Need ideas for family of four to UK

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Sep 10th, 2006, 08:01 AM
  #1
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Need ideas for family of four to UK

My husband and I want to take a trip to the UK in the spring or summer of 2007. We visited London for 10 days this June and had the time of our lives. We want to experience something different next summer for two weeks, but really can't make up our minds. We need some direction and advice.

We have two boys, and they will be 4 and 6.5 next summer. They did remarkably well in London, and we planned one or two kid friendly things per day -- royal parks, zoo, natural history museum, boat rides, etc. Plus they were enthralled with just about everything a boy could be excited about in London--the tube, the soldiers, the Tower of London, the ducks and swans, ice cream cones, etc.

We like the idea of visiting Scotland and taking walks in the countryside and touring castles, etc., but aren't sure it's practical with small children. Should one rent a car in Scotland? Should we wait to visit Scotland when they are older?

What about Ireland or the English countryside?

Where could we go with two young boys without a rental car? We don't want to hotel hop too much. We want to stay in one area that has enough to see and do, or have pretty easy day trips with public transportation.

All advice and opinions appreciated for our family of four.
NurseLRT is offline  
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Sep 10th, 2006, 08:52 AM
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You might enjoy the Lakes District. You can fly into Manchester, train to Windermere and take buses from there. The bus system in the Lakes District is excellent. The countryside is beautiful, and there is lots to see and do. Country walks, quaint villages, Wordsworth's homes, the Beatrix Potter Farm, boating, and fishing are all things that come to mind. I think your family would love it.

I was there in June (along with equally beautiful, but more difficult to get around, Yorkshire). If this appeals to you, there are some nice country hotels in Grasmere or the Rydal area.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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With two weeks you can, of course, do a lot more than just the Lakes. Here's a possible itinerary:

Fly into Manchester.
Lakes for 5 days.
York for 2 days.
Edinburgh for 2 days.
Scottish countryside for 5 days (not my area of expertise) and fly home out of Glasgow

All of these areas areas can be accessed by public transportation. Hope this helps.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 09:46 AM
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Absolutely take them to Scotland!! The Lakes are beautiful but really mostly pretty scenery. Not a lot of castles/parks, kid-centric sites.

And I wouldn't move around so much w/ kids. A full two weeks in Scotland would be perfect for kids the ages of yours. Amazing castles they can clamber over/around/and through. Boat rides to islands off the coast. Even boat rides to castles in the middle of lochs. Deer parks and Falconry centers. Kid friendly museums. Steam trains. On and on.

Definitely rent a car - but not while you are in Edinburgh. I would probably spend 3 or 4 days in Edinburgh,Then pick up a car and stay a week in a rented cottage somewhere up in north or north-central Scotland, and finally 2 or 3 days wandering elsewhere on your way back to either GLA or EDI to fly home.

A week in a cottage w/ kids is GREAT - you have a kitchen if they are at all fussy eaters, habe a washer/dryer so you canpack lighter, and you will have a "home" to come back to each evening.

In June the days will be even longer thann you experienced in London.

W/ a well-located cottagge you will be able to do day trips w/i a 75-100 mile radius so can see a major portion of Scotland.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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I spent last summer in Cambridge with my two boys, age 2 and 4. We loved taking little day trips from the train station to Ely, Bury St. Edmunds, etc. Actually anytime we took a train my boys were entralled! We stayed in a great house that was within walking distance to the city, train station, parks, etc.

I am posting a trip report soon, just another option--although Scotland sounds great too!
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Sep 10th, 2006, 07:28 PM
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York - loads to see and do for you and the kids. They can pretend to be roman soldiers and walk around the walls and if they like trains there is an entire museum full of trains for them to ply with.

I'm not sure if you can tour a chocolate factory in York, if you head to Birmingham you can. Birmingham also has the jewelry quarter and the balti strip - pprobably more for adults than children. But then they can take a tram (sorry baseing your boys likes/dislikes on my nephew who was obsesed with transport at their age)
I expect they are too young for theme parks but if you do want to indulge then in the summer mst towns have trips that include transport and entry. Probably the best foy younger kids (my opinion) is camelot in NM england - they have jousting tournaments as well as rides.
Blackpool - you would either love or hate - strange very tacky seaside place, trams again and slot machines everywhere.

Although I wouldn't normally recomend Birmingham as a holiday resort it's not a bad place to base yourself for day trips. There is a major railway station to get you to most places. And trams and busses for the rest.
If your boys do like trains then the severn vally railway would be a good trip - it's a steam train. But if you do this when you arrive in Bridgenorth (really pretty old shropshire town) please don't look through the windows of the 'cute' cottages - my friend lived in one and it used to drive her mad.


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Sep 11th, 2006, 06:15 AM
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Are you set against renting a car? That does limit your ability to explore more rural areas.

If not, how about Cornwall and/or Devon? You could rent a cottage for a week and explore the coastal areas. There are beaches, castles, gardens, ancient monuments and King Arthur legends, etc.

Staying on a farm is another possiblity (not for everyone, I know). See www.farmstayuk.co.uk

The Cumbrian Lake District is a great location. Although a car is not absolutely necessary, it is helpful. The Lakes have water activities, hiking galore, a few castles, at least one wonderful stone circle (Castlerigg), Beatrix Potter connections, etc. Lakes get crowded in July-August. Not too far distant from the Lake District are the Yorkshire Dales, another area of rural beauty, and the Scotish Borders area is not far away either.


Dave
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KidsToLondon is offline  
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Sep 11th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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York and chocolate:

Nothing is sacred. York, traditionally, is second only to Bournville near Birmingham as a chocolate making centre. But not only does Nestle not offer tours round what most of us still think of as the Rowntree factory - but it's seriously talking about moving production of our heritage to bits of the continent.

Brands like Quality Street, Kit-Kat and Aero made by foreigners, forsooth. I mean, really. Can you imagine Belgians or someone making chocolate properly?
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Sep 11th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Well tbh York isnt just chocolate factories you know. The closing down of many of the old manufacturing industries in the area does mean that it is become far more of a retirment town than a working city now.

This is pretty much to the benefit of the tourist in the city.

Although roads that were built for horses and carts are still full most of the day, once you are in York public transport or taxis and maybe some confy shoes to walk in are all you need.

Keeping the kids entertained here is not a difficult problem. With the newly opened Yorkshire Wheel at the National Railway Museum http://www.nrm.org.uk/ There is a day in itself.

Much more detail on what there is to do that wont cost you an arm and a leg, you can find here.

http://www.york-united-kingdom.co.uk/

This site has been up since 2001 and is made by residence of the city.

Sorry I cant go into much more detail but I am full of cold atm (sniff)

Hope I have been some help though
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Sep 11th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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Flanneruk, is that the source of the Yorkie bars?
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Sep 12th, 2006, 08:08 PM
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what? no more chocolate in york. You will be telling me HP sauce is going to be made else where too.

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Sep 12th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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I don't think you can go wrong anywhere in England, Wales or Scotland and you've gotten some great advice already.

I would think seriously (as others have suggested) on renting a car for at least part of your time. While the urban areas of York and Edinburgh are fabulous you'll see a different side of the UK by being able to explore the countryside. With four of you you'll also be much more efficient having your own transportation.

As janisj pointed out you might look into renting a self-catering house or flat for a week. You'll not only get more room for relaxing, it'll probably be more economical. Having a home base for a week is also very fun for kids, they get to learn the area and if you're in a small village meet the baker, grocer etc.

We've just returned from two weeks in Cornwall and while we didn't need a car everyday, it came in handy for day trips to Tintagel and exploring out-of-the-way ruins that are such a special part of the UK.
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Sep 13th, 2006, 10:27 AM
  #13
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Thanks so much everybody for the suggestions and helpful advice. Hubby says he is not oppossed to renting a car. We are currently researching York and the Lakes. Both are very appealing.
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Sep 13th, 2006, 04:07 PM
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NurseLRT, Sounds like you made a good decision. Here is a link to my trip report on Cambridge for future reference--it really was great for the kids too.
http://tinyurl.com/kag6j
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Sep 14th, 2006, 04:49 AM
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No one has yet mentioned the Cotswold - they have some very interesting towns & are easily accessed from the Gloucester side or Oxford side as bases. Gloucester allows you to venture into Wales, Devon & Cornwall whilst Oxford is a few days to explore plus the countryside.
Towns worth checking out are Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold, the Slaughters.
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Sep 14th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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You might get some ideas for the youngsters at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/kidsinmuseums
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Sep 17th, 2006, 06:00 AM
  #17
 
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There's a lot that you can see and do with kids in Scotland and a few resorts whaich specialise in them. Walks and castles are everywhere. Unless I was going to stay somewhere like Crieff Hydro or the Coylumbridge, I'd defintely do self-catering. In fact, when I think of it, Crieff Hydro does self-catering in various price categories on site.

You will do much better with a car if you're out of cities, tho'
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Sep 17th, 2006, 06:44 AM
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Crief Hydro has always sounded intriguing, but we've never made it there. We did stay at Old Pines in Spean Bridge for our first family trip to Scotland in 1999. Then-owners Bill and Sukie Barber have something like 8 children, and ours just ran off to play with them - and eat kid food in the kitchen - while we had amazing food in the dining room. (Sukie was 20003 "Rural Chef of the Year.") As we ate, we could see our girls swinging on a huge tire swing with their new friends.

The next time we visited Old Pines, our children were old enough to eat in the dining room - a much more expensive propostion!

The Barbers no longer own Old Pines, which makes me sad. The family room with its little bunk beds for the children (complete with tiny Old Pines teddies on the bed) and the fabulous food is a really special memory for us.
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Sep 17th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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whereever you decide to go, I would reccommend you rent a cottage. Possibly you could rent for one week in one place and the second week somewhere else.
Without a rental car, here are a few suggestions:
1. Lake District (as already suggested), particularly Windermere, Bowness or Ambleside (both on Lake Windermere).
2. Derbyshire (Bakewell or Castleton). In this area, the Peak District, the transport is good and there are several stately homes to visit.
3. Devon - choose a town with good transport, like Torquay, and take day trips from there.
4. The Cotswolds, again check out the public transport.
A mixture of trains, buses and taxis should work well for you. If you travel at all by train, check into the family rail pass. It usually pays for itself on the first journey.
Good luck,
Carolena
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Sep 17th, 2006, 01:14 PM
  #20
 
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noe, Sukie's gone into partnership in Lochaline with Jane (Hugh Raven's wife-but she doesn't use that name). I think the restaurant is called The White House.
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