Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Need help with 15 day itinerary...scotland england and wales

Need help with 15 day itinerary...scotland england and wales

Aug 13th, 2011, 08:53 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
Need help with 15 day itinerary...scotland england and wales

I have had a 15 day intinerary planned for about 7 years now, and at one point we were almost a go, but every year due to exchange rates or family matters or just lack of matching schedules we havent been able to go. I have always NOT liked a couple of the days in our plans because they were either too long or not enough stops along the way to break up a long drive...

our travel style is what I would consider "ON THE GO" we like to have a pretty good basic plan of what we really hope to see plus a few alternates in the city in case we get through with what we want to see of if something is closed we have a back up plan.

We drive alot on each vacation( just finished yellowstone/jackson hole and it was 1200 miles in 8 days) so being on the road isnt a problem, we have been in the UK before, not driving ourselves but are familiary with the roads and traffic.


is it best to lay the whole trip out so you have the jist of the way we travel and could suggest moving some things around or should I just put in the days I am having the most trouble with for suggestions?

Thanks, Theresa
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 08:58 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,110
Let us see it all . Otherwise we may suggest things you are already doing.
Frances is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 10:16 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
we can use 15 days if needed but that one extra day is harder to get off work..however, if you see something we completely missed, especially in the middle parts of Wales or England, let me know.

our interests include bird watching, hiking, photography, good local but not fancy food, but gourmet chocolate or icecream we would stop for

(warwick castle...too cheesy or do it for the sake of the 7 year old?)



day 1 fly from jax to london arrival 7:30 am

get oyster and catch tube to hotel area before 10:30am
ditch luggate
HOHO Bus
tower of london before 3 pm
photgraphy only of tower bridge and london bridge
British museum closes at 5:30


day 2
St Pauls (husband has seen outside, but we want to try to get inside but can ditch if our day is too full)
St Brides
Continue hop on hop off bus
Westminster Abbey
Kensington Gardens w/ Playground
british library

day 3
National Rail to
Windsor
Return
(may add lego land, if so we will stay in the area and take bus to bath)

day 4
paddington rail to bath
arrive on or before 14:30
drop luggage at hotel/b&b
walk town (husband has seen major sites so it will just be me seeing some of this stuff and hubby will take son to playground or somewhere else fun in order to get some kid stuff in)

day 5
full day mad max tour of stonehenge, lacock, castle combe

day 6
rent car from either bath or bristol (not sure)
Tintern Abbey Maybe just photography opens at 9:30 if we go in
Abergavenny Castle
Brecon beacons Drive thru and photography
Gigrin Farm Red Kite rhayader Wales
Pistyll Rhaeadr 290 foot double cascade
stay either near psityll Rhaedr, chirk, wrexham or chester

day 7
chester
in Chester see city
Roman city, see walls, castle etc…some shops picnic here
find car park
Chester appx 2 hours to York
stay in york

day 8
York City walls walk Free
York Minster 9-5 M-f do everything ticket 9 adult 7.50 student and 3 pounds child
York Model Railway
National Railway Museum
cliffords tower family ticket 5.30 pounds
see city
drive to durham (or stay in york and bypass durham)

day 9
Durham Castle hmmm is it worth it?
Durham Cathedral (covers tower, undercroft and treasures but not monks dorms 16 pounds)
see city

Hadrians wall sunset see sunset over wall
Hotel Premier Travel Inn Carlisle center or south not M6 location 60 pounds

day 10
Carlisle to Enterkinfoot to Stirling
**** check into roslyn chapel ****
Enterkinfoot
Bannockburn
Stirling Castle

Hotel-Premier Travel Inn 60 pounds Stirling

day 11
Stirling to Blair Athol

(stirling to killin past lock Tay to aberfeldy to Blair Atholl 81 miles 2 hours scenic )

Blair Athol Castle free
Robertson Clan Center
Pass of Killiecrankie
Falls of Killiecrakie

Hotel -Travelodge in Perth 50 pounds 26 pounds if you can get the super saver.

day 12
Perth
Miegel Museum free with pass carved stones pictish
Hotel-
Photograph Scone Palace Adult 7.50 # student 6.50
Dumfermline
Culcross Abbey Coffee Shop historic with coffee and scone 1.50 pound
Dumfermline Abbey 10-4:30 M-S Sun 2-4:30
Return Car

Sleep edinburgh (may drive straight to rosslyn chappel and stay there and return car day 13)

day 13
edinburgh all day (we have been here before so may put rosslyn chappel here)

day 14
fly EDI to jax


thanks for your thoughts and input...

yes it is a fast trip but i promise this is the way we travel and love it... please add suggestions on alternates to see in the cities...
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 12:25 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
There are lots of issues -- these are just a few of the most glaring.

Day 1 is a bit crazy. You will be jet lagged and the H-o-H-o may be all you can manage. Definitely not the Tower and/or British Museum. W/a 0730 arrival, you likely won't be at your hotel until nearly 10:30

Day 2 is ALL over London. The Library is near the British Museum. St Paul's is convenient to the Tower. You;d do better to group these sorts of pairs and not scatter shot across London and back several times.

Day 6 is (nearly) insane. Approx 6 hours of behind-the-wheel car time not counting ANY stops. It isn't like a six hour X-country drive in the States. It will be 6 hard hours --and more like 10 or 11 hours w/ just brief stops at those sites.

Day 7 >>Chester appx 2 hours to York<< This make me think you are using on-line drive time calculators.If so, you need to add between 25% and 50% depending on the route. Chester >York can very easily take 3+ hours.

Day 10 Why Enterkinfoot?

Day 11 -- (stirling to killin past lock Tay to aberfeldy to Blair Atholl 81 miles 2 hours scenic)

That 81 miles will easily take 3.5 hours and when you add the back track to Perth, the drive will be about 4.5 hours plus stops.

You will literally be spending endless hours in the car most days. Mostly depends whether the road trip aspect is more important than the actual places.
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 12:30 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
Oh -to clarify --I didn't mean you could do the Tower, St Pauls, the British Museum and British Library on the same day. Only that you should group sites that are relatively near each other.

That should have been 2 paragraphs:

>>Day 2 is ALL over London.

The Library is near the British Museum. St Paul's is convenient to the Tower. You;d do better to group these sorts of pairs and not scatter shot across London and back several times. So I'd re-think both days 1 and 2.<<
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 02:32 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
Thanks, Day one, Hubby is fairly familiar with the city, he has to fly there for work it is mainly for me and my son to get a grip on where we are and get some shots. Since he has to go back and forth to London I am not going to pressure myself to get all of this done as we will hopefully have another week or two over the years to see stuff. I was thinking if we made it to the hotel by 10:30 I would want to be at the tower by 1 and leave by 3 take hoho past st pauls and if we dont have time to get off we wont. Also the british museum is mainly for me so I can do that when ever.

I will rework days 1 and 2. thanks

day 6 what do you mean 6 hard hours of travel? is it because the roads are winding or desolate?

day 7 It was suggested to me to use the AA maps from the uk website so I will rework my times based on that.

day 10 enterkinfoot just one of the places my husband can trace his ancestry back so we are stopping and taking a picture in front of a town sign...

day 11 i have extra time built in that day for laundry and i can take out killin and killiecrankie .

Overall I think I am going to put that 15th day in because I figure we are going to need laundry day 4 7 and 11 and maybe 14th day

durham can definaltely come out.

We love photography and scenery so the drives are not an issue but I will be re-doing my drive times using the AA website and reworking my trip.

thanks so much for taking your time to review.
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 03:01 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,422
Still not sure you have it completely in hand. Many make the mistake of assuming that driving in the UK is the same as driving in the States. It's not. And, if you're comparing a trip in the UK with a 1200 miles trip in the western states ( Yellowstone/Jacksonhole) the differences are even more accute.There are a number of reasons why driving is slower but I expect you don't want or even really need to know the details.

IMO, there doesn't seem to be much scheduled that would entertain a 7 year old with the exception of the Kensington playground. What if it rains? Even my very precociuos grandchildern would not be amused for long with this itinerary. But you know your child so I'll assume you are fine with your choices.

For the best map/route times www.theaa.co.uk Then as janisj mentioned add 25/50 % especially if you plan to include a number of photographic opportunities.
historytraveler is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 03:08 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
Just one quick follow up --

". . . would want to be at the tower by 1 and leave by 3"

If you don't get to the Tower until 1PM you likely won't get inside until 1:30 or 2PM. The longest queues and biggest crowds are between noon and 2:30 and not only will it take quite a while to get inside, it will be slammed.

I'd suggest you move the Tower to your second day and get there just before opening time. In the morning there are short lines, smaller crowds and you actually might manage it in 2 hours (though 3 hrs is much more typical w/ kids --there is soooo much to see)

Your first afternoon -- I'd have a list of "maybe's" and just do what you can physically manage w/ the jetlag
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 05:37 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
History Traveller, yes my son is quite different. We have driven from Florida all over Nova Scotia and back as well as many other places. I do really want to know what is different so I can be prepared. I have been in Scotland, a few locals told me I had seen more of scotland than they had seen in their lives...

I stress out before I go and if we miss something I am not too worried. So far there are only three things I MUST see on this journey and only one is museum related the other are all land related.

My son loves the outdoors and museums and can have more fun with a pair of binoculars or piece of tape than any kid I know. He loves Castles, Knights, animals of all sorts, and will love being able to walk about the walls of a city. The best part about the weather is that is changes every 30 minutes so hopefully if it rains it wont last long...

I didnt put in 3/4 of the notes that i have in my spread sheet but I already know the kid places in scotland and york.

I actually got tired of cutting and pasting and erasing my notes..haha


but please do discuss more of what to expect on the roads there. thanks!
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 05:39 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
Janis, I will take that suggestion on the tower. I also may move the entire itinerary to a specific day as it appears that some of the museums are open later on certain days. I just have to make sure my car rental day isnt on a sunday in some of the smaller cities

Thanks!
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 07:00 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
"My son loves the outdoors and museums and can have more fun with a pair of binoculars or piece of tape than any kid I know. He loves Castles, Knights, animals of all sorts, and will love being able to walk about the walls of a city. The best part about the weather is that is changes every 30 minutes so hopefully if it rains it wont last long..."

Ah - but that's the problem. That is absolutely wonderful -- but on many of your days there simply won't have time for exploring castles, walking aimlessly looking for animals, looking for secret places/adventure. You will be in the car . .

"I just have to make sure my car rental day isn't on a sunday in some of the smaller cities"

Not quite sure what this means. You are only renting one car - right? Bath (Sunday is a Problem) or Bristol (Sunday is fine at Bristol airport) are the only places you mentioned.

But about the car --I personally don't much like the plan for days 3, 4, & 5. Train to Windsor and back, Train to Bath, then an all day tour stuck in a tour bus (not great for a young child)

If it was me, I'd take the tube or a car service to LHR, pick up my rental car, drive 7 miles to Windsor, spend a few hours at the Castle and legoland and then drive on to Bath via Avebury and Lacock. The next day explore Bath on foot, the next day explore the Cotswolds or Glastonbury or wherever. Then next day on to Wales . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 07:33 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
I knew people would have a hard time with how much time we are in the car. We both have long commutes to work in florida. Mine is 1 hour to 1 hr 10 min each way. hubbys isnt as bad but we are use to driving and popping out if we see or know of a neat place near by.

I will check prices for the extra days for the car rental as the last year I priced them was 2009. I chose mad max because they have such a nice approval rating and people seem genuinely pleased with their experience. I dont understand why you think we wont have time to explore castles or ruins etc. I am now using the AA and in Scotland, so far the times are almost identical...Wales and England I am not sure about yet.
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 08:10 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,831
As for estimating your driving time: I used googlemaps' times and then basically almost doubled them for planning. In reality it took about 1.5 times what googlemap said--and we encountered NO major glitch to worsen that. We drove for 9 days (in car with automatic!!) from LHR to Oxford to Shrewsbury through Wales to Conwy to Carlisle along Hadrian's Wall to Durham to York to Dover and back to LHR. So we had both major roadways and windy narrow lanes, in congested areas (didn't drive IN Oxford or London at all) and lonelier roads in Wales--and around innumerable roundabouts. And we were there in late July and had NO weather-related delays.

All that to say--do plan for times to be quite a bit longer than a map service says. That way if you do happen to go as fast as the map service said, yay, you'll have more time, but if not, you won't miss getting to something important.

Have fun!
texasbookworm is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 08:13 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
"I knew people would have a hard time with how much time we are in the car. We both have long commutes to work in florida. Mine is 1 hour to 1 hr 10 min each way. hubbys isnt as bad but we are use to driving and popping out if we see or know of a neat place near by. "

"I am now using the AA and in Scotland, so far the times are almost identical...Wales and England I am not sure about yet."

Yes the times are identical -- but then you have to add 25%-50+%

Looks like you still don't quite understand. It has nothing to do w/ distance, or even time in the car really. For some perspective . . . I am a Californian who lived in the UK for5 years so I'm sort of 'bilingual' when it come to UK travel. At home I think nothing of driving from Northern CA to LA (400+ miles) for a weekend. In rural Scotland -- 100 miles is between 3 and 4 hours of beautiful, intense, concentration-filled, occasionally white knuckle driving.

Here -- 50 or 100 miles is doable for a nice lunch, in Scotland 50 miles can be half a day's drive if you have any stops.

There is no I-75 or I-10 along Loch Tay or in central Wales,or in the Cotswolds. And the relatively few motorways (like interstates in the US) tend to be very congested and not scenic. One simply can't compare the driving in FL or CA w/ driving in the UK.

As for Mad Max, they are a wonderful tour company. But they are more for folks who can't drive. Like day trippers from London or those traveling around on Britrail passes. Neither describes your family. There is no reason you'd need to take a bus tour (which are tough on young children --no stopping except for the set schedule)
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 08:15 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
was posting the same time as texasbookworm . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2011, 09:40 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,422
Well, janisj and texasbookworm have pretty much explained the driving differences between here and the UK. Your itinerary has few motorways which can be fast but are as dull as dirt. The A roads can be single or dual, and have a habit of getting congested just as you get on. In looking at a map (not one on a route planner) you have to realize that you must go through all those towns and villages along your chosen route. It'll take considerably longer to get through these places than here where we can usually bypass them. Again, it's not enough to just allow for the time indicated by map/route planners whether they're UK or otherwise. You HAVE to add, at the very least/for a start, 25% especially if planning on photo opts along the way.Without adding to the stated times I think you'll find there's no time "for popping out" along a road.

It's true sometimes that rain showers don't often last long, but it's just as true that there are times when they never seems to stop.

A suggestion is to priorize your sightseeing and make certain to allow sufficent travel times from point A to point B. Then adjust as needed.

BTW in York you have at least 6 (at a very fast/see only highligts pace) and closer to 8 hours worth of sightseeing and that doesn't include time for lunch, comfort stops or even getting to and from the various places.

You asked in one post if Warwick Castle was "too cheesy". It's not and makes a great place to take kids. Warwick can be enjoyed by all but the most jaded of visitors. However you would really have to revise your itineray to include it.

"Overall I think I am going to put that 15th day in because I figure we are going to need laundry day 4 7 & 11 and maybe 14th day."

Are you kidding me? You make it sound like you're traveling with an army. Three people, 14/15 days...laundry maybe once.

One more thing and I hope I don't sound pedantic, but it's Loch Tay.
historytraveler is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 05:34 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14
Janis, my comment about using google versus AA was that on another forum I was told AA was more spot on with out adding the extra times.

As far as Max Max, the extra $$ it would cost off sets the value of mixing with other people probably from other cultures, having someone else give me history of the area and the groups are very small. My son will be fine for an 8-5 trip. my daughter was the same, in 2001 she was 11 and rode with 30 other travellers on a coach and because she behaved so well and was able to chat with everyone she was given a standing ovation at the end of the 14 day tour. My children know how to travel, enjoy being quiet, enjoy meeting others and are basically able to fit in anywhere after the initial shyness of meeting new people...

Warwick's reviews were very mixed and some of the comments were listed as cheezy. I lives near St augustine and some of our reinactment attractions are EYEROLL worthy... others are closer to what we belive to be true without the elaborate frosting so I was looking for additional thoughts on what you think it is.

As far as laundry, we are getting better at packing so we end up with laundry days. NOT FULL days but times where we need to get a bit of laundry done. Usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the machine. and I imagine they close early I havent researched that yet. I believe you have to build in the time and then if we dont need it, then we have time to rest or move on.

I was told the Killin/Loch Tay area was scenic...if it isnt then it comes out...scenery is just as important as architecture and history on this trip....


I have been through Scotlands back roads so I am going to increase my drive times.
theresar2004 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 06:00 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,628
I don't have much to add but I seriously would love to go with a 7-year old to Warwick Castle. It is what every child thinks a castle should be. I doubt he will think it's cheezy and I think you will like most of it yourself.

You will be mixing with people all the time, I would drop Mad Max and pick up the car earlier. Castle Combe and Lacock are pretty but no much to do, I would want to get in and out on my own scheule. Stonehenge can be a zoo, some people are satisfied with a drive-by as you get a very good and fairly close view from the side road.

Minor matter but don't ask anyone where London Bridge is; it was moved to Arizona years ago.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 07:11 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,523
I knew people would have a hard time with how much time we are in the car. We both have long commutes to work in florida. Mine is 1 hour to 1 hr 10 min each way.>>

yes, but you will be ON HOLIDAY. like jj and others have said, the roads are not like freeways. an example - i had to drive from Plymouth to Barnstaple the other evening, a distance of 60 miles or so. it took me 2 hours, and I'm no slouch behind the wheel as DH is always telling me. you can't just join the road and point the car in the right direction, even if it looks a straight and easy route.

Day 6, being in an area i am getting to know reasonably well due to DS being at uni nearby [though I've never come across the cascade thing, sounds good] made me gasp - all that and CHESTER too! you'll be nervous wrecks by the time you get there. Staying somewhere near Abergavenney would be a good idea, IMHO, and then exploring the area a bit. that's what you've come for, isn't it?

otherwise, what jj said.
annhig is offline  
Aug 14th, 2011, 08:59 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64,266
"Janis, my comment about using google versus AA was that on another forum I was told AA was more spot on with out adding the extra times."

That forum was wrong. AA is great (I often use it too). But the times on most mapping sites are almost all very close -- and you still have to add lots of time. Those are the times a local familiar w/ the roads can make in good weather, w/o traffic, w/o construction, and definitely w/o taking a wrong exit from a roundabout, stopping for a quick photo or anything else.

It seems your mind is set and aim to stick w/ this plan and have an answer to every suggestion. Those responding to your thread (all giving variations of the same advice) are Yanks who have driven a few times, Yanks who have lived in the UK and driven thousands of miles there, and Brits who are on those roads every single day.

It is your trip - so I'll quit here. The ONLY reason I post is to try to help. If you think you can manage this -- go for it . . .
janisj is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:07 PM.