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13 night Itinerary and rail vs. car feedback

I'm planing a first-trip to England with my mother and niece.

Our draft itinerary:
London 2 nights
Ipswich 1 night (visiting mother's friend)
York 2 nights
Edinburgh 2 nights
Lake District 1 night
Cotswalds 2 nights
Bath 2 nights
London 1 night before flight home

Question:
Car or train between ipswich-york-edinburgh? We are assuming we pick up a car in edinburgh and drop it in bath, but I don't know if we should plan on driving or train to edinburgh.
Another option would be to skip the lake district on this trip and take the express train from Edinburgh down to London and over to bath. Are we trying to do too much to squeeze that in?

Thank you so much for your assistance!

Posted by
5149 posts

Two nights really means one day, so I think you have too many locations, so either add more time or reduce locations. I don't think you're estimating travel and transitioning time accurately. You could also fly into London and out of Edinburg, instead of back tracking. Only one day in London- not nearly enough.
Have a good time planning- you're in the early stages. Good luck!

Posted by
6664 posts

Car or train between ipswich-york-edinburgh?

Train.

But answer the question you didn't ask, that seems a bit rushed.

Posted by
545 posts

I agree with the previous writer that you're trying to do too much in too little time. I'd drop a few destinations. One itinerary could be London - Ipswich - York - Edinburgh. Travel by train and fly into London and out of Edinburgh (or Glasgow). Another itinerary could be to fly into London and immediately take the train to Bath. From there you could rent a car for the Cotswalds and Lake District. Drop off the car and take the train back to London for the remainder of your trip. Of, a third itinerary could be fly into London and take the train to Bath. Stay there for 4-5 days and use the small group van tours to the Cotswalds (maybe add Wells). Then take the train back to London for the remainder of your trip. If you use the train, be sure to explore the discount tickets options.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks, Pat and Badger. We arrive in london in the am so we'd have 2 full days plus a half day there. Any suggestions for a more reasonable timetable - which destinations would you skip as a first time visitor. thank you!

Posted by
460 posts

For a first trip I think you need to add way more nights to London especially + you can do day trips out of London.

With the Ipswich side trip my suggestion would be London-Ipswich-York-Edinburgh. Fly into London and out of Edinburgh. Say 7 nights London, 1 night Ipswich, 2 nights York and 3 nights Edinburgh. You don't want a car in York or Edinburgh.

But if we know the interests of the travellers there may be better suggestions.

Another thought, could you do the trip to Ipswich as a day trip from London? Its takes just over a hour usually by regular trains. This would make things much easier, as London to York by train is a breeze (no changes) as is York to Edinburgh.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you Katy and Anita. My mother gets anxious if she spends alot of time in large cities. First, plane tickets are booked and we flew in and out of London as 1. it's cheaper (we are all coming from different airports in the US) and 2. I was thinking it would be a good idea to break up or time in London on either side. In terms of interests, we all enjoy walking/hiking and I think a mix of larger cities and smaller quaint towns would be more my mother's speed. She really wants to go to Ipswich to see her friend and Edinburgh. She's open to anywhere in between, but my hunch is she would really enjoy Bath and the Cotswalds.

Very grateful for this helpful feedback thus far!

Posted by
6670 posts

I'm sure you and your mother and niece would enjoy all your destinations, but I'd be very surprised if you enjoyed the very fast pace of your planned itinerary. I count 13 nights in England, not including your overnight flight to get there. That's 12 full days, not including your first jet-lagged day in London. Your plan includes 7 days when you'll be moving from one city to another -- packing, checking out, going to the station, taking the train, going to the next hotel, checking in, etc. Driving might be simpler for some parts of this itinerary but it involves traffic and parking and it's on the left side, a source of stress regardless of anything else. Yes, you can do some sightseeing on your travel days, but they'll be dominated by the logistics of relocating.

Since you're locked into the London flights, and your mother's priorities are Ipswich and Edinburgh, I suggest London-Ipswich-York-Edinburgh and back to London. That could all be done by train, especially if Ipswich was a day trip from London. Give yourselves time to appreciate where you are instead of rushing to get somewhere else.

This website can help you plan rail travel in Britain.

Posted by
5149 posts

What time of year- did I miss that info? Thx

Posted by
6664 posts

London-Ipswich-York-Edinburgh and back to London sounds like a good idea for a 13 night trip. Ipswich-York is not that hard to do by train, you would need to change though. Probably in Peterborough which is a small station.

Posted by
4474 posts

The Cotswolds and Lake District would really require a car. Since it's your first trip I'm guessing you haven't experienced driving on the other side of the road. You wouldn't see anything of the Lake District with one night. I think the Cotswalds are boring, but you could take a day tour from Bath that would give you a taste of the Cotswolds.
I would do London, Ipswich, York, Edinburgh(more than 2 nights-its a long way from London, even on the train), Bath, London. Better yet, skip either York or Bath so you're not so rushed.

Posted by
713 posts

I also think that Bath and the Lake Country are best left off your itinerary for this trip. And if big cities trigger anxiety for your mother, it makes sense to limit your time in London.

A few random thoughts:

Create a very short and focused list of your absolute must-sees in London.

Set low expectations of how much sight-seeing you'll do on the day your flights land. Don't schedule anything in advance except maybe a plan to take a long walk in Hyde Park, which is huge and spacious enough to make me forget I'm smack in the midst of a city.

If you all enjoy walking and hiking, what about more nights based in York? The historical center is pedestrian-oriented. And there are hikes and walks into the countryside around York, for instance those listed here: https://www.york.gov.uk/CountrysideWalks - I have no experience with those, but it's a thought.

Posted by
7906 posts

cala is correct the Lake district and Cotswolds cannot be done by train.

Also, if going to York, stay long enough to walk the ancient walls, visit the Minster (Cathedral), peruse the old narrow street area of the city and visit the National Railway Museum and other museums in the city.

If going to Bath, consider staying at the Brooks Guesthouse and dining at The Scallop Shell (best fish and chips in England).

Posted by
33330 posts

It is perfectly possible to get a flavour of the Lake District without a car, even in a short time. The main line train has a branch line from Oxenholme for the Lake District (full name of the station) up to Windermere from whence it is possible on a lake steamer to get some very nice views. Hop off half way down and hike to Beatrix Potter's house, Hilltop, (or take a Mountain Goat bus) and there are several other nice things lakeside.

Sure you won't see the lot - the Lake District is a big place with fabulous mountains and waters, but it would give a taste.

Also a bus tour, several have been described here over the years, from Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds could equally provide a taste of the Cotswolds.

Always leave them wanting more...