UK first leg

Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:14 PM
  #1  
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UK first leg

Hi All,

I'm refining a question I asked earlier in the forum. Some awesome folks pointed out a bunch of amazing holes in our itinerary. I wanted to come back to the collective brain trust with a revised version and some lingering questions we have. We are doing 17 days in the UK/Italy as a engagement present to ourselves.

Days 1-7 are reserved for this leg of the trip. I'm trying to see if my timeline/logistics work out:

We are flying into London on July 1 (land about 9am local time at Gatwick). We are looking to grab some cheap/convenient lodging near to Salisbury. We will probably take it easy there for the day and rest up. Day 2 we want to see Stonehenge and then use day 2 (pm) through day 5 to explore the Cotswolds. We haven't come up with with firm itinerary for that yet - but I'm hoping 3 days is enough to explore a bit. The only non-negotiable here is Stratford-Upon-Avon.

We then want to use days 5 (pm) through 7 (pm) to jump over to Snowdonia for a day trip - we then need to make a beeline for Manchester to catch our Italy flight. We will be returning to London to finish the trip so the city-sites will be reserved for later.

Logistical questions:
Is it too ambitious to shoot for landing in Gatwick that morning and spending the first night out near Salisbury?

Is leaving 3 days to do the Cotswolds (however that ends up looking) enough time? How would you all suggest doing this? Picking one place to stay as home-base and driving to explore? As a side-note we love to drive and realize this front-loads a lot of drive time in our trip.

Has anyone done a side trip to Snowdonia? Does anyone know of some good spots to stay near there?

Also open for discussion:
Advise on lesser-known or better-known places to visit in the Cotswolds
Advise on whether to book small AirBNB type lodging, hostels etc.
Are we being too ambitious with what we are trying to fit in?
Of note: we are two women - pretty seasoned travelers - we do not need high-end or luxury lodging.

Thank you in advance for any ideas/insight.
jessharris709 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:22 PM
  #2  
 
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Has anyone done a side trip to Snowdonia? Does anyone know of some good spots to stay near there?> there are some hotels in the small town where the steam train and footpath to the summit start but Caernarferon (sp?) is very close and a proper and really neat town with a famous castle.

Or if spending time in North Wales base anywhere and it can't be a very long drive to Mt Snowdon- there is a youth hostel quite close to Mt Snowdon on the road from Betsy-Coed (sp?) to the Mount.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:58 PM
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>>Is it too ambitious to shoot for landing in Gatwick that morning and spending the first night out near Salisbury? <<

I wouldn't -- not because it isn't a lovely place -- but because it is about 100 miles substantially on very crowded motorways - and likely a 2.5 to 3 hour drive If you are lucky. Plus you will be jet lagged.

What I'd do -- assuming Stonehenge is a must -- After landing at LGW I'd take the National Express coach to LHR and spend the night at a hotel there or in Windsor. Then collect a car the next morning and drive down to Stonehenge - a little over an hour from LHR and maybe 90 minutes from Windsor. Visit Stonehenge (and maybe even pop over to Salisbury if you are making good time) then head up into the Cotswolds for the evening and the next 3 days.

I'd consider Burford for your stay -- or Chipping Campden or Broadway which are closer to Stratford. Stonehenge to Burford takes about 1.5 hours or a bit more, Stonehenge to Chipping Campden or Broadway will take a little over 2 hours.
janisj is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:41 PM
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Visit Stonehenge (and maybe even pop over to Salisbury if you are making good time) then head up into the Cotswolds for the evening and the next 3 days.>

by car we did both Stonehenge and the Avebury Circle not too far away - many are even more impresssed by Avebury than Stonehenge (because of the mobs at the former - the latter last I knew you could still waltz right up to the ancient if smaller stones - dodgin sheep as you go:

https://www.google.com/search?q=aveb...w=1920&bih=955

If I recall correctly Avebury may be smack on the way to the Cotswold Hills from Stonehenge. And Salisbury is a gem of a town to stay in - if your flight lands in the morning and you feel comfy in getting some sleep or driving if not it would be so sweet to stay in Salisbury itself - mesmerizing cathedral that is one of the most famous in Britain.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:27 PM
  #5  
 
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Or you could take the National Express coach from Gatwick to Heathrow and change there for another coach to Salisbury; but it's a good four hours' travelling in all, and on top of an overnight flight......
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:41 PM
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It's your Stratford to Snowdonia day trip followed by Manchester to catch a flight that worries me.

The first leg is at least 3 hours along either windy country roads or very busy motorways - some of the busiest in the country in fact. Then doing the same at the end of the day, AND following that up with another day of motorway driving [again, at least 2 hours] to get to Manchester to catch a flight.

As it's "only" 2 hours from snowdonia to Manchester, it would make much more sense to stop at least one night in Snowdonia before going to the airport. But really it's a very long way to go just for one night and what is really no more than half a day's sightseeing.

I'm not entirely clear how your days are organised, but this is what I understand you to be planning so far:

Day 1 - land about 9am local time at Gatwick. We are looking to grab some cheap/convenient lodging near to Salisbury. We will probably take it easy there for the day and rest up.
Day 2 - Stonehenge then cotswolds including Stratford.
Day 5 - day trip to snowdonia.
Day 7 - Manchester for flight.

Have I got this right?

if so, it looks as if you do have time to spend at least one night in Snowdonia, possibly one more.
annhig is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:49 PM
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It would seem that the quickest and easiest way Gatwick to Salisbury is by train - takes about 2 hours with only one change of train on most links - at Fareham or Clapham Junction- rest on the train and save on a day of car rental. I got schedules from www.bahn.de/en - Germany Railways pan-European train schedules - changing at the small station of Fareham would be infinitely easier than at Clapham Junction, the UK's busiest train station with zillions of platforms. Trains via Fareham leave about every two hours from the airport - go to Salisbury itself and look around a bit - pop into the cathedral and boom next day bright and wide-eyed onto Stonehenge, Cotswolds, etc. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for schedules and fares - just buy ticket at Gatwick - should have no problem getting on - never a problem on those trains IME.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 24th, 2016, 12:48 AM
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The train is the best way, but depending on timing you could catch a coach to Ringwood and then a bus to Salisbury, it is slower but Ringwood is a nice little town.

rome2rio
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 24th, 2016, 12:50 AM
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But thinking about it I'd do P's plan.

Snowden to Manchester, only 2 hours. In what universe?

use the aa website not google to get times and then add 25% and add 40% for any combo with commute time (7:30am to 9:15am and 3:30pm to 6:00pm)
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 24th, 2016, 09:05 AM
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bilbo - I agree that the 2 hours given by google maps for Snowdonia to Manchester is hopelessly optimistic, but Stratford to Manchester is unlikely to be any better, which is the point that I was trying, inelegantly, to make.

if I had a flight before 2pm on any day, I'd want to be staying in Manchester the night before, or staying somewhere with a very frequent and reliable rail link.
annhig is offline  
Feb 24th, 2016, 09:25 AM
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staying somewhere with a very frequent and reliable rail link>

as long as there is not some kind of rail strike as has been the case at times the past year? I always want to stay in the city itself or at or near the airport my plane is departing from - you never know.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 25th, 2016, 04:52 AM
  #12  
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Thank you all so much! This is unendingly helpful.

A few things it sparked:

-would you rent a car for the portion of our trip between Salisbury and Manchester (Cotswolds/snowdonia)? If so, any experience with good options?

-For no frills (lay your head and that's it) accommodations, do you have any options? We've debated between hostels, regular hotels, or AirBNB.

-Duly noted on just staying in Manchester the night before our flight. Is car hire one way from Salisbury to Manchester an option?
jessharris709 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2016, 06:04 AM
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Yes I'd drive it. One way car hire is an option. Start with Auto Europe as the broker who gives a good bit of support if things go wrong.

Note that as well a Salisbury itself and the cathedral and Stone Henge there is also stuff like old sarum http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v...ces/old-sarum/ just outside of town and there is Danebury and Figsbury both hill forts of a type. In fact the place is knee deep in remains all the way to Warminster.
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 25th, 2016, 08:22 AM
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We've debated between hostels, regular hotels, or AirBNB.>

How about traditional English B&Bs - they are all over - suppose a lot of them now label themselves AirBnbs.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 25th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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I think B&Bs are a great idea and no note many are labeling themselves as AirBnbs (for instance they have fire-escapes)
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 26th, 2016, 05:15 AM
  #16  
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Excellent suggestions.

Someone on another forum said doing night and day in Snowdonia might be pushing it. That person recommended the Peak District since it's closer to Manchester. Anyone have thoughts on this?

One destination over the other?

Are we being too ambitious to try and see Snowdonia?
jessharris709 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2016, 08:17 AM
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The Peak District makes MUCH more sense. You can see some great scenery - plus maybe visit Chatsworth and/or Hardwick Hall
janisj is offline  
Feb 28th, 2016, 04:49 AM
  #18  
 
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Another thought is that a long drive to get to Snowdonia might be much ado about nothing. Remember this is a mountain where you have quite marked elevation changes. I went to a lot of trouble to get there and weather was cold and rainy at the bottom and a miserable cold with horizontal rain at the top. I think it is better to be in the area a few days so you can pick the best day to climb Mt Snowdon. K
Kinloch is offline  
Feb 28th, 2016, 09:29 AM
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Kinloch makes a great point. Rural/remote areas aren't really a great idea when on a lightning visit. It could be beautiful in Snowdonia the one day . . . or just as likely (more likely actually) that it will be awful and you'd have a basically wasted day.

The Peak District could also be weather impacted, but then you could spend the day at Chatsworth/Hardwick Hall.

(I cringe when folks plan a one night jaunt to Skye -- just about daily on these forums. The chance that will be the 1.5 days when one can actually see anything are pretty slim)
janisj is offline  
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