 hours to get from London to Leeds! I've done this journey more times that I care to think about.
I drive past Harewood every day on my way to work - you will love it there. The 13th August will be a LONG day - you could easily spend all day at Harewood, or at Fountains Abbey and the water gardens. Also, on the 15th, be warned the road to Whitby is slow and will take you a good while to get there. The Magpie Cafe in Whitby is marvellous. www.magpiecafe.co.uk
Also there is no castle at Rievaulx!!! There are 2 things - ruins of an Abbey and also Terraces that overlook the ruins. These are (annoyingly) owned by different organisations so you have to pay twice if you want to see both.
Have a good trip and let me know if you need any more info.
Morgana is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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Good point -- I picked Nottingham and Rotherham because they appeared to be en route. So, any recommendations for a good pub lunch between Leeds and London?

Skipping Nottingham on the way up or back is fine, but we have to visit it for one day -- note nothing else is planned that day. My DH is a WarHammer fanatic, so we have to visit the factory/warehouse/museum in Nottingham.

I figured it would be more than 3 hours, which is why we're stopping for lunch on the way, rather than at Leeds, and why nothing else is planned that day!

I would love recommendations for restaurants in Leeds -- We like different nationalities, budget-priced (under £20 each, except for one or two splurge meals), and adventures. If there are any pubs with good evening atmosphere or quizzes, that would work, too. I love folk music, but not holding my breath about finding any out of Ireland

Yeah, I realize now I should have typed Abbey instead of Castle for Rievaulx.. my bad!

I'll definitely look up Magpies in Whitby. We've been to Whitby once before, and really enjoyed it, but didn't have enough time, so we're going back. Last time we arrived at dusk, had incredibly good fish-n-chips on the wharf, and then collapsed.

Thanks for the suggestions!
GreenDragon is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 02:01 PM
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Why are you dropping the car at LGW??? It makes NO sense to drive into London, then back out again 30+ miles south, then taking the train back into London and the tube back to the hotel.

Who are you renting from? Most of the hire agencies will allow you to drop the car most anywhere for no add'l charge.

I'd drop the car at a central London location - OR I'd drop it in Leeds and take the train down to London.

Re the entrance fees for Rievaulx Abbey and Terrace. Both are covered by the Great British Heritage Pass (as are Harewood, Fountains, Castle Howard, Greenwich and St Paul's) getting a 7 or 14 day GBHP will save you a fair amount of money.

Are you arriving at LGW? Where ever you land you will not have your rental car 30 mins after landing. Count on not getting on the road until 10:30, considering having to get to the hire agency, complete the paperwork, etc. Ant it could easily be after 11 a.m.

If you are leaving from LGW (the only reason I think this is so is because you plan on dropping the car back a LGW) - it will atke a LOT more than 3 hours to Leeds - more like 5 or 6 because you will be on the M25 on a Friday and the traffic can be treacherous.
janis is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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What do you mean, you're not expecting any decent folk music outside Ireland?

Where do you think the Appalachians got its music from? What's the origin of American Country and Western (HINT: not Irish rebel songs). What kind of club was Paul Simon coming back from singing in when he wrote "Homeward Bound" at Warrington (or was it Widnes?) station. And what culture was Banjo Patterson taking from when he wrote 'Waltzing Matilda'?

The English-speaking world's real popular music (yes, even black music: what's the source of Rufus Thomas' "Jump Back"?) is all based on English folk. Available practically any night of the week at clubs throughout the civilised bit of post-industrial England. A quick google on "Leeds folk music" throws up the Grove, though admittedly few other places (as in everything that matters, they do it better west of the Pennines - the civilised bit of post-industrial England)

As far as pub lunches between Leeds and London are concerned: honestly, none of us know. We all - yes all - just belt up the M1 (and don't even think of any other route). Unless some kind soul throws up a real suggestion, try to get hold of a copy of "Off the Motorway" by Paul and Shirley Smith for suggestions.
flanneruk is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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Another vote for not bothering with Nottingham. We spent a whole day there and it was, really, a waste of time. Like your London itinerary.
rickmav is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 08:17 PM
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I just reread my answer to your query and realized with horror that it sounds as if I was saying that your London itinerary was a waste of time, like Nottingham. And I write for a living!!!

What I meant to say was that I like your London itinerary. It will be interesting to read your trip report when you return to see if everything fit in as nicely as it looks in print.
rickmav is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 09:01 PM
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Hello again
I'll post some Leeds restaurant suggestions later today. Just one more point - I think it's a great pity you aren't touching on the Yorkshire Dales at all on your trip, although looking at your itinerary you are clearly city rather than country minded. The Dales cover a huge area but are soooooo lovely - I could easily draw you up a gorgeous day out. I could even throw in a couple of castles (Skipton and Middleham), a brewery tour, waterfalls, beautiful villages, abbey ruins (yes, more!), stunning scenery, pubs that do great meals etc etc. I'd do all this on the 17th of course!
Morgana is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 11:01 PM
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Leeds Pub/Restaurant suggestions (based on extensive personal research!!)
Budget - Whitelocks, Turks Head Yard, Briggate. This pub is a gem, situated in a passage off the main shopping drag. Worth searching for. Proper Yorkshire food (Huge, fluffy Yorkshire pudding with gravy for starters) at cheap prices. Their steak and stilton pie is heavenly, as is their jam roly poly.
Mid-price - My favourite Leeds centre restaurant is Sous le nez en ville, Quebec Street. They do a (deservedly popular) early bird menu. Three courses for 19 pounds including half a bottle of wine. Imaginative menu, good service, very good food - nice place to unwind after a hectic day.
Best Italian - Bibi's, Sovereign Street (busy and buzzy)
Best Oriental - Tin Tin, East Parade
Best splurge - Room, Bourse Courtyard off Boar Lane or Anthonys, also Boar Lane.
In Leeds, along the Headrow, is a place called The Light. It has a good cinema complex (www.stercentury.co.uk) and some nice places to have a quick meal before/after the film. We like Brio Express in this complex for its pizza and pasta dishes, but Maxi's Chinese is also good, especially the buffet.
When you are in York don't miss Betty's Tearooms.
Morgana is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 12:56 AM
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Why are you even bothering with a car between London & Leeds (and back again).

If you've just come off a long haul flight the last thing you want to do is start driving

Pick the car up in Leeds - where it'll be cheaper & get the bus or train to Leeds. Ditto for the return trip from Leeds.

Also alter your itinery so you don't have to have the car as you don't need the car until you want to go to Whitby / Castle Howard, all the others are EASILY accessible by public transport from the centre of Leeds.

BTW why are you going to Nottingham then returning to Leeds, makes more sense to go to Nottingham on your way to / from London so you don't have to back track.
alanRow is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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Since you are coming from the north, can you change your car rental drop-off to Heathrow? It would be less driving for you. And I would drop off the car first, then take a train/tube/car service into London. Driving and parking in London is a nightmare.

While you're around Leeds, have you thought about daytrips to Chatsworth in Derbyshire and Haworth (home of the Bronte family - very charming village.)

Keep in mind that the Kensington Roof Gardens don't have regular hours - they are sometimes closed for events like weddings, parties, etc... Since you're staying at the Copthorne Tara, you'll be within walking distance, so if it's closed when you go, you can go back another time. It only takes about an hour to see.
Kayb95 is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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Some good suggestions, thanks.

I do arrive in Gatwick, so that was the easiest to get the rental car from (Enterprise).

I looked into trains, but wasn't sure where to look. National Express perhaps? I would much rather NOT drive London to Leeds after the long flight. Guess I don't think much about trains. I live in Florida, and we don't do passenger trains much!

For the folk music -- I should have said I don't expect much NOW in pubs. I know the Irish pubs tend to have nightly sessions, but I didn't expect such sessions in Brit pubs. I know all our folk music CAME from the british isles! (that's why I like it so much!)

Thanks for the tip on the Great British Heritage Pass, I'll do some research..

Thanks, rickmav, I look forward to gathering info to write the London trip report

Can't get rid of Nottingham -- as I mentioned, it is a mecca to my husband for the warhammer stuff. That's probably all we'll do, though, and wander our way back. We want to be able to spend all day there, so we aren't going to just stop on the way south. Since the day south involves checking into the new hotel and dropping off the car, we need to leave time for that.

Morgana, would you mind writing up a day trip to Yorkshire Dales? I would love to include that, but know next to nothing about the area. We could easily do that Thursday instead of the Bagshow Museum.. or move the Royal Armoury to Thursday and hit the Dales on Sunday. And thanks for the great restaurant tips! They're printed and in my planning book.

Kayb95, I thought of Haworth, but I'm not a big Bronte fan. I've also discovered that we'd much rather look at castles, museums and nature than peoples' houses -- yes, castles were houses, but they have their own beauty, too

Thanks again for all the suggestions... I'm tightening things up
GreenDragon is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 10:00 PM
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Hi again
Haven't forgotten your request for a Dales trip, but we are having a rarity up in North Yorkshire - a warm, sunny and dry Bank Holiday weekend (my birthday too) so we are making the most of it. Will reply later in the week when I am back at work.
Morgana is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 11:58 PM
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See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train schedules. From London to Leeds, the trains run at least every hour and take between two and a quarter and two and a half hours; they are run by GNER (www.gner.co.uk).
GeoffHamer is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 02:16 AM
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As promised, a trip around part of the Yorkshire Dales, with suggested stops. This is a long day so maybe you could just pick out what appeals to you. I am sure a google search will bring up more info about the places I mention. Also you are bound to want to keep stopping to admire the scenery and views, beautiful villages etc. Some of the roads are pretty narrow, but I've tried to arrange the narrower roads first, and the better roads on your return loop.
Drive from Leeds to Skipton, your starting point. Skipton has a Castle you may wish to visit, also plenty of shops if you want to buy your picnic food. Then drive from Skipton to Bolton Abbey along the A65. You go past Embsay Steam railway if anyone likes steam trains. At Bolton Abbey stop for a quick wander around the Abbey ruins (beautiful location, haunted ruins!). Then take the B6160 to Grassington. You pass Barden Tower on your right (10 minute stop to look at this, plus it has a clean loo in the grounds!). Continue on to Grassington – may want to stop and look at the little shops here. Huge car park (pay and display) and 3 minute walk to picturesque village street. Then from Grassington continue on the B6160 all the way to Aysgarth Falls. This is a beautiful drive. Park at Aysgarth, take your picnic down to the waterfalls. This is where some of Robin, Prince of Thieves was filmed. Great place for your picnic lunch. Then take the A684 east to Leyburn and then the A6108 to Middleham. Stop at Middleham Castle. Then back on the A6I08, stop at Jervaulx Abbey (Abbey on your left, car park on your right). You’ll almost have this place to yourself I promise, and it is wonderful. Carry on along the A6108 and a couple of miles from Jervaulx on your right is Brymor Farm – turn in for gorgeous ice cream! Carry on along the A6108 to Masham (pronounced Massum). Stop at Black Sheep Brewery for tour, or to stock up on the fabulous beer. Carry on along A6108 to Ripon. Stop and look at Cathedral if you have any energy left! Then back to Leeds (best route probably by making your way to the A1 east of Ripon).
This is a long day, and best done on a weekday as opposed to the much busier weekends. Avoid doing this on a Sunday if you can! This trip will give you a real feel for the Dales – I have tried to throw in as many elements as possible. Also some of the parking is not free so take some change. Just pray for sunshine!
Some websites for further research –
Lastly, if you decide to do this I hope you have a really lovely day in this beautiful part of England.

Morgana is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 02:45 AM
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I'm not understanding your day involving Kensington Roof Gardens - this will take an hour or two at the very most. I'm assuming that you intend to do other things on that day?

Also, when I'm away, like you I have a list of things that I wish to see, however, I decide when to see them when I wake up on the day. You might find that you don't feel like seeing X, and would rather do Y instead, then you must follow your feelings. I'd scrap your fixed intinerary for London, and simply decide what do see on the day.
m_kingdom2 is offline  

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