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12 days in England....first time visit....30th anniversary

My husband and I will be traveling to England for the first time in May. We are celebrating our 30th anniversary and also trying to visit our son who is studying abroad at Lancaster University.

We definitely want to hit the historical highlights, see some of London and spend some time in the country. I also want to be realistic and not move so fast everything is a blur when we get home.

We would like to connect with our son for a few days and perhaps bring him along for a few days. We have considered flying into Edinburgh and making our way down the Lancaster or having him take the train to London to meet us.

I am looking for suggestions on "must see's" and the off the beaten path gems. I personally enjoy churches/cathedrals and my husband is more of a WWII/war history buff.

Suggestions on itinerary and best way to travel (rent a car/train/bus as the various rail options are confusing) would be helpful. We can be flexible with airports as we have not booked yet but hope to this week.

Also we have considered a tour of London and then the countryside on our own. If anyone can suggest a smaller tour company that is reputable and can help with creating a London based tour that would be great.


Posted by
837 posts

As you are in Lancaster, maybe do the "Morecambe bay walk", think they start again mid April.

Posted by
5335 posts

Lancaster is south of the Lake District, which you might consider visiting.

If London is your focus, traveling to Lancaster will take some travel time from your 12 days.

There is lots to see all over Britain, but I suggest either staying in the London area, were you could see Cambridge, Canterbury, Salisbury, Winchester, Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds, Oxford, Stratford on Avon and more.

If you choose to go to Lancaster, you might want to spend a couple of days in York, in the north of England, but the opposite side of the country from Lancaster.

Posted by
171 posts

Why not fly into Manchester, rent a car, pick up your son and head up to the Lake District for three days. Drop your son back in Lancaster, drop the car off in Manchester and take a train to London. Then if your son can spare a few days he could join you in London. You could save the sights that most interest him for those few days.

Sights for you in London should include the Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls and Westminster Abbey. For your husband I would suggest the Imperial War Museum and the Churchill War Rooms.

For transport in London I would take the Hop on Hop off bus on arrival for an overview. Then use the bus or Tube for daily sightseeing.

Posted by
2926 posts

In Lancaster I can recommend The Mill at Conder Green for comfortable accommodations and/or a good meal. It is a converted grain mill in a scenic location right on the Lancaster Canal, with lovely bright & clean interiors.

Off the beaten (tourism) path at the eastern edge of the Lake District is the town of Penrith (most tourists go to Keswick, which is very touristy whereas Penrith is a real functioning town). The helpful TI office can give you directions to the Long Meg & Her Daughters stone circle, about 15 minutes east of town via stone-walled country roads. Narrowbar is a nice cafe for lunch.

Both of the above are best reached by car.

Posted by
6259 posts

You will get some more excellent ideas of where to go and what to see in between where you son is attending University and London.

Hopefully Nigel will share is professional knowledge of train travel which can be a lovely way to travel in England.

As your travel itinerary isn't yet set I'd like to offer a few places for inclusion:

Durham Catherdral and the town of Durham itself. Reachable by train and car.

Hampton Court. Train

Imperial War Museum in London. Underground.

Of course don't miss the Churchill War Museum either.

Have a lovely time.

Posted by
3893 posts

For the WWII buff, Imperial War Museum at Duxford and Bletchley Park, near Milton Keys. I always have a rental car so I can stop where I want, when I want. Once you have a rough itinerary, conduct some online research (e.g., TripAdvisor) of the towns on your route. You'll discover more places than you have time to see.

Posted by
7124 posts

Fly in to Manchester and have your son meet you there. A rental car would be best for you.
A few days in Chester, with the opportunity to visit Liverpool and North Wales.
Then some time in the Lake District before heading across to Durham and York.
Catch a train to London after returning your car in York.

Arrive Manchester. Pick up hire car. Drive to Chester (3N) - day trips to visit Liverpool and North Wales
Drive via Lancaster to Lake District (2N)
Drive to Durham (1N)
Drive to York (2N) Return hire car
Train to London (4N) - visit the Churchill War Rooms and Imperial War Museum
Depart London