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April , 2017 itinerary

I have planned a 2 week trip to England for my husband and I in April. Looking for critiques and suggestions. We land at Heathrow at 0720 AM on a Tuesday and I have booked our first night in Rollestone so we may see Stonehenge. Would a trip to Highclere Abby be too much on that first day? (We have a car reserved at the airport). From Rollestone we are going to St. Austell, Cornwall for the second night and I am seeking suggestions for sites and routes. Our second night in Cornwall will be near Camelford. Will that give us time to drive to southern Cornwall to explore some beaches or should we concentrate on the Bodmin Moor area? Our next night is at Ford, near Castle Combe then the next night near Chipping Norton. Too much driving? We want to see villages, countryside, some historical sites and have time for some walks of 1-2 hours. I have booked the next night in the Peak district and am thinking we should stay put there for 2 nights. I am thinking of that second week and am wondering about adding York and working down to Newmarket (I am a horsewoman) then perhaps Hampden Court and/or Windsor before we return our car and spend the last 3 nights of the trip in London. I have a room booked in Chelsea that is not changeable. We will use trains/ tube while in London. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Posted by
5888 posts

You can use Via Michelin for driving distances and directions. It's also useful for driving times, though it tends to underestimate and of course doesn't allow for stops. I couldn't find Rollestone so I didn't try to figure out your possible route. It does seem like you're driving a lot to move each day to a new place. Is there no place where you could base yourself for a few day trips in different directions?

Posted by
3040 posts

The RS strategy recommends avoiding 1-night stays and I have found that to be very helpful. You sleep better in a relatively familiar place, and you save time on navigating to a new abode, checking in, unpacking to the extent necessary to access overnight pajamas & toiletries, checking out -- not to mention having time for hand laundry to dry. And innkeepers tend to appreciate you more when you're staying more than 1 night.

Have you checked the opening dates/times for Highclere Castle? It books up very quickly. If you're looking to add something onto your Stonehenge visit, I'd look for something that is on the way to Cornwall such as a walk up Glastonbury Tor or a stop in Wells. Highclere is in the opposite direction and near enough to London that traffic jams may ensue.

Overall, yes, I think you've got too much driving planned. You can make fast time on the motorways (M5 and M6, for example), but the secondary roads are slower than you might expect. And where's the enjoyment in racing from one destination to the next?

Posted by
6113 posts

April is school holidays here, so there will be more traffic on the roads. Even without this, you are attempting to cover far too much ground in your timescale.

You mention that you want walks of 1-2 hours - this is likely to be the only amount of time you get out of the car each day! Scrap the Peak District, as it is too far north compred to your other plans. Add this time to Cornwall and avoid one night stays. The roads in Cornwall can be winding and slow to navigate.

I am concerned that you are attempting to drive off a long flight, which is dangerous for you and other road users, assuming a transatlantic flight. Ditto for day 2. Why not stay in Windsor your first night then go to Stonehenge day 2?

Instead of going to Newmarket, which isn't that close to where you are heading, had you considered the area around Lambourn in Wiltshire? This is where many horse trainers are based.

Hampton (not Hampden) Court can be covered as a day trip from London.

Posted by
5 posts

Are the distances in Google maps so far off? The longest drive I have mapped so far is from Rollestone(near Salisbury) to St. Austell. Otherwise I have planned a max of 3 hours /day driving( which I understand may be optomisti
c), thinking that allows for some meandering before stopping for the night. We live in a rural state and are accustomed to rural roads and have driven in Ireland several times(and survived), so are not too afraid to drive on the Left side of the road. If I skip Highclere, I believe the trip to Stonehenge is not a great distance. Is it really unrealistic ? I have already booked the stays I have mentioned. I get that it would be nice to stay at one place for several nights, but we are light packers and do not need to haul a lot of luggage in and out. I will probably only have the one chance to visit England, so I don't want to be too limited.

Posted by
24028 posts

I haven't compared their time estimates, nor have I driven in Europe, but people here most often seem to suggest that ViaMichelin be used for driving-time estimates, and many feel those estimates are a bit optimistic.

Posted by
7175 posts

The UK is not considered a large country, but it is a fair way from London down to Cornwall, and driving is slow once there. You need 4 or 5 days there to make the journey worthwhile.

Salisbury (1)
Bath (2)
Cotswolds (3) - visit Oxford or Stratford-on-Avon
Peak District (2)
York (2) - return car here and train to London
London (3)

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for replies. I have decided to forego Highclere, have changed my reservation in Chipping Norton to 2 nights; added a second night to the Peak District, given us one unscheduled day and night to travel to Windsor where we will stay for two nights before tuning in the car and heading to London for three nights. This may still make Cornwall feel rushed, but it is important to us as my husband's family is from there. The extra day in the Cotswolds will allow me to check out the area where the race trainers are, and the several two night stays may allow us to catch our breath after the very busy first days. I will save York and the Lake District in hopes of being able to come back another time.