Hi all, I'm a longtime lurker of this website. My partner and I have booked a 16 day trip, flying into London Gatwick on April 6th and out on April 23rd, 2017. I am working through the Rick Steves, Fodor's, and Lonely Planet guides, but I am having a difficult time planning our itinerary (and evaluating whether it is reasonable), and would appreciate any advice.
It is my first time in England. My partner will be going for the third time, but in the past has mostly stuck to Oxford and London, and some sights around London such as Windsor, Stonehenge, and Stratford. We like a mix of city sightseeing and outdoor/hiking. We are not so much into historic houses, but my partner is into castles. I would say London, the Lake District, and the Cotswolds are my priorities, in that order. We have relatives in Oxford whom we would like to see, who are also generously letting us stay at their location to help us cut on hotel costs.
Here is what we have so far:
4/7/2017 - fly into London
4/8/2017 - London
4/9/2017 - London
4/10/2017 - early train to Bath
4/11/2017 - Bath
4/12/2017 - pick up car, do sights around Bath (Glastonbury , Stonehenge, Avebury), arrive late at Oxford (stay with relatives)
4/13/2017 - Oxford (stay with relatives)
4/14/2017 [GOOD FRIDAY] - Cotswolds
4/15/2017 - Cotswolds
4/16/2017 - leave Cotswolds, Stratford if we have time (I doubt it!) and head to Warwick Castle, drive to and stay in Liverpool
4/17/2017 [EASTER MONDAY] - travel to Lake District
4/18/2017 - explore Lake District
4/19/2017 - explore Lake District
4/20/2017 - travel to York, stopping by some points in the Yorkshire Dales, arrive at York in the evening, return car
4/21/2017 - explore and stay in York
4/22/2017 - explore York, take the train back to London
4/23/2017 - fly from London
Things I'm iffy about are...
1) The April 16th stay in Liverpool seems awkward. I am slightly interested in the city as I tend to like port cities, but neither my partner or I are big Beatles fans. However, it seemed necessary to break up the long drive from the Cotswolds to the Lake District somehow. Would it be smarter to stay somewhere else, like Manchester? Or would we be better off just driving straight to the Lakes District, and using the extra day for something else, say the Yorkshire Dales?
2) Starting in London and coming back to London at the end of our trip also feels slightly awkward. Rick Steve's guidebook recommends starting in Bath. However, it seems more difficult to go from Gatwick to Bath (a 3 hour trip, 1 transfer, and tickets are expensive unless we prebook a time) than from Heathrow to Bath, so we've decided to start in London. Again, though, any advice is appreciated.
3) I have the distinct feeling that we are trying to cram too much into 2 weeks, and that because of the travel time between destinations, we will end up seeing less than we want to see. I also anticipate that travel times may be increased because we are travelling around Easter time. That said, I'm not sure what to cut. I am tempted to cut York and save it for another trip, but at the same time we are already going as far north as the Lake District, and it seems a logical stop on the way back from the Lakes to London. Or perhaps I should be looking to cutting down time spent in the south (like in Bath), and spend more time in the North. Again, appreciate any advice here!
Finally, I am having a difficult time finding car rental websites, and am wondering if anyone has recommendations - car travel is relatively new to us. Previously we've only traveled in Italy, where train travel allowed us to see most things we wanted to see. I appreciate any help in advance. Thanks for everyone's time!