One Week in England with Kids

Oct 20th, 2007, 04:47 PM
  #1  
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One Week in England with Kids

A little more research has produced the following itinerary for April '08 with my wife and a 9 and 10 year old. Please provide your input!

Sunday-Arrive in on the redeye at Manchester Airport. Rent car and head to Peak District and Bakewell or head west to Chester (not sure at this point).
Monday- Alton Towers- kid's are begging to go.
Tuesday-Stratford upon Avon
Wednesday-Cotswolds and Oxford
Thursday-Windsor, traveling into London for the evening
Friday-London
Saturday-London, depart for Manchester late afternoon
Sunday-Departure

Would likely stay between first day's destination and Alton Towers for first two nights and somewhere in the Cotswolds for the next two. Thursday and Friday would be in London with Saturday night close to the Manchester airport for our 10:30am departure the next day.

Any advice would be appreciated!
ninermike is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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That's better

Just so all the info stays on the same thread, I'l re-enter my post from your other thread . . . .

Author: janisj
Date: 10/20/2007, 08:35 pm
So you mean --

near Manchester/Alton Towers area 2 nights
Cotswolds 2 nights
London 2 nights
Manchester airport area 1 night

Not terrible - it is too bad you can't do open jaw into Manchester and out of London giving you an extra night in London. As it is you really only have Thurs afternoon, Friday and 1/2 a day on Sat for LOndon which is nothing.

If it were me, I might consider dropping London from your itinerary. There is a TON to keep you interested w/o schelpping into London. Just the Peaks/Chester/Alton Towers/Warwick/Stratford upon Avon/the Cotswolds would be a VERY full week w/o any London.

I assume you are dropping the car before entering London and taking the train up to Manchester - right? If not, what are you going to do w/ the car while in London?
janisj is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 07:14 PM
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I'd probably be parking the car in London for two days. It seems like you pay the price if you try to take the train and drive vs. only doing one of the two. Unless parking is extremely expensive, that's the plan. First trip to England and we all definitely wanted to see London.
ninermike is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 07:55 PM
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Parking in London is extremely expensive, driving in London is not for the faint hearted, and the drive from London to Manchester is looooong. I'd count on at least 4 hours w/o any stops.

If London is a must - then I'd forget about something else. You can spend 2 days in/around Alton Towers/the Peak District, then turn in your car and take the train to London for 4 days. Then one night back at MAN before flying home.

If your screen name means you are familiar w/ the Bay area - your current plan is like flying into Reno, spending 2 days at Tahoe, driving to Lassen/Mt Shasta for 2 days then driving to SF and parking in the city for 2 days before driving back to Reno to fly home. Except there is no fast I-80 or I-5 in the UK. (If ninermike has nothing to do w/ the 49ers - forget all of the above )


janisj is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 08:14 PM
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Just a suggestion, if the kids are really keen on Alton Towers why not spend the night before in one of the Alton Towers hotels?

I've been to the theme park but not the hotels and to be honest i don't think I would like the hotels (with the possible exception of the chocolate suite) but I know my brother's kids would love them. Plus you get to get early admission to the park.

BTW tip for Alton Towers - go the the farthest ride first and work your way to the entrance - most people start at the first ride they see so if you start at the opposite end the queues are shorter
sashh is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 03:47 AM
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If Alton Towers is on your must do list then it might be worth looking at staying in one of their hotels. The queues for the rides in Alton Tower can be very long. You do not say the date you are planning you need to check out the dates for esater 2008 as if you trip is during the school holidys then it will be very buy. If you stay in their hotels you get things like.Early entry to theme park before the day trippers are allowed in, priority ride passes. Access to the water park if your in that hotel and a few other things that might be worth looking at.
crazychick is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 03:46 PM
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Agree with taking the train to London and saving on the hire car, plus fuel costs (much higher than in the US!) The worst thing about the drive isn't that it's all that slow - it's that it's tiring. On a Saturday afternoon you can anticipate mostly doing a steady 60-80 on the motorway (and upwards, on the M6 Toll ), but that's going to be in three lanes of dense traffic the whole way.

Book the train in advance and it should be inexpensive, and it will be the quickest option, regardless of what I said above.
owain is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 04:32 PM
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If you keep the Stratford day, consider using half of it at Warwick Castle, which I did with my kids on our first trip to England. Lots of fun running up and down spiral staircases to walk the walls, educational yet entertaining displays (some would say a bit cheesy, but good for kids), wonderful views from the various ramparts.
rickandpat is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 05:40 PM
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If we go the train route, can we realistically take a lot of luggage or do we have to pack light?
ninermike is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 06:55 PM
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luggage is what you can carry.

There is no limit on the amount of luggage on trains but you do have to gt it on and off yourself. I have had assistance with luggage - but it was very much because the train staff were having a good day and felt like helping.

owain is being generous about the M6. I drove Wolverhampton to Blackpool a couple of weeks ago and it took us 3 hours. We barely got above 30. I know that was Friday evening and the worst time to travel but it can happen any day of the week and more so at weekends.

sashh is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 07:22 PM
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You are only going for 6 days so you should be able to pack light in any case. But no - on the trains you are only limited to how much you can carry/lift up into the train car.
janisj is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:58 PM
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Parking in London averages about £35 a day. If you arrive after 6pm on a Thursday,and keep the car in a fully enclosed car park till Saturday morning, you won't have to pay the congestion charge. If you take the car out at all on the Friday, you have to pay the £8 congestion charge: if you arrive before 6 on the Thursday, there's a further £8.

It'll cost about £30 in petrol to drive a normal 4-door car to MCR. Most non-holiday springtime Saturdays, it'll take 3.5-4 hours to drive from a central London hotel to MCR, including one 30 min pitstop. Personally, I'd say driving (as long as you go A40, M40, M42, M6 toll, M6., M56) is infinitely easier and more convenient than shlepping kids and luggage to Euston, hoping this is one of the rare days Virgin trains runs to time (or indeed on a Saturday, at all), hauling them all across bridges at Crewe or Wilmslow then hoping Northern Trains are running properly. With careful advance planning, you CAN buy a single London-Manchester airport ticket for four for less than the £70 the car is effectively costing you - but not significantly less.

Most Saturdays, BTW, you can drive this route a great deal faster than it's possible to drive the I-80 from Tahoe to San Francisco, which reminded me of the M6 on a wet Friday night with slower-reflexed drivers the last time I drove it.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:17 AM
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Flanner - almost the only times I-80 is congested over the mountains (unless there are snow chain controls) is Friday afternoons eastbound and sunday afternoons westbound. The rest of the time it is at full speed limit or above all the way and little or no traffic.

Now, when one gets farther west nearer the Bay area - then we are talking London-like traffic. But I was talking about from Tahoe down to the valley.
janisj is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:29 AM
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So flanner, you are thinking a car would be better than a train? I'm wondering if my best bet may be to stay on the outskirts of London and take the train in rather than staying in the city?
ninermike is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:33 AM
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Yes, but what's that got to do with "Except there is no fast I-80 or I-5 in the UK"?

I repeat: it's a great deal easier to drive fast along the M40 on a Saturday afternoon than from the Tahoe turnoff on I-80 down into the valley. A very, very great deal easier than driving fast up to the Tahoe turnoff from the valley.

And as for I-5: nothing I've ever driven reminded me more of the M1. Both my last two drives between San Francisco and the Tahoe turnoff had lower average speeds that I routinely get driving between Oxford and Liverpool.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:26 AM
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Driving time may be the same, but who would want to drive up to Manchester after a busy day in London?

How much would it cost to change your return flight? Is it significantly more expensive than the amount you'd spend on car rental, petrol, and parking? You've gathered up the family and travelled a long way to see London. Is it worth additional expense to have more time in London?

Regarding luggage. What size is the trunk in your rental car?
specs is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:44 AM
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Going to fly into Manchester as that's what was available with frequent flyer miles. Size of trunk? Who knows! I'm sure large enough for 3 or 4 suitcases.

ninermike is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:51 AM
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You might need to pack light to fit your luggage in the car...more so than the train. Rent a big car $$$ or take less luggage or the train.

You'd be surprised how small rental cars are in the UK. 3 or 4 26" cases will not fit in compact cars and would be difficult in a midsize.

Did you check if you can just fly home via London with your ff miles?
highflyer is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 11:10 AM
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So you are thinking we could take more luggage on the train?
ninermike is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 11:49 AM
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"I'm wondering if my best bet may be to stay on the outskirts of London and take the train in rather than staying in the city?"

Research the costs of any one location before you choose this. You'd be paying peak-time prices on one of the most expensive commuter networks in the world.

I don't think anybody will convince flanneruk that the train is the best option for the return journey, but I think it is. And I'd suggest looking to return the car at Heathrow, which is the same side of London as the various places you're talking about (and only a short distance from Windsor), and travel in to your hotel from there.
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