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-   -   Help! 14 days to fill between Bath and London (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/help-14-days-to-fill-between-bath-and-london-1652325/)

Kate101 Apr 24th, 2018 09:54 AM

Help! 14 days to fill between Bath and London
 
I am overwhelmed with the possibilities! I've been reading threads on here all morning and feel more confused than ever.

My husband and I fly into Heathrow on May 18 and depart from there on June 11. We are fit and active (I'm 64 and he's a very athletic 72). The plan is to stay the first 3 nights in Bath (I've booked the Bath Boutique B&B, which can be cancelled for a small fee) and the last 7 nights in London. The only thing set in stone so far is London, as the hotel (Nadler Soho) has been prepaid. (Yes, I got the idea of starting out in Bath from Rick Steves but ending up in London does work better for us.)

I've been to London before but neither of us has traveled anywhere else in the UK. I am using Rick Steves 3-week itinerary only as something off which to bounce ideas and because I have no clue what I am doing. It seems to include a nice sample of things, but I am open to suggestions and thinking I better get some reservations made. We'd like to see Bath, the Cotswolds, Wales (relatives from there) and Scotland--but there is nothing we are totally attached to. Also, Steves doesn't include Oxford, and I'd like to go there (day trip from London?), I don't like rushed itineraries or very many one-night hotel stays, and the Steves itinerary seems rushed to me. We love museums, architecture and history, and we also love the outdoors. And we are big fans of good food and wine.

Here is the Steves itinerary I'm using as a starting point:

Days 1, 2, 3 - Bath (take a tour to Stonehenge and a village or two from here) - pick up rental car on way out of Bath
Days 4, 5 - Chipping Campden (visit South Wales, Cardiff, Tintern / Cotswolds, Blenheim)
Day 6 - Ironbridge Gorge (visit Stratford)
Days 7, 8 - Conwy (visit Ironbridge Gorge, to North Wales)
--(Days 8, 9 and 10 are the long weekend of the May 28 bank holiday)
Day 9 - Liverpool
Days 10, 11 - Keswick area (visit South and North Lake District)
Day 12 - Oban (drive up west coast of Scotland)
Days 13, 14, 15 - Edinburgh (visit Highlands/Loch Ness)
Day 16 - Durham (visit Hadrians wall, Beamish Museum, Durham Cathedral)
Days 17, *18 - York
--(This is actually one more night than we have--so if we were to follow this itinerary, we would have to cut one night somewhere)
Days 18-24 - London

Please tell me what you might cut from this and what you might expand or change. Or give me a totally different itinerary--I'm open to suggestions--including seeing less and staying longer in certain areas.

I appreciate any answers anyone cares to give!

janisj Apr 24th, 2018 10:20 AM

>>I am using Rick Steves 3-week itinerary only as something off which to bounce ideas and because I have no clue what I am doing.<<

Please (PLEASE) don't. RS is absolutely fine for may places but IMO/IME his info for the UK is 'pants' (not a good thing)

>>Days 4, 5 - Chipping Campden (visit South Wales, Cardiff, Tintern / Cotswolds, Blenheim)<<

That is way too short. South Wales/Cardiff/Tintern/Chepstow is more than one day right there. Blenheim is another nearly half a day - and with the drive times you are left essentially no time for the Cotswolds. The drive from Bath to Cardiff to Chepstow/Tintern to Chipping Campden is 4.5 to 5 hours without a single stop. With the sightseeing along the way it will easily be a 10+ hour day

Then it entirely falls apart from there on:

just one example: >>Day 12 - Oban (drive up west coast of Scotland)<<

Keswick to Oban is a 5 hour drive over motorways til Glasgow and NONE of the route is on the coast. In fact not a glimpse of sea until you get to Oban (Did RS actually say the drive from the Lakes to Oban is up the coast??? -- even more 'pants' than I thought). If you actually did want to see the coast - then driving up through Dumfries & Galloway/Ayrshire you are talking a nine hour drive w/o stops (and that really isn't the most scenic Scottish coastline (though pretty - not 'dramatic'). Why Oban? If there was reason/point of going there fine but as a stop en route to Edinburgh it makes no sense.

>>--(This is actually one more night than we have--so if we were to follow this itinerary, we would have to cut one night somewhere)<<

You are trying to cover major parts of three countries in 2 weeks. You need to cut back your expectations. (and toss RS to the curb)

Kate101 Apr 24th, 2018 10:47 AM

I'm more than happy to toss RS to the curb, but I do have to plan something. So with the 17 days I have between landing in Heathrow and staying in London, what would you suggest? Pretend I'm a good friend of yours with similar tastes, who has never traveled in the UK outside of London, and is asking for an itinerary. We're willing to take the train or rent a car.

janisj Apr 24th, 2018 12:52 PM

>>So with the 17 days I have between landing in Heathrow and staying in London, what would you suggest? Pretend I'm a good friend of yours with similar tastes, who has never traveled in the UK outside of London, and is asking for an itinerary. We're willing to take the train or rent a car.<<

I'd be happy to -- however I've been to the UK countless times and lived there for nearly 5 years. So, the problem is I've been to every corner of the British Isles and could (honestly) recommend 500 or 600+ places you could/should go. Of course that isn't realistic. So first -- the only firm thing so far is flying in/out of London, so start by maybe thinking about places in the UK you have always dreamed of visiting (whether ancestor-related, or movie locations, or favorite authors, or the Beatles, or steam trains or famous castles, or something that gobsmacked you on a TV travel program, or anything . . . )

Then we can help you focus on some areas and work out a nice/doable itinerary.

Otherwise it is sort of like asking "I want to go to the USA for 2 weeks - where would you recommend?"

Kate101 Apr 24th, 2018 01:20 PM

I'll be back! (New York City for six nights, then fly to Las Vegas, rent a car and spend a week exploring the national parks of southern Utah--then fly home from Las Vegas. :-)

janisj Apr 24th, 2018 02:32 PM

Get a UK guide book (not RS ;) ) and read it on the flight from NY > Vegas

Have a great trip (I'm doing Zion/Bryce/the GC and Monument Valley in Oct)

bvlenci Apr 24th, 2018 03:34 PM

I don't understand the logic of visiting Loch Ness and "the highlands" from Edinburgh when you've just been in Oban. (I don't have any desire to see Loch Ness in any circumstances, actually.)

Driving up the west coast of Scotland, starting from the Lake District, to spend one night in Oban, and then turn around the next morning to drive to Edinburgh, makes little sense.

Also, Oban itself is nothing special, but you can get the ferry from there to Mull, and then a bus to Fionnphort, where there's another ferry to Iona. Iona is one of the prettiest places I've ever seen. I wouldn't recommend going all the way to Oban and turning around without visiting Iona. It can be done as a day trip from Oban, but you wouldn't see anything of Mull. We did this. Janisj doesn't agree with me on this, but we left our rental car in Oban. It costs quite a lot to take the car on the ferry to Mull, and you have no choice but to leave the car at the ferry in Fionnphort, because that ferry doesn't take cars. Also, I would not have wanted to drive to Fionnphort, on a very narrow road, where two cars can't pass, and with fairly intense traffic. There are pullouts that allow vehicles to pass, but sometimes you don't see the oncoming vehicle in time and one of you has to back up. If you wanted to spend more time on the island of Mull, or if you wanted to tour Mull rather than visit Iona, a car would be a must, but not just to cross the island to catch a ferry. The bus schedules are timed to meet the ferries.

We visited Hadrian's Wall from Durham. It was an all-day affair, and a long day at that. Once again, you have one night in Durham, arriving from Edinburgh and leaving the next day for York. How could you see all those things in such a short time? I loved Durham; we spent three days there, and I felt it was too short. York was a bit too overrun with tourists for my taste. (Likewise Edinburgh; I actually liked Glasgow better.)

To be practical, I would cut either York or Durham. I would add a day to Oban to allow you to visit either Mull or Iona, and subtract a day from Edinburgh. You don't need to visit the highlands from Edinburgh. You might want to add a day after your stop in Oban, to allow you to drive further north, maybe to Glencoe (we didn't make it there) before turning south to Edinburgh. In fact, three nights in Oban and points north would make some sense. My original plan was to spend a night or two in Gencoe, but I decided in the end to spend the time in Oban so I could visit Iona, and I'm not sorry I did.

MmePerdu Apr 24th, 2018 08:55 PM

I admit I didn't read all the posts above but I did read yours and though I see "...fit and active...", followed later by "...willing to take the train or rent a car...", I see no mention of what, in my experience, is the thing one can do in the UK better than anywhere else, walking. My best recommendation is to park the car and find yourself a footpath and spend a couple of those days slowing down, walking and seeing the countryside in an intimate way. Anyplace you go there will be marked paths crisscrossing the landscape with towns and villages conveniently interspersed for refreshment and sleeping along the way. If you do it you'll have an experience as British as a visitor could possibly have. Why be fit & active then sit in a car or train with the real thing whizzing by mostly unseen?

Start here: Home - Ramblers

bilboburgler Apr 25th, 2018 01:34 AM

Well I live in the UK and I would
1) Just do the Edinburgh part of your Scotland trip
2) I would not do Oxford as part of a day trip, there are two fine musuems (one world class) in the centre of town, plus a fair few colleges to visit (normally only doable in the afternoon), plus some lovely town walks (especially by the Thames/Isis/Meadows but also in the Parks, while can often do a piece of music in the evening or drop into evensong in a chapel. If you want to stay somewhere interesting use https://www.universityrooms.com/ and chose Oxford. I might even "eat" the cost of a room in London and just take a night pack to enjoy the town after dark. Oxford parking is tricky.
3) The Cotswolds are best done walking (the UK has thousands of miles of country walks almost eveywhere but they can be muddy in May) preferably pub to pub
4) Dropping Durham or York, oh come on now, York is a magical walled city. You want to go to Oban but not York? If you go to York what about Fountains Abbey??

Which guide book would I recommend? Rough Guide.

Gwendolynn Apr 25th, 2018 08:32 AM

Wells with it's beautiful cathedral is less than an hour from Bath.

janisj Apr 25th, 2018 09:11 AM


Originally Posted by Gwendolynn (Post 16718734)
Wells with it's beautiful cathedral is less than an hour from Bath.

True - but the OP may not even be going to Bath now -- she was merely following that daft Rick Steves itinerary.

She mentioned she'd be back with more ideas/questions after she gets back from a two week trip to New York and the Utah national parks.

Kate101 Apr 25th, 2018 09:22 AM

I appreciate everybody's responses.

Here is a very rough itinerary:

3 nights in Bath
2 nights in a Cotswold village (such as Chipping Campden)
2 nights in Oxford
--(drive to York)
6 nights in Yorkshire / Northumbria areas with a car (not sure how to divide this up or where to stay)
--(train to Edinburgh)
4 nights in Edinburgh (too many nights there?)
--(train to London)

This needs work, but I'm trying to focus on fewer areas.

(janisj - I appreciated your comment about what 2-week USA itinerary I would recommend--it made me think, and that's what I was responding to when I said 6 nights in NYC and the rest spent exploring southern Utah. The thought of trying to see every major city and famous sight in the USA in 2 weeks sounds like hell to me.)

Gwendolynn Apr 25th, 2018 09:31 AM

On the way to York you might want to stop in Lincoln... another town with gorgeous cathedral.

texasbookworm Apr 25th, 2018 03:25 PM

Kate--Whatever you decide will be great; whatever you decide you will have regrets of places missed!

One thing that might help when planning driving travel time--whatever map app you use, like googlemaps, whatever time it suggests, multiply it by at least 1.5; we found that allowing twice the amount of time suggested by an app meant we never missed anything time-sensitive. In practice, our driving times in the UK have averaged probably 1.5 times what map apps say, but hedging on the "will take longer" side will maybe make for less tension.

I hope you figure out how to include Hadrian's Wall.

And I don't think 4 nights is too many at all in Edinburgh; if you happen to want a day trip from there, check out Timberbush and Rabbies for possibilities

loackerwafer Apr 25th, 2018 06:37 PM

I stand to be corrected by my fellow Fodorites but I think Liverpool is not worth going to unless you're a fan of that famous British band.

janisj Apr 25th, 2018 06:44 PM

OK >>3 nights in Bath
2 nights in a Cotswold village (such as Chipping Campden)
2 nights in Oxford<<

So that is one week in a relatively small geographical area. Not sure I'd move hotel three times. Maybe consider something like 2 nights in Bath and 5 nights in a Cotswold town. Any of the lovely towns - Burford (my fave) or Chipping Campden, or Stow on the Wold or Broadway or any number of others. From there Oxford is an easy day trip (drive just in to the Park & ride lot and take the local bus into the city centre - driving in Oxford is a Bee-atch). And of course all of the Cotswolds and Stratford upon Avon/Warwick and even a bit of south Wales (Burford is about 1.5 hours drive to Tintern). Though there would be plenty in the Cotswolds to fill 4-ish days w/o going to Wales.

>>--(drive to York)
6 nights in Yorkshire / Northumbria areas with a car (not sure how to divide this up or where to stay)
--(train to Edinburgh)<<

That complicated things just a bit -- I'd keep the car and drive to Edinburgh (drop the car at EDI -- so NO driving in central Edinburgh). There is soooooo much to see and do in Yorkshire/Northumberland/the Borders. I'd consider 3 or 4 nights in Yorkshire, 2 nights in Northumberland (Alnwick, Bamburgh, Lindesfarne) then spend the day driving up through the Borders (Dryburgh, Melrose, Traquair House) and on to EDI. Drop the car and spend the 3 or 4 nights remaining in Edinburgh. (this itinerary is a 'fungible' - you can add and subtract nights a few different places)

Kate101 May 3rd, 2018 07:24 AM

Now we are second guessing ourselves.

Our current itinerary:
3 nights in Bath
4 nights in Burford
4 nights in York
2 nights in Durham
4 nights in Edinburgh
7 nights in London

Personally I'm happy with the way things are, but my husband is wondering if we should try to squeeze in either North Wales or the Lake District (after speaking with a friend who was in the UK last summer). He'll go along with my final decision, though. The only flexible nights we have are the 8 nights in Burford and York. From Durham to the end of the trip is set.

For those 8 nights that are flexible, we could do:
3 nights in Burford, 2 nights in Conwy (or other town) then 3 nights in York
OR
4 nights in Burford, 3 nights in York, 1 night in Keswick en route to Durham
OR obviously any other combination of nights.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

janisj May 3rd, 2018 08:13 AM

I like your current plan -- but then I like to go go go AND relax now and then.

But what ever you do . . . I wouldn't attempt this version >>4 nights in Burford, 3 nights in York, 1 night in Keswick en route to Durham<<. York to Keswick is 3 hours by the fastest route and 4-ish hours via more scenic roads with all the photo op stops etc it would take maybe 5 hours. Then Keswick to Durham the next day would be another 3 hour drive plus stops.


For North Wales . . . Burford to Conwy is a 4.5 - 5 hour drive plus stops.

But a note -- I might not stay the 4 nights IN York but somewhere in the Dales instead. You can do York as a day trip and spend the other days exploring the Dales.


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