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Another Itinerary Question

Planning a ten day trip to England for June 2020. Excluding travel days, our itinerary is:

Land at LHR, pick up a rental car, drive to

Canterbury & Dover
overnight in Dover
Eastbourne / Beachy Head
overnight in Eastbourne
Portsmouth
overnight in Portsmouth
Salisbury
overnight in Salisbury
Bath
overnight
Cirencester
overnight
Oxford
overnight
return car (either in Oxford or at LHR (and take the train to London)
spend the remaining time in London

Is this okay? Would you do anything different? We're trying not to spend too much time on the road each day--trying to keep it two hours in between destinations. We'll have our two kids with us (13, 8 at the time of travel)

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
5011 posts

Are you planning to land at LHR, coming off an overnight flight, and then immediately jump in a car and drive away? If so, you should reconsider. You will be in no shape to drive (and on the wrong side of the road).

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you for your concern, David. We travel a lot. When we fly, especially on an overnight, we use that time to sleep to get our bodies acclimated to the time change. We're also flying from the East Coast...and we've driven on the left side of the road before.

Posted by
19203 posts

I'd hate packing up and changing hotels every night, but perhaps you have done this before with your family and know it will work. If you plan your lodgings with parking in mind, the car will certainly make life easier than constantly trekking to and from train stations.

Posted by
27 posts

Yes, that's our big challenge right now: lodging w/ reliable parking. I'm also not a huge fan of changing hotels every night, but we figured the distance (1-2 hour drive) between destinations will give us time to explore those towns, villages, areas. The hotels/Airbnbs/BnBs will just be a place to rest our heads.

Posted by
1463 posts

I would consider if you can move less and stay put more. I think taking day trips is far less exhausting than moving every day. A few years ago my husband and I went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy for 10 days. We did a series of two night stays and quite frankly found it exhausting. We never traveled very far any day so it was not the travel that we found problematic but the constant movement. And you are adding two children into the mix. Unless you know from experience that your family can weather this pace, I wouldn’t do it. A neighbor of mine tried the same in Spain (she wanted the experience of seeing each place in the evening) and her tween children rebelled after a point by basically moving so slow it sabataged her plans.

Beth

Posted by
2844 posts

Have you considered 2 nights in Bath and do Salisbury as a daytrip?

Posted by
28 posts

Dover is only interesting because of the castle. It has recently been rated the worst town in the UK. On your trip to Salisbury why not visit Winchester? The cathedral is the longest in the UK and is very intresting inside - Jane Austen’s grave, casks of early English kings etc, Salisbury with the spire is certainly more spectacular from the outside but I find it dull inside compared with Winchester

Posted by
709 posts

I think you can come up with a better itinerary. To start, the drive from Heathrow to Canterbury is a slog. You have to go all the way around London. If you did the whole trip backwards, you would be on the right side of London to get to Oxford and you could drop off the car in Canterbury and take the train back to London. The drive along the south is also a slog. We did enjoy Beachy Head and Seven Sisters (my kids were about the ages of yours). I'm not sure I would stay in Eastbourne or Portsmouth. I definitely wouldn't stay in Dover. Canterbury is a much better choice. You'll need to play around with this, but I can say, we really liked Winchester. You could see Winchester, Salisbury and Portsmouth from the same base. My kids didn't get a lot out of Bath, other than the Roman baths, which are superb.

I think the real problem with your itinerary is that you're trying to cover too much ground. I struggled with this too when I put together an itinerary for the same area. Perhaps you could do train trips from London for some of the destinations. Canterbury works as a day trip. Dover does too. You'll have to speed to do them both in one day. I think your kids will really like Dover Castle. Oxford is a good day trip as well, and you don't want a car there.

Posted by
19203 posts

I did Canterbury as a day-trip from London. I don't remember exactly what I paid, but the fare was reasonable by UK-train standards. However, I think one needs to be think long and hard about side-trips from London because of the cost of local hotels. In my case, I hadn't planned to go to Canterbury until a London gallery owner told me there was a glass exhibition at the cathedral, and at that point I was already committed to sleeping in London for the rest of my trip. Canterbury does have a picturesque historic area, and the tourist office conducts walking tours.

Posted by
1128 posts

I think this is a recipie for a mutiny. Way too much moving around. At the very best, no one will leave anything behind more important than a toothbrush with all the moving around. Keep in mind that you’re not driving USA freeways with easy on easy off access.

Posted by
2844 posts

I liked Dover Castle much more than Canterbury Cathedral. I assume you've already been to London? If not, I think your children will find certain sights in London much more interesting than some of the ones on your list, such as Oxford and Bath.

Posted by
8430 posts

I'll agree I think you can do better. I like the suggestion to run your itinerary backwards altho I don't drive in England that suggestion makes sense to me.

With the kids, I'd also probably cut Canterbury, Dover and Beachy Head.

I loved Canterbury (the town and the cathedral) and enjoyed the castle at Dover very much (did it as a day trip from Canterbury on a Rick Steves tour).

I rode along the coast to Beachy Head which I thought was a disappointment even though I was looking forward to seeing the "white cliffs". I'm not sure the kids will get much out of this. The beach is shingle (rocks) and was very crowded on the day we were thru there.

I'd give yourselves 2 nights in Bath and 2 nights in Salisbury. Are you planning to do Stonehenge? I love to visit it altho there are many on the forum who think it's not worthwhile. I find it an easy visit from Salisbury via local bus route which runs all day. It might work to do 3 nights in Salisbury if Portsmouth can be done as a day trip from there. (I've not done that so perhaps someone who has can confirm.)

Try to work your night/s in Bath so it's not the weekend. Prices go up and often lodging places will require a 2 night stay if you are booking on a Friday or Saturday night.

Remember 2 nights in one location give you a full day to see the sights in that area. Even thought distances appear short, drive times may be longer than you anticipate.

Posted by
4946 posts

We had been to London before, as well as Cambridge and Salisbury/Stonehenge. We learned that driving anywhere near London and the M25 was no fun at all.

On our 28 day drive tour of Wales and England, we avoided London and the SW.

If you want to see Canterbury, I suggest you do it on a day trip from London, not driving.

On our trip, we drove directly to Bath from Heathrow, then into S. Wales and then back to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. We used it as a base to visit several places, then moved north to Warwick, York, Yorkshire Moors, Whitby, and much more.

Read my detailed story of our trip.
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
4412 posts

I would also suggest basing yourself in Winchester or nearby for several nights and visit Portsmouth (30 mins away) and Salisbury (50 mins) from there. Bath is only 1.5 hours away.

Personally I wouldn't bother with Eastbourne or Beachy Head (are you aware that it's a suicide hotspot?). Have you considered Lulworth Cove? Whilst it may not have the impressive Seven Sisters it does have equally interesting landscapes and in June it's going to be enjoyable for the kids https://www.lulworth.com/visit/places-to-visit/lulworth-cove/

It's about an hour and 40 minute drive from Winchester via the New Forest and from Lulworth, Bath can be reached in around 2 hours.

Posted by
511 posts

We found Windsor to be a nice base for almost a week when our two were 8 and 11. There's Windsor Castle and Legoland nearby. We drove to Ashdown Forest to satisfy the Winnie-the-Pooh fan (it was about 2 hours each way, IIRC). Another day's adventure was Stonehenge and Avebury. Then we turned in the car and trained to London for our nights there. We did Portsmouth as a day trip from London but it was a long exhausting day. In hindsight it might have been better to spend two nights in Portsmouth.

Your family may be different but I find all the packing and unpacking to be a major waste of time and energy. Not only that, but we slept better after the first night in any location.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you so very much for the replies, everyone (even the grisly one in re: suicide hotspot). Although my kids do remarkably well on road trips, I think we're going to base ourselves in London and "schedule" day trips from there. Much appreciation again.

Posted by
2844 posts

I think your new plan will be much less stressful for all of you. Do get your train tickets in advance or leave after 9:30-this part of your trip, while easy, can get expensive. You should consider a day trip to York-you and your kids will love it. The beach is pebbles, but Brighton is an easy day trip from London and your kids would enjoy the old-fashioned aquarium. Amazon has books listing the many day trips you can take from London. If your kids are Harry Potter fans and haven't been to the studios, you need to get tickets monthS in advance and do that day trip.

Posted by
5701 posts

More than enough in London to keep you intrigued but as you've expressed a desire to explore day trips for London:
Bath
Oxford
Cambridge
Salisbury and Stonehenge
Winchester
Chichester
Brighton
If anyone in your group likes Call the Midwife you can tour the Chatham Dockyards where that show and countless others have been filmed. Interesting Maritime museum as well. Easy train ride from Victoria Station.

As far as what might be of interest in London:
Treasure Room at the British Library
View from the Skygarden
Camden Lock Market and adjacent canals
Portobello Road Market
Hiking in the Hampstead Health and maybe a visit to the Freud Musum
Pollocks toy museum
The Crime Musum at the New Scotland Yard
The Royal London Museum in Whitechapel and then a wander about Spitafields market and Brick Lane.
Can investigate a graffiti mural tour of Brick Lane environs
Petrie Musum

I could go on and on. Great city. Lots of places to discover and enjoy while there.

Posted by
4412 posts

The Crime Musum at the New Scotland Yard

This museum is only accessible to serving police officers and police staff which is a shame in some respects because it is an incredibly interesting museum.

Posted by
709 posts

I think your revised plan is a much better one! You can see a lot using London as a base.