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15 Days First Trip To England - Is this too much and/or hard

I am travelling from Tasmania in Australia in early September with my wife (both late 40's) and have set myself the following draft itinerary. I was looking for some advice on whether this is reasonable. Any advice to a first-timer would be greatly appreciated.

4 nights London - Train to Edinburgh

3 Nights Edinburgh - Pick up Hire car

1 Night Durham

2 Nights York

4 Nights Based in Cotswolds - Say Bourton on the Water

1 Night, Windsor or Salisbury

Heathrow for 8pm flight

Posted by
434 posts

Hi, I have a quick first impression, but someone in England would know best. Take the train to Durham, then York. Rent the car in York, or some place closer to the Cotswolds.

Posted by
1172 posts

Agree that if it is the cities of Durham and York that you want to see then going by train will be the best option. To explore the countryside as well then it’s a good idea to have a car.

Posted by
1000 posts

It bewilders me that in such a short visit to the Uk that so many visitors want to spend 4 nights in the Cotswolds. It's a perfectly pleasant area but you will actually be driving past much more attractive rural areas to get there. In my opinion of course. The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Moors, Peak District and almost anywhere in Scotland.

Posted by
5 posts

I appreciate all of the feedback. On the Cotswolds, from the other side of the world, it's the region that gets all of the publicity and promotion as the place you have to go to hence the time allocated there. I will certainly have a look at the other areas mentioned.

Posted by
2489 posts

You could go London to York by train; then York to Durham followed by Durham to Edinburgh by train. Then hire car and head south down the west side and see the Lake District (stay) before continuing south to The Cotswolds.

Note that if you do your trip in reverse order that you will be driving with the sun behind you rather than driving into the sun. Also, you would be seeing the scenic areas in The Cotswolds & Lake District a few days earlier when the weather is more likely to be better. (If it is raining in London - at least you have the museums & shops).

Posted by
1172 posts

The Cotswolds is really well known and it does have some beautifully preserved villages because the area basically stopped developing when the wool trade became less important hundreds of years ago. I think the countryside is not as interesting as other areas. It does have a huge amount of visitors plus a sort of glamour from all the wealthy second home owners, luxury hotels and expensive gastro pubs. It’s not far from London so attracts more of a weekend crowd than further afield places. I have spotted more British celebrities in the Cotswolds than I have ever seen in London!

Posted by
1314 posts

Hi jw -

Like my northern colleagues I’m a bit baffled by the seemingly overarching appeal of the Cotswolds. Some lovely villages and towns but some of the countryside pales in comparison to other areas, so I’d suggest four nights there is a bit top heavy when compared to some of the other places you are staying.

On the other hand, Helen makes a persuasive case for the area and of course it’s wholly dependent on what you want from the place.

If there’s just the two of you, I’d plump for travelling by train - check out the ‘Two Together’ railcard - when heading south from Edinburgh. A car is really not required in either Durham or York and is something of an encumbrance, especially if where you are staying doesn’t have private parking. Of course, you may be well visiting other sites en route which you haven’t mentioned which are only accessible by car.

For your final evening, I’d suggest Windsor. Lots to keep you occupied on the day of your flight until you have to head for Heathrow, which is pretty much on the doorstep.

Otherwise schedule looks doable and you aren’t travelling every day. Have a great trip!


Posted by
5 posts

Thanks again everybody for your feedback. I picked York and Durham as I thought it would break up the trip especially if I was driving but I understand that the train is a better option saving time and maybe I could skip one of these stops providing another night to consider driving down the West Coast and seeing the Lakes District and also taking a night off the Cotswolds.

If I was to do this, does anybody have any suggestions on where to stay to break the trip around the Lakes Distrcit area?

Posted by
6682 posts

If it is a one night stay in the Lake District I would suggest Penrith (straight off the M6) or head down Ullswater from Penrith junction 40 and stay in Pooley Bridge or Glenridding.
Then next day go over the Kirkstone Pass to either Ambleside or Windermere then down the A591 to rejoin the M6 at Kendal South.
Edinburgh to Ullswater is just over a 2 hour drive, so you would arrive in time for a visit to Aira Force, and an afternoon cruise on Ullswater.

What I would really suggest is 2 nights in the Lake District and 2 nights in the Cotswolds.

You could even do Edinburgh to the Lake District by train, then pick up a car from Enterprise in Kendal.

The days are still quite long in September, so you could spend the morning in Ambleside or Windermere, even have time to drive up Langdale or to Hawkshead/Coniston before leaving the area early afternoon to the Cotswolds.

You could even do Langdale, then Coniston, then cut down through Torver to Greenodd for the fast A590 to the M6/

But the 2nd night would give far more opportunities to explore the area.

Posted by
4469 posts

Honestly I would skip the Cotswolds in favor of places that can be reached easily by public transportation. If you spend 2 nights in Bath, you can take a Mad Max day tour that includes the Cotswolds. They are picturesque but otherwise boring, in my opinion. I would stay another night in York and take a day tour to the Yorkshire Dales. You can easily do Windsor as a day trip from London. Salisbury is a quiet pleasant town.

Posted by
118 posts

To be honest even 3 nights is a lot of time in the Cotswolds, with limited things to do. Your time might be better spent in the countryside around York or Durham. There are plenty of lovely day trips from York like Whitby or Knaresborough, National Trust estates and footways if you fancy walking. Not to mention the North York Moors and other park land. And while beautiful the Cotswolds are a logistical nightmare if you're travelling on your own unless you hire a car. Especially given your itinerary.
Keep your itinerary, and come back another time to see the Cotswolds. Or as suggested above get a day trip from Bath.

Posted by
7906 posts

You don't need 4 nights to see the Cotswolds, plan on 2. If you want to do day trips to Stratford Upon Avon, Blenheim Palace or Oxford, the add a couple of days there.

Durham is great and you can walk the city. 2 nights in York is not enough. Lots to see there, do the National Railway Museum, other museums, walk the ancient walls.

Posted by
252 posts

I would either fly into Edinburgh and work your way to London or cut Edinburgh entirely. It’s otherwise too far out of the way for a mere three nights.

And we just spent three nights in York and six and the Yorkshire Dales. Absolutely loved both.

Posted by
545 posts

I agree with previous posts that 4 nights in Cotswolds is not a great use of limited time. I also agree that you might skip Edinburgh, OR, fly into Edinburgh or Glasgow and fly home from London. I'd also suggest treating Windsor as a day trip from London and I'd skip Durham. For two adults, the train is faster, more relaxing, and probably more economical than renting a car.

If you really want to see the Cotswolds, I'd suggest staying in Bath. There are small group tours by van that leave from Bath for destinations such as the Cotswolds, Salisbury, Wells, etc., that would be easy day trips. If you decide to include Edinburgh, I'd suggest this itinerary: Edinburgh, York, Bath, London. That requires a fairly long time in the train between York and Bath, but after a lot of walking in your first 2 cities, relaxing for 4 hours on a train might be welcome.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi everybody, I appreciate all the feedback. Really, what I am being told is that I need a lot more time to explore the beautiful areas that I have outlined. I will be only touching the surface. I can't make any assumptions about what life will throw at me in the future, so this may be my only trip to England I need to weigh up, seeing enough, and not trying to do too much.

I have updated my itinerary for about the 10th time to the following after all of the kind advice:

Four nights in London - Train to York

2 Nights York - Train to Edinburgh

3 Nights Edinburgh - Pick up Hire car

2 Nights in the Lakes District

3 Nights Based in the Cotswolds—Say Bourton on the Water with a planned day trip to Oxford or Bath.

1 Night, Windsor or Salisbury

Heathrow for 8 pm flight

I hope this is not too hard, but it will show me enough to ensure my next trip focuses more on a few specific areas if I am lucky enough to return.

Thank you again for all the feedback.

Posted by
6669 posts

I think your revised itinerary works well, though it's a shame to miss Durham -- but I'm a cathedral nut.

Posted by
851 posts

You might consider going directly to Edinburgh on your arrival day, and save London, which is much more intense, for the end of your trip. Pick up the car in York on your way out. Drop the car in Bath or Oxford on the way to London.