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Another Ignorant Newcomer that needs help for two week blast through England!!!

Hey Guys...
Yeah...I know....another two week itinerary question and yes...I've been reading some itineraries but many focus on public transportation and cover a little less or more time than we are planning.....so I thought I would start a new topic :)
My wife and I are flying from Miami into Heathrow on May 7th in May and leaving out of Heathrow on May 23rd. Also....I plan on taking public transportation while in London but we plan on renting a car for our travels outside of London so....

First - Should we do London first or at the end of our trip? What do ya'll think? I was thinking flying into LHR, getting the car and driving to Bath and starting the trip from there....... then I would make some sort of loop around England and end up in London at the last part. Good or Bad?

Second - The big question that will determine my itinerary is how many days should we allow in London to see the normal tourist stuff? We want to go see the sites on the west coast and the east coast of England too...as well venture as far north as possible (Scotland?) if time allows but we don't want to sacrifice the biggies in London.

Third - IF and only IF we make London our first part of the trip...where should I stay in London? I would want an easy commute from the airport as my wife will have about two dozen suitcases that I have to drag to the lodging. Also..want somewhere obviously close to public transportation to see the sites but I'm a blue collar worker so costs does matter. South Kensington maybe? Is there an easy commute from the airport? OTOH...if we make London our last part, I still would want good public transportation back to the airport.

Fourth - Where else are some really cool sites to see in England. My wife loves to see castles and historic sites so we would focus on that stuff.

Five - I don't want to be rushed. While I will make a full day out of it, I'm not going to set records on how many pins I can put in my hat. Please help me lay out something moderately paced because...well...I'm a middle aged fat American.

Anyway...that's about it. Who wants to be my trip planner?

Seriously.....Thanks a bunch guys :)

Posted by
5627 posts

Seriously, get the RS England guide book and read it cover to cover.

Full of useful information for a first time traveler to the U.K.

Once you’ve done that and found points if interest for you both take a gander at map of England to see the distances between your desired points of interest.

Remember you will be driving on the opposite side of the road which, for many, takes time to adjust to.

As far as what to see in London make a list based on what’s a “ must see,” based on your interests.

Please note that Elizabeth’s Tower ( Big Ben) is covered in scaffolding till 2020.

Use the search engine on this website read up on the Oyster card for public transport and to investigate how to ge the 2 for 1 deals.

I’ve been going to London since the 70’s. Never fails to please. Always something new to explore and experience.

Going back for 2 weeks in January. Already have tickets to Hamilton and Witness to the Prosecution purchased, housing arranged and flight booked. Staying outside London this time around so will see new neighborhoods, sites, parks, markets, etc.

S Kensington neighborhood is fine. Pricey but fine. With the tube, busses and your own 2 feet London is an easy city to get around.

Posted by
2131 posts

Start with Claudia's advice - get the RS England book and read it.

I hope you kidding about the 2 doz suitcases. You really can get by on just 1 per person, maybe 3 between you. The less you take, the happier you will be. And if you are missing something - SURPRISE!! They have stores in England.

Driving - you can, but you can also take trains. Don't get fixated on driving. We've driven in Britain, but it's a hassle, and parking is a pain, and you always get a surprise 2 months later - the speed camera ticket. Remember that part of the fun of a trip is new experiences, and one of those might be a train-only trip. Think about it.

In 14 days, I'd consider no more than 3 stops. London is one. But really you need to narrow down. 2 other cities is best. It's crazy to think of the east coast, the west coast, and Scotland in 1 trip. Narrow the trip down. Why are you going to England? War of the Roses? That's specific towns. Queen Elizabeth I? Again specific. Shakespear? Beer? Haggis? Narrow your trip.

Last summer, we spent 4 days in Chartres, a small French town. It was great. We saw the tourist stuff, and the less seen stuff. Spending more time in one place gives you more, not less.

Rick is a great guy, and he has lots of great info. Look at this site:

https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/england/itinerary

That may help you.

Posted by
31289 posts

I doubt that anyone will volunteer to be your trip planner, however the group here will certainly be able to provide suggestions and other information to help you plan a good trip.

I agree with the suggestion in the first reply - your first step should be to buy a Rick Steves England (or other) guidebook - https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/guidebooks/uk . There's a wealth of information there that will help you to have a great trip and see the sights that most interest you.

"I would want an easy commute from the airport as my wife will have about two dozen suitcases that I have to drag to the lodging."

I assume you're exaggerating? In any case, it would be a good idea to do some research on the "packing light" philosophy, or at least keep the luggage at a manageable amount.

Your plan to start immediately in Bath, and leave London for the end is what I'd suggest. I would strongly advise AGAINST* renting a car at Heathrow and driving to Bath, especially if you haven't driven before on the "correct side of the road". Driving immediately after an international flight in a jet lagged state is a practice that's been likened to impaired driving, especially considering the different road signs, roundabouts, etc. I tried that many years ago when I was much younger and less travelled, and would absolutely not recommend it. Take the train or National Express bus from LHR to Bath and rent the car in Bath at the end of your visit there.

It would also be a good idea to do some research on driving in the U.K. This is one site - https://www.visitbritainshop.com/world/articles/guide-to-driving-in-the-uk/ .

With only a very short two week time frame, I'm not sure you'll have much time for Scotland. It might be better to focus on England and perhaps a stop in Wales on this trip. You likely won't be able to work out an Itinerary until after you've had a look at the guidebook to determine which places and which sites you want to see. Once you have a list of places, post it here and the group can help you with fine tuning and more detailed suggestions.

I'd probably return the car when you arrive in the last stop before London. From there you can take the train into London and then to the airport for your flight home. The U.K. members of the forum can provide information on the best transportation to LHR. I normally use train, bus or Tube, but you may want something a bit "easier" when hauling luggage. You could always splurge and use a Cab.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
25722 posts

In terms of driving to Bath right after arrival - if you are flying from Miami to London do you know how you and your wife will cope with jetlag? If you haven't flown transatlantic previously it may be worth expecting that you will both be dog tired on arrival and driving will be as hazardous to you and the other poor folk on the Motorways as a drunk driver. Train connections to Bath are easy. You will be arriving just after one bank holiday and leaving just before another so your transport should not be affected by either.

2 weeks isn't actually very long once you start calculating the time spent changing locations and everything that goes with it, and familiarising yourself with the new place and the new way of driving. London for 4 or 5 nights minimum and one or two other places will fill your time up. Sorry.

Posted by
4737 posts

I second the point of driving to Bath whilst jet lagged. Please don’t do it.

The London highlights can easily fill 5 full days. There are many easy day trips from London on top of this such as Hampton Court, Windsor, Canterbury, Cambridge or Oxford.

The west coast of England is about 600 miles long and the east coast about 500 miles. What in particular did you want to see? You don’t really have time for Scotland if you want to cover much of England.

Anywhere in Zone 1 of the underground would be a suitable location. The main tourist sites are spread throughout the city, so no one location is ideal. South Ken would be suitable.

Castles - there are dozens to chose from, but you may want to consider north Wales or Northumberland.

London- York- Chester would fit your timescale with day trips.

Posted by
18862 posts

The smaller the car you rent, the easier the driving will be--unless we can convince you (after seeing your destination list) that a car will be more hindrance than help.

However, a small car may not have the trunk capacity for a bunch of suitcases, so you really need to pare down what you take with you. Have you checked your airline's excess-baggage charges?

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks. And yes...I'm having a little fun with my wife's baggage problems. Seriously..we will have probably 2 or 3.
Yeah...I have flown across the pond a few times and deal with Jet lag OK. The reason I asked about Bath is that RS's book based on his 2 week itinerary recommends what I described...flying in, getting a car and going to bath.
That brings up another point. I have looked at RS's info on England and his itinerary. Let me give you his example:

Day 1-4 -Fly into LHR and head to Bath and stay 3 nights and see the different highlighted sights
Day 5-6 - Stay in Stow-in-Wald and see the surrounding sights
Day 7-8 - Stay in Conway and see the surrounding sights
Day 9-10 - Stay in Kestwick and see the surrounding sights
Day 11-12 - Stay in York and see the surrounding sights
Day 13-14 - Finish up in London and see the surrounding sights

This is fine...and may in fact be my best itinerary but I was hoping to get some feedback from you guys because I have read from other sites that they work in Scotland for a couple days and enjoy the scenic ride. What do you guys think? Could I work in a sleepy coastal town and do away with some of RS recommendations? Maybe only one night in Bath, One night in Stow-in-Wald and one night in Kestwick which may free up a few more for somewhere else?

Thanks :)

Posted by
3201 posts

Choices, choices. Unless London is our main focus, we always visit it at the end of our trip, after dropping the car off at the airport. Upon arrival, we get the car and head out in whatever direction our first stop is. Others make a good point about driving after a long flight, but only you know how you feel after a flight. Bath is about a 2.5 hours drive from LHR. For me, that’s the edge of my limit. After that I’m a hazard on the road. There is much to see in the UK; enough for multiple trips. It’s easy to spend 2 weeks in the SE or SW, or whichever part of the country. Consider only seeing one part of the country rather than the whole thing. Not only will you see more, but you’ll cut down on the amount of time spent getting to places. Driving in Cornwall is different and slower than most other places in the UK. Check out the nationaltrust.org.uk site to see which historic sites you may want to visit. That may help you narrow down an itinerary. Buying a pass can save you money on entrances if you visit enough of them. Castles and Abbeys are throughout the UK. If you have more than 2 or 3 small suitcases, they may not fit into a rental car, unless it’s a large one. South Kensington is an easy commute from LHR on the tube. As far as driving, I don’t find it to be a hassle, I’ve never received a ticket in the UK (yet), and other than larger cities, parking hasn’t been much of an issue. Have coins to pay the machine since most parking is pay parking. As Paul stated, depending on your ultimate itinerary, trains may be easier.

Posted by
2785 posts

Has your wife experienced flying and getting to hotels with all that luggage? This forum has many posts in the "packing" section about packing light-and almost no one ever wishes they had packed more stuff!

Posted by
31289 posts

" I'm a blue collar worker so costs does matter."

Another reason to rent the car on your departure from Bath, as that will save a few days of rental, parking and insurance costs.

One other thing to mention is that a GPS or at least a good Map would be a really good idea.

Posted by
71 posts

What do you mean rent a car after my "departure from Bath". Are you saying I don't need a car to get to Bath or need one while staying at Bath? I assumed I would need one as soon as I left London. Thanks :)

Posted by
31289 posts

What I meant by "rent the car on your departure from Bath" is that you would take a Bus or train from LHR, tour Bath for a couple of days and then rent the car when you leave Bath for your next stop. That way you're not paying for the car expenses while you're touring Bath and don't need a car.

Also, don't rely on Google Maps or whatever to determine driving times. I've found that it always takes longer than indicated on the websites, especially if you find yourself on the M25 at peak times.

Posted by
133 posts

I would skip Bath, Stow on the Wold, Conwy, Keswick and York. Also spend less time in London. Otherwise stick to Rick's itinerary.

Posted by
25722 posts

You certainly don't need a car to see Bath. Narrow, very hilly, lots of traffic, difficult parking. If you drive to Bath you will park the car somewhere (probably paying) until you are ready to leave.

Bath is easy to get to by train - Heathrow Express to London, change platform and take the big train right to Bath Spa station in the middle of town; or dedicated RailAir coach direct from the airport to Reading station (pronounced like the colour, not what you do to a newspaper) and go upstairs to the big train, then see above.

I see your joke now - ha ha - but you are new around here and we don't know your sense of humour yet. Asking questions, we take you at face value so believe your "joke".

Please be straight with us. If you ask an honest question (or 50) we will give you honest answers, to the best of our ability.

Nobody here is paid to be here, nobody is a professional in the field (some are tangentially or in a specific area) and we all do this in our spare time to try to help people who are doing what we have done and love.

I see that you have travelled transatlantic previously. Have these been business or pleasure trips? Have you been to London or other parts of the UK before? Where have you travelled to?

Most importantly - why do you want to go to the places you list? Each one must have called to you - or your wife - in some way. What was that? Then we can really start to help you get around and see those things which call to you...

Posted by
1838 posts

You have been given sound advice regarding going to Bath after a trans-Atlantic flight. You don't need a car in Bath so best to follow instructions just given by Nigel. For trains see www.nationalrail.co.uk

Look at the following Google Map view of Bath. Can you see the interlocking red arrows ‘Bath Spa’? That is the rail station - right in the middle of Bath. Then drag on the yellow man and have a look at Streetview. Parking on the streets in Bath is limited and expensive. If you did drive into Bath and have accommodation - make sure it has its own dedicated free parking (rare). Also note the roads - I have enabled traffic flow view so red = jams - live at the time you view - so check out during the UK daytime. Also zoom out and have a look at other places you plan to visit.https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bath/@51.3807265,-2.363969,1078m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x487178a6743ee12d:0x138b27d0d66d9a09!8m2!3d51.3810641!4d-2.3590167!5m1!1e1

Here is a map of the rail system:> http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/images/structure/css/nationalrailnetworkmap.pdf

Posted by
4737 posts

If you want to see Scotland, arrive London and stay for 6 nights (5 full days plus a bit of arrival day) then take the train to York for 2 nights (3 is better). Then take the early train to Edinburgh for 3 nights then hire a car and visit the coast or the Highlands. Fly home from Edinburgh. Chester could be substituted for York.

Personally, the Cotswolds would not be in my “must sees”.

You need to do more research and come back with some more focussed questions.

I do not travel light. We always take one large bag with wheels between us weighing about 20kg that we check in plus we each have a roll on bag for a month away. Although I would never travel for more than a week with just a roll on, you really would be bringing too much if you needed 3 bags for 2 weeks. We have a compact car and we need to flatten all the back seats to get the luggage to the airport. If you are hiring a car, you need to ensure that all the bags fit in the boot without needing to flatten the seats.

The best way to get to Bath from Heathrow is National Express Bus the whole way, I think. It saves trekking into London or changing to a train at Reading.

Public transport between large towns and cities is very good in the UK. You only really need a car if you want to explore the countryside.

Posted by
4866 posts

It doesn't matter whether you do London first or the countryside.

You can rent a car from Heathrow if you drive first. If you do London first, then try renting a car from Oxford and take the train to Oxford, see the city, perhaps spend the night, then pickup your car.

Driving on the left is an adjustment, so i recommend you rent an automatic and be sure you have a nav system or GPS, you will need that to help you find your hotels. Also, the passenger in the vehicle should assist the driver (remind--STAY on the left). While on dual carriageways (divided highways) you will have no problems, stay in the slow lane. However, when at a traffic stop at a red light and turning, especially right, focus on your driving and drive into the LEFT lane.

As for not driving from Heathrow to Bath the day you fly in from the USA, I did it and had no problems. However, that is me, I get pumped up and was not sleepy or tired, etc. It is an individual thing. Bath is a little more than two hours of a drive. Parking is an issue in any British town, keep coins for parking and public toilets.

Don't try to go to Scotland for a week, it is way to far, save that for another trip. York is great, but you can take the train there from London.
I recommend staying in the SW of England, taking in Bath, the Cotswolds (we used Chipping Campden as our base) to see Stratford Upon Avon (if you loved Shakespeare it is a must). Also, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds take a full day (use Rick Steves guide for that day). You can also go to Salisbury, Stonehenge and perhaps Winchester, or go west into South Wales (castles galore). North Wales is great as well, but we loved Tenby in South Wales. If you decide to go east of London, definitely do Cambridge. You can do Canterbury on a day trip from London (SE of London).

Here is our story with details of our 28 days drive tour of Wales and England. https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Don't try to drive more than about two hours a day when planning your trip. Also, check out the book, Back Roads of Great Britain for planning.

Posted by
8889 posts

I agree pick up the car when leaving Bath.
Also, dump the car on arrival in York. You equally don't need a car in York, and York to London is an easy 2 hours @ 125 MPH by train. York will tick many of your wife's history boxes (Romans, Vikings, medieval walls, cathedral, Railway museum).
I would say you don't have enough time in London. With 14 days, you need 4-5 in London.
Therefore skip Conwy or Keswick (sorry, you have finite time).
If you skip Keswick, go for one night to Whitby before dumping the car in York. Website: https://www.visitwhitby.com/
Another history option which a car makes easier: A stop off at Hadrians Wall.

In London, you need anywhere in or on the underground circle line, or along the "South Bank". The sights are spread out, and anywhere near a central tube station is equally OK. South Ken. is a good choice as it is on the Piccadilly line direct to Heathrow.

As a first timer, I need to say do not assume a car is the obvious and easy way to travel. In towns and cities it is not, and between towns and cities trains are more comfortable and often faster. Towns were built when most people travelled on foot and by horse, and, despite some misguided attempts in the 1960's and 1970's to re-build for cars, most of them are still pedestrian-shaped.
Car travel between cities (by motorways, roads with numbers beginning "M" and blue signposting) is not an easy cruise, but is the fastest option.

Items to research: How the tube works, and Oyster cards.

Posted by
18862 posts

To be perfectly clear: I believe most of us consider Rick's itinerary suggestions too fast-paced for an individual traveler. Changing hotels every 2 nights means you get not much more than 1 full day at each location and guarantees that you spend a great deal of your precious vacation time packing/unpacking, checking into/out of hotels and sitting inside a car, train or bus.

Posted by
1118 posts

I am a firm believer in the following for your trip to England:
1) avoid the car, hassle and expense. Rely upon the drivers of trains, buses, the Tube and your feet. Public transport is great, easy and relatively cheap plus provides more opportunity for you to add to your experiences. Our public transport comments also applies to outside of London where there can be a bit of a timing challenge, but not one of having no accessibility to a destination (at least of those we sought).
2) RS does offer fairly quick paced itineraries and England offers wonderful experiences to be absorbed. Slow down, breathe and enjoy engaging local folks whom we found to be wonderful kind people.
3) A specific recommendation is to take a ride on the Thames to gain an additional sense of history.
4) I resemble your physical description, and live in Sarasota FL, and assure you a moderate pace itinerary is achievable.
5) Windsor is an excellent day trip.
6) Suggest assembling a revised itinerary based upon posters comments and re-publishing for critique.
7) Note: Tower of London is not to be missed and you should check for changing of the keys ceremony tickets NOW!

Posted by
133 posts

Seriously, ignore the RS 2 week itinerary. From what you have said it is the opposite of what you are wanting.
Spend a few days relaxing and exploring London.
Hire the car and head to Oxfordshire/Wiltshire and find a nice quiet town or village as a base. A farmstay can be a good affordable friendly option. From there you can leisurely explore each day. Lots of small towns and villages quite a few impressive sights. Avebury, the Long Barrow at West Kennett, Uffington White Horse. Tithe Barn at Great Coxwell. Lacock Abbey Stonehenge, Salisbury, Oxford, Castle Combe, Bath and the Cotswold.
A relaxing home base and a week or more of relaxed sightseeing.
Maybe head to the coast for a few days or go searching out a few castles for the wife before heading back to London.
2 weeks isn't long and if you are doing 2 to 4 hour trips then setting up and orientating all the time you are gonna be tired and cranky. Relax and enjoy stuff you can see and do easily. You are never gonna see everything so make the most of what you can get to.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks guys. Just the info I wanted. I agree that RS's itinerary seemed like a lot of changing rooms and fast paced..
Having said that...let me ask. My wife loves castles. What do you think of this?

May 9, 10, 11,12,13 London - Arrive around 7AM in London. See all the normal sights Leave the morning of 13th and take train to Bath.
May 13,14,15 Bath - See sights and leave in morning of 15th and take train to York
May 15,16,17 York - Stay in York for a couple days and take in sights and leave morning of 17th and take train to Edinburgh.
May 17, 18,19,20 Edinburgh - See sights and return to London on 20th
May 20, 21, 22,23 London - Take in sights again and take a day trip to Dover. Fly out on 23rd

As you see, I decided not to rent a car and use the trains. Is that smart? Should I rent a car and take a scenic route to Edinburgh? Would you take away a certain town and replace it with another or simply omit a town? Do I need any more time in Edinburgh?
Thanks

Posted by
3173 posts

Anyway...that's about it. Who wants to be my trip planner?

You are going to be your own trip planner.

Follow advice above about reading travel books like RS's England and I would also advise looking at Fodor's Essential England to get more than one perspective. Use your local library and have a blast doing it.

As you see, I decided not to rent a car and use the trains. Is that
smart? Should I rent a car and take a scenic route to Edinburgh? Would
you take away a certain town and replace it with another or simply
omit a town?

Yes, very smart. Public transport is excellent. I think 2 days in Bath is more than enough for us.

Posted by
9774 posts

As someone who spends a lot of time in the UK and especially London, I'd like to chime in.

I'm glad you decided to skip the RS itinerary. It's basically his tour itinerary. That 's fine if you just want a highlight trip and leave the driving to them. If you did it on your own, you'd need a vacation afterwards.

London has lots to see and can be used as a base for day tours--Oxford, Cambridge, Windsor, Hampton Court, Canterbury, Leeds Castle. I suggest you take a look at London Walks. Not only do they offer short walking tours in London but escorted day trips to the places I mentioned. (These are done by train.) They are not expensive.

From Bath, you can take day trips into the Cotswolds and even to Stonehenge. I would suggest you look at [Mad Max Tours}(http://www.madmaxtours.co.uk) I have taken a few with them and enjoyed them.

Change your itinerary and go London-Bath-Edinburgh-York-London (or vice versa.) It's like making a circle rather than too much backtracking plus you see different parts of the England and southern Scotland.

In Edinburgh you can take day trips into the Highlands and to Stirling Castle. Look into Rabbies Tours. Edinburgh is also fairly hilly so you might want to consider the hop on, hop off bus to take between sites.

With this itinerary you don't need a car. Take the train between destinations. You can sit back, relax, and look out the window. You will arrive and not have to look for parking.

For London, if you want to stay within easy travel to and from the airport, stay near a Piccadilly Line station. It's the cheapest way into London from the airport.

For hotels, many people here, including myself, recommend Premier Inns. They are clean, comfortable, and you know exactly what you are going to get. They may not offer the "charm" some people want but you will get a good night sleep. There are literally hundreds of them throughout the UK.

Now, as others have said.....get yourself a couple of guidebooks, do some research on the net--the Visit Britain site has good info--and start planning. Then come back with specific questions.

Posted by
18862 posts

Use nationalrail.co.uk to check travel times by train. Fares can vary greatly, depending on how far in advance you buy the tickets. You can explore this phenomenon on the NationalRail website by looking at fares for December 28 and for 10 weeks in the future.

Posted by
2785 posts

Another vote for Mad Max tours out of Bath and Rabbies in Scotland.

Posted by
71 posts

Couple more questions as I am researching this. You guys suggested Conwy and yes..it looks amazing. How many days would I need there? Also...it seems that London to Conwy is easier than Bath to Conwy so I was thinking.....is a day trip from London enough to see the sights? Maybe a long tour? That way I could keep my hotel room in London and simply leave London and go To Conwry.
Thanks

Posted by
1217 posts

Our 2017 UK trip ended up being

3 nights Salisbury area (cathedral, Stonehenge, Stourhead gardens, time just wandering around the city)
3 nights Swansea area (castles, Tenby, Brecon Beacons national park, National Botanical Garden of Wales)
3 nights Betws y Coed (Snowdonia National Park, more castles, Portmerion because I'm a huge 'The Prisoner' fan)
6 nights London (assorted sights, shopping, and fin- I'm firmly in the' When a man is tired of London, he's tired of life' camp)

We definitely prefer renting a car for the countryside part of the trip- plenty of really cool stuff is not reachable by mass transit and we'd rather be on our timetable and schedule. Youtube is actually a really good resource- plenty of UK driving schools have wonderful videos that help you visualize how UK traffic laws and roundabout rules work.

For the cities, if we still have a car, there's usually a park and ride lot with a reasonable bus schedule so you can avoid the hassle of trying to find parking in what is often congested and narrow roads in the urban centre.

Even though though the raw distance may not seem to be much, it's a long way in terms of time from London to northern Wales. the topography is lots of low mountains, the roads are narrow, and you ned to be watching for sheep at all times. I'd give it a couple of nights in the region- it's a very different vibe than London

Posted by
1838 posts

Don’t do Conwy as a day trip from London. If you are going to go to Conwy (Conway), you might as well include it as part of circular trip around Britain. I would not bother with Dover.

I would suggest you do this:> land at Heathrow and go the short distance to Windsor for your first night. On Day 2, leave Windsor by train for Bath - you take the short journey to Slough where you change for a main line train. (It will be cheaper if you pre-book this journey about 11 weeks ahead for specific trains).

So, briefly, I would do this after Bath > train to Cardiff - maybe 3 nights >(see St.Fagans Castle & Museum; Caerphilly Castle & Cardiff Castle and the waterfront in Cardiff is also worth a look); direct train to Conwy and spend maybe 3 days in NW Wales*; leave Conwy and visit Chester (maybe 1 night); train to Edinburgh - when in Edinburgh - try and take a coach tour into the highlands. (You have not seen Scotland if you just visit Edinburgh). After Edinburgh, train to York for 2 nights. Finally, back to London for a few days. Google the places I have mentioned. You will find it easier if accommodation is within easy reach of rail stations - even within walking distance - but be sure to check reviews of hotels and find them on street view so you know what to expect.

Should you decide to skip Wales and go straight from Bath to Edinburgh by train, I would advise that splitting the ticket at Birmingham (New Street) would result in a lower fare. Although direct trains go from Bristol to Edinburgh - they go via a longer route via York. I would go to Birmingham and then change to Virgin Trains for the west coast route to Edinburgh. That way, you go up to Edinburgh on the west side of Britain (you don't see the coast), and return down the east side via York. Of course, you could always fly from Bristol Airport.

Posted by
31289 posts

With such a short time frame, you'll need to prioritize. You're likely not going to be able to get to everything on your list. As Rick often says, "assume you will return".

Posted by
9774 posts

I have done the trip from Conwy to Bath and it was a long day. I spent a few days in Northern Wales and was glad I did. Just doing a one day trip to this area is doing yourself a disservice. Trying to do a day trip to Conwy will be disappointing. (I thought Caernarfon Castle was more interesting than Conwy. And as a town, Conwy can be walked from one end to another in 15 minutes--and that includes stopping for lunch. :) Save Wales for another trip; it's really worth a week or more itself.

I understand your desire to try to see everything. Unfortunately, it's tough to do. Perhaps sit down with everyone traveling and see what they truly want to see. As Emma said, are you just going to places because Rick said to do them or are these places you really want to see. As an example, I like Edinburgh. I've been there a few times. But to miss out on the Highlands is not really seeing Scotland.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have visited much of Great Britain. I have spent months here. But there is still more I want to see. You can't get to see everything you want in one trip or go everywhere people suggest. (We all have our favorites.) As Ken stated, plan to come back.

Posted by
71 posts

Thank you James (and Selkie) for the long, thought out plan. Much appreciated.

I'm sorry for the misunderstanding guys....I communicated my intent wrong. What I meant to say was, since the mass transit from London to Conwy is shorter from Bath to Conwry...could I do a day trip from London to Bath and see the sights and return to London until I am ready to leave and continue my trip. Then when I am ready to leave London I would go Somewhere else for a week.

So the bottom line....and my big question is what do do with my other 8 days away from London. I know I will be sick of London after 6 days or so and I would really like to take a week and take advantage of the rail system and go somewhere else where I can rent a car and get away......I am simply torn where to go. I realize that I can't see Whales, Edinburgh and the Highlands and return to Heathrow in only a week without being rushed.

What do you guys think about this:

May 9-15th in London (arrive early morning on 9th and leave early morning the 15) - Basically 6 days and 7 nights in London. One of these six days would be a day trip to Bath and a day trip to Hampton Castle. Is this enough time to take in London? Is a day trip to Bath doable without being rushed (the reason I ask is that while in Rome I did a day trip to Pompeii by taking the trains myself and it was great). But I realize this is not an apple to apple comparison except for the distance.
May 15-17 - Leave London and take train to Conwy. Stay in Conwy and probably leave on 17th.
May 17-22 - Leave Conwy in rental car and drive the west coast towards Scotland. This part of the trip would have no reservations and I would be winging it. I have an internet friend who lives near Dunoon that recommends I simply stop at local B&B's without an itinerary. He said these are the best way to experience the Scottish feel and not be ripped off by the large chains of "fake baronial style hotels". Hopefully drive around the Highlands.
May 22nd -Leave on the 22nd and drop the car off somewhere and take a train back to Heathrow for my 4PM flight home.

What is appealing about the above changes to my itinerary is that I would get some time away from the hustle and bustle of London. Or am I fooling myself? Am I miscalculating the ease of driving up the western coast toward Scotland? Is this difficult and more daunting with tourism and crowds than I am believing? Is Google Maps time-frame accurate at all? Another downside is that I would miss Edinburgh. Is that a mistake? Should I simply give up my hope of the northern UK and simply stay around the sites near London and plan a return to the Northern UK sometime? This seems to be the opinion of some here also. Now...I know that there are no "right or wrong" answers but just really value you guys insights.

Thanks

A few answers:

That feels like a decent amount of time in London.

Bath is very doable as a day trip from London. It’s about 90 minutes each way from Paddington station. Book your tickets around 12 weeks ahead. The tickets labelled Advance (with a capital A) are the cheapest but do commit you to using that exact train. Start at www.nationalrail.co.uk, and select London Paddington as your starting point.

You mention Hampton Castle from London. I think you mean Hampton Court Palace. Precision in names is very important as there are often multiple places with the same or similar names. Be aware: it is NOT a castle but a sprawling palace dating back to Tudor times. If you’d prefer an actual castle, go to Windsor Castle instead. Either is an excellent three-quarter day trips from London. Although of course there’s a great castle right in London itself, namely the Tower of London.

Google Maps - add at least a third to journey times. Also, make sure you’re using the right time of day (UK time) when checking journey times. This is a small, very cramped country with lots of traffic on the roads. One lorry breaking down in the middle of a busy motorway can cause hours of delays. And allow yourself extra time to find parking (and pay for it.)

I’ve driven all across the US and was able to trust the journey times in road atlases and Google maps, except once at rush hour in Portland, OR. Unfortunately UK roads have nothing like that predictability: snarl-ups are frequent and time-consuming.

Posted by
1838 posts

You really need to be in the London area for the final day prior to departure. Do not do a long journey from the north on that day as it is too risky of something going wrong and you miss your flight. That is the reason why I suggested that you ideally land at Heathrow, stay somewhere that is a short distance away for day 1 (such as Windsor) and then head off on your trip around the country. So, ideally, I think you should finish your vacation in London rather than do it at the start.

If you were driving up the west side of England to Scotland, the Lake District is very attractive. Click the link to Google Maps and you will see areas marked in green. These are the more scenic areas. Zoom down on the Lake District and go to street view to see what the roads are like. Also check out the roads in other areas - if you plan to drive.https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@54.261929,-2.9442353,8.84z/data=!5m1!1e1

Here is a street view of a road I have driven in the Lake District (A592). Note the stone walls:> https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@54.4761162,-2.9221076,3a,75y,348.48h,91.55t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1svxVuj7Zj_9jAk1Xq44Z68w!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DvxVuj7Zj_9jAk1Xq44Z68w%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D274.1213%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656!5m1!1e1

Here is a street view of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds. Note the double yellow lines = no parking. Click on it and ‘drive’ through the village. (Doing this kind of thing will help you determine whether driving in Britain is right for you and also whether places are worth seeing).https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.9014062,-1.7640155,3a,75y,111.42h,92.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEf31n0fkvS5RnlYsLzNz5w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!5m1!1e1

Posted by
1838 posts

Leeds Castle is not in the north of England or anywhere near the City of Leeds. Leeds Castle is in fact in the County of Kent in SE England.

In Leeds take local transport to visit Leeds castle. At the Leeds
train station is ( make certain still open and functioning) an
Enterprise car rental. Can either spend the night in Leeds or after
visiting the Castle secure your rental and off you go.

Please ignore this well-intentioned but absolutely incorrect advice. Leeds Castle is near the small village of Leeds, near Maidstone in Kent - 235 miles from the city of Leeds in Yorkshire.

Posted by
25722 posts

Don't believe any mapping app or website as far as long distance driving in England unless you are going in the middle of the night. And very lucky.

If you are going up the west coast of England towards Scotland you will spend some, all, or much of your time on the M6. (eyes roll)

The M6 is and always has been a picnic. Now even worse. It was so bad in the summer that when I left the Lake District to come back home to the East Midlands/East Anglia border instead of spending another 5 or 6 hours stuck in traffic I elected to go home cross country through Yorkshire on single lane A-roads and took 10 hours. But I enjoyed it.

This for what google said would take about 2:50.

The M6 is suffering through what the government calls making it a smart motorway. That means all lane running with no breakdown lane, and electronic money traps - I mean suggested speeds for the conditions, yeah that's right, that's what it means, even if it is fitted with both yellow cameras on the side of the gantry and Gatsos on top - but no it isn't a money maker and toll-on-the-sly, oh no.

Anyway, rant over, what it does mean for the next 5 years or so is mile after mile after flippin' mile of very narrow lanes, averaging speed cameras on high yellow poles handing our speeding tickets to thousands of people trying to keep their speed down below 50 or 40 or whatever stupid speed they have posted in the road works and avoid being swallowed up by white van man or foreign heavy goods driver who doesn't care about tickets. And the M6 has one of these zones every few miles from the beginning of the motorway in Coventry nearly the entire way to the Scottish border. Trust me - no punches pulled - it is no fun.

Oh, and in the really fun bits the 50 or 40 or whatever will be no more than a pipe dream. You'll be lucky to get out of second gear. Or first.

The other problem is that the M6 for most of its length is ugly as sin. From north of Coventry through Birmingham, the Black Country, past Crewe and Manchester and Liverpool and Lancaster. Don't get me wrong - it moves millions of tons of goods and people every year in relative safety, but it is not a fun road to drive, and being pig ugly doesn't help....

You can get from Chester to Glasgow by train at 125 mph in comfort.

Have I mentioned that I don't care for the M6?

Posted by
5627 posts

I've shown my ignorance and thus have deleted my suggestion to visit Leeds and Leeds castle.

Obviously, I haven't been to either.

Chagrined but I'll get over it.

Posted by
71 posts

Perfect...and thanks again!!!
I love the advice of finishing my time in London. I would hate to miss my flight and that would relieve some horrible stress on the return trip from Scotland. Having said that...let me adjust my itinerary a little which I think would split my time between the city of London and still enjoy the scenery and less crowds of Scotland by car (or train)

May 9 - arrive Heathrow and go straight to Windsor by train. Check in...take a nap and see Windsor Castle in the afternoon. Spend the night. Leave the next day on train to go to some Scottish destination where I can rent a car and enjoy the scenery and stay loose in B&B's. Any recommendations on where to arrive in?
May 10 - 15 - Simply drive around, take in the sights and stop and stay wherever we want because we would have no reservations. During this time we would drive out to the highlands. Drop the car off and leave from somewhere on the 16th to arrive in London.
May 16th -23- Spend the rest of my time in London and take Day trips to Bath and Hampton Court.
May 23rd - Leave to go home.

Is this plan a good starting point for me to fill in the gaps? I realize I may not see Edinburgh but is that a really big loss given we are spending big city time in London?
Or should I ditch the rental car and go to Edinburgh, Glasgow or somewhere else that you all recommend a "home base" in Scotland where I can simply arrive by train from London (Windsor). From this home base I could take day trips (tours) to the highlands and such? I'm not too keen on this as I assume I would really need a car to take in Scotland the proper way and staying loose without reservations. But again...I'm ignorant of this and that's why I am asking.

Posted by
1942 posts

I think you have a nice itinerary laid out for you. It seems to me you will fulfill your priorities - see the countryside of Northern England and Scotland and the big city of London. Perhaps you can plan another trip and begin or end in Edinburgh and Glasgow. While I have not been to Scotland, there are lots of other places to explore I have read about.

Assume you will go back again. You wanted an itinerary that will be at a moderate pace and this one sounds like that to me.

Posted by
3201 posts

Much more refined than the original and seems like a more relaxed pace. If you decided you wanted another getaway from London, you could visit York. My guess is you’ll find plenty of things to see and do to fill the time you have.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks guys
Now...filling in the blanks at London and Scotland. I will start another thread on recommendations as I do more research.
Thanks again!!

Posted by
257 posts

Yay, excellent choice to fly in and go straight to Windsor! You may be able to see the castle when you land at Heathrow, it's that close.
You'll also be in London the same time as some of the Chelsea Flower show. That could be sold out, or it could be fun.

Rick Steves has podcasts of his public radio show too, one of them goes into details about a membership in the organization that oversees many historic stately homes. You may want to look into getting a membership with a discount card if you're going to be driving around looking for estates to see.
Have fun!

Posted by
1838 posts

When you land at Heathrow, to find a way to Windsor use:> www.traveline.info - which will show you how to do it by public transport. Of course, you could go by taxi as it is only about 6 miles.

If you go from Windsor to Scotland, you will need to get to one of the London stations for Scotland = Euston - for the west route or King’s Cross for the east route via York (where you should definitely spend a night and visit). However, if you were to go to Bath from Windsor, you would not have to go into London but just go down the branch line from Windsor to Slough for the main-line trains. (You will probably have to change again at Reading but don't be scared off by this). Then, you could stay in Bath for maybe 1 night before heading to Scotland = short train hop to Bristol for trains going north. (I suggest a change at Birmingham to Virgin trains for the west route up to Glasgow or Edinburgh). Return from Edinburgh down the east route - possibly include an overnight in York. By doing it this way, you avoid doing the same route up to and back from *Scotland twice as well as doing the same route as a day return from London to Bath.

  • If going from London to Scotland, I would go up on one route and back in the other. Look at the rail map in my first response and you will see what I am on about.

You said you are fat. If very big, you will find the seats in 1st class to be larger. (Only the mainline trains have 1st Class).

Posted by
71 posts

Let me ask about changing up one thing...

After thinking about it, what about going straight from Heathrow to Eidenburgh (or some other place in Scotland) and check in to my home base up north for the next 6 days? After that I can go back to London and stay my remaining time at my London home base. I did something like this when I flew into the Swiss Alps. I landed either in Germany or Munich (I forget) and took the long train to the small town in the Alps. It wasn't a big deal and I rested just fine on the train from the oversea flight.

The advantages to this would be I only have to switch lodgings twice (assuming I stay the same place in Scotland). Even if I simply rent a car and drive around Scotland seeking B&B's it would save me checking in and out of Windsor. I figures I could simply see Windsor while in London during my long stay.

Is there an easy rail connection from Heathrow to Eidenburg? I know I could check online but I thought I would ask the knowledgeable people here.

BTW...no I'm not too fat. Sometimes my sarcasm gets the best of me :lol:

Posted by
18862 posts

The difficulty with immediately heading up to Scotland on the day your transatlantic flight lands is the timing. It's impossible to know how much time to allow between scheduled flight arrival time and scheduled train departure time from downtown London. Your flight could be late, or it could be canceled and you might need to scramble. Since you do not know how much time you'll need, you may not feel comfortable buying an Advance rail ticket (non-refundable, non-changeable). If you opt to simply buy the train ticket upon arrival, you will pay the full fare, which may be 4 or 5 times the Advance fare (or maybe even higher). The fare variation in the UK is huge, and this is most painful when the travel leg under discussion is a long one. It wouldn't be nearly as much money if you were just going somewhere like Oxford. You can explore fares for today vs. fares for 10-11 weeks out on the NationalRail website.

I have a friend joining me mid-trip next year in Edinburgh, and I discouraged her from rolling the dice on the train ticket. She's going to collapse at the Heathrow T4 Premier Inn for one night, going to Windsor if her jetlag permits. Then she'll head into town the next day for her pre-purchased, cheap train trip to Scotland. We will see London at the end of trip.

Is there an easy rail connection from Heathrow to Eidenburg? I know I
could check online but I thought I would ask the knowledgeable people
here.

The city is called Edinburgh, pronounced ED-in-bruh or ED-in-burruh. If you’re at Heathrow, the best way is to fly - make sure you book it as a connecting flight.

To get from Heathrow to Edinburgh by train, take the Piccadilly line tube direct to London Kings Cross (an hour) then the train to Edinburgh (4.5 hours). However train fares are expensive unless you buy Advance fares about three months ahead of time - and they limit you to travelling on that exact train. So you’d have to give yourself a couple of hours to get through immigration, an hour to Kings Cross... you get the picture. I wouldn’t leave less than four hours between a scheduled arrival at Heathrow and a train booking from Kings Cross.

Another thought is to travel directly into London by tube, book a hotel for one night near Kings Cross, have a nice evening in London then catch a pre-booked train to Edinburgh the next morning.

Posted by
1847 posts

flying to Heathrow then taking a train to Edinburgh is mad - why on earth would any sane person want to endure another 6+ hours of travel when you can fly from Heathrow in an hour?

Posted by
340 posts

My husband and I have used this itinerary a few times when we didn’t fly into Edinburgh and back from Heathrow - fly overnight into Heathrow, take the tube (Piccadilly Line) to Kings Cross, then take the train up to Edinburgh. The British train system is wonderful - convenient, comfortable, and more importantly reliable. We are able to relax and enjoy the scenery in the 4 1/2 - 5 hour trip and almost completely recover from jet lag while on board. I do recommend purchasing first class tickets for comfort, and take advantage of the Two Together railcard to save 30% on the fare.

We usually stay in Edinburgh for anywhere from 4 to 7 days, taking day trips by train or with an organized tour. On one of our trips, when returning by train to London, we stopped in York for 1 night, which I highly recommend.

We usually finish up all our UK trips in London for the final 4 to 7 days, taking a day trip or two, and just enjoying the city and people (plus a pint or two). Then we hop on the tube back to Heathrow, already making a list of what we want to see next time we’re back. Which we will be in a few weeks!!

Private Message me if you want any more info - Mary

Posted by
340 posts

After reading some of the opinions regarding taking the train from London to Edinburgh immediately after flying from the US, I need to say that we prefer flying into Edinburgh and out of Heathrow. However, from my area, to fly to Edinburgh we have to change planes in Newark, NJ, which I will not do in the Winter - one less connection to worry about in case of bad weather.

Also, as this isn’t our first rodeo, I know to allow a minimum of 4 hours after landing to get to Kings Cross for our train.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks to all.
Ok...we have decided to go directly form Heathrow to Edinburgh the same day. The question we have is should we catch a connecting flight or take the train. Before everyone says "flight" let me give you my concern.
We are flying AA into Heathrow. We arrive at 6:40 AM. AA does not offer service to Edinburgh so we will have to go with another carrier. If we do this, I realize we have to get our bags but do we have to clear customs at Heathrow or would we clear at Edinburgh? We are trying to decide if we would have enough time to get our bags and board the 835AM flight to Edinburgh or should we allow more time and take the 1130 flight. The cost for the flight one way is about 110lbs
If we take the later flight I might as well take the train to Edinburgh and relax on the train. Now I am not sure about the train times or cost...I assume there are many going up north. I tried to get onto the train web sight to get a quote but I was massively confused. It quoted me 77 lbs but I couldn't tell if that was for both adults or not.
Finally..I am disabled and have a disability card from the US. Do I need to apply for a train disability card for a discount? Does it cost?
Thanks guys.

Posted by
1217 posts

You clear immigration at the point of entry, which is Heathrow. A 6:40 arrival is going to be right in the middle of a whole bank of flights coming in. (local airport curfew runs until 6:00am and then the rush to land begins)

BA has a 9:20 Heathrow-Edinburgh flight that is currently pricing out at £91 per ticket with one checked bag and £78 for hand baggage only on their web site. That's probably the closest separate ticket I'd consider for the scenario.

Posted by
4362 posts

BA code share with AA so you could buy a ticket straight through to Edinburgh where you'll pick up your luggage and pass through immigration. At Heathrow you'll remain airside and be directed to the connections route. If there is a delay with your incoming flight then it's the responsibility of BA to get you onto the next one and they have several a day to Edinburgh.

To travel via train means leaving Heathrow and making your way to St. Pancras. Not too difficult but certainly more of a faff than waiting around for your connecting flight.

Posted by
1838 posts

The train to Edinburgh leaves from King’s Cross - which is next to St.Pancras.

www.nationalrail.co.uk will tell you the fares. Check these out for about 11 weeks ahead of now to get an idea of what you are likely to pay if buying one of the ‘Advance tickets for specific train’.

Posted by
9774 posts

To the OP.....are you confused with this entire thread? I am. And I spent quite a bit of time in the UK.

You are all over the place and getting lots of people's opinions. Please, please, please, take some time away from the boards and make a list of everything you want to do. It seems if you get two or three suggestions you keep changing your trip. People are telling you what they like to do. And we all do things differently.

First, please don't be sarcastic or funny. We don't know you yet. We are going to take everything you say literally. If you say you are fat, we will consider you being fat. If you say you have a dozen suitcases, we will assume you have a dozen suitcases.

Tell us everything. This is the first you say you are disabled. Are you in a wheelchair? Do you need help walking? This makes a difference. How much luggage will you really have? Is any of it checked luggage? How much? Can you manage it by yourself on public transit, through train stations and on the trains themselves? There is no checked luggage or porters on trains.

What have you booked and can't be changed? Airline tickets? Non-refundable hotels? Train tickets?

Example, you say you want to fly directly from Heathrow to Edinburgh when you arrive. Whether or not you already have airline tickets is a big deal.

I'm not trying to be nasty. I'm trying to get basic information that will help us help you. Please answer the questions I've asked. It will be helpful.

Posted by
25722 posts

I have many years experiences with the various disabled issues on the trains in the UK, from a professional point of view and being married to a lady with a disability.

If you could be a little clearer here it would help. There can be issues with various disabilities and concessions and assistance available both flying and on the train.

If you are able to be more specific I can give specific answers. I am well aware that some disabilities can be invisible. Earlier you spoke of carrying all you wife's luggage - does she have a disability as well?

Posted by
71 posts

I had a stroke so my legs are damaged. I use a walker with wheels. I can climb steps slowly with a cane.
Thanks

Posted by
25722 posts

Unfortunately your disability doesn't qualify for a Disabled Persons Railcard.

The rules are https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/are-you-eligible/

But not to worry... there are other solutions.

If you had a green Disabled Persons Railcard, it would cost you £20 and both of you would be able receive a discount of 1/3 off the price of your tickets. You would break even after spending £60.

You could easily purchase a Two-Together Railcard which gives you the same 1/3 off discount. These are unrestricted, just two people have to travel together. They cost £30 plus you provide a photo of each of you. https://www.twotogether-railcard.co.uk/ That card is not valid during Peak Travel times in London and the Southeast, but those trains can be extremely packed and would not be comfortable.

With 24 hours notice - or less if you are lucky, but don't count on it - you can book (free) assistance for you and your wife. Depending on the station a buggy may be available to take you and your wife and her luggage to the door of the train carriage from the concourse or booking hall, or provide a ramp or luggage carry, or escorting you into the train.

You will be using your walker on this trip?

Posted by
71 posts

Reading the guidelines...I seem to qualify. I have an award letter of Disability and receive national disability allowance? But I will call and check. And like you said...I don't think it's a biggie either way. Thank you so much for the info

BTW...Yes....I will definitely be using the walker.

Posted by
25722 posts

The consideration is that they will expect British documents. Better to be prepared either way...

Posted by
1217 posts

BA has some cheap intra-Europe fare types that are designed to compete with the likes of Ryanair and easy jet and those cheap ticket types are not always made available to codeshare partners like American. So trying to add the short UK hop to an existing AA ticket can be pretty costly at times depending on which ticket types BA is or isn't passing along for American's use.

I would request wheelchair assistance for Heathrow- there can be lots of walking and standing involved in getting to the point where you're talking to an immigration officer.

Posted by
71 posts

No worries Emma.....I have traveled overseas a lot and know what I can handle. I'm not too worried about my endurance as I have been all through Italy, Swiss alps, Paris, Normandy, etc.... I even spent 8 hours walking the ruins of Pompeii with my walker and walked all the way to the Pompeii Coliseum. I push myself to my limit and rest on my walker seat when needed.

As far as getting to Edinburgh, I'm still undecided between a flight or train.
I am looking at a flight by Flybe that would leave around 11PM (4 1/2 hour layover) and I would arrive in Edinburgh by 12:30. I'm trying now to decide on this or a train where I can relax proper. The flight would cost me and my wife with a large bag for about $220 USD.

As far as a train. I like the idea of simply boarding a train and relaxing for 5 hours on my trip north. I'm having a hard time nailing down the price for a train since it doesn't allow me to book that far out. Also...I would like to simply get on the first train north from the airport but again...not sure about the cost. I'll keep checking into that.

Decisions, decisions.....

Posted by
25722 posts

As JC said upthread, there isn't an "Easy" way to get on a train to Scotland from Heathrow - you need to get to Kings Cross and there isn't a train there from Heathrow.

You could tube from Heathrow one hour to Kings Cross St Pancras, step free access possible both ends, and then get the train.

Or taxi into London, direct to the station. Beyond that, that's about it.

Posted by
1838 posts

You just can’t get on the first train north from the airport - you have to get from Heathrow into central London - to King’s Cross station. Regarding the train fares:> check them out for around 11 weeks ahead of now - that will be a guide as to what you could expect to pay - providing you advance book a specific train.

Posted by
88 posts

Not sure where you are buying flight to Edinburgh from but skyscanner currently showing flights on May 7th for about £30.

Posted by
71 posts

Skyscanner quotes the same flight for the same price for the 11am flight to Edinburgh....

Posted by
3 posts

I'm going to throw a wrench into your works and suggest something totally different. I've been to the UK many times (relatives in Dundee) and have visited many of the places you've mentioned. And since I'm in the midst of planning my own trip there in May and am already in "travel agent" mode, here are my thoughts (which of course might just be worth the paper they're printed on to you!):

  • You've been wise to narrow down the number of stops from you're original plan, but the warnings about increased travel time (whether it's train connections, car traffic, or just getting to your accommodation) are very valid!
  • Skip Scotland; you'll spend way too much time in transit and you simply cannot do it justice in the time you have. It's worth a trip all on it's own. I can't stress this enough.
  • Skip hotels and look into either AirBnB or VRBO accommodations. We almost always do this and it's so nice to be able to make your own breakfast, do some laundry (you can pack lighter!), and have room to spread out. It can save you money too.

So here's what I would suggest for stops; the days you spend in each one depend on the specific things you want to do in that area (and I'm giving you a lot to google):

=> From Heathrow, train to York. This lets you take a short doze, then hopefully get a second wind and can stay up til bedtime, thus shortening jetlag.
-- I don't think there's another place in the UK that packs so much stuff into such a compact area. You could easily spend three full days just seeing stuff within the city center (so many layers of history: Roman, Anglo Saxon, Viking, Medieval, Victorian). There are lots of guides to York, so check the web.
-- Also, rent a car for a day trip to the North York Moors. Leave early and meander to Robin Hoods Bay on the coast - stunning cliffside scenery and quirky ancient village tumbling down the watercourse to the seaside. Come back via Beck Hole and stop for an afternoon pint at the Birch Hall Inn (google it!)

=> York to Chester (train). A day or two in Chester, then rent a car for a few days to visit less easily accessed sites in north Wales. Stay in Caernarfon and do day trips to Conwy, Llanberis to tour Dinorwig (a power station INSIDE a mountain), up into the mountains to Blaenau Festiniog (go down into a mine), and maybe Porthmadog/Portmerion, depending on your interest. On the way back to Chester, spend another night in Llangollen (heritage steam train, beautiful setting, good restaurants, and the stunning Pontcysylle Aqueduct), then back to Chester to drop off the car.

=> Chester to Bath (train). Day or two seeing Bath, and a full day MadMax tour of either the Cotswolds or ancient Wiltshire sites (ie, Stonehenge, Avebury, etc.). I'm partial to the latter.

=> London for the remainder. Include in London easy day trips such as Windsor, Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey), Oxford, etc. It's harder to find an affordable AirBnB in London, but do look into regular BnB's and smaller inns; they're much more interesting than chain hotels and often on quieter streets. Alternately, consider one of the large hostels; many of them now have the option to rent a basic but clean private ensuite double for far less than a regular hotel room (remember that the prices quoted are per person). But check the review carefully because some are "party" hostels and can be noisy.

I'll be honest: this is packing in a lot of stuff. Even though I adore north Wales (I'm partly Welsh), you could easily cut the Chester/Wales leg, and spend more time doing London day trips. It depends on whether your wife prefers the more "stately home" kind of castle (London area), or the more "jousting medieval knights" kind of castle (north Wales). My own personal preference tends to be to spend less time in London, because there's almost too much to do there and I'd rather get out and see less well known sites (and it's more expensive!). And now I must apologise for the ungodly length of this post!