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Am I Too Crazy? Itinerary Feedback

Husband and I have so many places we want to see on this two-week trip in July 2020. I know it's not nearly enough time to spend in any one place, but I'm hoping for feedback on the possibilities. We chose train travel because we would like to see as much of England, Wales, and Scotland as we can without worrying about driving too much. In addition to the itinerary critique, we were hoping for some more insights into train travel. We purchased the first class BritRail Flexipass. Do we need to make seat reservations? I like the spontaneity of grabbing a train and maybe stopping for quick peeks around different places as we travel, but it would be nice to sit together. How and when do we make the reservations if they're needed? We are packing light and are excited about navigating the trains. I've read a lot of the posts on here and looked at timetables online, but am I planning enough time to get from place to place in my itinerary? (Usually planning for a day of travel between each place with time to switch trains as needed.)

Thanks for any advice!

Day 1:

Land at Heathrow (early 7:30 am) / train to Bath
--Would the best route be to take the Heathrow express to Paddington Station and onward to Bath?

Day 2:
Bath highlights
--Roman Baths
--Jane Austen Centre

Day 3:
Trains to Conwy, Wales

Days 4-5:
--Castle Walls
--Maybe a boat tour
--Catch our breath :)

Day 6:
Trains to Edinburgh

Day 7:
Edinburgh highlights
--Royal Mile
--Edinburgh Castle

Day 8:
Train to Inverness

Days 9-11: Short Road Trip (Loch Ness, Fort William, back to Inverness) / Sleeper Train to London

Days 12-14: London

Day 15: Fly home

Posted by
1128 posts

You kinda knew people would say yes, I bet.

Way too much moving around. I still dislike Rick’s start off in Bath advice but if you really want to, take the coach (bus) to Bath and be prepared for a brain fogged day.

You’re really shortchanging London. I’d decide if you want to see England (maybe a bit of Wales as well) or Scotland and pick one country.

Take a look at how many days and how much time is being wasted with long train trips, and I wouldn’t count on exactly enjoying the night train.

Your only memories of a trip this rushed are likely to be of automated train announcements.

Posted by
2785 posts

I think Edinburgh needs more than one day. I like the fact that you plan to visit sites on the days you're traveling. If you leave early enough and can check into your hotel speedily, you might have time to see something, but it's good that you're not planning to do that.

Posted by
5631 posts

To answer your question, “ yes, you are crazy.”

With this schedule you’d see little as you’d be on the train most of the time.

Slow down.

Forget Wales.

Stick to London and Edinburgh.

Posted by
8242 posts

Day 2 - Bath

-->Sorry to say but to me the Jane Austen Centre is a waste of time. I LOVE the Regency era novels and was sorely disappointed. Jane did not live at this location nor do they have anything original of hers. They do run nice walking tours if they are giving them when you are there. Instead, I'd do #1 Royal Crescent which is a Georgian era townhouse that's been refurbished and furnished as it would have been in the late 1700's. The docents are well informed and tell great stories!

The Roman Baths are excellent and have a wonderful audio tour. You can get a combined ticket to visit the Fashion Museum which is located in the building where the Assembly Rooms (you'll recognize that if you are a Regency or Georgian lit fan!) are located.

I agree with the others you're trying to cover too much territory for 2 weeks. I also disagree with Rick's advice to go directly to Bath but if you do the National Express coach is easier. You've already put out money for the BritRail pass, though, which many here don't find to be a good value over advanced purchase tickets so I suppose you should get your money's worth and take the train.

Posted by
18889 posts

Go to the website for rail schedules. The July schedule isn't available yet, so look at dates of May 25 or earlier, using the correct day of the week for your planned trips.

I'm not a big fan of castles, so it's not surprising that what I liked best in northern Wales was Bodnant Gardens in Colwyn Bay. It's accessible by bus (not covered by rail passes as far as I know).

If you didn't buy the rail pass on sale, you may be able to turn it in for an 85% (100?%) refund. That's something I would seriously consider doing. If anything, you're probably going to end up covering less territory than you originally anticipated, which will mean fewer or shorter train trips, reducing the value to you of the rail pass. I suspect you're going to be paying a lot of extra money for the ability to hop on and off trains. How often will you really do that? What will you do with your luggage while you're off the train?

The vast majority of the posters here are perfectly happy with second-class seats.

Posted by
4528 posts

You can get reservations on many trains but that kind of works against the flexibility benefit you have paid for in the pass. Note that the most convenient route for Bath to Conwy in terms of changes will be on a train for most of the journey with only standard class accommodation. This also the case for most Edinburgh to Inverness journeys albeit only for just the shorter portion to Stirling.

Posted by
911 posts

Way too much going on here. Save Scotland for a visit of its own. I would stick to London, Bath, and surrounds.

Posted by
1063 posts

"Sorry to say but to me the Jane Austen Centre is a waste of time. I LOVE the Regency era novels and was sorely disappointed. Jane did not live at this location nor do they have anything original of hers."

I've read many times that Jane Austen didn't like Bath at all, the best place to visit (if you're really that interested) would be where she lived in Chawton, Hampshire:

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I did figure this would be the response; I was a bit overzealous with my planning. Would you recommend cutting Bath and Conwy to focus more on London and a bit of Scotland? I can get my castle fix in Scotland, and it seems Bath might not be as exciting as I thought.

Gah. I guess I need to rethink my BritRail pass too. After reading about it, I made the decision because I was a bit afraid of missing trains and losing money because we're new to train travel. I liked the flexibility of it, and the websites really do push it as a good solution. I think the immensity of the rail system is intimidating; I hope I can figure out how to navigate it if I cut my schedule down a bit.

Thanks again!

Posted by
8242 posts

"and it seems Bath might not be as exciting as I thought."

Oh, I LOVE Bath and find it very exciting BUT I enjoy the Regency/Georgian era as well as the Roman era. I love to see the juxtaposition of Roman era sights next to the Georgian architecture. I've spent multiple days there on several trips and keep going back for more as I've not seen everything on my list.

The other things besides the Roman Baths that I’ve enjoyed over multiple multi-day visits to Bath are:

  • Number 1 Royal Crescent (a nicely restored Georgian townhouse)
  • The Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms
  • A walk along the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal to see the locks and narrowboats
  • The Holburne Museum ( saw a wonderful exhibition of Canaletto’s work several years ago). JA did live in a house just across the street from this museum and down a little.
  • Bath Abbey (So-called the Lantern of the West)
  • the Parade Gardens
  • Prior Park with it’s rare example of a Palladian bridge garden feature
  • Seeing the Royal Crescent and Circus townhouses. I particularly like the back of the Circus townhomes - all alike in front, all different behind.

However, if you are looking for castles, this is not the place for you. You'd want to make decisions based on what you think you'd enjoy seeing. Here is a link to the Bath Tourist Office so you can see if anything appeals to you.

Yes, I, too have read much on JA and that she did not enjoy her time in Bath. Straightened financial circumstances I'm sure influenced that along with other issues. She did include the setting in her novels which makes the Bath location fun for a fan.

Posted by
18889 posts

Pam has given you a good list of the attractions in Bath. There's also the Museum of East Asian Art, which is small but lovely.

I'm one who is not at all fond of Bath for the purposes of wandering around. The architecture (Georgian) became very repetitive to me. I realize that is what a lot of people must like about it--the feeling that you've stepped into the Jane Austen era.

I found York (crawling with tourists though it is, apparently over a much wider area than Bath) much more eye-appealing. And Edinburgh--also monumentally touisty--has more and better sights (but no Roman Baths). If you're still interested in Bath after reviewing that section of a guidebook, I see no reason not to go there if you can spare the time. It might well be just your thing, and it's easy to get to from Heathrow.

Posted by
511 posts

You asked "Would you recommend cutting Bath and Conwy to focus more on London and a bit of Scotland? I can get my castle fix in Scotland, and it seems Bath might not be as exciting as I thought."

You can also visit the Tower of London (a castle) while in London, and maybe Windsor Castle too. And Edinburgh Castle, with a day trip to Stirling Castle and maybe Castle Campbell in Dollar if you aren't castled out.

With 14 nights I'd pick three bases. I like cities and museums and Romans so I'd probably have chosen Bath, London and Edinburgh for my first visit. But you could start with a train to York, 2-3 nights, Inverness 2 nights, Edinburgh 3-4 nights, London 5 nights. Or save Scotland for another trip, so many possibilities! Traveling in July though you'll want to have your lodging reserved in advance.

Posted by
4871 posts

You have picked some great places to visit, but you have way too much travel. You are going from one end of the UK to the other.

Why not focus more on a smaller geographical area and spend less time traveling?