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11 days in England

My husband and I will be traveling to the UK in September - arriving at Heathrow on a Saturday morning around 11am. We would like to rent a car a see the countryside, starting in Bath, continuing onto The Cotswolds and up into the Lake District. Hoping that we have time to come back down to York for a couple of nights and then end up in London for at least 3 days. Trying to decide how long to stay in Bath and The Cotswolds and still have time for the rest of it. Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by
2928 posts

I'd say this sounds like a workable itinerary for 11 days, assuming you are most interested in the destinations outside of London. And it is wise to turn in your car and spend your last few days in London rather than the other way around.

The only caution is driving on the first day, while jetlagged. Driving from Heathrow to Bath should not be too difficult, but if your flight is significantly delayed you could end up having to navigate to your hotel in the dark. If that were to happen, I'd make every effort to call the hotel and ask for any tips on how to find them (GPS in the car notwithstanding).

How long to stay in Bath? I'd want 2 full days, thus 3 nights in the hotel. One day to see the Roman baths & related archaeological points of interest, and one day for the more modern-era sights.

How long to stay in Cotswolds? Depends how many villages you want to see and how much driving around you want to do. Ditto for the Lake District. They're both large, spread-out regions. (If you include Stratford-upon-Avon as Cotswolds -- it is, after all, on the northern edge -- I would allow a full day for it alone.)

Posted by
1353 posts

Where are you arriving from? Will you be jetlagged? If so you should consider going to your first destination by public transportation. You have listed 5 destinations in 11 days. I think you should cut at least one of them. You could do 2 nights in each with 3 nights in London, but you will spend a lot of time traveling, and not much time seeing sights.

Posted by
7 posts

We will be coming from the states. We have traveled to Europe several times and "usually" do pretty well with the jetlag. (fingers crossed for this I have considered taking a train from Heathrow to Bath and picking up the car from there. If we are able to make York, we would drop off the car there and take the train into London for the remainder of our stay. We will most likely stay in Stow-in-the-Wold when we are in The Cotswolds.

Posted by
3895 posts

The drive to Bath is about 2.5 hours and all interstate. Only you know how well you do after a long flight, but for me it's an easy drive. Stow on Wold is a nice town and not far from Bourton on Water and Stratford Upon Avon. I feel it's a good location for visiting a number of Cotswold towns/villages. When in Stow, ensure you walk around to the back of St. Edwards parish. There is a nice church door framed by a couple trees. Makes for a nice photo.

Posted by
5487 posts

You mention x days and x nights there - two nights somewhere means one day there, so I am a bit confused as to how long you have here. You mention 11 days, so is this 10 nights?

London needs at least 3 days as you suggest i.e. 4 nights IMO, especially if you haven't seen much of it beforehand and ideally add another!

York - needs 2 nights minimum, as this is only 1 day there and you could easily spend another day here if you want to see the gorgeous countryside outside the city.

This leaves 4 nights?

Bath itself needs a full day. Please do NOT drive to Bath from Heathrow after a long flight - the UKs roads are some of the most congested in Europe and it's not fair to other road users if you are tired and jet lagged. Take the bus from Heathrow and hire a car in Bath.

The Cotswolds - you need at least a full day and ideally two if you want to see Blenheim Palace. I suggest giving Stratford upon Avon a wide berth as it's tourist tacky.

You have run out of time for the Lake District. The Lakes are a 5 hour+ drive from the Cotswolds and this journey could often take 7+ hours with traffic.

Alternatively, head from Bath to the Lakes on a very long driving day through the Cotswolds (7-9 hours of driving minimum) and spend time in etc Lake District. Drive to York and drop the car.

Posted by
5345 posts

Your plan, like many others that post on this forum is too ambitious. If you have three nights in London, that gives you 8 more days for your other plans. You simply cannot cover all this territory in that time and take in the important sites.

Bath and the Cotswolds will easily take up most of the 8 days if you plan to see Stratford on Avon, Oxford, Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle, as well as a full day in the small villages of the Cotswolds. Perhaps you can squeeze in York, but York deserves three nights so you have two full days.

Posted by
3597 posts

Jet lag (no matter how well handled), lack of sleep, not being familiar with the local road system, and driving on the left can all be a problem. There are some that are not bothered by any of those things. Others think they are ok but are really driving somewhat impaired. While others are complete zombies and should never drive on the day they arrive. Picking up the car in Bath will, in my opinion, be the best way to go. Just food for thought.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the responses so far. We will actually be there for 11 full days - arriving on Saturday, Sept 16th and leaving on Wednesday, September 27th. I think at this point, we're going to eliminate the Lake District and try and see if we can spend more time in the other places. Don't want to sell any of them short while we are there.

Posted by
1353 posts

I've been to York twice. Both times spent 2 nights 1 1/2 days and thought that was fine:) I love York, but it is very compact and easy to see main sights in that amount of time IMHO.

Posted by
7124 posts

16. Salisbury
17. Bath
18. Bath
19. Cotswolds
20. Cotswolds
21. Peak District or Chester or Liverpool
22. Lake District or York
23. Lake District or York
24. London
25. London
26. London
27. Depart

Posted by
1878 posts

I agree with cutting the Lake District. 3 nights Bath, 2 nights Cotswolds (I recommend Chipping Campden), 3 nights York, 3 night London. As long as you are o.k. with that being too little time in London, you're set. Chipping Campden to York is about 3 hours by car, on Google Maps (add 25% though). Take the bus from Heathrow to Bath, pick up the car in Bath before heading to the Cotswolds. Drop the car in York and take the train to London. Easy as pie.

Posted by
3146 posts

Since public transportation is so easy, you might want to take train from Heathrow to first destination, then rent the car there. Depending on how interested you are in Bath, I did Bath as a daytrip between Salisbury and Cardiff. Rick's book talks about the logistics of renting a car in Bath.