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UK in the Fall: Trip Suggestions

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May 20th, 2013, 01:05 PM
  #1
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UK in the Fall: Trip Suggestions

My husband and I plan to travel to the UK sometime this August/September for approximately 2 weeks and need some suggestions. We are both engineers, both 29, and this will be our first time in Europe. We'd like to fly into London and fit in highlights in England, Wales, and Scotland. We'd love to do Ireland as well, but our timeframe I'm afraid is too short for all that. We've done some general research and the things/places that interest us so far include: London sites, Bath, Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness, Jacobite steam train, castles...love to fit in Isle of Skye (bit off the path though). We'd love b/w city travel and accommodation suggestions as well. We're open to B&B suggestions. Thanks!
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May 20th, 2013, 01:18 PM
  #2
 
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you really might want to look at a map first to see the distances between the areas you want to visit.
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May 20th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Trains go everywhere you want to go and very frequently - www.nationalrail.co.uk has all the schedules and prices - cheapest are online advance discounts but those can have severe resrictions - for fully flexible tickets that let you hop on any train anytime check out the various BritRail Passes - sold only to non-Brits - for fully flexible travel they can be a good deal if taking a trip as you outline. Great courses for info on British trains check out www.seat61.com; http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id11.html and www.ricksteves.com.

A nice circular train trip could go Bath; North Wales; Lake District; Edinburgh/Scotland and back down the beautiful East Coast Line to York and back to London.
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May 20th, 2013, 02:07 PM
  #4
 
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As an engineer I find this pretty fun http://www.falkirk-wheel.com/

There are a bunch of steam trains around the country, these guys are used in loads of movies http://www.nymr.co.uk/

In terms of medieval (or close to) engineering the cathedrals of York, Salisbury and Durham are the most interesting. Of these York has the National Railway Museum http://www.nrm.org.uk/ while Salisbury is close to Stonehenge (which I guess was good engineering circa 2000BC)

Most people find public transport is pretty good in Western Europe and ok in the UK. However the cities in UK are seldom based on a grid and difficult to get around as a newbie, while the roads are faster than the US, narrower etc so have a look at trains as well as just grabbing a car. You do not want a car in London.

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
http://www.transportdirect.info/Web2...epeatingloop=Y

In London there is the Science Museum (a hint too Victorian for me), the Design Museum west along the Thames and various other art museums the majority of which are free. The Thames Barrier is worth a drop by and there are various water pumping stations and tours open to the technically minded on specific days.

As a Pro you probably have some sort of twinning arrangement between US Engineering Institutes and UK ones but maybe that will be a bit dull for a holiday.
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May 20th, 2013, 05:22 PM
  #5
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Thanks everyone for the feedback! I was hoping the distances wouldn't be a problem broken up over the length of our stay--but I'll be honest, I haven't looked up everything or the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. I'm just trying to build a doable itinerary at this point. Any suggestions (places, travel, accommodations, etc.) welcomed!
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May 20th, 2013, 09:55 PM
  #6
 
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We've been in the UK for 2 years now. I love the culture, history and scenery. I'm not so good with itinerary planning so I'll leave that to others, but here are some of our trip reports that might help in your planning (blog links within):

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...orth-wales.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-district.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ay-weekend.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-with-kids.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-liverpool.cfm

and quite a bit more: ukfrey.blogspot.com
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May 21st, 2013, 01:44 AM
  #8
 
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If you're going to start in London and finsih in Scotland, then fly into the former and out of the latter. That saves you having to backtrack across the country and wasting time.

I must say though that your wishlist is a bit long and will mean that you don't have much time in each place. How long do you want to stay in London for? If it's maybe 3/4 days, you can't do all the rest in such a short time. If you go straight from Bath to the Lakes, you're bypassing a whole swathe of country in between and as has been pointed out on here many times, every time you change location you'll lose at least half a day.

If you decide on your must do's and I'd stick to England for this first trip (save the rest for later visits), then you'll get a much better experience. Don't go further North than York and see if you can fly back home from Manchester rather than all the way back to Heathrow.

So, London, Bath, Warwick, York then Manchester. That's still 5 places and after London, 4 in 10 days or so--plenty of moving about.
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May 21st, 2013, 04:22 AM
  #9
 
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@KatherineBruster - do you get paid to write that sort of pretentious marketing guff? Surely a candidate for Private Eye's Pseud's Corner if ever there was one.
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May 21st, 2013, 04:39 AM
  #10
 
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@KatherineBruster, if they come up with that rubbish then they are off my list too.
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May 21st, 2013, 08:50 AM
  #11
 
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So, London, Bath, Warwick, York then Manchester. That's still 5 places and after London, 4 in 10 days or so--plenty of moving about.>

You would not consider a BritRail Pass for the above but a BritEngland Pass - good only in merry ole England!
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May 21st, 2013, 09:09 AM
  #12
 
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Do not underestimate London's size or attractions. You could spend weeks there and still not see all it has to offer. It is the largest city in Western Europe and double the size of #2, Berlin.

Never use a rental car in London. Use the Tube to get where you need to with some speed, use the buses to get where you want to whilst looking at the bustle of London.

Here's your list: London sites, Bath, Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness, Jacobite steam train, castles. Don't see how Manchester fits that.

Here's how to meet most of it - London for 5-6 nights incl. day trip to Bath. Morning train to Edinburgh for 3-4 nights: you want castles, you got 'em: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, day trip to Stirling Castle. Hire rental car and drive out of Edinburgh to _____ probably Aberdeenshire for castles or western Scotland for steam trains (see above) for 4-5 nights, circle back to Edinburgh for the flight home. This skips the Lake District, which is less interesting for young engineers than more time in Edinburgh or seeing a ton of castles in Scotland.

Note: (1) There's nothing really interesting in Inverness, it's a hub for touring northern Scotland. If you want to be where you can't swing a dead cat without touching castle grounds, go to Aberdeenshire with a rental car and go nuts.

(2) If you think you're going to be able to find decent accommodation in Edinburgh in August, think again. Chances are slim to none: Edinburgh TRIPLES in size in August because that is festival month (Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Festival, and about 5-10 more). If you want to go there, schedule it for September.

(3) Don't do a circle route, no matter how much PalenQ loves trains (either he's paid by the train companies or an incurable train romantic - just look him up on this website). Do a multi-city flight itinerary in which you fly to London and from your last destination that will fly direct to the US (Edinburgh has flights to EWR), or vice versa. Even if the multi-city flight choices are $150 more than round-trip London flights you won't spend much more - getting back to London from wherever isn't free.
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May 21st, 2013, 12:48 PM
  #13
 
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anyone talking bout traveling around the UK to all those places should be advised there is a railpass that affords complete flexibility to hop any train anytime and they also should be told about discounted tickets and www.nationalrail.co.uk - the charge that one must be a rail nut to think that is just ridiculous - I at least will not be intimidated by bullies and will point out the many advantages of a railpass whenever it seems OP's trip plans could warrante looking at one..
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May 21st, 2013, 01:34 PM
  #14
 
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<>

Someone's a bit sensitive. If the OP did your trip, a rail pass could be highly useful. And you are the biggest rail shill on this board - The Man In Seat 61 doesn't promote rail travel on Fodors to the extent you do and he is also a member.

Facts are facts: (1) there is no reason to do a complete circle based on the OP's desires - the OP's stated desires don't really require Wales, they do require budgeting time for Scotland; (2) rail service in North Wales is S L O W - the OP has not previously been advised of this and she should know it. North Wales is closer to London than Scotland, but travel time is longer and navigating around North Wales is not easy precisely because there is public transport but not FAST public transport.
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May 21st, 2013, 03:05 PM
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- The Man In Seat 61 doesn't promote rail travel on Fodors to the extent you do and he is also a member.>

He comes periodically fo flog his web site but in no way is a regular member - I supposed he does so on zillions of forums - once a week or so like here - that said you will realize that I always suggest www.seat61.com as a great site - and since it is so anti-railpass you may wonder why I would do that - well it is to present all the options and railpasses are rarely mentioned anymore because of the Faux Fodor's mantra that they are always a waste of money - I've had at least 40 BritRail Passes and they were always cost-effective for me.

Yes I support rail because I have traveled, studying and earned my living as a profession travel write specializing in Europe trains - I love trains but if you ever find me suggesting a railpass that is not viable for plans outlined - flexibility is a key and I always explain about the discounted tickets and yes their drawbacks that so few ever do - so go on make innuendos about me and ridicule me - that's what bullies do.

And unlike Man in Seat 61 who has a commercial link to RailEurope (and a zillion other commercial sites) I do not profit one cent off railpasses - can't say the same for Man in Seat 61 (whose site again I love and repeatedly recommend) and you will not see me on multiple forums - only this one, as fading as it is.
I suggest you have a rudimentary knowledge of railpasses and just are regurgitating the Fodor's mantra - they are always a waste of money - what you say about me "either he's paid by the train companies or an incurable train romantic" ridicules the very notion of a railpass - I will keep mentioning them whenever one's trip plans warrant a look - and I do often say no railpass.
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May 21st, 2013, 06:07 PM
  #16
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Double check on the no rental car in London...everything I've read thus far suggests as much. I was curious about the efficiency & cost of trains so I appreciate the banter on the subject. To be clear, we weren't necessarily expecting to see everything on the list--I just wanted to list things/places that looked appealing in my research so far. We were leaning more towards Sept., so that's good to know about Edinburgh to solidify that choice. Sounds like Inverness can be marked off the list. Manchester wasn't on my original list and but if we did cut up the trip to Edinburgh from London/Bath, would this be a good choice? Also, had previously thought about an open-jaw flight. Will starting South and going North be a good choice weather wise in September?
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May 22nd, 2013, 12:32 AM
  #17
 
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The one thing you know about the weather in the UK is you will be wrong. Even the BBC, which distributes one of the most technically driven weather reports on the planet is that they are often way off only 12 hours ahead.

So 1) when in the UK do keep an eye on the BBC weather reports, it will make you change your plans but it will make the holiday better (I find the internet details are better than the TV/Radio)
2) logically, for the climate in September, it makes sense starting in the north coming south but... re-read the paragraph above.
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May 22nd, 2013, 05:27 AM
  #18
 
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If you do not fly open jaw into Scotland and out of London or v.v. you can hop the Caledonian Sleeper trains that rolls nightly except Sat nights I think between Edinburgh and other Scotish towns and London - save on the cost of a night in a hotel and wake up back in London.

http://www.scotrail.co.uk/caledoniansleeper/index.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=cale...=1600&bih=1075
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May 22nd, 2013, 08:48 AM
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You aren't really coming in Autumn (fall). Aug/start of Sep is still summer. . You'll be here in peak holiday time.
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May 22nd, 2013, 09:50 AM
  #20
 
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<>

I suggest you're unable to read what I wrote. I said nothing about passes. The OP should go open jaw, start in one city, end in the other and not have to spend the rail money to do a loop. I'm sticking with that and with the itinerary I sketched out for the OP above.
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