Scotland, Ireland, England in August

Old Jun 5th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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Scotland, Ireland, England in August

We are planning a 10-12 day trip in August to England, Scotland and Ireland. We do want to hit the major tourist spots as well as enjoy the local stuff. We will be travelling with our 2yr old and 5 yr old (who LOVE riding trains, buses, boats, and are used to lively travel, so I'm not worried about that). We plan to fly into London (from Germany), then take a train through Scotland, ferry to Ireland, a bus or train through Ireland, then back to London for 3 days.

Here are the spots we would like to visit:
1) Edinburgh - 1-2 days. We don't have tickets to the festivals or reservations yet. We don't mind staying outside of Edinburgh.

2) Eilean Donan Castle

3) Loch Ness

4) Giants Causeway

5) Cork or Limerick (2-3 days)- Visit the Blarney stone/castle. I would like to go to one of the medeival dinners too.

6) Waterford - Check out the crystal factory. Is that worth it?

7) Stonehenge/Bath/Salisbury

8) Back to London for siteseeing (we already know what we are going to do here).

Here are my questions:

1) Will we be able to find B&B's with available rooms while traveling or do we need to make reservations in advance? I'm hoping to pay less than $150 a night at most places (I know London is a different story).

2) We would like to stay in a castle one night- I think the kids would LOVE it. Does anyone have any recommendations ? We don't mind paying more for that experience ($200-$400 night budget!)

3) Trying to decided on which train tickets to get. I have checked the BritRail website and I am leaning towards a 8 day pass for Scotland/England/Wales. Then we can just buy bus/train tickets as needed in Ireland. The price of the BritRail plus Ireland just seems like too much to spend for train travel. Also, can most destinations be reached by public transportation?

I know this might be an ambitious or plan in some people's eyes. I've read tons of posts on here about spending a week in one destination or another. But we just want to get a taste of each country, see the major sites, and then we can come back again a few years down the road.
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 06:18 AM
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At the risk of telling you what you donít want to hearÖ10 days is a short time to do all three. Bear in mind that Ireland is either a flight or a ferry away, ie the thick end of a day in transit at best. You are also going from one end of Britain (Inverness) to the other (Bath). Britain may look small on the map, but believe me getting around it aint that quick (it is small, but it was built before we built the transport links so itís a bit of a rotter to get around).

I would sit down and work out what your priorities are, and then revisit your plans.

If you are set on your plans you could save a days travelling and a nights hotel costs by getting the sleeper from Inverness to London, which is fun in itself.
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 06:29 AM
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When I saw your title I feared this is what it was about. but I went to another thread first and david_west beat me to it . . .

You only have 10 - 12 days (which is it BTW? ) I'm hoping you mean 10 - 12 days for the bit outside of London. If that also includes London - then it is totally impossible. But even if it is just for the out-of-London portion you just can't do it.

You simply do not have time to see all of that - or even a tiny fraction. w/ less than 2 weeks, limit your self to ONE - either Ireland or Scotland. Even just doing NI and southern Ireland would be difficult w/ just 10 days.

And trying this on public transport is even harder.

You want to cover Edinburgh - Loch Ness - Skye/Eilean Donan - Northern Ireland - far southern Ireland - and London. And with tiny children along, no less.

Pick ONE country and then enjoy it a bit.

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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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OH - meant to add - it is waaaaay too late to begin planning and August visit to Edinburgh. It is pretty well already booked up - most places book up months ahead for August. Plus most will have a 3 night minimum.

There are several world famous festivals and the Military Tattoo that all run pretty much run the entire month.

"I know this might be an ambitious or plan in some people's eyes." Ambitious isn't the half of it . . . . .
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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Not to rain on your parade, but you list three things in Scotland, and IMO two of them are overrated. And the third (Edinburgh) close to imposssible at this late date!

Eilean Donan Castle just isn't worth being a specific destination in Scotland. It is a lovely sight across the water, but the interior is not historically accurate or particularly interesting (well, my junior high aged kids were mildly interested in the kitchens).

Scotland boasts lots of more wonderful castles. Edinburgh and Stirling are two of them. If you do go to Loch Ness, I have heard that Urquhart castle ruins/visitor's center is interesting, but we didn't do it. I'd say visit a different castle and buy a picture of Eilean Donan. Any number of calendars of Scotland scenery feature a picture of the castle in the best viewing conditions.

Loch Ness, while famous, isn't the prettiest loch in Scotland. It does have the whole "Nessie" tourist trap thing going on. We stopped at one of the Nessie sites and took a picture with the outdoor brass Nessie statue, bought Nessie socks and T-shirts at the gift shop, but skipped the pricey exhibit.

If you do want to see Edinburgh, you'd probably need to stay somewhere like Glasgow or Stirling and take the train in for a day trip or two.

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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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You have been given excellent advice concerning your overly ambitious itinerary. We are planning a trip to Wales,Ireland and Scotland but have over five weeks.

With young children there is plenty to entertain them in London and you could still spend several days soemwhere outside of London, although Edinburgh is not really an option.

Salisbury might be a good choice as you can travel to a number of interesting places via train or bus.There are certainly many other places that would work well.

Personally I'd make bookings ahead especially for August and with young children.
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 08:07 AM
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thatgirl74 Hi !!

2 Points.

1. 3 countries is too much as as been said.
2. Did you forget Wales?

;-)

Muck
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Also meant to add that your proposed itinerary is not logistically possible. Please reconsider and post again.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 06:22 AM
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Thank you everyone for your replies. I appreciate your input and warnings. Right now we're leaning towards 2-3 nights in Glasgow. This will give us time to take the train or bus for daytrips to Edinburgh, Eilean Donan Castle, and the Loch. We will take a ferry to Ireland. We are looking for a good base to tour N. Ireland and then a good location to tour Ireland. I estimate about 2-3 days in each area. Then off to London. If anyone has accomodation recommendations for Belfast area or Cork/Limerick area, I'd love to hear them. Thank you again. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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thatgirl: all the above posters weren't kidding - what you want to do simply isn't reasonable.

Just a few thoughts:

How do you expect to do a day trip from Glasgow to Eilean Donan - and why? It is a 10 minute photo op. that's it.

Ferries leave from Stranraer in the far southwest. So from Glasfow to NI you are talking almost an entire day's travel.

Giant's causway is on the west coast but your ferry willl land near Belfast.

2-3 days in Ireland - by public transport no less - won't let you see anything much. Giant's Causway to Cork by public transoprt - I can't even begin to see how you'd do it but it would certainly take a full day or more.

You have your mind made up so I suspect nothing we say will sway you. But with a toddler and a 5 yo - this plan is nuts.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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that should be Glasgow . . . .
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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My husband 3 children and I leave for Ireland very soon, and I have been doing extensive research on travel distances, interesting sites, lodging, etc. but don't actually have first hand experience with the country yet. However, I had to correct the previous poster who mentions Giant's Causeway being on the west coast which in incorrect. It IS on the North Coast and if you're coming into Belfast would make sense to see.

I've learned that most train travel thru Ireland goes thru Dublin no matter where your final destination is, so not only will you have to route thru Dublin on a train (taking up some of your precious time) but it will also stop in towns along the way, slowing down your progress with every stop.

I think your itinerary for Ireland is too ambitious and you'd see "nothing of everthing", you would spend so much time getting places there would literally be NO time to enjoy anything. You should do the North coast and Belfast and maybe a little south of Belfast only. Consider these attractions, then look them up to read more on them: Giant's Causeway, Glens of Antrim, Carrickfergus Castle & Dunlace Castle on the North coast, Ulster Folk parks in County Antrim, MAYBE a drive (depending on mode of transport) over to the West coast/Donegal, and whatever looks interesting in Belfast. Have heard from some that Waterford Crystal tour is boring - in this case if your children are young I would strongly advise against it - all that effort for them to stand around for some tour on glass/crystal - think twice.

Good Luck, and really do heed the advice of those who urge you to spend MORE time in FEWER places. We may never get back to Ireland in our lifetime after this upcoming trip (I'm wondering if that is your concern also), but we had to cut out a lot of interesting things so that we could savor the things we DO see.

It's a good thing my husband lets me plan our travel because if he had it his way he'd do what you're trying to do and we would all want to throw him over the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland!!!!
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 01:16 PM
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I'm just wondering if you've done much traveling, especially with your kids. I mean that in all due respect-please don't think I'm trying to be a jerk. I just think that to try and do so much is an injustice to all 3 countries and your family. Yeah, you'll be able to say you've 'been' to Dublin or Edinburgh or wherever, but what will you really get out of it? So much of the fun of Europe is just taking your time, sauntering down the street soaking it all in--not taking the green blur tour. I don't mean to add more rain to your parade, but for your own sanity I think you should seriously reconsider this itinerary. You sound very fun and lively, I'm sure you'll make travel a priority for your family and return to each of these places over the years to give them the time they deserve.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Hi That girl,

After reading everyone bagging on you i'm feeling that you should talk to an expert on this. I love Ireland and England and Scotland. So much to see in so little time. Skip Blarney stone. My irish buddy says it's yukky and shouldn't be kissed by anyone
Talk to a travel agent who you trust won't over sell the trip.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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I may be shouting in the wind but want to offer a couple of caveats regaridng your itinerary.

It usually takes 2x as lng to get somewhere via public transport than by car. So a few notes concerning travel times.

We took the train rom Glasgow to Inverness ( enroute to Orkney) two years ago. We left Glasgow about 8:30/9:00 a.m., had to change trains at Perth and arrived in Inverness 4:00/5:00 p.m. Essentially an all day trip. It's possble than you could get an earlier deparure and hopefully a faster train, but it's still a long journey.

You can take the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh ( probably the easiest way to get to Eilean Donan)and the trip will take about 2 1/2 hrs: the bus will take about 3 hrs. There are tours to the castle from Kyle.

At Kyle you are about 5 1/2 hrs from Glasgow by bus and it's a bit shorter by train.

The train from Glasow to Stranraer will take several hours. There are a number of ferry sailings to Belfast from Stranraer, the trip will likely take at least 2 hrs possibly more, depending on the type of ferry.

From Belfast you can catch a train to the north coast ...trip time at least two hours, by bus 3-4 hrs.To get to Cork you'll likely have to go through Dublin and the journey time from Dublin is 4 1/2 hrs. Add that to the time it takes to get to Dublin and you have a full day without the transfers etc.

In an earlier post I suggested you locate a town in England, stay there and take day trips via train and bus to various sights.Here's another option.
Take an overnight train to Inverness and spend 3 days there seeing the sights and there's much better things to see and do than Loch Ness, IMO.

Then take the train to Kyle of Lochalsh and spend 3-4 days on Skye ( probably Broadford or Portree. You can easily book a tour to Donan from Skye/Lochalsh. No trains on Skye but fair bus service. Then take the ferry to Mallaig and the train on to Glasgow. This is an extremely scenic route (I believe the same one as the Jacobite Steam Train). Spend your remaining days in Glasgow with a trip or two to Edinburgh.

With your current itinerary you are spending most of our time in transit rather than seeing the country(ies)

If you are still determined to follow through with your original plan, you'll need ot get hold of train and a bus schedules as well as ferry timetables before you can even begin to do much planning. And, remember August is the busiest month for tourists in both Scotland and Ireland.


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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 03:07 PM
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oh - duh - Of course Giant's Causway is on the N coast. I meant to say it is NW of Belfast - in the opposite direction of the things the OP wants to see in Ireland.

But it really doesn't matter - the itinerary really isn't doable . . . . .
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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Crikey! I knew I should've opted for the typing elective instead of Latin in Junior High. Sorry for all the typo's.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:29 PM
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with 10-12 days and wanting to travel by bus/train/ferry (slow), do you really want to spend 3 days traveling?

check out cheap flight options or consider renting a car...at least you can make fun stops on the way at your own pace.

seems like the experts are suggesting an august trip to scotland without plans would be best for another time

if go for 12 days...

London 3 days and side trips from there 3 days

fly to dublin...2 days and 4 days for side from there-glendalough, newgrange/knowth, hill of tara, trim castle
or rent a car and expore antrim coast,carrickfergus castle, giant's causeway, carrick-a-rede rope bridge, dunluce castle...

this would still be a lot to see!
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 04:45 PM
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I agree with everyone else - Its not possible. I once attempted to see Britain and Ireland in over double the time you've allotted and couldn't do more than wave at most of the places I really wanted to see (I've been back many times and still haven't savoured them all). I suggest you go to one city in one country, take day trips and do some walking (you can use all modes of transportation if you wish). You'll find it much more satisfying and feel like you've been somewhere. If you want a travelogue, go to a movie.
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Old Jun 7th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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Hi thatgirl,

You are probably wondering why in the world you came. I just caught up with this thread and had the sense of people jumping on you, but they are RIGHT and are trying to help you.

My husband and I have traveled in Europe with our daughter since she was 14 months old. She is now 12 and has been to Europe nine times, including one trip that lasted more than a year. We have traveled extensively in England and Scotland-- will actually just be visiting Ireland for the first time later this month. I'm telling you this so you might trust my input as an experienced traveler and a traveling mother.

You will have a much better trip if you don't try to do so much!!

You will have the opportunity to visit England/Scotland/Ireland again, hopefully when your children are older and can remember more and participate differently. You would be far better to restrict your trip to a more limited area in either England or Scotland. I do agree that you should save Ireland for another time or focus only on Ireland.

In July/August 2004 we spent a week on Loch Ness and a week outside Edinburgh. We did get to see the Military Tattoo, though you'd never get tickets now. I loved Loch Ness and didn't feel the "Nessy" thing was overdone... it is only if you want it to be. We did a day trip to the Isle of Skye, passing by Eileen Donan castle for a 10 minute photo stop. We really enjoyed a couple of hours on Urquhart Castle. There was plenty to do in that area to fill our week and allow for some spontaneous activity. Try to stay at least two nights (or more) every place you overnight.

Check www.mappy.com for driving distances and times for a realism check. Add 10-20% to these times, especially if traveling in high season and with young children. You have mentioned a train through Scotland... that needs some serious checking too and will limit you seriously. Outside the truly big cities, you need a car, I think.

Even if your children like trains and cars etc, think about if you want to go over there and spend most of your time traveling between places.

If you are interested in a cottage outside Edinburgh, I could give you more info about the place we stayed.

I hope you'll accept all this input in the spirit in which it has been offered-- we have all learned through our own travels and truly want you to have a memorable and special vacation!

Kathy
 

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