UK for 3 weeks in May, 2012

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Jul 9th, 2011, 08:14 AM
  #1
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UK for 3 weeks in May, 2012

I am a long time lurker as I have been dreaming of a trip to England, Wales and Scotland for quite a time. I have tried to absorb some of the wisdom from this board, and I thank you. We have made our reservations for 3 weeks in May. I was unable to get open jaw, so it will be in and out of London. I realize there will be a lot going on later in the summer with the Queen's anniversary and the Olympics. I was hoping to avoid some of the rush, or is it too late already?

Here is my idea: I have some very specific spots I want to see, so plan on making reservations for those areas. But will it be possible to go without reservations at that time of the year? For example, I want to see the Sarum-Salisbury-Stonehenge area and then Caernarfon and Portmeirion (huge Prisoner fan!). I would like to find serendipitous spots in between. I don't want to over-plan, but I want to see the things I want to see.

I am sure I will have many more questions over the next few months. Thanks for your help!
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Jul 9th, 2011, 08:18 AM
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Given all the holidays in May (the first Monday in May is also a holiday) I wouldnt travel without reservations for the weekends (well I never travel without reservations anyways cause I hate wasting my vacation time finding accomodations on the fly). You may be ok during the week (mon - thurs). I am not sure when half term is next year for kids off school, but if that falls in May then definitely you will need reservations for that week as well. Hopefully someone with kids know when that falls next year...

Happy planning, the UK is wonderful in May!
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Jul 9th, 2011, 08:30 AM
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Are you going by train, bus or car or a combo of those?
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Jul 9th, 2011, 08:37 AM
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You may be ok during the week (mon - thurs). I am not sure when half term is next year for kids off school,>>

half term is normally the last week in May [with the May day bank hol being the first monday in May] and the Olympics aren't until the end of july so you should be ok unless you are going to be here in the last week of May.

A great place to visit in May is cornwall - and once you are at Stonehenge you are[almost] half way here!
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Jul 9th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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just a quick note now . . . Except for the first weekend in May, (4th-7th) you should mostly be OK winging it. Can some of the UK Fodorites clarify this a bit -- but I thought I'd read somewhere that the Spring Bank holiday (normally the end of May) is being moved next year to the first weekend in June for the Jubilee??

. . . Yes -- I just googled and that looks to be the case . . .
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Jul 9th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Yes janisj, you are right. In 2012 we get Monday May 7, and then June 4 and 5.
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Jul 9th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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And our half term is that 1st week of June for what it's worth.

FYI, I thought Portmeirion was underwhelming for the price, but to each their own.

Here are some photos from my blog from our North Wales visit (if interested).

http://ukfrey.blogspot.com/2011/05/north-wales.html
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Jul 9th, 2011, 12:22 PM
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but I thought I'd read somewhere that the Spring Bank holiday (normally the end of May) is being moved next year to the first weekend in June for the Jubilee??>>

oops - no longer having school age children it had not occurred to me that they would change this holiday for the sake of the Queen's Jubilee. thanks for flagging this up.

the good news for the OP is that it should not affect them at all.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 06:30 AM
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Thanks everyone. I had checked out the bank holiday deal. We arrive May 8.

jamikins:"the UK is wonderful in May!" I am so glad to hear that! I have read so much about September, and we cannot travel then.

PalenQ: The plan right now is public transportation in London, rent a car on the outskirts for most of the way. Would like to do the narrow track rail in Wales. And if anyone has any boat ideas, I would love to entertain those!

annhig: Will look into Cornwall.I want to spend a good chunk of our precious time in Scotland and would hate to be rushed at the end.

indy_dad: As I said, Portmeirion is because of the Prisoner. And if I am not mistaken, it was not built for tourists, but has become a tourist attraction. Kinda like the Tower of London. ;-) You seem to have been there the same time of year we are going. Looks like there was at least a bit of sun, but cold??
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Jul 10th, 2011, 06:41 AM
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I don't know, it looked fairly purpose built (for tourists) to me. You'll be fine since you know what you are signing up for. I didn't think it was right to pay £27 for my family to have the right to shop there.

The days started cool but we were fortunate to have sunny skies. It's all relative here where we still wear jackets in July.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 06:44 AM
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Ann

It is probably difficult to generalise about the school holidays next year, as much as it was to do so this year.

Each educational area has flexibility to apply specifics around their area and indeed each school has further flexibility. As soon as you start throwing in oddities like extra bank holidays the effect of the school holidays is diluted as each school adopts a difference approach.

This year was by far the most diluted May holiday season that we have experienced. There were few "busy" peaks and far more average highs of activity.

Travel disruption has generally been fall lower fallowing the recession and hike in fuel prices.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 09:24 AM
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Would like to do the narrow track rail in Wales.>

Which of the iconic Great Little Trains of Wales do you want to do? I have done the train up Mt Snowdon and it was totally awesome and the Ffestiniog Railway, which was also awesome - and also down the Conwy Valley line though that scenic route is not narrow-gauge but mainline guage. Check these sites to see if they have any info on those Great Little Trains of Wales - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com - these sites are packed with lots of great info on British trains.
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Jul 10th, 2011, 10:44 AM
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indy: I will brace myself for disappointment, but I still want to find out who IS number one. LOL

PalenQ: Ffestiniog was the one I was thinking about- from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. Thank you for the links. So much information to ponder...
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Jul 11th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
www.festrail.co.uk/
This is the website of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways - two unique narrow gauge railways (both operated by the Ffestiniog Railway Company) with ...


►Ffestiniog Railway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffestiniog_Railway - CachedSimilar
The Ffestiniog Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Ffestiniog) is a narrow gauge heritage railway, located in Gwynedd, Wales. It is a major tourist attraction ...
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Jul 11th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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Thanks PQ.
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Jul 11th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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@indy-dad - from the Portmeiron website:

"Portmeirion was built to show how you could develop a naturally beautiful setting without spoiling it and that with sufficient skill and care architectural good manners can actually enhance the natural environment. "
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Jul 11th, 2011, 05:58 PM
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It's been a long time, but we loved this B&B in Wales:
http://www.betws-y-coed.co.uk/accomm...rog_House.html

It's an easy walk into town or to the falls, with gorgeous scenery and a very comfortable accommodations.
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Jul 11th, 2011, 09:20 PM
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[Portmeirion]

. . . and charge people to walk around.

That's fine. I think the OP knows what he/she's after. It just wasn't our thing.
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Jul 12th, 2011, 11:02 AM
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Just came back from a month in England and Wales (June 12-July6). Due to family illness back home, we planned all lodging in advance and I'm glad we did. Many places we wanted to visit were completely booked up before we left, especially in the Welsh coast/Snowdonia/Angelsey areas of Wales, and the Cotswolds area of England.

Though May might be a lighter travel month, our entire trip was still well before Welsh students get out for the summer (third week in July) and therefore, not their high season.

One added bonus for reserving in advance is being able to stay in your own cottage (at least this was a bonus for us--we love to cook our own food, lounge about, and have breakfast when we want). We stayed in three houses, for 3, 4, and 7 days each, using them as bases for day-trips, and used B and B's in between for the longer traveling bits. The house rentals averaged 70 pounds per night and the B and B's we stayed at averaged 100 pounds per night. Just more to think on.
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Jul 12th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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If there are specific places you want to stay ( either towns, hotels or B&B's ) I'd book. Another idea is to book places that allow you to cancel within 24 hours without charging a fee, although this is less likely to be an option at B&B's. If you decide not to book in advance, I suggest you have a list of possible places to stay as it might save considerable time. Also the local tourist offices will find a place for you on short notice for a small fee but note their closing hours.
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