Itinerary help need for UK trip

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Nov 17th, 2009, 07:39 AM
  #1
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Itinerary help need for UK trip

I am planning a two week trip to the UK next March - the first 6 days will be in London with two girlfriends and their 2 sons age 14 and 8. They will return to the US and I will continue the remainder of the trip solo. I plan to spend 2 days in Oxted, Surrey with my old college roommate and her family. Then travel to the Lake District, staying near Ambleside for 2 nights before traveling to Edinburgh for four nights (with a day trip to Glascow) before returning to London to fly home. Is there something I should not miss along the way. I can shuffle the itinerary by a day or two. I plan to travel by train and public transport whenever possible, although I plan to hire a car in the Lake District.
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Nov 17th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Hi LilSis,
It really depends what your interests are. Visiting the lake district as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow will give a nice mix of countryside and history.
If you are travelling by train then you will probably end up going through Newcastle upon Tyne ( east coast line). Could be worth a stop, its a friendly city with smart shopping. Just north there is Alnwick castle which was used in the Harry Potter films.....quite popular with beautiful gardens.
Good luck
Mike
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Nov 17th, 2009, 09:55 AM
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This is my personal opinion, but if you can't add an extra night to the entire trip, I would take one night from Edinburgh and add it to the Lake District. If I'm reading your post correctly, you'll be spending most of one day (your first night in Ambleside) actually getting TO the Lake District from Surrey, then picking up your car, checking into your hotel, etc. Then you'll have one full day in the Lakes, then you'll leave for Edinburgh the next morning (and getting there will take a good part of your day). So you'd really just have one day in the Lakes. I did that a couple of years ago and although I really enjoyed my one day, I did very much wish I had an extra day to do more hiking or see more of the area.

That does leave you with one less day in Edinburgh, but for me I'd rather spend two days in the Lakes and two full days in Edinburgh (where you can see quite a bit in two days), rather than cutting out a day in Ambleside to try to fit in Glasgow.
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Nov 17th, 2009, 10:10 AM
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There is less of a need to hire a car in the Lake District IMO than almost any other place in the UK - all kinds of public conveyances traipse everywhere you will want to go - from mini-buses going to remote places to the double-decker hop on off buses that circulate around and stop at nearly every major sight. Trains only will get you to Windermere and that is a great base IMO for the whole area. If you are traveling all this by train then surely investigate a BritRail Pass - a great deal for your group because of a- kids under 16 get a free pass to match the adults and with the Party Pass the 3rd thru 9th adult on the same pass pay just 50% of what the first two adults pay - this means incredibly cheap rail travel for your party - and the pass can be used on any train anytime - just hop on - these fully flexible fares can cost a ton in Britain - and even the deep discounted online fares (www.nationalrail.co.uk) may not be as cheap overall due to the Party Pass and Kids under 16 free angle of the pass. For loads on British rail travel i always highlight these info-packed sources: www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Note that there are no BritRail trains in Britain but BritRail is a pass that lets you hop on any train in England, Wales and Scotland - any of the zillions and zillions of normal passenger trains (not museum trains going nowhere).
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Nov 17th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Thanks this just the kind of information I need. I was debating between two or three nights in the Lake District and you just sealed the deal for me - three it is. Also I was definately planning on checking out the rail passes, just needed to figure out where all I was headed first. Any recommendations on lodging in the Lake District - I was looking at Sawrey House and had planned on the Scotsman in Edinburgh. Also dining recommendations in any of the areas. I'm a light eater, but love good food.
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Nov 17th, 2009, 11:20 AM
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Which town is the Sawrey House in (or near) - and if going by train Windermere is the only rail station in the heart of the Lake District though there is good bus service between Penrith and Keswick i believe - Keswick rivals Windermere as the most popular beach head for the Lake District i'd say - check out the Pencil Museum there.
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Nov 17th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Am I correct that you would need three rail tickets (to Surrey, to the Lakes and to Edinburgh)? (I'm assuming you're flying home from Edinburgh.) In that case, I would be surprised if a pass worked out pricewise. If you buy tickets in advance (up to three months) you can usually get them pretty cheaply. You are locked into a particular schedule with point-to-point tickets, but it sounds as though you're not really looking for flexibility.

I'm not familiar with Sawrey House. I did stay in Windermere last time I was there; I would recommend it if you choose not to rent a car. However, if you do have the flexibility of a car, there are other places with better views - lots of b&bs which are not right in a town, or towns where public transit might be a bit more hassle than Windermere.
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Nov 17th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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There is not a direct flight back to Tx from Edinburgh - so I thought I would take a train back to London and see a bit more scenery. Yes I am not sure about a rail pass either, that is why I what to nail down the trip somewhat and then comapre. However, after leaving London I am traveling solo so flexibilty is always an option, but it sounds as if everything I've got planned has plenty to do and see so not really a requirement. Sawrey House is apparently right next door to Hill Top Farm and had good reviews on Trip Advisor and Expedia
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Nov 18th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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LilsisTX - i errored in my post about the Family Pass and Party Pass by not reading your OP carefully enough and missed that only you were going solo - it does indeed change the whole pass vs individual tickets thing. But if you want flexibility then with full fare tickets so so high a pass could be good if that is what you wish - and i always go solo around Britain with a pass because i just want to get up and go to the station and hop one of the very frequent trains going everywhere and not be pegged into a certain train - but that would definitely be the cheapest way, as jent103 says.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Flexibility to travel at will comes at a steep price in the U.K. - Edinburgh to London is currently 135 'at will' fare on nationalrail.co.uk or about $225 - yet you can get a 3-days unlimited hop on hop off BritRailpass for $255. so it is easy to see for flexibility the pass can pay off quickly if flexibility is key - OTOH you can get fares for 48 pounds (or maybe lower but my quick check said 48 for tomorrow - the day i checked but on a very few trains - though there were other varying fares much less than 135 pounds and if you book way in advance i'd think you may be able to beat 48 pounds but only on selected trains that may or may not comport to when you want to leave. But the info is all there at natioanlrail.co.uk to see what is available for the dates and times you desire.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 12:01 PM
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If you're in Houston or flying Continental, you can open jaw by flying into London and then returning to Texas from Edinburgh via Newark because there are direct Ewr-Edi flights. If you're in the DFW area, you're probably taking American and I'm not sure American has any direct flights from the US to Scotland so that you could get back to DFW with one hop avoiding Heathrow.

The train trip from Edinburgh to London is long (over 4.5 hours) and it will take you awhile to get from Kings Cross to Heathrow -- about 45 minutes to an hour on the cramped Piccadilly line and about 30 minutes via Paddington on the Heathrow Express. Considering that you're alone, traveling light (?) and don't want a 17-hour travel day, you may want to hop a short flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow if you have DFW-Heathrow tickets.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 01:29 PM
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Thanks Big Russ - I'm in Houston and have considered a short flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow as opposed to the train. Just haven't made up my mind yet. I have already booked the flight round trip from Houston to Heathrow. Also wasn't interested in the lay-over in Newark. I don't mind going on to a trans atlantic flight tired - then I can sleep - but I hate to break it up - by that time I'm just ready to get home.
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Nov 18th, 2009, 02:00 PM
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hi lilsis

give my love to Oxted - I lived near there for about 18 years and commuted all of that time from Oxted station into London.

for a really good meal in a nice setting try the Fox and Hounds at Staffhurst Wood; sadly you'll be a bit early for the bluebells which are stunning around there.


have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Nov 19th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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BigRuss makes a good suggestion but since you already have a round trip ticket to London then by all means consider taking the train on the East Coast from Edinburgh to London - yup it's 4.5 hours but i would suggest you break your journey in York - put your luggage in a station locker (one of the few stations in Britain to have left luggage these days) and then stroll around the nearby town center - to me, along with Bath, the finest town in the U.K. outside of London and Edinburgh. The York Minister (cathedral) is world famous and you can also walk along the intact town walls and best of all to some, take tea at the legendary Betty's Tea Rooms (not sure of proper name but a fancy tea/tea snacks cafe right in the heart of everything. And don't miss the Shambles, the weirdly named pedestrian shopping street in York. so if you break up the train trip into 2.5 hour and 2 hour portions it ain't so long (even though 2.5 + 2 = 4.5!)

And you also see a really scenic part of Britain along the rails as the train rolls between Edinburgh and Newscastle - often along a rugged coast, etc.
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Nov 19th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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Caledonian Sleeper Train | About the sleeper | ScotRail
Caledonian sleeper facilities include single and twin berth cabins with comfortable beds, blankets and fresh cotton sheets as well as air-conditioning and ...
http://www.scotrail.co.uk/caledonian...e-sleeper.html

another option for Edinburgh to London is to hop the Caldeonia Sleepers, overnight trains that are amongst the most comfy i've taken in Europe - especially in first class. And there are some deep discounts available for those online and of course you could use a railpass on them too but the pass would pay just for the train fare and not the optional sleeping accommodations, like a private room for one or a place in a multi-person sex-segregated (i think) compartment. But of course you see no scenery but presenting as an option. Saves a night's hotel in London - worth a couple of hundred bucks to the average traveler it seems.
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Nov 19th, 2009, 02:12 PM
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Last time I took the Sleeper from Glasgow to London it was 2 person berths. I was travelling alone and had a compartment to myself....if you have to share with someone you don't know, it's same sex....I guess I might have been the only woman travelling alone that night.
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Nov 19th, 2009, 08:17 PM
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Again you guys have been a big help. The stop off in York is exactly the type of thing I was considering as well the sleeper. On the day I leave London to Oxted (I realize this is a short trip) I wanted to see Hampton Court if my traveling companions were not interested earlier in the week. I will have luggage. Is there a place to leave luggage anywhere near there or best to leave at the hotel return to London to retreive and then travel on to Oxted.
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Nov 20th, 2009, 01:23 PM
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there is no left lugggage i am sure in the Hampton Court train station (or in nearly any train station in Britain except some large stations like York, Edinburgh and London terminuses that have special security screening machines.

I do not know where Oxted is but gettting anywhere, by train at least from Hampton Court, a deadend station, must mean backtracking a bit to join the Waterloo to Sussex mainline.

nationalrail.co.uk should have details if there is rail service to Oxted. You may have to backtrack all the way to London Waterloo for left luggage in which case you'd leave your luggage there and hop out and back to Hampton Court. But perhaps there are facilties for left-luggage at the HCourt ticket window/reception - like the baggage check for bulky items - i'd e-mail or call the Palace to check on that and then you could hop back on the train and interchange with the London Waterloo to Sussex line - which according to schedules i have referenced going all the way back to Clapham Junction, Britain's self-acclaimed busiest railway station with a zillion tracks - a few more minutes would take you back to London Waterloo, where you could have stashed your luggage in the left luggage that should be open there - otherwise investigate a bus from HCourt over the the rail line going to Oxted - which is about 70 mins by train from HCourt station via Clapham Junction schedules say
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Nov 21st, 2009, 07:27 AM
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pal - you are "talking" to the world's expert on trains to Oxted - haven't you read the rest of the thread?

trains to Hampton court go out of Waterloo via clapham junction; trains to Oxted [the East Grinsted Line] from Victoria, via clapham junction. so without luggage you could get train to HC, tour the palace, train back to CLJ, swap platforms, train to Oxted. [CLJ -Oxted = about 35 mins].

hope this helps,

regards, ann

if you can persuade your travelling companions to do it, a nice trip on a sunny day is to get the boat down the Thames to Hampton court, then get the train back. or vice versa. you can't do it both ways, especially in March, as the days aren't long enough and it all takes too long.

however, there are sadly no left luggage facilities at CLJ, nor Hampton court, so you would have to go all the way back to Waterloo to get your luggage if you want to do this in a day.
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Nov 21st, 2009, 07:42 AM
  #20
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Thank you - you guys have been a big help.
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