London Bath Cornwall trip advice, please

Old Jan 18th, 2018, 07:30 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 106
London Bath Cornwall trip advice, please

We are two couples - late 60s and in good shape - going to England in October for two weeks, and would very much appreciate the Fodor forum "checkup" for our itinerary and input regarding favorite places to stay and eat. We like comfort and elegance but not pretentious or fancy.

We fly overnight into LHR from Washington DC and spend 4 nights sightseeing and walking around London (booking somewhere near V&A in South Kensington area, suggestion for small hotel around $400/night?).

On the 5th morning we rent a car and leave for Bath, two nights (booking somewhere charming $300-400/night and walkable to sightseeing?) with maybe a day trip to Oxford or Cotswolds.

The 7th morning finds us heading toward St. Austell to see the Eden Project and Heligan gardens. Do we need two nights booked in the area for this, considering the distance from Bath? Someplace convenient to stay?

The 9th morning we drive to Falmouth for 3 nights - and here I am conflicted. We planned for 5 nights total in Cornwall and the Eden Project area will most likely eat up 2. Should we settle in Falmouth and do our 3 days of southern touring from there? Definitely going to St. Ives and would love to get all the way to Tintagel; St Ives sounds lovely to stay in but would it be a good base? Does Falmouth or St Ives area have more interesting restaurants?

The 12th day is our long drive day - we are going to Salisbury to stay for one night (recommendation for stays near Cathedral?). It seems pretty much the same amount of time from either Falmouth or St Ives. We will do a little sightseeing the 13th day, maybe Avebury if we have any energy left (!), and spend that night in a Heathrow airport hotel, leaving the next morning.

I know there is plenty of this information already here in the forum - I have loved this forum for many years and have grateful given and received; but I am not yet using the new format's search function well. So forgive me if this is all being repetitive. And thank you all for being here, I am so grateful this forum has run this long!
Dschoening is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2018, 07:50 PM
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I only have time for one really quick comment . . . >>On the 5th morning we rent a car and leave for Bath, two nights (booking somewhere charming $300-400/night and walkable to sightseeing?) with maybe a day trip to Oxford or Cotswolds.<<

That is awfully rushed. Two nights will only give you one day plus a few hours in Bath. No time at all for Oxford or the Cotswolds.
janisj is online now  
Old Jan 19th, 2018, 12:15 AM
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IMHO you are driving around too much. Slow down and see more! Head directly to Cornwall. It is around a 5 hour trip without stops.Take you time in Cornwall and use one location as a base. It is quite small and if the weather is not so good on one coast you can find it better on the other. Then head to Salisbury area for a few nights. Avebury is easier to reach from Bath than Salisbury.
What dollars are you using? The UK has . I would use Reviews, plus loads of filters to find what suits you best. Then instantly reserve your accommodation.
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 02:48 AM
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I agree with the two posters above. You don't have time for all that. We found more than enough to do in Bath alone for two full days (where will you park, btw?). Same for Oxford. I can't even imagine thinking you'd find time for the Cotswolds. Yes, state your currency amounts in British pounds or we don't really have an idea what your budget is.

We visited St-Ives las spring. We enjoyed most of a day there, but would not have considered it a good place to base ourselves. We did not do much research on eating establishments, but rather walked all over town looking for a good spot to eat, and frankly were disappointed in the choices. For us, it was a pleasant day but we were happy to leave.

We stayed here in Bath for two nights and loved it:
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 03:22 AM
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I actually think if you stick more closely to your title you will be ok.

So literally London (4 nights ie 3 full days)
Drive to Bath (takes a couple of hours (2 nights to get 1 full day).
On to Falmouth or St Ives for the remainder of the trip. You can visit St Austell (for the Eden project) from either of those and do not need an overnight in St Austell.
You won't go wrong with either Falmouth or St Ives. I would probably stay in Falmouth and visit St Ives from there on one of your days - I'd recommend getting the bus or train as parking is dire in St Ives. . Loads of nice eateries in Falmouth and on the surrounding creeks.
I'd not bother with Salisbury and perhaps make Oxford my stop on the way back. Half a day to see the city then stop there overnight. You can get from there to Heathrow in about an hour the next day, so unless you have a a very early flight that might work better.
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 06:16 AM
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Thank you all for the good advice about times; this is so important and impossible to tell from just looking at a map and calculating the mileage. We are using US Dollars, so our British pounds upper limit is presently 288 for lodgings.

I am a great Jane Austen fan, so Bath is important to me. Guess since I am the one planning the trip, my husband and friends will have to see Oxford another time! And Falmouth sounds like the right place for us to base. I am intrigued by ads for the Oceanic Hotel and the Greenbank Hotel.

Salisbury is important to our friends so I think that stays in the plan; and our thought about staying our last night at the airport was just so we could return the car the night before the flight, and not have to worry about it in the early morning.

Again, thanks again for timing tips - it's so hard to calculate without knowing the area. Here in the US, driving 5 hours on the east coast can be torture while the same distance on the west coast can be a pleasant morning of fascinating scenery...

Last edited by Dschoening; Jan 19th, 2018 at 06:17 AM. Reason: misspelling
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Old Jan 19th, 2018, 02:39 PM
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Greetings from Cornwall!

I agree about turning your trip round and putting London at the end, so you are in the right place for going home. I also agree about coming first to Cornwall, but don't drive, get the train. It is one of the classic train journeys, especially the stretch just past Exeter and over the Tamar. If your flight arrives at about breakfast time, you will have all day to get to Cornwall - there are lots of trains from Paddington which is not far from LHR. Even if you decided to do London first, this advice to get the train to Cornwall still stands.

As for where to stay, most places in Cornwall are within a reasonable driving time of most attractions. However, some places are more convenient than others, depending on what you want to see. Given that you only have 5 nights in total here, I agree that you don't want to be moving around too much. OTOH you don't want to be spending a lot of time covering the same stretch of road over and over again. Falmouth is a great place to stay [probably my favourite Cornish town] and it has enough restaurants for you to eat in a different one every night of the year and still have some left over. Some of them are very good. It is also great for boat rides and walking. BUT - it is not a great place to stop if you want to see St Ives or the far west, for which Penzance is a better base. Both can be reached by train; Penzance is where the train stops whereas you have to change at Truro to get to Falmouth, or you could use the opportunity to hire your car from the railway station. It also has good restaurants as [despite what St C says] does St Ives.

If you decided on Penzance, I would suggest staying there for 3 nights, and on the 4th day, driving to Tintagel, and from there to the Eden Project where you could end your day, before driving to a local B&B or hotel. If you want something upmarket, the Carlyon Bay hotel is very nice or the Pierhouse hotel in Charlestown looks interesting. [Charlestown is often used for harbour sets in Poldark and other similar series].

the next day go to Lost Gardens of Heligan and spend the afternoon at Mevagissy or exploring the Roseland peninsular.

If you decided to spend 5 nights in one place, then Falmouth would be a better choice, as it's closer to Heligan and the Eden Project and not too far from St Ives.

Then head to Bath for the rest of your trip.

I have arranged it like this as I suspect that you would find it very hard to do both Eden and Heligan justice in one day. To get the most out of them, they each need more than half a day. Sometimes however Eden opens in the evening as well, in which case you might well manage to cram them both into the same day, though you'll be tired at the end of it! there is a quite a lot of walking at both.

I hope this helps - please don't hesitate to come back with any questions or queries. I can suggest routes and or activities and walks depending on what you decided you wanted to do.
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Old Jan 21st, 2018, 06:53 PM
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Thank you so much annhig for getting back to me, sorry to take so long replying but I had to consult with my travel companions. I considered all your suggestions and was agreed that the reversal trip plan sounded like a good idea, but I was told we are "too old" to do a long train trip, dragging around our luggage, when it would feel like 2am to us when we land. We haven't traveled with our friends since 2005 when we went on a trip to Scotland together (got wonderful enriching advice here from Sheila and a Janis -maybe janisj's id in 2005?); apparently the difference between being in our fifties and ready to exit our sixties makes all the difference!

But I did heed advice about fewer places. We are now booked for 3 nights in Bath after our 4 nights in London, and will base ourselves in Falmouth for our Cornwall journey. We agreed to let weather and age influence our sightseeing, so I am drawing up lists of "possibles" and we will choose when the time comes. I will be posting in the forum again and I will be grateful for your advice here. Annhig and janisj I will be looking at your past postings and trying to gather earlier wisdom from you before I come back with questions that might be repetitive.
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Old Jan 21st, 2018, 07:30 PM
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If your bookings in London and Bath are changeable, I would put London at the end. There is an Express Coach to Bath from LHR that would have you there in a little over 2 hours non-stop and no luggage schlepping, so you could spend the first 3 nights there car-less. Bath is a walking city -- not a good driving place. Then you can EITHER take the train from Bath to Penzance (train to Bristol and then direct through from there) and collect a car in Cornwall - or - you can pick up a car as you leave Bath and drive down,

Then drive up to Salisbury, then to LHR, drop the car and in to London by tube or car service. OR -- you can drop the car back in Penzance and train to Salisbury and train in to London (so you'd really only need a car for your time in Cornwall)

Finish up your trip with all the London time at the end

Last edited by janisj; Jan 21st, 2018 at 07:36 PM. Reason: additional info
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Old Jan 23rd, 2018, 12:42 PM
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That's a good idea, JJ, AND it makes allowance for the great age [lol] of the OP and her travel companions.
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