Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Twelve days in the U.K. Are we trying to do too much?

Twelve days in the U.K. Are we trying to do too much?

Mar 21st, 2011, 05:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
Twelve days in the U.K. Are we trying to do too much?

Well I asked for advice about our upcoming trip to England and Wales but did not receive any feedback. So I'm trying again but with a slightly different question. We are now thinking we will spend one day in Cardiff, one day in Hay-on-Wye, two days in the Peak District, two days in Bath and four days in London. Are we trying to do too much in that period of time? And if so, should we drop Bath or the Peak District? We fly into Cardiff and out of London. I would really appreciate any words of wisdom anyone may have. Oh, and our interests are historical landmarks, touring homes/castles and beautiful scenery.
missmellie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 12:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
A couple of questions - where are you flying from? If jetlag is an issues then add a day to Cardiff. Add a day to Cardiff anyway.
How are you planning on getting around? If by train then drop the Peak District. If by car then drop Bath.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,880
Bath would fit better between Hay and the Peak District, surely?

Of course, there will be plenty to see, especially in London, so twelve days won't seem like enough whatever you do, but your plan isn't impossible, depending on transport. The Peak District is a bit of an outlier, and you could see plenty of beautiful scenery around the Wye Valley.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 03:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
Bath is the opposite direction to The Peak district, which is why I suggested dropping it, but yes if it is essential, and you have a car, it would make more sense to go to Bath then go up to the Peaks and down to London.

The Wye valley is beautiful but very different to the Peaks.

If you have a car you could decide to visit the Brecon Beacons after Cardiff, then go to Hay, Bath and London rather than going to the Peaks.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 06:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
Thanks so much for your advice. PatrickLondon, I agree that Bath fits much better with the rest of the itinerary. I had almost decided to drop the Peaks, but my husband is afraid that if I don't see Chatsworth, et. al. then he will never hear the end of it - and he may be right. : )

hetismij, yes, jetlag will be an issue as we are flying in from the U.S.

Would this itinerary be doable?

Day one(arrive 4:45 p.m. the day before) - Tour Cardiff

Day 2 - Day trip to Bath by train.

Day 3 - Day trip to Hay-on-Wye by train/bus

Day 4 - Train to Buxton/Matlock (somewhere in the Peaks) and then rent a car.

Days 5 and 6 - in Peak District.

Day 7 - Train to London.

Days 8-10 - in London

Leave Day 11

If this is too much, please advise. We would much rather enjoy our trip and not be exhausted than to see everything.
missmellie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 07:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
You may want to investigate the BritRail Pass Rail 'n Drive Pass that gives you a certain number of unlimited train travel days and car rental days (24 hr periods) to be used over a longer time frame - a flexipass - pick car up at station and return it to another train station. May compare well with buying train tickets - especially if flexibility is desired to hop on any train anytime and car rental.

and for lots on British trains and passes, etc check out these fine IMO sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 641
The Peak District is loved and hated by many. It isn't classic rolling English countryside. The landscape is mainly peak bog, high wind swept moors and to the south limestone escarpments. I personally think it one of the worst examples of English countryside but many go as it is very close to large cities. It does have the advantge of Chatsworth Estate but again I don't regard this as architecturally one of our best.

I personally would head for Devon from Cardiff then travel up through the Cotswolds to Oxford and on to London.
humptynumpty is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
Thanks for the great replies. Ok, IF we punted the Peaks, and therefore Chatsworth, et.al., what homes should we see between Cardiff and London?
missmellie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 09:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
And thanks PalenQ for the websites. Already checked them out. Very helpful!
missmellie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
The obvious one - though far from my favourite is Blenheim palace.

If you are going to Bath you could go to Longleat House, which is owned by Lord Bath.

Dyrham park, Hailes Abbey, Hidcote in Gloucestershire

Cliveden garden is stunning though you can only see a small part of the house as it is let as a hotel. Hughendon manor is nearby. All are National trust properties. West Wycombe Park is another NT property.

Have a look at the National Trust website for details and more houses and gardens to visit.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
I think your plan is basically ok. I certainly wouldn't drop the Peak District because it isn't "classic rolling English countryside". And if Chatsworth is important...

I suspect you may find that Derby will be easier to get to by train (and to get to London from) and a better place to rent a car than Buxton or Matlock.

A small warning about the first part of your trip. Unless one actually is planning on buying books, for me the idea of Hay-on-Wye was much more attractive than the reality. If you end up not spending as much time there as you thought, a visit to Hereford cathedral and the Mappa Mundi exhibit is worthwhile.

For me, a better alternative to Hay would be Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey.
ron is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 200
I think your plan is too much in too little time. I think you may be forcing yourself into the car or on a train too often and simply looking out windows. Also, if you have never been to London before, I would say it deserves more - like 6 days all by itself.

It is certainly cheaper to be outside of London. So you might consider skipping it altogether. And I think anywhere you wander will be fine - I like the suggestion of the Cotswolds and on towards Oxford, etc. I would also commend the midlands to you as well. (Lots of gardens and country manors all over the place - I don't think you'll be disappointed where ever you go - assuming you have the time to stop and get out).

But if I had the money, I would spend more time in (and around) London. I recommend this becasue with only 12 days, you can take a lot of day trips or one nighters or go slow and still see that you need to come back with more time (i.e. Bath, Salisbury, Leeds, Battle, Oxford, Cambridge and so on).

I re-read your post and forgive me if I have cut Wales out of the picture - but unless you have a specific reason to go there (Cardiff), I'd recommend more time in the capitol area first, and then on your next trip see Wales and Cornwall, and so on.

Regardless what you do, you will love it. And plan for less - so that you have time to be spontaneous. After all, this will only whet your whistle and you will go back again soon to see more.

JoeCal is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 34
Chatsworth is worth the visit (if you must), allow a full day. We took a picnic lunch and did the house first, then had a picnic out in their little picnic area and then did the gardens. Bath can be done in a day as long as you get an early start. Cardiff Castle is a must. The problem is I don't see how you can fit everything in. They may look close on a map but driving is more difficult. I loved Chatsworth but it is a long way out of your way. I would skip Chatsworth and go to Oxford instead. Blenheim Palace is breathtaking and gives you almost as much as Chatsworth but still leaves you time for a quick stroll through Oxford. I would take the train or bus to Oxford (from London) and then hire a taxi to take me out to Blenheim. It's not that far out of town but the bus service isn't great. Then I would take the train from London to Bath. This way you don't need a car (at least not yet). Then perhaps hire a car in Bath and drive to Cardiff (don't miss the castle and allow a day). Another lovely trip from London is to see Hampton Court (lots of history there, easy train ride). I lived in Oxford and took a week to tour the Chatsworth area, I would never attempt it in a day or two.

I rather enjoyed the costume museum in Bath, it's very quick to do and an easy walk from the baths. It's not much of a guy thing but still very interesting on the history of clothing in England.

In Oxford there is a silly ride called the Oxford Story. If it's still open it's a quick and fun way to get a little history. Sort of Disney-ish. They have one in York and Nottingham and at Madame Tussaud's in London.
Baxterpoo is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
Great advice and a lot of food for thought. The only thing that I can't change is my flight schedule. We fly into Cardiff and out of London. We did this because Hay-on-Wye was a must-see - at least at the time. (ron - I appreciate your thoughts on that, we had wondered about it)

Other than flights, we are completely open and flexible on itinerary. I am going to read all the suggestions again and try to sit down tonight and come up with a less hectic plan. Since we are flying into Cardiff, I am leaning toward taking a few days in Wales, then to Bath/Cotswolds, then to London. Of course, as my husband has learned, all that may change by tomorrow.

I had not originally thought of Oxford but since several people have mentioned it, I will check into that also. Is it fairly close to Bath? Or just between Bath and London? Would you recommend doing this itinerary mostly by train?

Thanks again for all the great suggestions!!
missmellie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,291
You can train from Cardiff to Bath and Bath to Oxford, the Oxford Express bus is likely the best route from Oxford to London.

I'm in Bath right now - I suppose you could do it in one day, but I'm taking longer. Abbey and baths yesterday (and scones with clotted cream in the Pump Room), Jane Austen Center (disappointing) and Fashion Museum (excellent) today. General wandering both days. Day trip by bus to Wells tomorrow. Oxford is certainly worth at least a day - do one of the walking tours run by the T.I.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2011, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
I guess I don't understand the advice that you are trying to do too much in too little time.

You have a day (and maybe the arrival evening) in Cardiff - time enough to visit the castle, the National Museum (Welsh history plus an excellent collection of Impressionist art), all the new developments in Cardiff Bay and possibly Llandaff cathedral.

Bath is ok for a day. Thousands do day trips from London - it's a lot quicker to get there from Cardiff than it is from London. Your other day out from Cardiff is fine as well, whatever destinations you choose.

There are hourly direct trains to Derby, journey time under 3 hours. 30 miles (1 hour by car) to Bakewell, which puts you near Chatsworth. A day to visit Chatsworth and another day to mooch around the Peak District and take in the non-classic scenery - visit the plague village, do a walk in lovely Dovedale, visit the highest elevation pub in England, whatever.

Next day, return your car to Derby, 90 min train ride to London, and you have 3 and a half days to enjoy London.
ron is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2011, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 34
If you do decide to give Wales an extra day or two then hire a car and go to Blaenavon (World Heritage Site). You can go down into the mine and get a good feel for it. It's not too far from Cardiff. You might also consider a day in Bristol, their science museum is outstanding. One of the best in the world (although Chicago's is perhaps the best). The one in Bristol is very interactive for all ages.
I agree with taking the Oxford Express into London that is how I always went in. If memory serves it's about 1.5 hours and drops you right in front of Victoria Rail Station.
Baxterpoo is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jul 25th, 2014 06:51 AM
Jun 5th, 2013 02:46 PM
Oct 17th, 2012 09:18 AM
Jul 27th, 2008 10:34 AM
May 2nd, 2005 06:44 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:50 AM.