UK trip April 23

Old Nov 27th, 2022, 12:53 PM
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UK trip April 23

Good afternoon, my wife and I are planning a trip this upcoming April and I ask for some help with our northern itinerary. We are late 50ís early 60 age able to walk a good distance, however we are not looking for strenuous hikes at elevation. Especially in wet weather. We have around 4 weeks allotted for the trip and so far have booked accommodations as follows.
Fly to London, 6 nights air b and b
Day trip to Cambridge
Day trip to Oxford pick up rental car and drive to Kingham, Cotswold 4 nights
Conwy 2 nights
Keswick 3 nights
Glasgow 2 nights

Here is where I get stuck. We are interested in the following areas or ideas but we arenít really sure what is feasible considering the time, weather and distances. We have read about both the isle of Mull and Skye. I donít have a good idea of the difference in the two areas. Should I see both ? RS guidebook spends little time in this area and does a one day bus trip.
Next we are interested in the drive up to Inverness from this area past Glencoe and Fort Williams. Not sure of time allowed in this area with a few castle visits up near Inverness.
We also will like to visit the Stirling Castle, St. Andrews and the coast nearby. We eventually will dump the car in Edinburgh for 3 or 4 nights stay.
We would like to visit York for 2 nights and then either fly home from London or possibly Edinburgh.
So we are quite confused on the northern portion of this vacation. I appreciate any words of experience. Thanks
mcs
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 01:07 PM
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Drop Conwy and add the nights to Glasgow (or split with Keswick). With only one full day in Wales you won't see much. By adding time to Glasgow you can explore more of the city, otherwise again you only have a single day, and it deserves more.
Mull makes the most logical island to visit given your wish list and is less touristed than Skye. Or spend the time in Argyll, maybe staying in Oban.
Fort William is a drive though, a pig of a town in my experience unless you intend to go up Ben Nevis.
If you are flying home from Edinburgh you need to rejig things if York is a must see. Again two nights only give one day which isn't much.

If you look at the Visit Scotland website it has a ton of information Look at a good map as well. Remember roads are slow, and can be crowded in Scotland and in the Lake District.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 02:28 PM
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On a weekday morning, Kingham to Conwy would be at least 4 to 6 hour drive (depending on traffic around Birmingham -- I honestly don't think going all that way for essentially one day in North Wales makes any sense. (IF it was me I'd actually visit N Wales instead of the Lake District, but the Lakes are really lovely)

In Kingham -- by any chance are you staying at either The Plough, or Wild Rabbit? Even if not -- both have truly wonderful food so try to eat at least one lunch and/or dinner in both.

Mull and Skye are both amazing and are quite different. One issue is you are traveling in April - which can be lovely or quite stormy - and could definitely be both. Being on an island when it is raining sideways isn't that much fun. Both are large Islands ad you'd want a minimum of 2 nights on Mull and/or 3 nights on Skye

Not a huge number of castles near Inverness but there are a few nice ones (Urquhart, Cawdor, etc). Castles are much thicker on the ground in some other parts of Scotland.

Please don't waste any of your limited time in either Ft William or Inverness. Inverness is a lovely city to live in -- all mod cons. But it is mainly the commercial and governmental hub for northern Scotland.

Stirling is a short train ride from Edinburgh, and is also convenient by car en route to Edinburgh from the north. St Andrews can be done as a day trip from Edinburgh.

And aside: RS is not a huge fan of the UK (at least compared to his slaviish praise of Italy, Switzerland, Rue Cler etc etc) So I wouldn't depend on his guidebooks for this trip
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 06:19 PM
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Thanks so much for your information. We will be staying at the Wild Rabbit. I have booked 2 nights in Conwy, I was looking to book 3 nights in Keswick, however I am waiting on confirmation on that lodging. I could add a day to Conwy. I also could add a day to Glasgow. I am at 19 days if I add a day each to Conwy and Glasgow.
So now I have Edinburgh and York with 6 possibly 7 days between the two stops. That puts me at 26 days. I am now left with approximately 10-14 days to see Isle of Mull and or Skye, maybe forget the drive towards Inverness and the Urguhart and Cawdor Castles. We could spend more time near St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
Thanks all
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 12:11 AM
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Edinburgh by train to York and then down to London, easy. The stations in Edinburgh and York are right in the centres.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 06:55 AM
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Thanks janisj,hetismij2 and biblioburgler for your comments. I think we are going to save the northwest and Skye for another trip. I have added one night to Conwy.
6 nights London
4 nights Cotswold car in Oxford visit Blenheim
3 nights Conwy
3 nights Keswick
Okay thinking of drive to Oban with day trip to Mull and Iona?
Skip Skye and instead visit Glencoe Lochs region. Visit Urquhart Cawdor and Balmoral. Head down to St. Andrews eventually for one night. Not sure how many days this would require?
4 or 5 nights in Edinburgh with a day trip to Stirling Castle?
Train to York and 2 night stay
Train to London overnight near airport
I think by saving the North 500 for a separate vacation we wonít feel rushed. However, I am interested in your thoughts on places to stay and or if this makes sense?
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:20 AM
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Some thoughts, hopefully not too disjointed...

It's April so in general you're not going to find it hard to obtain accommodation, even in areas that might otherwise be difficult, aside from the Easter weekend (9 April) which tends to be a bigger deal in England and Wales than in the USA. So while one-night stays are not all that popular here, they're not out of the question in your case.

Again, at the risk of generalities, the wet weather comes from the west and the east half of the island tends to get somewhat drier conditions. Of course, places like the Inner Hebrides can't change their locations, but you can if the forecast looks poor. Distances aren't THAT great that you can't reprogram your trip on the fly as it were, and probably get away with it.

For example, castles. There are several areas on the British mainland that have a fairly high concentration of impressive castles. North Wales is one such - you could visit, say, Harlech or Beaumaris, or Caernarfon castles easily from a base in Conwy - all stunning. But there are also numerous castles in Aberdeenshire and the east slopes of the Cairngorms which MIGHT offer drier conditions than their Welsh counterparts. Or the Northumberland coast (my fave) a couple of hours or less from Edinburgh - google Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle, the former overlooking the North Sea in one of the most impressive sites going. Even Duart Castle on Mull, which the Oban ferries pass en route to that island, offers a stunning sight.

The point being, rather than zigzagging about in search of more castles, maybe focus on one area in order to experience a range of offerings as representative of a larger set. I would NOT go out of my way to see Urquhart Castle, for example, if I knew that I was going to explore the castles in the Royal Deeside. Hope that makes sense.

The overall plan: I'm sure your current plans will be fine, but I feel compelled to offer some alternatives, just as "thought experiments."

The Cotswolds are lovely but they're not the only region of picturesque villages that can be toured. Just as an option, what if you substituted Cambridge for Oxford and Suffolk for the Cotswolds? And to push the east-is-better idea (again, my opinion) what if you traveled north to Scotland via the eastern side of the island, and visited the west - the Lakes, north Wales - on the way back down? That would give Ms. Nature more time for things to warm up and (maybe) dry out, for the days to get longer, etc. Maybe trivial, maybe not so much.

Google the places on this map: https://goo.gl/maps/o8gPKD7Qmm7Hg5zAA . This starts in East Anglia with a beautiful Cambridge and couple of Suffolk villages (plenty more like these) as well as the stunning cathedral city of Ely. It then travels north to glorious Lincoln, then York, then Durham, which will likely leave you gobsmacked. This "cathedral route" is simply unforgettable in the spring.

After Durham, you'd visit Northumberland, including the castles at Alnwick and Bamburgh, then the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, reached at low tide via a causeway. Visiting the Holy Island with a later visit to Iona will close the circle on a very important aspect of British, and Christian, history. You'd reach Edinburgh via the North Sea coast, and - if you wanted, you could extend this east/north, west/south loop through the Scottish countryside, something like this - https://goo.gl/maps/UiPKJk8XEJyb92pB7 . This would include the East Neuk fishing villages in Fife, the castle country in Aberdeenshire (Craigievar is but a sample) then across to the west - Glen Coe, Mull, Iona, Kilmartin and Inveraray, etc. - before ending in Glasgow. From there it's south (if need be) to the Lakes and Wales, although, honestly, you may well have been landscaped and castled out by then, with all the places you'd already seen.

Anyway, just some idle thoughts. Like I said, your current plans will be fine, but there are alternatives (possibly) worth considering.

PS I highly recommend Undiscovered Scotland - Undiscovered Scotland: Home Page - as a "go to" guide for Scottish tourism as well as parts of northern England.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 09:55 AM
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Having done the NC500 I would say don't bother. It is a victim of it's own success sadly and finding accommodation along it can be very difficult even early in the year.

What are you hoping to see from Conwy?

Bear in mind also that Easter is on April 9th and schools will have a two week holiday around then.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 02:08 PM
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Gardyloo, it is so kind of you to give us such detailed information. It was so helpful for us to see things laid out on the map.
Hetismig2, we unfortunately canít change our trip dates and we are not sure how that will affect our plans. Will the urban areas and museums be overcrowded or the rural spots?
Honestly, we were picking Corwyn as a bridge between the south and north and in a guidebook it was a base for us to do a few walks and no other personal knowledge.
Gardyloo, your maps were exactly what we were drawing up but in reverse. We have 2 choices. One we try to change our reservations or 2, we extend our plans down the east and finish in Cambridge. We were originally planning a day trip there from London. Now maybe we do the day trip to Stonehenge or Oxford?
So in the opinions of you folks who have been here before what makes sense?
Thanks Everyone
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 04:41 PM
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Good evening, after reviewing some of the towns along the east coast and considering the weather in April and early May we are thinking of changing things. Hope you can offer some suggestions.
6 nights London
4 nights Kingham
2 nights Lincoln
2 nights York
3 nights Durham
Next we have a few interestís but not sure of timing. Hadrianís Wall read mixed reviews, Alnwick Castle says closed on website. Visit Bamburgh Castle and a visit to the holy island.
The tide map says crossings from 11:00am to 20:45 on the April 28 date. Wondering our best options and can we day visit the island?
Headed to Edinburgh for 3 nights
2 nights St Andrews with a drive by coast town of Crail
Visit to Balmoral castle and then we are thinking of heading towards Skye and or Mull . Would love to hear your thoughts on best drive from St Andrews to West coast. Places to stay on island or islands. We have currently 8 days available to see the west and loch region if that is a proper destination term?
We will have a car and are up for walks but not too strenuous.
3 nights Glasgow
Flight Home

We are dropping the Lakes region and North Wales.
Thanks
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 11:45 AM
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I think it's a workable plan. Yes, you can visit the Holy Island as a day trip; there really isn't that much to see on the island, especially in the off-season. I would personally spend a night somewhere along the Northumberland coast, or consider an alternative route from the Holy Island or Bamburgh into Edinburgh. This crosses the Lammermuir Hills and would end in the pretty village of Gifford, maybe at one of the two country hotels in the village, the Goblin Ha' or the Tweeddale Arms, both very pleasant. Stop en route at Etal, where the Black Bull pub is the most northerly thatched pub in England. Here's a map: https://goo.gl/maps/V6tnUA1C8Xu5Aey68

Alternatively, you can stick closer to the coast and visit some of the pretty fishing villages en route, including St. Abbs, which was used in a couple of the "Avengers" films as "New Asgard." Map - https://goo.gl/maps/hn5YcvEutTgX89tWA

As far as the Inner Hebrides are concerned, my vote is for Mull, which has many of the same attributes as Skye but is closer to other attractions like Iona, Kilmartin Glen, Inverary etc. Here's a map showing a possible route from Braemar to Oban, then to Glasgow. There are day tours available from Oban to Mull and Iona if you don't want to drive. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/z66EBD5Ycsg4tNWS6
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mcsles View Post
Good evening, . .
Thanks
not really a Ďquoteí but donít seem able to post from my iPhone without quoting. . .

Ďmixed reportsí about hadrians wall? That makes no sense to me. Thatís like mixed references re the Tower of London or Yellowstone or Machu Puchu - who could possibly post negative reviews about the Wall ?? ? One of the most historic sites on earth, let alone the UK. I canít post much tight now On my phone in the Wine Bar at Fortnum & mason - will post more later, but couldnít let that pass Ö..

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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 01:41 PM
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Gardyloo, thank you for all your detailed information and maps. I will research the hotels along the coast north of Holy Island.
I am considering leaving Edinburgh to the end of our trip because flights are nonstop to Chicago and not from Glasgow. We could dump the car in Glasgow spend 3 nights, train to Edinburgh for 4 nights then fly home?
So I could visit Stirling castle and Wallace monument from Gibbons, then head north to Crail or St. Andrews. 4 hours driving but much more time with views.
I will look at your maps to review roads. I know my wife is eager to see Balmoral. I will check out some of the villages like loch garten along that route.
janisj, my comments are not to offend, I am just trying to get the most views on a limited number of days and in a direction that makes sense.

IMO the beauty of this Fodorís site is to help inform someone like myself who has no firsthand knowledge of a country other then a guidebook.
Thanks and please keep on posting. This is starting to get us both excited. The pub food alone has us both drooling.
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 02:07 PM
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If there’s a chance you read Ann Cleeves (Vera series) her latest is set on Holy Island:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/97812.../therisingtide
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 03:14 AM
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NYSE, thanks for the tip, I will check that out for sure.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2022, 03:27 PM
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Is it realistic to leave from Muirfied Gullane area drive to Rosslyn Chapel for visit, see both Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument in the same day? I was also thinking of then spending 2 nights in St. Andrews or Anstruther at The Waterfront Hotel. St. Andrews is pricey, but we both want to spend the day snooping around the golf shop and town.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 05:20 AM
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Does anyone have a recommendation for a listing of walks in the glencoe and western Scotland region less than 5 miles return with big views? It seems like in the glencoe area most everything I see on the internet is very long and more strenuous. Also from Balmoral castle to glencoe which drive would you say is the most spectacular ? The a9 via pitlochry or north via a95?
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