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7 Days to Drive from Edinburgh to Heathrow

My wife and I plan to take a train from London to Edinburgh and then hire a car to drive back to Heathrow over the span of a week in early June. I would really appreciate any tips and suggests as to what to see as we have never been in the UK outside of London. We enjoy driving, history and quiet areas. Thanks!

Posted by
1837 posts

Consider doing it reverse as then for most of the day, you will have the sun behind you. Do not travel any great distance on the day of a flight = risky that something will go wrong.

Posted by
11929 posts

I do not understand the above comment about the sun being behind you; in June, it will mostly be overhead. And it is best to avoid driving upon arrival; much better to do the driving later, after recovery from jetlag and travei fatigue.

So with a week to make your way down to Heathrow, I can suggest a couple of places we loved on our UK trip. Oban on the west coast ( staying at the beautiful Greystones B&B) and then 2-3 nights in the Lake District. After that, maybe Wales for 2 nights??

Posted by
597 posts

We drove from Edinburgh to Cambridge a couple of years ago, dropped the car in Cambridge, and took the train into Heathrow. From Edinburgh in about a 3-hour drive, you have several options. The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales/Moors. Peak District. These are beautiful country areas with nice villages to stay in. B&B's are the way to go. Look at Helmsley, North Yorkshire, Rievaulx Abbey, Castle Howard, York (Park & Ride), North Yorkshire Moors Railway from Pickering to Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay. In the Peak District Chatsworth House comes to mind. There are endless possibilities. The first week of June is Whit week which we see some increase in travelers, but the weather in early June can be cool in the Northern part of England so It is unlikely to be crowded. Trooping the Color in London is June 13, 2020. If you are traveling at this time of year, you may want to add this to your itinerary if you plan on being in London.


Posted by
4444 posts

If you want quiet areas in June, avoid the Lake District. The sun won’t be a problem heading south - bring some sunglasses!

I would spend a few days around the stunning Northumberland coast - the magical Holy Island accessed via a tidal causeway (check the tide timetable before you head there), walk up to the castle and try some local mead. There are castles aplenty in Northumberland, including Dunstanburgh, Alnwick and Bamburgh. Stunning quiet beaches and the Cheviot hills for walks and the friendliest people in the country.

Head to the Durham area and from here, visit Beamish Museum, which is a whole day out, sampling what life was like a hundred + years ago. There’s Hadrian’s Wall if you like history or Durham Cathedral.

From there, head to York via the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors. You need a couple of days for York itself including the National Rail Museum, walk the old walls and see the Minster.

Drop the car upon arrival in York and take the train to London. The scenery south of York isn’t as interesting as further north and it’s busier and the roads more congested.

Posted by
665 posts

What Jennifer said!

June can be busy anywhere so it would be prudent to do a bit of research and book ahead in terms of accommodation. What you lose in flexibility you gain in having the reassurance you have got somewhere to stay on an evening.

Northumberland is fantastic, more busy than it used to be but still relatively quiet, compared with, yes, the Lake District. But let’s just keep that our little secret, eh?

I’ve note that Emma on this forum has expressed an antipathy for the Lake District. I’m going to guess that she doesn’t hike, or at least enough to get into the hills. If that’s the case she might be right as the honeypot areas get insanely busy in summer and probably won’t be much fun if that all you see, even though the area is beautiful. Personally I go to don my boots and disappear up the peaks, so it’s one of my favourite places anywhere on the globe.

York is certainly worth a couple of days of your time, but try to get accommodation with on site parking because car parking in York is difficult at best and eye watering lay expensive in public car parks!

Have a great trip.


Posted by
4662 posts

We visited Hadrian's Wall, Durham, York, Pickering, Castle Howard, the Yorkshire Moors and Whitby on the East side of England, as well as the Lake District on the West.

I would definitely go with the East. Also, a stop at Newcastle would be great.

York is a must see. a day in Durham is good.

Toward the end you could stop in Cambridge.

Posted by
11929 posts

After reading the suggestions above, I am going to revise mine and vote for the eastside drive instead of the Lake District and Wales. Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales and moors, Holy Island, York, Whitbey---all lovely places.

Spend the last night within easy transport distance of Heathrow and turn in the car there. Maybe Oxford?

Posted by
665 posts

Hi Emma -

I saw a post of yours on another thread where your opinion of the Lakes was diametrically opposed to my own. I was merely trying to illustrate that dependent on what you liked to do once in a particular area, might colour your judgement of it accordingly. Ultimately, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ opinions, just different ones - each to his own! My Sca Fell Pike is - Sca Fell Pike!

Vive, I think, le difference!


Posted by
1837 posts

Regarding my earlier comment about the sun & driving south would be facing it: it is true that of course in June, the sun would be higher in the sky than at other times of the year. However, I have driven on roads that go in and out of tree cover & hence shadow. When driving on such roads going towards the sun, the shadow areas can appear very dark - especially when the facia of certain cars puts reflection on the windscreen. Going with main light source behind you this ceases to be a problem. Also note that if driving into the sun that the rays can be bashing on your chest - possibly making you hot - even with the air con on. Far better to be in the shade with the sun on the rear in my opinion.

I note the suggestion has been made to visit York. I would suggest that York can be done when doing the train journey by splitting it with an overnight. (A car would be a hindrance in York).

To get the cheapest tickets, you should pre-book any long train journeys around 11 weeks ahead for specific trains. See or

Posted by
12 posts

Whether you head for Holy Island or the Lake District, take a day in the peaceful Scottish Borders south of Edinburgh. Rosslyn Chapel is just outside Edinburgh then continue to the wee Borders town of Peebles, 20 miles away. Head on to Melrose (Abbey). You can continue to Kelso and Jedburgh (abbeys at both, all are ruins). Lots of history in these places. Easy to get to Holy Island south of Berwick Upon Tweed but check the tide times for safe crossing across the causeway. Continue to Alnwick (Castle) then on to Durham and York.

For the Lake District from the Borders backtrack past Melrose to the A7 for Carlisle then the M6 to Penrith and A66 to Keswick. Traffic can be busy in the Lake District and parking limited. It is a busy place in Summer.

Whatever you do you will have many hours of daylight in June. It is light from 4am until 11pm in Edinburgh, not quite as late in London.

Posted by
172 posts

Another vote for the east coast route and especially Northumberland. There is the coast, the Cheviot Hills, North Tyne Valley and Hadrian's Wall. You could easily spend the full week here and harly begin to scratch the surface! Have a read here for an overview of the county and some of its history.

If it is Hadrian's Wall, then start here.

Northumberland is also the place for ruined castles and stately homes

There is also Cragside, which is often described as the house where modern living began.

As well as the wonderful Alnwick Castle, still the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and Alnwick Castle Gardens, which has been described as one of the best contemporary gardens in the world.

And then there is County Durham with Durham Cathedral which is one of the best Norman Cathedrals in England and Durham CAstle. You could easily spend a day here exploring the historic city centre and walking round the river banks, as well as visitng the delightful Crook Hall Gradens.

Then head to York, skirting the edge of the North York Moors with the ruins of Mount Gravce Priory and Rievalux Abbey.

Think about a few days in the North York Moors, using either Helmsley or Pickering as a base.

If you like steam trains, catch the North York Moors Railway to Whitly with its ruined abbey and dracula connections.

York itself has loads and loads to keep you busy. The attractions are all walkable and you don't need a car. Lots of ideas here.

Catch the train from York back to London.