First Trip to UK/Ireland

Jun 29th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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First Trip to UK/Ireland

My wife and I (mid 50's) are looking to go to the UK and/or Ireland for the first time. We have traveled extensively in the US and some in Asia when I was in the military 25 years ago, but never to Europe.

We are looking for suggestions about where to go and what to see. To help, let me give you some background information. We are limited in travel dates as I am a college professor and my wife is a school teacher. Our only available dates would be from late December (about 20th) to mid January, or early July (around the 5th) to mid August. I would expect that during those periods we would have 10 to 14 days available.

The one thing we both agree on is Liverpool and the Beatles as we have both been huge fans all of our lives. In addition, I am a Liverpool FC fan and would love to see a match at Anfield if we are there during the winter, or maybe a preseason match in early August. If I could finagle two matches in different stadiums it would be awesome.

My wife would love to see Ireland and Scotland. She is enamored with the lush countrysides of Ireland and or Scotland and England and she would also like to see Castles as well. If we go to Ireland my wife would like to at the very minimum see the Ring of Kerry and Blarney/Cork/Waterford.

I usually need to be restrained in my travel planning as I always feel I need to see everything. So much so that I can ruin a trip by trying to cram 30 hours of sightseeing into a 24 hour day (obviously a little exaggeration, but not much). We like the security of a guided tour so we don't miss the good stuff, but are concerned that if we took one we would just be herded from place to place.

In addition to the other sights listed above, we would like to visit a great English tea room (have heard about the Pump Room in Bath) and would like to experience the rural areas of England. While we eventually would like to see the sights of London, I think we may need to save that and perhaps either Ireland and/or Scotland for a later trip.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.
texcap is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 05:14 PM
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I would definitely recommend a trip to Bath, not only for the tea rooms but for the historic interest too. The Roman baths themselves have been restored and are operational you can even pre book a session, the visit bath website would give you a good insight into the city. If you do decide to visit then you could incorporate a trip to the Cotswolds which has a wealth of history and is accessible easily by either car or guided tour. Gloucester is also good for traditional tea rooms and is a short distance away.
sapphire_hawk is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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If your wife wishes to see the many castles but feel you cannot make the trip to Scotland and Ireland at the same time as the England, there's always the option of Wales which is only a short trip over the bridge from Bristol.
sapphire_hawk is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 08:07 PM
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As much as I love Ireland, with only 10 - 14 days at your disposal, I suggest you confine yourself to England and Scotland. Ireland deserves at least 8 days just by itself and you don't have time for that and England.

I would NOT recommend that you do a guided tour--you will be herded to the popular spots and you'll miss some of the hidden gems of Britain. Since there is no language barrier, it will not be a problem to plan and book a tour of your own. If you go in the winter, you'll encounter fewer tourists but some attractions may be closed or have shorter hours. If you go in the summer, you'll have to deal with crowds, but you'll also have better weather.

If you do the self-tour as I suggest, you will have to deal with driving on left. If you have never done this before, it may seem strange at first, but you will quickly adjust and it will soon seem natural.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 10:26 PM
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Thanks for the replies so far. As to comfort with driving on the left, we lived in Japan for 4 years and they also drive on the left. Of course that was about 20 years ago but I remember it didn't take long to adapt, except for getting in the wrong side of the car a few times and Turing on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals!
texcap is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 11:02 PM
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Hi tex

Definitely pick the summer months. No need for a guided tour -- you can do better on your own.

As others have noted, you'd be best to stick to Great Britain for this trip given your time frame. You have some loose ideas about what you want to see. I suggest listing out your "wants" with some thought as to why and prioritize them. Then look at a map and put them in a logistical order and start counting up the days. Don't forget to account for travel time. If you can come back with the next level of planning, then the critiques will be more beneficial.

We love Liverpool and we don't even fancy the Beatles.

Agree that North Wales makes an excellent base for castles (Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris, etc.) but time is limited so you will have to pick and choose.

Here are some trip reports (and photo links) to get you thinking:



N. Wales

Lake District

Bath & Stonehenge



That should keep you busy.
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 12:27 AM
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Agree with the above, North Wales is spectacular however as is Mid, West and South Wales, it's a small country but is well worth a look and we have many castles and places of interest. And worth considering if you do decide to travel from Liverpool (huge Beatles fan myself)you can go through Welsh Borders, one thing to remember which the above didn't mention...Wales has it's own language and all road signs are in both Welsh and English (English translation is below the Welsh advice from an American relative - read quickly) Scotland has the Gaelic language which isn't spoken as widely, Ireland speaks Erse however is more prevalent in Southern Ireland (Eire) - agree that you should give this beautiful country a separate trip to truly enjoy it.

One tip which a lot of overseas visit seem to overlook, whether you decide to visit Scotland, Ireland or Wales never refer to them as England, the Celtic nations are very proud of their countries. We are all British but we are not all English
sapphire_hawk is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 02:38 AM
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If you decide Ireland and Scotland you can take a Day Trip to Liverpool for the Beatles Tour (or one of them anyway) using Ryanair from Dublin airport or Easyjet from Belfast. Then use Rail/Coach and sail between Dublin or Belfast and Scotland.
As has been said 3 countries in 2 weeks is a Tour Bus Route not a vacation.
Tony2phones is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 04:56 AM
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hi, yes the summer is better but August is high season.
do not try to fit all the British (geographic name rather than political) Isles into 14 days. In fact do not try to fit the whole of Scotland into 14 days (the map projections we are used to shows Scotland as a fair bit smaller than it actually is. I'd stick to Wales + Northern England and a touch of Scotland and even then you cannot hope to fit it all in.

Using Liverpool as a centre is a pretty smart idea as it opens up northern Wales and NW England up for a visit. You have to then decide about Scotland (note that Edinburgh has the major European theatre and music festival in August) and Bath, which offers the best roman remains in the UK (just about everything (excl Hadrian's wall) is at knee height).

I'd get hold of the Rough Guide to Great Britain and start post-it noting
bilboburgler is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 07:22 AM
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If you want mountains and castles, you might forget Scotland and visit North Wales. You could go there from Liverpool via Chester. You could then fly from Liverpool to Dublin.
MissPrism is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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Thanks for the information so far. As expected I now have great ideas for the general lay of the trip. Now for some homework on my part to start some of the more specific sights we would like to see. If I could, would someone be willing to help us choose some of the better large homes/castle/manors in the Northwest of England. I'm thinking homes that are open for viewing along the lines of Chatsworth or Highclere?

One last request before a I am off to do my homework; We will be starting our journey and returning to Texas, so any guidance on which airports to fly from the US and into and out of the UK would be great. I know that DFW has nonstop flights to Britain, but I am unsure which are the best and most economical to fly from and to.

Thanks again.
texcap is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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The Peak District is about 65 miles from Liverpool.
Buxton is a nice little town and you could visit Chatsworth, Haddon Hall and Hardwick Hall.
In Cheshire, there's Little Moreton Hall, a beautiful old Tudor House
MissPrism is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Hi texcap,

I googled the opening weekend of the Barclays' Premiership - Liverpool play at home on 15th August, so if you could arrange your trip around that, it would be a start. Getting tickets might be a bit difficult, but where there's a will....

I echo what others have said about limiting your trip to Wales and middle/north England. The Peak District is an excellent idea and along with North Wales should not be too busy even in what passes for summer.

you might look at flights into Manchester, or even Glasgow, but I suspect that you'll be lumbered with LHR, in which case taking an immediate flight out of there to Manchester or Liverpool would put you closer to where you want to be.
annhig is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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I bought a rail pass for the United Kingdom, thru Rick Steves website. It was great, all you had to do was go to the train, take any empty seat, 1st class, and lay out your ticket. It was terrific. I visited Scotland, Wales and England. If you have a laptop, you can make hotel reservations, as you go. That's what I did. Took a Scotish Highland tour, and loved it. Went to Bath for lunch ( have been there several time),stayed at Oxford, at Wadham college in one of their rooms, and the morning breakfast was fantastic. The day I went to Edinburgh, I was going to go to Leeds first, but changed my mind and just stayed on the train until Edinburgh.
Nlingenfel is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Here's a link to Liverpool's fixtures for the forthcoming season:

annhig has it slightly wrong in that Liverpool's first home game is the 17th August not the 15th. You also need to be aware that Premier League fixtures are subject to change to accommodate televised matches and the match may not be on the Saturday, it coud end up on Monday night! Keep checking the fixtures just in case.

If you visit Liverpool by car and park anywhere, don't forget to count the wheels before you get in to drive.
Rubicund is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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oops, sorry I got the date slightly wrong.
annhig is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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We spent 12 days in England and Wales in 2007, covering some of the same areas you want to see (Bath, Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, north Wales). Here's a link to my trip report:

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
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