Road tripping: Isle of Skye to London

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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:02 PM
  #1
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Road tripping: Isle of Skye to London

We need some help planning the final leg of our three week trip with the three kids (ages 6,11,13).
Following a week in Edinburgh, a weekend wedding in the Highlands, and a week in a cottage on the Isle of Skye.....We have four nights remaining for an adventurous family road trip from our cottage rental in Portree (Isle of Skye) to London. We will stay in London for our final 4 nights.

A few ideas of things that appeal to us (but not mandatory)
2 stops of 2 nights each - easier with kids
Stratford-Upon-Avon
Cotswolds
Stonehenge
Possibly a little cycling or walking
Canal boat trip

What are your thoughts on two good overnight spots with good opportunities to do some exploring and outdoor activities?
We love being active, love great food, love trying anything new and don't want to fill our days going from tourist site to tourist site. A good balance of all of the above would be our dream vacation. Our kids have done two big European trips before so we know what they (and we) can handle!
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:17 PM
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Ya know -- all of those places are really great but you will have a very rushed drive if you only want two stops. All the sites on your wish list are hundreds of miles south of Skye . None are driveable in one day from Portree. The closest one from the list (Stratford-upn-Avon) is an 11+ hour drive from Portree. I'd maybe think differently and spend a night or two somewhere in the Trossachs or near Glasgow/Loch Lomond, drop the car, then take a train down to London and spend 6 nights there.

Otherwise, Portree to a stop near Carlisle (for Hadrian's Wall) would be a 7+ hour drive plus stops, then a stop say near Stratford/the Cotswolds would have you in the car another 6-ish hours (of nasty motorway, not scenic routes).
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:40 PM
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janisj I think you should just be our personal travel planner!! Thanks for jumping onto both of my threads. When I looked up drive time from Portree to London I found an estimate of 11 hours. I was thinking we could break that up over two bigger driving days with rest days in between but maybe not the best idea. We could consider turee stops on the way? We are really looking forward to a road trip so I'm not sure we are prepared to give it up for a train and more time in London.
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:43 PM
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But how much fun is a road trip when you don't have time to get out of the car and see things, other than the motorway outside your window?

Perhaps some combination of driving and the train would allow you to see one, possibly two sights, but remove much of the strain of driving?
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:56 PM
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Please don't use ANY of the on-line calculators to figure your drive times.

I find the AA site best but even on that one you have to add 25% to nearly 100% to the drive times (there are other good ones but I personally find Google Maps by FAR the most inaccurate/overly optimistic one)

How about this:

Drive to Carlisle/Haltwhistle/somewhere nearby for Hadrian's Wall. Stay 2 nights. It is a loooong drive so you'd really only net one full day there. Then drive to Newcastle and drop the car. Train to York and stay 2 nights (Kids LOVE York) . Then train down to London.

OR - you could drive from Haltwhistle to York - its about 3 hours w/o stops but stopping at Beamish would more than double the trip. Beamish is WONDERFUL http://www.beamish.org.uk Drop the car at York - 2 nights - Train to London.
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 06:59 PM
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KyraS I completely agree. So I wonder if we could drive to a certain point, then drop the car and take the train to London? That would significantly cut down on driving and also give the kids a train experience.
We are a road trip family and love the freedom of driving and doing whatever we want. We have done the same in France and Italy and loved it!
I definitely don't want to be driving for hours and hours on boring motorways. We want to stick to smaller roads and explore towns along the way.
So......if you were to start at Portree and had 4 nights/5days to get to London, what would YOU do?
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 07:10 PM
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>>So......if you were to start at Portree and had 4 nights/5days to get to London, what would YOU do?<<

See my post above yours . . .
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 10:12 PM
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"None are driveable in one day from Portree"

Technically incorrect.

I have driven from Portree to Wembley in a day.

In the days before the bridge.

However the M1 / M6 are currently terrible. There have been many days when a one hour delay isn't unusual (at more than one point). Fuel costs have fallen by 25% and the population is starting to drive again.
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 11:25 PM
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BritishCaicos: You could do it and I could do it. But mere a mortal couldn't (or shouldn't)
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 11:31 PM
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York and surroundings is a great idea, lots of good hiking in the many miles of uk footpaths especially around ruined abbeys. you'll love Fountains abbey for instance which you can drive to or even walk to Ripon and see the Alice animals carved into the Minster choir seats.
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 11:35 PM
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I love road trips too - we drove to Athens for the Olympics in 2004 and loved it. Janis is right that AA routeplanner is the best tool and that it is wise to add extra time but if you are doing it in 4 nights then its a perfectly doable trip.

How about:
Early start from Portree then overnight in the Lake District somewhere. AA drive time 7 hours.

Next stop York. AA drive time 2 hours 15 mins. Split the day how you want. As Janis suggests I'd spend more time in York. Both these days drives will be driving through pretty good countryside.

Next stop Stratford-Upon-Avon. AA drive time 2 hours 45 mins. This is pretty much motorway all the way so make your destination Warwick Castle and head straight there. You then have a short easy drive into Stratford after Warwick.

Next stop is Marlborough. AA drive time 1 hour 30 mins. No motorway and drive via the Cotswolds stopping off for time in whichever town or village you like. Marlborough is close to Avebury which is like Stonehenge but nicer.

From Marlborough Stonehenge is less than an hour away giving you time to visit Stonehenge and then drive to London. According to AA routeplanner London is less than 2 hours from Stonehenge - here Janis is right to say add 100% for this portion.

You will know from your previous road trips how best to split and break up your days. Good luck and happy planning. Tim
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Feb 4th, 2016, 02:33 AM
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BC is absolutley right, the M6 (south of Manchester and the M1 or M40 are awful and to be avoided. Why not drive down to Carlisle or the Lakes and overnight for a couple of nights, there's lots to see and do.

Then drive to Manchester, drop the car and spend however long you've got left exploring the city--it's well worth it--then train to London in a little over two hours.
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Feb 4th, 2016, 03:14 AM
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For what it's worth, I quite enjoy road trips, but a long time ago I traveled from the Isle of Skye to London by ferry and train via Fort William/Dunkeld. I had rented my car on the Isle of Skye itself and dropped it off there (presumably not an option for you), and I happened to want to go to Dunkeld, so there are probably more interesting itineraries from Mallaig/Fort William to London, but I enjoyed the ferry and train trips, especially since one day was especially rainy, and I would not have enjoyed driving I think.
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Feb 4th, 2016, 06:34 PM
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tjhome THANK YOU for taking the time to give such a great itinerary for our road trip. I am going to get out the map and the AA website and take a really close look. It hits on many of the spots we want to see with only one long drive day. LOVE IT!
I wonder if there would be a good place to drop the car so we could train into London as opposed to battling nasty traffic?
jasnisj as always, thank you for some great, specific ideas. Much appreciated.
Everyone else…thank you! Awesome info.
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Feb 4th, 2016, 09:21 PM
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>>I wonder if there would be a good place to drop the car so we could train into London as opposed to battling nasty traffic?<<

The easiest place by far to drop the car is at Heathrow. Then you can take the tube into London.
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Feb 4th, 2016, 09:33 PM
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tjhome's route is fine -- but just so you understand the times/distances.

Portree to say Windermere (the Lake District is a large area but I'll use Windermere as an example) will be an 8 hour drive plus any stops. (AA says 7 hrs 16 mins so even 8 hours is a bit optimistic)

Windermere to York is about a 3 hour drive - or could take longer (per AA 2 hr 25 mins)

York to Stratford-upon-Avon via a stop at Warwick Castle is a 3.5 to 4 hour drive plus at least 3 hours at the castle (AA = 2 hr 56 mins)

Stratford to Marlborough - about 2.5 hours (AA = 1 hr 29 mins but traffic will likely lengthen this quite a bit)
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Feb 5th, 2016, 01:56 AM
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janisj's routes are fine, but don't take into account the appalling traffic and potential long delays on the motorways that I mentioned upthread. The traffic won't be anywhere as near as bad north of Manchester and it's the obvious place to return the car and enjoy the city for a couple of nights before taking the train to London from Manchester Piccadilly which takes a few minutes over 2 hours.
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Feb 5th, 2016, 07:09 AM
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Rubicund: >>but don't take into account the appalling traffic and potential long delays on the motorways that I mentioned upthread<<

I agree - the drive times can be significantly longer. I was just trying to explain that tjhome's itinerary would require longer or much longer drives. I also wouldn't drive south of York (or Manchester per your suggestion)
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Feb 5th, 2016, 07:12 AM
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To clarify -- If I had a week or 10 days then I WOULD drive (meandering and avoiding motorways most of the time). W/ just 4 days -- I wouldn't bother because one would miss most of the good bits and it would really just be transportation. I'd take trains and do 2 two night stops.
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Feb 5th, 2016, 12:49 PM
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We don't know your kids, obviously, but I'm wondering if a week on Skye might have filled any appetites they might have had for mountains and moors. What about castles and wizards for a change?

Here's an idea.

Day 1, Skye to Falkland in Fife. Falkland is a very picturesque (and very historic) wee town not too far from the M90. http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...land/falkland/ This wouldn't represent a very grueling day (although I agree the online guides can be off a little) but it would keep you out of the Edinburgh area and its traffic and expense for the night.

Day 2, Falkland to Alnwick. This could be a supremely enjoyable day. Once past Edinburgh you can take the A1 (or the A198 along the coast) past several picturesque villages like Dirleton with its ruined castle, or impressive Tantallon Castle on the cliffs before Dunbar. Then shortly after crossing the English border you can turn off, and assuming the tide isn't in, head over a tidal causeway to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. This is an extremely important place in British history, but also a scenic one with its tiny castle and ruined priory. Then back on the mainland, it's a short drive to Bamburgh, with one of the most impressive castles in all of Britain - it looms over the town soccer pitch, but the ocean side is equally stunning.

A cup of tea and around a thousand snapshots later, hit the road and continue south another few minutes to Alnwick, with another of Britain's most impressive castles, which, of course, is the setting for many scenes in the Harry Potter movies.

Day 3, Alnwick to York. After a wander around Alnwick (which is pronounced "Annick" by the way) head south to Durham. Durham cathedral gets my vote for the most impressive building in Britain, and in the top ten in Europe (not that my vote counts for anything) and the medieval town that tumbles down the hill from the cathedral and adjacent castle is not too bad itself. Durham is a spectacular stop on any road trip through the north of England.

Then it's another hour and a half or so to York. Drop the car, visit the railway museum, visit the Shambles and the Minster, enjoy the crowds. York is splendid.

Day 4, More of York or train to Kings X, or both. Badda bing.

Falkland - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...land/falkland/
Dirleton - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ton/index.html
Tantallon - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...tle/index.html
Holy Isle - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...rne/index.html
Bamburgh - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...uses/bamburgh/
Alnwick - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ick/index.html
Durham - http://www.visitbritainblog.com/wp-c...urham_1600.jpg
York - http://www.visityork.org/
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