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Rental Car vs Train Cotswald and Scotland

Rental Car vs Train Cotswald and Scotland

Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:21 PM
  #1  
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Rental Car vs Train Cotswald and Scotland

Hi,
I'm a late 20's traveler who will play tourguide to my mom and two aunts (do think it will be fun despite the family travel =-) and am seeking advice on renting a car for my whole UK trip, or train for the first half.

I should mention that my two aunts are flying in from another country, they don't speak English but like traveling, so we won't consider tours, I'll be translating, a lot =-/

The trip is tailored to gardens, museums and the like, it was meant to be a mother-daughter trip but my mom invited her cousins, they are cool ladies so it's fine. I've been to London (super quick, didn't see too much the first time) and loved the Scottish Highlands, hence returning =-)

My mom and aunts will go with whatever I choose, I am planning everything and I've driven about 4000 km in New Zealand (stick and all) so am ok with driving on the opposite side of the road.

I may be a bit ambitious, but would like to do the following (6 days for the Cotswalds/Scotland portion):

- Arrive in London, depart immediately, will spend time here on the end of our trip after Poland.

- Take the train or rental car to the Cotswalds (mainly want to see Salsbury, Stonehenge, and Bath) for 2 days.

- If train, take train from Cotswalds to London, then fly from London to Ediburgh.

- If car, drive straight from Cotswalds to Edinburgh.

- Drive from Edinburgh through Highlands counter-clockwise, avoiding the villages that I visited last time.

- Arrive at Glasgow, fly from here to Stockholm.

-Hang out in Sweden, then fly to Warsaw, hang out there for a few days before flying back to London

- Explore London for 2-3 days before flying back to the States.

What would be better, renting a car for the entire UK trip, or train for the first half, then fly to Scotland and rental car there. Since there are 4 of us (though only me driving) I figure rental car would be nice, but could save some time by flying from London to Edinburgh.

Thanks for the advice =-)
Mademoiselle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 12:58 AM
  #2  
 
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TTT
Dukey is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 01:00 AM
  #3  
 
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First things first. It's Cotswolds (from "wold", meaning small hill). Not Cotswalds (meaning woodland as in Schwarzwald). For a thousand years or so (till the industry moved offshore, to the great benefit of the local economy) the Cotswolds were the centre of Europe's high-quality wool manufacturing. Sheep thrive on hills: they generally avoid woodland. This mini history lesson will greatly improve the success of any googling you do.

Now your problem. In two "Cotswold" days, you're going to be pushed to see Salisbury (again, spell it right and you google better) Stonehenge and Bath. Or rather, you're not going to see any of the Cotswolds, and you're not going to see any serious gardens.

Nothing wrong with that, and if you're happy to avoid the Cotswolds, it's perfectly possible to get round Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath using trains and buses. Depending how you organise this, you can then either get a train (c 6 hours) to Scotland from Bath, usually changing at Bristol, or fly from Heathrow, Birminngham, Bristol or Southampton (handiest of the four if you end up at Salisbury). Point to point journey time about the same as the train: generally rather cheaper by plane. For plane details, go to the airports' websites for airlines doing the route then check prices with the airline: for train details, www.nationalrail.co.uk. Heathrow is probably the worst of the four to fly from for Scotland: both Birmingham and Southampton airports have stations directly linked to towns you're likely to be visiting. Though Heathrow does have direct buses to Bath and Oxford, domestic fares are generally higher than from the other three.

If gardens, thatched cottages and all the other Cotswoldiana are important to you, you'll struggle to see much in two days without a car, even if you dump Bath or Stonehenge. Be aware though that our roads are a great deal more crowded, and drivers a great deal more aggressive, than in the sleepy backwaters round Auckland.

If you end up deciding to drive in Southernb England (and that comes down to how important Cotswoldiana is vs Bath/Stonehenge) the drive time from, say, Cheltenham , to Glasgow is about an hour longer than train or plane. Comfort apart, there'll be a strong financial argument for keeping the car, especially if there are four of you.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 05:10 AM
  #4  
 
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You have a few problems - and flanner explained soem of them. But to give you a list to conside4r:

1) Are you flying in long haul? If so, driving on the first day is definitely a problem. Especially a long, loooooong drive like LHR > Salisbury > Stonehenge > Bath > the Cotswolds. Jet lag makes this sort of plan utter madness.

2) Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath are not in the Cotswolds. (Bath is near the southern fringes of the region - but still quite a drive)

3) Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath would fill a whole day.

4) the Cotswolds. You can get to a couple of towns/villages by train - but you cannot tour the Cotswolds by train.

5) Driving from southern England to Edinburgh will take a whole day.

6) 6 days is not long enough for Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds, travel to Scotland, and a drive around the highlands.

So - something's gotta give . . . . .
janisj is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Thank you both for all of the great insight, and the excellent education. After reading your posts, it seems I am going to have to skip the Cotswolds. It would be really nice to see Bath, Salisbury (sorry for the misspelling, I sent the message late last night, I am excited about planning the trip, but not much time to do so), and Stonehenge. Salisbury I don't know that much about, so it's a possibility to skip.

An option that I didn't consider until now, but it cuts out south of London completely, is to fly directly from London to Edinburgh, and rest there for a couple of days before beginning the Highland drive. This would give us more time in Scotland, but I would miss seeing something new.

The rest of the trip would continue as the original plan (Highland drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow> Stockholm via air> Warsaw via air> London via air> Explore London for a few days.

Yes, the driving right after arriving after the long flight seemed exhausting simply at the thought of it, but I was trying to avoid staying in London (costs and just wanted to get on with the first part of the trip as we will enjoy London at the end).

I had looked into rail tickets, and a 4 day pass seemed ok cost wise, but since there are 4 of us, sharing a car would mean significant savings. The postings offered a great suggestion of taking the buses, that would mean picking up the car when we arrive at Edinburgh.

In searching for car rentals, I even considered getting a van. I have a feeling that the aunts and mom are not going to stick to a carry-on or backpack. I am going to stress for them to only bring one bag, but I think they'll bring two bags, so we need a good sized car. And I don't want us to be too cramped and get annoyed too easily.

So now I'm not sure about skipping Bath/Stonehenge. My interest in Bath came about when in Architecture History class my freshman year (I'm a Civil Engineer), and I was really impressed with the architecture and urban planning of Bath. Yes, I'm a nerd, but this was my reason for Bath. Stonehenge would add to my wonders of the world (the new vote). Argh, decisions... Would you suggest skipping the south and focusing on Scotland, or focusing on the south and just fly to Edinburgh, then take a train to Glasgow to make our flight to Stockholm?

Thanks for all the great advice =-)
Mademoiselle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 04:47 PM
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OK - here is one way to to Bath and Scotland and not have to drive day 1:

As you hinted - book a flight directly to EDI about 3+ hours after your arrival at LHR. Assuming you land at LHR in the a.m. you will be in Edinburgh before lunch time so you'll have that day plus the next for exploring Edinburgh w/o a car.

Then on the morning of day 3 pick up your rental car and tour around the highlands and back to GLA for your flight to Stockholm.

You have 3 days in London at the end of your trip. At that time you can do a day trip to Bath. You get on the train at Paddington - get to Bath by mid morning and spend the whole day there (you will love Bath). Then after dinner take the train back to London.
janisj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 10:51 AM
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janisj,
Thank you for the suggestion, I followed your advice and it works out much better than I expected!! I'm flying from London Gatwick via EasyJet to Edinburgh once I arrive, and am saving London/Bath/Stonehenge for the end of the trip.

I love the Fodor's travel forum, thank you for sharing your insight.
Mademoiselle is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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If you haven't booked it, I have an alternative suggestion. If you have, enjoy!
sheila is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Hello,
I haven't booked yet, was looking into BA as someone suggested on another thread but the timing and prices keep me focused on EasyJet. May I hear your suggestion? =-)
Mademoiselle is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 11:30 PM
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My other suggestion is that you take the train down to Bath or Bristol when you arrive, do day trips by bus from there, then take BMI or Easyjet from Bristol to Edinburgh
sheila is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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I may get shouted down for this, but given the reason for your interest in Bath I think Edinburgh's New Town is pretty similar in terms of being a planned Georgian town. So if you are staying in Edinburgh for a day or two, might that make Bath less of a priority this time ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 04:45 AM
  #12  
 
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From what you plan I would suggest hiring a car for the whole trip, especially once you get out into the Scottish Highlands. Without a car you just wont see what you came for - scenery, sights, pubs etc etc The train in these areas is just too restrictive and not great value either.
dublinborn is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 04:57 AM
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dublinborn: A car for the whole trip just doesn't work. Mademoiselle only has 5.5 days for the entire itinerary outside of London. Plus a car in Edinburgh is a definite liability.

Renting a car makes perfect sense for the 3 days or so they will have between leaving Edinburgh and the flight out of GLA (as was already suggested). But a car for the rest of the plan makes next to no sense.
janisj is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 09:00 AM
  #14  
 
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A car is would be cheaper than taking the train and certainly more convenient for the north of scotland. If you are looking for nice cottage these are worth looking at: http://www.bluecarhire.com/nonrental...=2&sbcat=9&id=
JohnBhoy is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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JohnBhoy: The OP IS planning on driving in Scotland. That isn't an issue. It makes no sense to drive from LGW to Edinburgh. A car after Edinburgh - perfect. A car TO Edinburgh - nope.

And w/ only 3 days available - a self catering cottage in the highlands really isn't possible.
janisj is offline  

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