Great Britain in 12 Days - - Yikes.

Old Jun 17th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Great Britain in 12 Days - - Yikes.

My husband & I are hoping to hit Great Britain in Spring or Summer of 2013. First trip to Europe and I don't know where to start in planning. Best time to go? Rent a car for parts of the trip? In to London and out Edinburgh? Thinking London for a couple of days, but more interested in finding a nice village to relax in and day trip out of for a few days and then head to Scotland. Probably only 12 or 13 days including travel days. Will probably end up pulling in a travel agent, but would rather not!
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 08:09 PM
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Hi, and welcome to Fodors Forums!

Best time to go really is a personal thing. While the UK can be prettiest in the Spring, with all of the flowers in bloom, from a weather standpoint, it is kind of hit or miss.

Even when I lived there, I think I liked Summer best of those 2 seasons, because it gets dark very late, you have your best chance of doing things outdoors, like rowing a boat on the Serpentine or punting in Oxford or Cambridge; best chance of hanging out in beer gardens, hiking, visiting castles, and the like. It can get pretty hot, but only every 7 years or so it gets really scorchy.

If you are from the States and not intimidated driving on the left side of the road, renting a car to travel can be a delight. You can stop in some amazing villages on the road between London and Edinburgh.

I wouldn't rent a car while in London, but maybe on your way out of London.

What are you thinking by way of a village? Just outside of London or a little further? Would a little area where people live but commute into London for work do?
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 07:33 AM
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Thinking a village quite a way out of London. Since we do want to spend time in Scotland too, maybe something at a midway point. Near a coast would be lovely. Although, we would also not be against spending our "London time" basing out of a commuter area - - that might be kind of nice actually. Any recommendation there would be great.

Thanks for the advice on not renting a car in London, but maybe on our way out. That makes sense and would save some rental $$ too.

Due to work schedules, I think we are probably going to be looking at either April or July. Since we are leaving our boys with family (the only hard part of the trip) it may be easier to aim for July so family doesn't have to deal with school drops and picks. Not sure if April would be significantly cheaper though which would also be a factor - - we are saving carefully so we can have the trip pre-paid.

Thanks so much for your help and advice!
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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On our first visit to Great Britain we drove from London to Brighton, and then began a circuit that took us to Edinburgh and then back down in 14 days. I still can't believe we did that, but we sure saw a lot of interesting sights and stayed in everything from B&Bs to private homes to hotels.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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On our first visit to Great Britain we drove from London to Brighton, and then began a circuit that took us to Edinburgh and then back down in 14 days. I still can't believe we did that,>>

lol, underhill, neither can I. How many years ago was that?

certainly nickelwaltz nothing to say you couldn't do that, [though a one-eay trip might be more advisable] particularly as you say you want to spend a few days in the "home Counties" within day tripping distance of London.

of course there is a compromise here - the closer into london you stay, [generally] the less pleasant the environs but the cheaper the travel. you might think about staying in a suburb - there was a thread about a year ago by a couple who rented an apartment in West Hampstead, i think, which sounded like the best of both worlds - they weren't in central london, but they had easy access to the capital.

but with only 12-13 days including travel days, you are going to be pretty limited in the no of other places you can see. Rather than set yourselves the impossible task of driving from london to Edinburgh in a week or so [which will leave you precious little time for anything but driving, and certainly not for seeing Edinburgh] why not stick to London and its environs, pick an area that suits your interests [for example East Sussex or Kent if you like castles and gardens] and do the odd day trip to London. in 10 days based in that area you could see Windsor, Hampton Court, Chartwell, Sissinghurst, Canterbury, Dover, Rye, Knole, Scotney, Brighton, and many other places i can't think of off the top of my head.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 09:24 PM
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Well, the usual "pitstop" (and I'd hardly call it that, considering the negative connotations) between London and Edinburgh is York. And it is a village, although a village on steroids if you count the whole of York rather than just within the walls.

That's where we spent a couple of nights 2 summers ago on our drive from the northeast area of London (actually, Brentwood) to our northerly destination of Edinburgh. But then I'll always find some excuse to go to York, I love it there.

My other thought was Lincoln, since it is such a beautiful town (again, bigger than a village), and not as many tourists as York. Stellar castle, oozing with beauty and history.

Still, close to the coast but not on the coast. Hmmm, Boston is close by, a neat little town, but a great little coastal town, but due to the "drier" east coast weather, a resort town populated by the geriatric set (think a northern version of Eastbourne) but still good family fun, would be Skegness, most recently (well, 10 or so years ago) claimed famed to a supposed UFO sighting, known as the Wash Incident. Nice little town and meets your criteria.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 10:51 PM
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Many years ago, when contemplating a similar first trip to GB, we settled on a plan which involved spending the first few days in London; then travel north by train to York, with an overnight and exploring in York, then picking up a car and continuing north toward Edinburgh, stopping en route to visit Durham, Hadrian's Wall, eventually dropping the car in Edinburgh.

After a few days in a B&B in Edinburgh, we went on to the Lake District by train, where we picked up another car for a few days, touring that area.

Then on to the Oxford by train where we spent a night and a day, then picked up another car and toured the Cotswolds for a few days. If I remember correctly, we based in a B&B in Stowe-on-the-Wold. Lovely! (Another time, another trip, we based in Moreton-on-Marsh, which was also on the rail line and also a good center for exploring the Cotswolds.) Eventually we ended in Bath where we again dropped the car, spent a couple of days exploring by local buses in Bath and to Stonehenge and Salisbury, then returned to London by train.

The beauty of this whole plan was that we covered the longer distances by train, then had access to a car for leisurely exploration of the areas we were particularly interested in.

At the time AAA had available a 'rail-and-drive' pass for GB which simplified our planning and travel. We were able to purchase/pre-pay for rail passes and rental cars for the entire journey, with lots of flexibility thrown in for good measure. I don't know if this is still available, but if not, it would be relatively simple to arrange it on your own.

We went in September, but May would also be a lovely time, as would late June or early July. Summer is busy, of course, but if you avoid Cornwall-Devon-Dorset and the whole south coast, not unbearable. And to be truthful, what is unbearable is the slow traffic on narrow roads. If you're not stuck in a car trying to get someplace, it's not so bad.

The south coast is nice in summer too, that's why it's so popular. I have lovely memories of sunny summer days spent on the sand of Studland beach, but that's a story for another day...
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 12:11 AM
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I would fly into London, stay there for 5 nights with day (train) trips out, say Oxford/Windsor.

Take the train to York and spend two nights there.

Hire a car a vist some of the most beautiful, unspoilt and uncrowded areas of Britain. Many of these sites are difficult to access using public transport.

Between York and Edinburgh, you could cover Whitby, The Abbeys, Northumberland and its castles then up to Endiburgh. Fly back from there.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 12:14 AM
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Ps with the immense knowledge around here, we would wipe the floor with a travel agent. Many of us live in the places you are visiting or, just as valuable (more so?), visit as travellers.

We just don't all agree on things at times.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 03:36 AM
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julia - that sounds like a lovely and well paced trip. but doing the maths, you took at least 15 days to accomplish it. the OP really only has 10.

any ideas on how to cut it down?
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:03 AM
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Wow, thank you so much for all of the information. Going to start laying out an initial plan tonight. Julia - I think a slightly reduced version of your plan may be just about perfect for us. We want to see London, but it is not our primary interest - - I would rather miss things there and see other off the beaten path sites.

Please keep the information coming, you truly are acting as our travel agents - - with your help I think we can do this without one which is a relief to me. I love to dig in and plan trips, but felt out of my comfort zone, now I think I can do it with such fabulous resources.

Again, thank you!
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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belted_galloway has it exactly right. York is a must in my opinion and going from there to Edinburgh is relatively easy. Do some research to decide whether you want to tour around York or around Edinburgh.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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You will not see many cars between Newcastle and Edinburgh which is half the journey. Driving around many areas of the north of England and Scotland is a totally different proposition to that in the south. I now refuse to drive to London after 20 years, just too busy and too many road works. Take the train instead.

Incidentally, my suggestion is a hacked down version of julia's so we are all on the same wavelength.

The other option is to go West.

Take the train to Manchester, see Chester and Liverpool. Then drive up the M6 to see The Lakes and Hadrian's wall before going onto Edinburgh.

I would be very careful about deviating from a straight line route, other than say direct train day trips out to Oxford which are very containable.

Off shot trips to say Devon by car will lose you 2 days travel by car plus a day there, which is a large part of your time budget.

Call in a Rosslyn Chapel on the way.
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