Multi-Generation Trip


Jun 1st, 2015, 10:49 AM
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Multi-Generation Trip

This is the first of what will probably be several questions about an upcoming trip I am planning. Luckily I have a year to sort it all out! Next June, my husband and I along with our two girls (11 & 8) and my parents (69 & 67) will be spending 2 weeks in the UK. This will be a first time trip for all of us and something I am so glad that we get to experience together! Everyone enjoys walking, gardens, old houses & castles. May dad is a farmer and wants to see the countryside and avoid London at all costs (which is fine with us, my husband and kids and I would love to do that at another time all on its own). So, my itinerary does not include London for that reason. We will be resting a car because as this will be a somewhat rural trip we can see the most that way and my husband is willing to drive. I am looking for itinerary advice and also advice on good towns for bases as we DO NOT want to be packing and moving every night. Also, we have a national trust pass if that helps with recommended places to visit.
Day 1 : arrive @ Heathrow (7:00 am), drive towards Bath and stay somewhere in the vicinity; visit Bradford on Avon & Lacock
Day 2: Stourhead & Wells
Day 3: Bath
Day 4: Southern Wales (Cardiff, St Fagans, Forest of Dean)
Day 5: Cotswolds
Day 6: Cotswolds
Day 7: Oxford
Day 8: Drive North to Yorkshire
Day 9: Yorkshire dales (Fountains Abbey, Aysgarth falls)
Day 10: Thirsk, Helmsley, Suttons Bank
Day 11: York
Day 12: Drive to Edinburgh stopping to see Durham Cathedral, or possibly Alnwick (for my Harry Potter fans
Day 13: Edinburgh
Day 14: Edinburgh in the morning (flying out late afternoon)

So here are my questions:
1.) does this sound doable for everyone between the ages of 8 & 69 and assume everyone will have a reasonably good experience?
2.) Should we stay relatively close to Bath the first 3 - 4 nights then move to a place up in the northern parts of the Cotswolds for 3 - 4 nights or is it better to pick a more central location (Tetbury, Malmesbury, Wotten Under Edge) and stay put for a week? If staying put is the better option what town/village would be best?
3.) similar to the other question, but about Yorkshire. Should we stay in York then drive to points from there or is a more central town (Thirsk?) a better choice for what we want to see?
4.) It is possible for us to fly out of London instead of Edinburgh and extend our time in other places instead of driving north to explore that area; would that make more sense? I'd hate to give up Edinburgh but am willing to if everything else is too rushed.

Thank you for all of your advice & help!
litchickmi is offline  
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Jun 1st, 2015, 11:24 AM
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I'll try and help with the Yorkshire section as I live there.
Some questions for you first.
Have you chosen Thirsk for the James Herriot associations?
Why Sutton Bank? It's just a steep hill - why have you chosen it out of all the wonderful things to see in North Yorkshire? This isn't a criticism, just wanting to understand why! I hate driving up and down it.
Why Helmsley? Assuming it is because of its proximity to Rievaulx Abbey?
And now some observations. Fountains Abbey isn't in the Dales, and nor is Thirsk so at the moment you are just planning to visit only Aysgath Falls in the Dales. Plenty more things to see out that way (Middleham Castle, Jervaulx Abbey etc).
York is beautiful but not an easy city to drive out (or in)especially first thing in the morning or late afternoon so it might be worth staying somewhere smaller and taking the train in for a day. Thirsk does have a railway station but it is a good way out of town.
I'd also skip Day 4 (far, far too rushed) and add on a day somewhere.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 11:26 AM
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I don't have time for a detailed answer at this time -- will be back. But for what you want I would drop Edinburgh/Scotland (even though Edinburgh is probably my favorite city on Earth)

I'd rent two Cottages -- for a week each. One in the Cotswolds (Somewhere between In the triangle of Cheltenham-Broadway-Burford) to use as a base for Bath, South Wales, all of the cotswolds, Oxford, etc. And the 2nd cottage in/near Thirsk or in the eastern Dales as a base for York, the Dales, the Moors, Herriot Country, etc.

I'd fly into Heathrow and home from Manchester (or vice versa)

And for 6 people you'll need a big vehicle -- a people mover type (minivan). But they are OK on most roads in the areas you'd be.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 11:33 AM
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I definitely like jj's idea - you may do a bit more driving, but you should feel more rested as you will be coming "home" every night.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 11:44 AM
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Probably not much if any more driving since some day trips will be short and as you say -- they'd be coming 'home' every night. And only 3 days - arrival/departure/and moving - will the car be stuffed to the gunwales w/ luggage. The rest of the time you are just touring around and not packing/unpacking and trying to find the next place.

Now I'm off and will try to offer more ideas later . . . .
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Jun 1st, 2015, 12:38 PM
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I'll just offer a couple of observations and/or suggestions for further research.

The first is that Bath and the Cotswolds are justly famous for their prettiness, but it comes at a price - LOTS of visitors seeing the same thing.

An alternative - just worth considering - is to swap East Anglia for the Cotswolds, Cambridge for Oxford, and Edinburgh for Bath.

East Anglia, in particular Suffolk, has a wealth of picture-book thatchy roofy villages, a fascinating agricultural history, and some of the nicest countryside in England. Cambridge is fab with its colleges, stunning medieval architecture, punters on the Cam... And the wonderful Georgian architecture of Bath has its peer in Edinburgh's New Town.

Heading north from East Anglia, you could stay on the eastern (maybe dryer in June) side of the island. Visit Lincoln, a lovely little medieval town with half-timbered builidngs and stunning Lincoln Cathedral looming over all - similar in drama to the incomparable Durham Cathedral farther north.

Visit York and Durham, then continue up the coast through Northumberland - stop at Alnwick, also Bamburgh and the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, before ending in Edinburgh.

Of course this is a pretty drastic re-working of your plan, submitted only for your consideration, but I'd encourage you to have a google at some of these areas to see if it might not work for you.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 12:40 PM
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Sensible decision to miss out London this trip.

Day 4 as it stands is much too busy. St Fagans needs several hours to even begin to scratch the surface and better still a full day. Cardiff is a big city and needs several hours to make a visit worthwhile.

As well as getting a train into York, there is also Park and Ride.

Day 12 York to Edinburgh is going to be nearly five hours drive. You would have time for a short visit to Durham to see the cathedral. Alnwick Castle again needs several hours to do it justice, especially the award winning gardens. There isn't time to push this into a day to Edinburgh.

You don't seem to be allowing yourselves a lot of time for the walking, gardens and old houses...

I also like Janisj's suggestion of basing yourself in two diffrent places, and giving Edinburgh a miss this trip.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:32 PM
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East Anglia is lovely -- but I'll disagree w/ Gardyloo re >>LOTS of visitors seeing the same thing<< in the Cotswolds.

Except for Bourton-on-the-Water between about 11AM and 2PM (and that mostly on weekends) and Bibury around the Swan/Arlington Row @ about the same times/day . . . no place in the Cotswolds gets really crowded just about ever. Staying in the area for a week makes it VERY easy to visit those few honeypots outside of the busy times.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:34 PM
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I too think you should drop Edinburgh from this trip. Too long a drive for not enough time in Edinburgh.

Has your husband experience driving a large people-mover? 6 people plus luggage will require something quite large. And, assuming you're arriving after a long, overnight flight, he'll probably be jet-lagged and sleepy. Not good condition to drive an unfamiliar vehicle on the wrong side of unfamiliar roads.

In fact you all will be tired and it will probably take a day or two to adjust to the time zone. I usually plan an extra day at my first stop, for getting over jet lag.

Consider taking the bus from Heathrow to Bath and then picking up the car after a day in Bath. That will allow people to recover. Staying in Bath means you can be flexible about what you see. People who need a nap can drop back to the hotel as needed.

I'll be interested in what Janis says about flying out of Manchester.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 12:12 AM
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I live near York, like the idea of two cottages.

June, I'd add some agricultural shows.

Start here

Mimar makes a good point.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 12:59 AM
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"June, I'd add some agricultural shows."

I'd also add in local festivals, which are often scarcely publicised outside a 5-mile radius .

In the Cotswolds (and jj exaggerates the incidence of crowds: at midday on the sunniest, dryest, coolest Bank Holiday Monday, the Flannerpooch will be lucky to meet more than two or three other humans to flirt with in a typical 10-mile walk through the thousands of miles of our permanently deserted open-country footpaths) they range from hugely amateurish mock dog shows to major opera, and there's no one source.


As well as looking at public notice boards when here. It's rare for any event to be included in more than one or two of these media.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 03:03 AM
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Just a few thoughts from someone who lives not far from Bath and the Cotswolds.

Firstly, with a party of six, you will need a 7 - seater car like a Ford Galaxy or similar with three rows of seats. The disadvantage is that can leave little room for luggage, so you will need to be careful how many bags you bring. However, a car like a Galaxy is higher on the road, so you get better views of the countryside.

Driving a long distance straight after a transatlantic flight is inadvisable, especially if you are not used to driving on the left. It might be better to get the National Express bus to Bath, stay there for your first night, and pick up your car the next morning.

Don't forget that in Britain in June it stays light until virtually 10 o'clock, even later the further north you go. That gives you long days, and there is often something going on in the evening to relax and entertain you. That will certainly be true of Bath.

What sort of accommodation are you looking for? Self-catering has its advantages, but can be difficult to find for short periods. Traditional hotels can be expensive, and often the facilities and lack of space can be disappointing. Chains like Premier Inn, Travelodge and Holiday Inn Express are cheaper, but are purpose built, so more practical. They are usually concentrated in larger towns and often on the outskirts. You mention Malmesbuy and Tetbury, but you may have difficulty finding accommodation there to suit your needs. It may be a choice between staying in a town or out in the country.

In my experience, farmers get a lot of pleasure from seeing how other farmers do things. I remember driving with a New Zealand sheep farmer over the Mendips in Somerset. He was amazed to see free-range pigs grazing in open fields. Somewhere you all might enjoy is Adam's Farm (, although I am not sure what Flanner thinks of such places.

It was refreshing to see someone thinking of staying in Wootton under Edge, which is really a traditional Cotswold town unspoiled by tourist throngs. Do you have a particular interest in the area?
chartley is online now  
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 04:58 AM
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Are you giving Stonehenge a miss?
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:01 AM
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re Chartley's post: To clarify in case you aren't familiar w/ the term - "Self Catering" means a vacation rental (apartment or house). Nothing to do w/ catering as such. That is what I meant by booking two cottages. many cottages do rent for shorter periods but the majority require full weeks. AND even if your dates work out that you only have 6 days in an area (or even 5 days) renting a cottage for a week is cheaper than B&Bs or hotels. 'Eating' a night or two will still be a bargain.

I agree about not driving on your first day due to jet lag. The three easiest options (assuming you fly into lHR) would be staying the first night in Windsor which is only 7 miles from the airport, or Bath or Oxford which both have express coaches from LHR. Then collect the car the next day and head to the Cotswolds.

If you fly into MAN instead -- you can take either stay the first night there, or take the train to York and pick up the car the next day and travel to wherever your cottage is.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:03 AM
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Thank you so much for the quick responses, now I have even more to think about! To answer some of your questions & respond …

Yes, I’ve chosen Thirsk as Mom & Dad are big James Herriot fans. I chose Sutton Bank because it was touted as the ‘greatest view in Yorkshire’, but I feel maybe you disagree with this assessment? Yes, Helmsley because of Rievaulx and because it looks like a nice town and a bit smaller than Thirsk, but large enough to have pubs, shops, etc. if we wanted to stay in a town north of York. However, several have recommended the Dales as being more scenic and walker friendly so perhaps I should choses a town in that region?

I would much prefer to pick two places and stay in each for a week, but I’m afraid we’ll be driving over an hour each way to visit the sites we want to see, by doing shorter stays in more places I thought we could cut down on those longer drives… the disadvantage being packing & moving of course. We do plan to pack light because we are looking to a mix of self-catering & B&B’s – in the self-catering we’re hoping for a washing machine so we can do laundry and therefore pack as light as we can. However, the idea of coming home every night does sound appealing and I like to cook so I feel would be a bit more settled with this option.

East Anglia/Cambridge is an interesting idea and more stream lined than my current itinerary; I’m not sure if anyone is willing to give up the Cotswold’s on this trip, but I will look into it. I have considered taking the National Express from Heathrow to Bath because of jet lag, and we still may do that. My husband can drive stick, but is worried about driving a stick left handed whilst driving in the left lane – we’ve been told that we may need to pick up an automatic at a larger rental place such as an airport, so that is the only reason we may have to pick up our vehicle at Heathrow. As to flying out of Manchester – we’re flying from Toronto and Air Canada offers a good variety of nonstop flights to London and also one to and from Edinburgh in the summer – Manchester just isn’t as convenient and seems to have much longer flights with layovers & is pricier too.

The agricultural shows & festivals ideas are brilliant – thank you so much for the links! Our original plan was to stay in Bath a few days, but then we’d need to move more often and prices in Bath are steep! We are looking to avoid traditional hotels at all costs. I mention Wotten Under Edge because it’s far enough South in the Cotswold’s to make Wells, Stourhead, Bath & Cardiff easily accessible but still appears to have the Cotswold “feel” we’re looking for.

And finally, yes, we are missing Stonehenge – my husband and I would like to see that or Avebury but everyone else is against looking at ‘big rocks’… alas, we must all give up things. I’m hoping this is the first of many trips as I realize we are missing out on many things because of our group size and slower pace. Thank you again for all of the helpful advice!
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:13 AM
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janisj - It's funny you mention Windsor - I had originally added that as an option either at the beginning or end of our trip as a cushion either to or from London to see the castle & the towns of Windsor & Eton. I just keep thinking it'll be pain to have one overnight in a hotel or B&B ... probably not as much of a pain as a sleep deprived person attempting to drive in a new country however... We had also considered doing the same one night stop over with Hampton Court as opposed to Windsor ... ugh, so many decisions!
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:42 AM
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One thought I had was that, since on your existing plan Edinburgh is the biggest city you'll visit, and one in which you're also spending a few days, what about reversing the order of things? Fly into EDI and spend the first couple of days without a car, while you get used to the time change, get used to cars and buses driving on the left, and see the city unhampered by parking and traffic issues.

Then take the new tram to the airport and pick up the car there for your journey south, and end at Heathrow for the flight home.

Navigating towns like Oxford (or Cambridge ;-) ) or narrow country roads in a big vehicle (or maybe two ordinary cars and a pair of walkie-talkies?) while you're jetlagged and unfamiliar with roundabouts, and you keep looking at the doorpost for a rear-view mirror... Well, maybe a chance to rest up might be wise. Heading south from Scotland the roads are for the most part pretty easy, and you'll be more able to cope with hedgerows or country lanes by the time you get to the south of England, be it the east or the west sides.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:44 AM
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If you're looking for the setting of the James Heriott books, then Thirsk is the right place and has a museum. If, on the other hand, you want to see the countryside of the All Creatures Great And Small tv show, then you want to be in the Dales, specifically around Askrigg which became Darrowby (you can stay in Skeldale House which is now B&B). So if you want to visit Aysgarth then basing yourselves in Askrigg or Hawes makes sense. The views around Wensleydale and Swaledale beat anything in the Moors, IMO.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:50 AM
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>>I would much prefer to pick two places and stay in each for a week, but I’m afraid we’ll be driving over an hour each way to visit the sites we want to see, <<

Not really . . . Very seldom will there be an hour out and back sort of day. You will do day trip loops that cover a lot of territory and visit several places..

So one day in the Cotwolds will be a north loop that could go as far as Stratford/Warwick but certainly doesn't need to. You could visit Hidcote Manor, Snowshill Hailes Abbey/church, Broadway, and be back before dinner.

Another day you could visit Oxford and Blenheim Palace. Another - Bibury, Bourton on the Water, Burford, Minster Lovell. Then one day you can devote to Bath -- that would be a long drive.

The view from Sutton Bank is wonderful (be sure to also take in the view from the Mount Inn in Stanton in the Cotswolds - maybe ever better). I went soaring off of Sutton Bank(!).

From Thirsk -- one day trip would be York city (either driving down or taking the train). Another day or 2 exploring the Dales, Fountains Abbey. Another the Moors and Whitby/Robinhoods Bay. Another Castle Howard/etc.

Both areas are full of farms and on weekends would probably have farm shows, village fetes, steam fairs etc.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 10:53 AM
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A people mover is not a massive vehicle -- but yes, you would have to pack carefully>. BUT by having cottages -- you will also have full kitchens w/ washers/dryers so no one needs to pack for more than about 5 days and you can do laundry a couple of evenings.
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