Ireland , Scotland or Wales?

Old May 29th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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Ireland , Scotland or Wales?

I am planning a trip for my family for July 2012 (initial stages). Am very interested in perhaps renting a historic self-catering property , renting a car and exploring for 15-20 days.




Our family is comprised of myself , husband ( both in our early 40s) and our 3 children who will be 15 , 12 and 8 at the time of the trip. We have traveled extensively.




My questions:




We are interested in Scotland , Ireland or Wales , but I think it would be best to concentrate on one of these countries in order to best take advantage of our time. Am thinking of staying in one central location for a week and doing day trips , then perhaps travleing and stopping along the way for the additional time.




I am having a really hard time choosing a region , as they all look amazing.




Some things that have really caught my eye:




-Isle of Skye , highlands and Lochs




- The rugged coast of Ireland, Kerry , Cork




-The amazing variety of castles in Wales and Snowdonia




Any advice , suggestions or help would be appreciated!

i know this is a very "broad" question ...I am at the information gathering stage and am looking for input and impressions from fellow travelers , even if you have been to only one of the countries in question.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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If my feet were put to the fire I'd either:

Spend the entire time in Scotland (whether you end up planning 15 or 20 days)

or

Spend 2 weeks in Scotland and 5-6 days in North Wales (if you decide on 19 or 20 days)

I like Ireland - and love bits of it. I think North Wales is amazing. But my be-all-and-end-all is Scotland. Totally subjective of course.

"The rugged coast of Ireland, Kerry , Cork "

Except for a few specific places in Ireland -- I even think the general scenery is better in Scotland. Plus in some ways- the logistics is just easier in Scotland. Even for coastal drama --St Abbs head and Skye and places are in the same league as the west coast of Ireland.

But you will get folks who think the exact opposite

I've spent a LOT more time in Scotland - often doing exactly what you propose - a series of weekly rental cottages used as bases to tour wider areas.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 01:40 PM
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Meant add --and it won't help you much -- you really can't go wrong whichever you choose. (I'd still pick Scotland myself)

Oh - and that should have read >>I think North Wales and the Pembrokeshire coast are amazing
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Old May 29th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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janisj-

That is just the kind of input I am looking for...the combination of Scotland and Northern Wales sounds intriguing. I posted the same question on another forum , and Northern Wales was also mentioned as a top choice. Will investigate!

I must admit , my childhood dream is Scotland , but I am trying to be neutral in my studies . My son wants to visit Ireland and hubby is more on the Irish team. But my vote is the final one ...I am the master planner! LOL!
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Old May 29th, 2011, 02:11 PM
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What about Ireland do they envision? Knowing the "why" might help make the decision . . .
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Old May 30th, 2011, 05:11 AM
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I think my husband is drawn by the "pub" culture and the reputation the Irish have for being very friendly. Truthfully , he really puts the travel planning in my hands ....he is very busy as hemo-oncologist and really looks to relax and unwind on vacation.

My son is rather fixated on the Giant's Causeway! Our other children don't have a particular opinion other than at some point they'd like to sleep in a castle ( checking out castle hotels!).



át. This point I wish I could stay 3 months and explore everything!
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Old May 30th, 2011, 06:49 AM
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I like JanisJ's suggestion of Scotland and North Wales. Our family has done southern Ireland, North Wales and Edinburgh. Our favorite was North Wales, but I wish we had traveled further into Scotland. (I had done research on it before having to change our plans and it seems fantastic.)

I think you would find that the people in North Wales are very friendly too. We stayed in Conwy and walked the castle walls. Took a train to the top of Snowdonia and hiked down and also explored Caernarfon. Five days would be a nice amount of time to explore the towns, castles and countryside. There would be enough to do and enough variety to keep kids engaged.

Edinburgh was great, too. We visited the castle, Royal Mile, and hiked up to Arthur's Seat.

The Ireland trip included Dublin, Kilkenny, Dingle and Galway. I did not go with my husband and sons on the Ireland trip; however, they preferred Wales and Scotland over Ireland. I think they preferred the sites, food and scenery in the earlier trips. Or, they just might have been a bit more jaded by the time of the Ireland trip, so maybe take that with a grain of salt.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 07:15 AM
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For what it´s worth I know many many people who completely hated their vacation in Scotland because they got 2 or three whole weeks of rain in summer. Two of them even left early because they could not stand the weather any more. And they did not talk of on and off rain but rain the whole day long, each and every day. In fact these many unfavorable "weather reports" kept me from going to Scotland myselve. I love Ireland, have been four times and mostly the weather was really nice. BTW I am not a "sunshine freak", my favourite vacation place being Canada .
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Old May 30th, 2011, 07:26 AM
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Oh and my sister used to live in Wales. She said she had never seen that much rain again in her live (she lived there for 5 years). I liked Wales a lot, though. Snowdonia is awsome (it rained when we were there, he he).
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Old May 30th, 2011, 07:43 AM
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"For what it´s worth I know many many people who completely hated their vacation in Scotland because they got 2 or three whole weeks of rain in summer. Two of them even left early because they could not stand the weather any more. And they did not talk of on and off rain but rain the whole day long, each and every day. In fact these many unfavorable "weather reports" kept me from going to Scotland myselve. I love Ireland, have been four times and mostly the weather was really nice."

Just how many do you mean -- a bit of exaggeration perhaps?? First of all you cannot base anything on 'possible weather'. Both countries are islands and the weather is totally changeable. There could be light showers, heavy rain, or bright sunshine on any given day anyplace in the British Isles. And very likely all three on many days.

>>2 or three whole weeks of rain in summer
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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:14 AM
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I vote with Janisj. We had made 7 trips to Wales and seen all of it (we have friends in N. Wales) and love it, but then we saw Scotland. Love Edinburgh, the castle, the Royal Mile, the BEST historical museum, botanic gardens. From there to Oban and Mull (which is one of my favorites)and where you can ferry to Iona and Staffa,and then on to Skye. We went to Inverness, Inverary, and then all the way up to John O'Groats and ferry to the Orkneys (now, there's an adventure)then drove back and dropped the car in Inverness and flew to Glasgow. Loved every minute. We experienced that pouring rain several times - mostly notably on Skye, and just kept going. Second trip only had 11-12 days I think and we started in Glasgow, drove to Argyle, around Kintyre, and a day trip to the tiny island of Gigha where there are wonderful gardens. We ferried to Islay, right in the middle of the annual single malts festival without knowing about it, and ended up doing more distillaries than we might otherwise have. Went to a concert one night of 'local' talent in Bowmore and were easily the only non-Scottish there. Brilliant, but perhaps bagpipes are not suited for playing indoors...also from Islay went to Jura where there are 5,000 red deer and where George Orwell wrote "1984". Back to the mainland and another trip to Oban and Mull. We LOVE riding ferries (we come from a a state with no water)and we have owned a total of 5 West Highland white terriers, so we have met a great number of those dogs and their owners in Scotland which has been a highlight. The food is fabulous, the scenery a little more dramatic than Wales, and the Scottish tourism office well developed and support. Were I you with 20 days, I'd choose a mix of Scotland and Wales this time. Ireland will wait for you.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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Oh - forgot to mention -- for your Giant's Causeway dreaming sone --offer up Fingal's cave/Staffa. Reached by boat from Mull and part of the same basalt volcanic formation that eventually surfaces at the Giant's Causeway.

Maybe these photos will convince him

http://tinyurl.com/3r33def

and more info @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingal%27s_Cave
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Old May 30th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Brilliant suggestions! Loved the idea of Fingal´s Cave/Staffa...so beautiful and no hoards of people. My son is a geology lover and I am sure it will thrill him.

While I would be disappointed if it rained all 20 days , I will prepare the family for the reality that this will not be a "sunny" vacation. We live in Brazil , so sun is not a rare commodity for us. We actually welcome a respite from it.

The Scottish Isles , overall , "call" to me more than anything else. Why? Not sure...

The Wales idea sounds fantastic , any highlights ?

Kim
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Very interested in your post since I adore Wales and Scotland and am just starting to plan a brief trip to Scotland. I have not yet been to Ireland but have found it interesting to read what janisj and others have said about it. I think you will find the Welsh and Scottish people to be very friendly and you will definitely get the pub culture your hubby is looking for.

Northern Wales highlights for us were Snowdonia, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Beaumaris. If you like castles, this is the place to be! You could spend several days there and the rest in the Highlands/Skye.

As for the weather, we took an 18-day driving tour of the UK in June (supposedly their sunniest month of the year) - from Dover to Cornwall to Wales to the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh and back down to Dover. It rained EVERY day except one, but we also had some sunshine nearly every day. We did not let the weather deter us but tried to work with it, including a few hikes and drives in the rain when necessary. The Scottish people are very cheerful given that they live in such a cold, wet country! ;-)
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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:28 PM
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It's s likely to rain in Ireland as it is in Scotland.

Even Mr. History, who is no fan of the wet and rainy, really enjoys his trips to Scotland.

A few highlights for North Wales:

A walk up Snowdonia ( take the train down or both ways if not into walking).

For castles: Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris, Harlech, Cricieth.

The Ffestiniog Railway

Towns & Villages: Betws-y-Coed, Capel Curig, Conwy, Beaumaris,(some people love Portmeirion...I'm not a fan)

There's plenty more!
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Old May 30th, 2011, 03:03 PM
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Here's a link to the route map for Caledonia MacBrayne, which is the ferry company for the Western Isles: http://www.calmac.co.uk/destinations/route-map.htm
It's worth ordering the brochures from www.calmac.co.uk to see all there is available to you.
In addition to the excellent suggestions in Wales already offered, let me add Llangollen, south of Conwy as a wonderful small town that has canal boats pulled by horses, and a variety of historic structures. And if you take the Ffestiniog Railway, you can tour a working slate mine in railroad cars - but take your woolies for that one!
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Old May 30th, 2011, 04:32 PM
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Fantastic...interestingly enough , I´d already checked out Llangollen. So pretty , a definite possibility.

I´ve been studying my atlas and am a bit stumped by the logistics of Northern Wales/ Scotland. I am trying use take the best advantage of our 20 days , and due to the fact that we´ll be traveling with a group of 5 ( 3 kids in tow) , would like to avoid long trips and airports/ train stations etc as much as possible. My husband likes driving and 2 to 3 hour drives with the kids are fine. We also have the luggage issue.

So , I am trting to envision making the Northern Wales trip viable along these lines...or we could do the 100% Scotland trip.

Oh , so many places to see and so little time!

Thanks so much for all the input , you are all wonderful!
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Old May 31st, 2011, 08:28 AM
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For a different perspective, although I think Janisj's idea is a good one...

I've been to Ireland and Wales, but not Scotland [soon I hope]. I adore both Ireland and Wales, but if I had to choose between them, I would choose Ireland. You could easily spend all your time there. I would pick a couple of bases, perhaps one in the north, one around Galway and perhaps Kenmare.

People are friendly in both Wales and Ireland, but perhaps a bit more outgoing in Ireland [a big generalization] We found the pub culture more fun and vibrant, with music and singing in Ireland. We didn't run across much music or singing in the pubs we went to in Wales. Although I have to say, we had the most wonderful pub food in Wales.

Not trying to be contrary - just giving you an Ireland lover's perspective. I have to say, though, that Wales is a really close second.

And yes, be prepared for rain.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:43 AM
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Thanks for another perspective , Egnolive. Ireland looks incredible too. I am looking through country cottages/manors to rent and Ireland has some fantastic offers. I love Irish music .

A quick question...are children frowned upon in pubs? Here in Brazil , children are seen frequently out with their families at night. We are by no means night owls , nor would there be heavy drinking involved. I am thinking along the lines of some nice pub food , music and a beer for my husband in the evening.

Thanks!
Kim
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Old May 31st, 2011, 06:38 PM
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It is possible to connect Wales and Scotland with a stopover in the Lake District - that's what my husband and I did on our grand tour. However, we were without children and didn't have to worry about long drives. It's a valid concern (we are now looking at making a couple of 6-hour drives across Scotland with a 3-year-old in tow) but I personally think it would be worth it to see both of these incredible regions, and with 15-20 days you can absolutely do them both justice.

As I recall children are certainly accepted in pubs during normal meal times.
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