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ta3153 Aug 27th, 2021 09:56 AM

England late September-early October
My husband and I will (fingers crossed!) be arriving in London from California the third week of September and will be spending the first 4 nights at The Savoy. We had then planned to spend a week in Portugal but have cancelled those plans because it adds too much complexity (ie testing etc). We end the trip with the last 4 nights at the Fairmont Windsor Park. So now we have a week to fill in the middle somewhere within the UK. We would prefer trains and private car and driver as needed rather than renting a car or taking a bus. We have spent some time in the Cotswolds and Bath (although not a great deal). We love food, botanical gardens, ancient ruins, nice hotels, walking (in the 1-3 mile range), theatre, rivers and trains.

There is so much to see and do in England and a short amount of time for planning. Feeling a bit overwhelmed and would appreciate advice.

janisj Aug 27th, 2021 01:45 PM

Ooh - the Savoy. Its on my bucket list (had champagne there any times but never stayed)

With a week you have almost (literally) countless choices. Not having a car would limit things just a bit - but have you been to Yorkshire and/or Northumberland? A few nights in York (or even a whole week there) would be great -- the city itself for a couple of days, then nearby sites/places include Castle Howard, Fountains Abbey/Studley Royal, the Dales, the Moors, the coast (Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay), Thirsk for James Herriot connections,

Just the various abbey ruins are worth several days Fountains, Jervaulx, Byland, Rievaulx, Bolton, etc..

Northumberland has similar sightseeing riches -- Alnwick Castle/Gardens, Bamburgh, Hadrian's Wall, coastal scenery, Lindesfarne, Durham not too far . . .

Some of the above places are reachable by train, some by bus, some by local tours, and since you are willing to use driver guides just about anywhere for a price.

janisj Aug 27th, 2021 01:52 PM

Meant to ask what your plans are for the 4 days at the Fairmont. I assume you are booking drivers since it is convenient to lots of places . . . but only by car.

thursdaysd Aug 27th, 2021 02:05 PM

I'd add Cambridge and Ely on the way to York. Or, I've just been reading about trains on the Isle of Wight, you could combine that with Portsmouth/Winchester/Salisbury.

Janeyre Aug 27th, 2021 03:12 PM

When I read your post earlier today like janisj, I, too, thought of a York trip...easy train connections and perhaps on to Edinburgh for a few days? janisj made some great side-trip suggestions from York as well. From York we drove to Haworth, home of the Brontes. I would have loved to have spent more time exploring the village and a taking a hike on the moors. Just being in their little parsonage, seeing the places the sisters gathered to talk and write was a bucket-list experience for me!

And like thursdaysd, I thought about the Portsmouth/Winchester foray. We are hoping to re-visit England in Nov/Dec if COVID restrictions (testing) are relaxed. I thought of taking the train from London to Winchester, staying there for two-three nights, and using it as a base for a day-trip (train) to Portsmouth to see the Mary Rose, Warrior ship, and Victory ship. Eager to explore Winchester as well, particularly the cathedral. Another option out of London would be to take the train to Canterbury and use that city as a base for exploring Canterbury, Dover Caste and environs.

Have you been to Hatfield House? The place where Elizabeth the First heard the news of her succession? Easy train trip of out London, short walk from train station, helpful docents, and you can wander the grounds.

Some of most evocative ruins I have seen in English are the remains of Glastonbury Abbey.

Safe travels!

Macross Aug 27th, 2021 04:40 PM

We were going last May to Portsmouth, husband wants to see the Mary Rose and then to the Isle of Wight. Still would be great weather.

ta3153 Aug 27th, 2021 05:01 PM

Thank you all for so many great suggestions! JanisJ I love the York suggestion! I also found a fabulous hotel in the Lake district that speaks to both my husband and I. And I've added in Liverpool because we've never been there and my sister-in-law loved it.
So here is what I have come up with so far (with lots of details and day trips to be added):

Day 1: depart SFO to Heathrow on British Airways (first class thanks to points!)
Days 2-5: The Savoy Hotel (in a suite including breakfast thanks to points!) More details TBD
Days 6-7 Train to York, stay at The Grand Hotel (alas, no points). So much to see and do TBD
Days 8-10: Car and driver to Leeds train station. Train to Windmere. Stay at The Samling Hotel. (Check out this hotel! It looks phenomenal!) (alas, no points)
Days 11-13: Train to Manchester. Car and driver to Liverpool. Stay at Marriott City Center in a suite (thanks to points!) more details TBD
Days 14-17: Train to Windsor. Stay at Fairmont Windsor Park (pay for room, but lots of points for food, services, etc). Windsor Park, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle. Maybe Oxford.
Day 18: depart LHR to SFO on Virgin Atlantic (upper class thanks to points!)

Please continue with your suggestions (which I love). Please also keep your fingers crossed for me that we can make this trip. This is the 4th time I've booked the Savoy with these certificates and have had to cancel for very difficult reasons. While I realize this could all fall apart because of Covid, we will go if we can. Never know what life will throw at us.

thursdaysd Aug 27th, 2021 05:20 PM

Not sure I understand the middle section. Are you spending time in Manchester? If not, you can take the train from Windermere (note spelling) to Liverpool with one change. If you do want time in Manchester, why do you want a car from Manchester to Liverpool? Pick the right train and it's well under an hour and no traffic to worry about. See:

janisj Aug 27th, 2021 05:28 PM

FC + a Suite (!) at the Savoy - now that trip is starting out on the right foot. :)

Just one quick note. No reason to hire a driver and go to Leeds. Just take the train from York to Manchester and change for Windermere.

And for Windermere to Liverpool you could just take a train with a change at Preston. That would eliminate having to drive out of central Manchester / in to Liverpool which can both be quite congested.

(While in York be sure to visit the wonderful railroad museum)

janisj Aug 27th, 2021 05:30 PM

Oh -- didn't see thursdaysd's post (was checking train times to make sure trains make more sense that having drivers to Leeds and to Liverpool).

Great minds ;)

bilboburgler Aug 28th, 2021 04:21 AM

Car in York and Leeds both difficult compared to using the train while the route into Leeds centre is hardly exciting. The Grand is something like 200m from the station and the York station is relatively small unlike the Leeds one. Leeds station is pretty well sign posted, if you need to change platforms the escalators are obvious but there are also elevators built into the same very obvious structure.

There is a lot to do in York but if you do want to get out of the centre then Fountains abbey and Ripon is the best of the rest in the area and you will want a driver.

Macross Aug 28th, 2021 05:09 AM

I would do a private Beatles tour instead of a driver from Manchester. Spend the money on that instead. We have a friend there that always wants to be the tour guide. Much better than a bus tour.

annhig Aug 28th, 2021 04:20 PM

<<Ooh - the Savoy. Its on my bucket list (had champagne there any times but never stayed)>>

Finally JJ I have found something in the UK that I've done and you haven't. I wasn't in a suite though!

janisj Aug 28th, 2021 04:29 PM

Originally Posted by annhig (Post 17278726)
Finally JJ I have found something in the UK that I've done and you haven't. I wasn't in a suite though!

:) Lucky you! I'm jealous. My last planned trip (July '20, postponed to July '21, finally cancelled outright in May and still waiting for AA to redeposit miles and refund $$) I briefly considered booking at the Savoy but went a little down market to the Royal Horseguards. But all for naught . . . :(

thursdaysd Aug 28th, 2021 05:54 PM

Forgot to mention that if you do London to York to Windermere to Liverpool to Windsor by train, it might be worth buying a railcard. Even if you don't both qualify for a Senior Railcard (over 60), since there are two of you you can buy a Two Together card. Both varieties get you a third off. You would need to run the numbers, bearing in mind that the earlier you book the cheaper the ticket.


ta3153 Aug 29th, 2021 01:14 PM

Thanks again to everyone! I was just looking at train times and wondering about a railcard. Will definitely check it out. And, yes, we are over 60. The only one I'm a bit worried about is Windermere to Liverpool which requires 3 changes. Hmmm--just saw the post about 1 change in Preston. Will look again. We had a difficult experience a few years ago with a change that required walking up a very steep set of stairs with luggage, across the top and down the other side. Made the next train with one minute to spare. Very stressful.

Also love the idea of a private Beatles tour. Will definitely do that!

And great ideas for York. So appreciate all the sage advice.

thursdaysd Aug 29th, 2021 01:34 PM

Are you using the National Rail site? If you tell it Liverpool Central you will indeed see three changes, select Liverpool - all stations instead. Trains to Liverpool Lime Street require one or two changes. I'm not familiar with Liverpool, but the two stations seem to be only about a quarter of a mile apart.

I sympathize with the stairs up/down issue! However, according to this Preston (the one change) has step free access to all platforms: Of course, that may require elevators to be functional....

bilboburgler Aug 30th, 2021 02:41 AM

If you look at the national rail site, you'll see that some trains require 3 changes and some 2. Looking just at a sample of the 2 the wait time at Preston is almost an hour and at Oxenholme is 30 minutes so you should have plenty of time to get from platform to platform (if required).

Oxenholme is tiny, so I doubt there is another platform, but I've not searched diligently. Preston is busier but more like York which is hardly massive.

York; obviously the minster is the main drawer, but the Shambles, the Treasurer's house, the walls, the Merchant Adventurer's house (is a bit dull but historically interesting) the castle is just the walls left on a mound, the town museum is good while the National Railway museum is fascinating for some and dull for others (free), I'd not waste time on Yorvik unless it really is very rainy (but if you like a sort of disneyesque version of history it might be fine). Theatre may have something running while you are there.

thursdaysd Aug 30th, 2021 05:05 AM

@bilbo - why did you not read my post??? The OP can do the trip with one change.

bilboburgler Aug 30th, 2021 05:20 AM

hi thursday, I did read your post, I wasn't trying to disagree with you but to agree with you and to make sure the OP read the complicated nationalrail site clearly. Stay safe ;-)

In terms of the 1 change I was not clear if the OP wanted to stop off in Leeds hence their need for a car to get York to Leeds.

So I think we are on the same page.

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