UK 2 week itinerary comments/advice?

Jan 6th, 2011, 04:29 PM
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UK 2 week itinerary comments/advice?

We are travelling to the UK for the first time this summer and would really appreciate some feedback on our tentative itinerary as follows. 3 nights London near Green Park, train to York, 3 nights, train or car rental to Cotswolds (with side trips to Oxford and Blenheim), 3 nights, Bath 3 nights and finally Cornwall (Falmouth perhaps?) 2 nights and last night near Gatwick for early morning flight. We plan on renting a car either from York or Oxford. Is this itinerary doable? Do we need less time in some places and more time in others? We enjoy history, castles, cathedrals, museums and hiking and walking and just 'being' (if you know what I mean!). We are not big on shopping or spending a lot of time/money on eating out. I have only booked our London hotel (because there was a good deal on Expedia) and our last night at the airport. I would love some suggestions on where to stay. I have some concerns about staying at B and B's because I am a very light sleeper and if I can voices or a tv in the next room I will not sleep! Our budget is around $150 a night if possible. Thanks in advance for all the help! Fodorites helped me plan a wonderful trip to Italy a few years ago so I know I can trust the advice I get here!
travelmere is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 05:19 PM
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We loved this B&B in York

We have stayed in B&B's in England and never had trouble with noise from next room (Hubby heard traffic in London a bit, but not enough to bother.) But pack and use good ear plugs.

I don't think you have enough time in London, but that's ok. You have set your priorities of what other places to go and I do understand that. I guess you have 2 full days in London? See the Tower and either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's if not both and the British Museum.

Allow a WHOLE day for Oxford. You won't want a car IN Oxford so transport to there is something to figure out. Maybe spend 2 nights in the Cotswolds, drive to a B&B outside of Oxford, catch a bus in for the day, spend one night in that B&B then drive to Bath. We enjoyed this B&B right outside of Oxford just few steps from a busstop.
texasbookworm is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 07:40 PM
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You're shortchanging London big time -- it is one of the world's great cities and you'll have little time to just be whilst trying to handle a decent amount of what London has to offer, plus you've left no time for two fine castles that are short day trips from London -- Windsor and Hampton Court. People who have not been to UK rarely have a clue how big London is and how much it offers. There is no equivalent in Western Europe -- London is over twice the size of Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin (each of which is the size of Chicago), and as a repository of history and culture it is essentially unbeatable.

What's in York that interests you for three night's worth of a stay?

Bath is probably worth a night. No reason to stay at Gatwick because the train connections to the airport are so good.

I don't know why a B&B would be any more or less intrusive into your sleep patterns than a hotel at the same price point. Earplugs are only a couple of quid at Boots pharmacies.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 07:47 PM
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Well this isn't a UK trip.... this is a trip around England.

I also find it unusual that York would be on your list - what's there that you want to see?

Perhaps you could add Wales into your itinerary. "Just" England would be rather a bore. (in my honest opinion).

You don't need more than 3 nights in London unless you really enjoy the city.

I'm quite glad you adore London, but size honestly does not matter. It's what in a city that makes a great city. And this is why Florence could be considered far greater than London, despite the amazing size difference.

Having been to Chicago and London, I can tell you it honestly isn't that much bigger when you realize parts of it are purely residential.
Smart3 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 08:30 PM
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Thanks for the comments and advice. I know that 3 nights in London is not enough but we arrive early in the morning so we will have the better part of three days and a bit more if we don't leave until the afternoon of the 4th day. I'm hearing that 3 nights is too much for York so how much time would be reasonable? If we arrived in the late afternoon/evening would 2 nights be enough - which would end up being a day and a half for sightseeing. We want to see York Minster, the Castle Museum, Jorvik and do a walking tour. As far as Bath goes, just one day and one night is enough? I am trying not to do just one night stopovers. Is it possible to combine Bath and the Cotswolds and stay in one place that is convenient to both? If we want to do some walking in the Cotswolds as well as village sightseeing how many days would you recommend? If we added Wales where do you suggest we go? Any comments on 2 or 3 days in Cornwall by the sea? I thought this would be a pleasant way to wind down the 2 weeks - and I do love the ocean! Thanks again for the helpful insight.
travelmere is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 10:15 PM
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I'm lucky enough to live in North Yorkshire near York and believe me, there's enough to do in and around the area to keep you happy for weeks, especially with your listed interests. I'm really surprised that people are querying 3 days - this will merely scratch the surface of this wonderful area, rich in history and natural beauty.
York itself is absolutely beautiful and I see you have already mentioned some places you'd like to visit. I'd also list the National Railway Museum (free admission) which is superb, even if you are not a train enthusiast. I'd also recommend that your walking tour includes walking the walls of the city, a great way of exploring with lots of surprises.
Many people take the train to York, spend a day or so exploring the city itself without a car (it's compact and easily walkable) and then hire a car to go exploring.
Again there's so much to do and see in the area. Within easy reach by car you have two National Parks of great beauty - the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Moors. Both areas, very
different in many respects, would be perfect for a day out. Both have castles, abbeys and some of the best walking you'll find anywhere in England.
Other hightlights in the area that you might like to do some research on are listed below -I've grouped places together that you could easily visit as a job lot as they are near each other.
1) Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Watergardens, World Heritage site and Ripon Cathedral
2) Castle Howard
3) Rievaulx Abbey and Helmsley (castle and lovely village close to the Abbey)
4) North Yorks Moors Railways
5) Jervaulx Abbey, Middleham and Castle Bolton
6) Whitby/Robin Hood's Bay
Hope this helps.
Morgana is online now  
Jan 7th, 2011, 05:18 AM
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This is your trip. You have to/get to decide which places to go. You already know you can’t get to 1% of what there is to see! So pick your most-desired and don’t be swayed. The comments here will reflect all our own personal biases—so glean them for pertinent helpful info.

First, remember that no matter when you arrive in London, you will be jet lagged. Yes, you will. To some extent. So don’t plan on seeing or remembering much the first day. Get out and walk; get to know the neighborhood; but I’d not suggest that you “do” anything major. Which leaves you with 2 days, unless, as you say, you have part of the 4th day, but if you’re going to take a train to York, that will take some time, plus you have to consider check out time, schlepping luggage maybe, getting to train station, etc. Two days will allow you to taste London only, but it is enough to see 3-4 major sites.

We spent most of a day in York and wished we’d had another. You could certainly spend part of your time, if you have a car, seeing some of what Morgana suggests in the area.

We had a brief time in Wales last summer—number one place, of the places we’ve now been in the UK, I want to return to. But you can’t add it to your list—you’d have to replace something. And if Cornwall is a top priority, then you don’t really have much choice of what to replace.

Whatever you decide to do, do please leave a whole day for Oxford, but plan to get to the city via public transport of some sort.

There are hundreds of links to people’s trip reports on this forum—don’t know if they’d help you or confuse you or if you have time to read them—but here are my reports from 2 different 2-week trips to mostly England with a too-teeny-bit in Wales. One was based in London with some day trips using public transport and one was using a car to make a loop from and back to London, but we did the one-night-per B&B you said you didn’t want to. We did cover a lot of ground! (Oh, and if you decide to rent a car and start making tentative schedules, to be safe, double the time an internet map service will give you for travel time. Our time averaged about 1.5 times what Google-map said, so my having planned for twice as long meant we were in general never feeling late.)
texasbookworm is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 06:26 AM
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Instead of Cornwall why not consider Dorset & the Jurassic coast. Bath to the Dorset coast is approx 70 miles whereas Bath to Cornwall (Falmouth for example) is about 200 miles.

Cornwall is wonderful but a long way to go for 2 or 3 days especially in the Summer. It's a popular holiday destination with the British.

For some Dorset ideas see
On the coast Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Chesil Beach & Golden Cap are all worth visiting. There are also plenty of picture postcard villages & a few castles.

I can second Morgana's comments re Yorkshire having spent some time there myself.

It all sounds like a great trip.
Megdorset is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Cornwall is way too far to go in the time you've alotted. Keep in mind two that 200 miles is not 200 miles on a highway going 75 mphs, it's twisty, turny, not-quite-enough-room-for-two cars, knuckle whitening country roads. It is stunning, but you need more time. I've spent loads of time in Dorset and it is beautiful. Many of the villages in the area remind me a lot of the Cotswolds. THe coast is stunning, especially Lulworth cove as Meg mentions above. I would extend your time in London instead.
lizziea06 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 07:21 AM
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One option you might want to consider is making York a day trip from London. This would free up two extra days for you to use somewhere else and it would save you packing/schlepping/unpacking.
Kaneohe is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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I don't know who besides Smart3 considers Florence far greater than London. But then I don't like Florence that much.

Bath is well worth 2 full days/3 nights. There's plenty to see there and in the environs. And it's just a nice place to spend time. And you don't have enough time in the Cotswolds. Oxford will take one full day, Blenheim at least a half day. That doesn't leave much time for enjoying the beautiful Cotswolds countryside and picturesque small towns.

Consider shaking up your itinerary as follows: leave London until the end of your trip and go from there to Gatwick your departure morning. Upon your arrival at Gatwick take the train to Bath or Oxford. (Bath would make a good place to get over jetlag.) You could go from Gatwick to York, but that requires changing not only trains but train stations in London. Reordering your schedule this way ekes out a little more time.

Other things to consider:

- Warwick Castle, adjacent to the Cotswolds just beyond Stratford. It's a bit Disneyfied, but gives you a better idea of how castles were lived in than the usual pile of stones.

- the Great British Heritage Pass, which for a single price, admits you to all National Trust and English Heritage properties, including Blenheim.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 08:00 AM
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TM - you will be TIRED when you arrive in London, get your stuff and negotiate your way from Gatwick (?) to wherever you're staying and will lose more than 1/2 of the day that way. Wife and I have traveled many places and after our transoceanic flights we generally wipe out for 2+ hours. Unfortunately you made your most consequential decisions on hotels first -- only 3 nights in London, last night at LGW.

Smart3, perhaps you should re-read the OP's reasons for traveling before making a comment about London and you will see that London fits her desires exceedingly well. As for the notion that Florence is a greater city than London because of what's in it (Renaissance history v. history of Western Civilization from pre-Christian times to present?? Better Italian food?? David's rocks? Il Mostro di Firenze? More pigeon droppings?? And I like Florence.), that's a . . . unique perspective [New Year's resolution: don't flame other posters who aren't being rude] that really indicates an anti-Albion bias.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Smart3 has - to be kind - slightly unique opinions. Lets just leave it at that.

I personally can't even imagine someone not enjoying York -- or at least appreciating what is there.

Comparing Chicago or Florence to what is possible in London - all three are wonderful cities. It is just that London is 10 X more so.

travelmere: You basic division is OK --but as (most) others say, 3 days in London won't give you more than about 2 days free to see things. First day can be a jet lagged fog. You'll be lucky to see 3 or 4 major sites in your 2+ days.

I'd skip Cornwall this go 'round -it is lovely of course but just too far away to fit in your plans.

Add those days to London (either at the beginning or return to London for 3 days after Bath)
janisj is online now  
Jan 7th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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I like Morgana live and fight for the North but I am afraid on this occasion I am going on the side of the enemy.

I would drop York.

You could spend months exploring the back waters of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria (I have spent 41 years) but in the core direction of London, Oxford, Cotswolds, Falmouth you will have a very comfortable focused trip. The side trip to York would put pressure on the time that could be spent in what is my opinion some of the best that England has to offer.

My were in Oxford, for the first time in 10 years, in the deep snow the week before Christmas for a college reunion. It all just came back to me what a shockingly special the place is. Cambride, Mass just doesn't have the same sense of history.

Falmouth is my favourite coastal town in the UK. If you like life by the water it is heaven. Spend at least 3 nights in Cornwall.

Have you been to London before? If so I would take a night off here, indeed from your posts above your interests sound very similar to ours. Here's controversy skip London, other than the first night altogether. You will find equally good examples of English architecture outisde London without being swamped by the logistics of the South East. I once travelled 5 miles in 5 hours whilst trying to get out of SW London by car. It usually takes me 2 hours to travel 130 miles in Scotland.

If your time in precious use it well.
humptynumpty is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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Ah -- but the sensible tourist wouldn't be driving IN London at all.

And yes -- If you had spent quite a bit of time in London previously, there is no reason you must go there. But since you say this is your first time in the UK - It would be a shame to miss London (for a minimum of 4 or 5 days IMO).

When I mentioned skipping Cornwall- that was if you want to include Yorkshire. But basically I meant you need to cut one region -- either London/York/Cotswolds/Bath -- or -- London/Cornwall/Bath/the Cotswolds. Either would be a great trip w/o being as hectic as your initial plan.
janisj is online now  
Jan 7th, 2011, 08:30 PM
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Thank you all for taking the time to offer such great suggestions. I will be spending the weekend looking at all the websites and reading trip reports! I see the logic of choosing between York and Cornwall but it will be a tough decision! I had not thought about Dorset but will give it a look. I know our time in London is very short and may have been better at the end but I was afraid of running out of energy by the end of our time. I seem to have more energy at the beginning of a trip although jet lag will be an issue. Would it make sense to stay 5 or 6 nights in a Cotswolds village, perhaps Cirencester, and cover Bath, Oxford, Blenheim and Warwick from there? Or is that still too much in too little time? I do so appreciate all of your input - it makes such a difference in planning a successful trip!If you have any other advice on what to see or suggestions on accommodations I would love to hear it!
travelmere is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 08:59 PM
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"Would it make sense to stay 5 or 6 nights in a Cotswolds village, perhaps Cirencester, and cover Bath, Oxford, Blenheim and Warwick from there? "

Staying in the Cotswolds for several days can make HUGE sense. I personally wouldn't choose Cirencester - there are many other great towns/villages that I 'd prefer.

One thing to consider is renting a cottage in the Cotswolds. Most rent by the week w/ a set start day (usually Friday or Saturday) but some rent for shorter periods and/or w/ flexible start day.

But even if you were only staying for 5 or 6 nights it would probably be worth it to rent for a week and 'eat' a night or two. It would be cheaper than most nice B&Bs for 6 nights and you'd have more space, a private garden, washer/dryer, full kitchen - but you still wouldn't have to cook w/ all the really goodpubs and restaurants scattered around.

A well situated cottage/village would be a good base for seeing everything from Stratford/Warwick to Bath, and Oxford/Blenheim to the western Cotswolds or even south Wales.
janisj is online now  
Jan 7th, 2011, 10:58 PM
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Hey, the Cotswold cottage makes perfect sense to me too!
I would never feel I should 'tell' people WHERE they should go - just give them accurate and usually local knowledge so they can make an informed decision themselves.
I admit I was surprised that York was being queried as a destination for 3 days when it did seem to dovetail so perfectly with the OP's requirements. Similar to Humpty, I have spent the last 20 years living in North Yorkshire and am still discovering something new - love living here.
You'll just have to come back another time and we'll sort you out the perfect Yorkshire/Lancashire/Lake District trip!
Morgana is online now  
Jan 8th, 2011, 12:20 AM
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The HN index of the most attractive places to live in, I believe Falmouth came top with Ripon second.

There are more attractive places to visit but in terms of accessability and quality of life/affordability these two places excel. Just like Vancouver god awful boring to visit but I can see why it is such an attractive place to live.

"Staying in the Cotswolds for several days can make HUGE sense"

After many, previous, various requests I am still waiting for a short essay of less than 1000 of what the attraction of THE COTSWOLDs is. Once I get past the odd village green which is fodder Cadbury's artists, I fall asleep.

Could someone enlighten.

humptynumpty is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 04:51 AM
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Happy planning! I haven't been to Cornwall, but we loved York. I'd urge you to leave it in and leave Cornwall for next time. I think you are wise to put London first. It's better to not drive right off, so having a few days in London will help you transition and get oriented. Yes, the language is not a problem but you are in a different country, for the first time.

If you decide to skip Cornwall, you might look at doing the loop in a clockwise fashion; go to LHR to pick up your car, drive to Oxford, park it at a B&B, bus into town for the day, and then the next day take off to ? the Cotswolds? or get car from LHR and drive to Cotwolds. We were really glad that our first experience with the car was mostly on the highway and not very long--from LHR to Oxford. Then hubby felt a bit more familiar for the longer, wigglier drives that followed! I THINK you'll find it easier to get a car-service from London hotel to rental place at LHR to get car than getting to Oxford and then renting a car there. And faster.

(Then you'd do the Cotwolds bits, including Bath, then drive to York someway--lots of choices of routes (maybe you could go by Chatsworth!); spend whatever time you want in York. Then you could turn car in there and train to London, or drive back to LHR to turn car in. I don't know what your arrangements are at the end of your trip, hotel/getting to Gatwick, etc. So turning car in at LHR might not be practical--and drive from York to London would take all day. Maybe car could be turned it at Gatwick, if you wanted to drive from York, and then get to and from hotel. Anyway, since it doesn't sound like your accomodations or route are set yet, just offering food for thought.)
texasbookworm is offline  

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