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Bath and York or London?

My daughter and I had planned a trip in May 2020 for a week In London and a week in Scotland, which included all the regular tourist sites and several theatre evenings. Of course, everything had to be cancelled due to COVID. We have rescheduled our Scotland portion of the trip, but now I’m considering avoiding London, hoping crowds might be smaller in Bath and York. I am also thinking about Oxford and Blenheim Palace. We will be arriving at Heathrow on a Sunday morning, May 8. Does anyone have any generally helpful advice? Are we better off planning for London and skipping Bath and York? It just doesn’t seem like enough time! We are interested in history, art and beautiful scenery. We are fit, 60+ and 30s, planning hiking in Scotland! Thanks for any suggestions.

Posted by
5078 posts

London’s got more people, but also more space and places. Besides the interests you mention, if you want museums (art and otherwise), and more food options, go to London. For a less urban vibe, the Bath/York option works.

Posted by
9993 posts

I have been to both Bath and London numerous times. On a busy day, the center of Bath seems just as densly populated with people as London.

Posted by
4857 posts

A week certainly isn’t enough for London, Bath, Oxford and York.

At present, London is quieter as many people are still working from home rather than commuting in. It’s impossible to say what the situation will be next year. As you are flying into London, it would make sense to stay there for a few days possibly with a day trip to Oxford or Blenheim (you can’t do both properly in one day) then take the train to York for a couple of days then take the train to Edinburgh.

Where do you want to hike in Scotland? Coast? Hills? Mountains? Early May could mean any kind of weather is possible - and all in the same day!

I presume you are flying home from Scotland rather than having to waste a day back tracking to London.

Posted by
6056 posts

All worthy destinations. But, have you ever been to London? One of the Great cities of the world, that should be experienced by any traveler. Crowds are not limited to London just because its a bigger city. Try London-York-Scotland as a logical efficient route. But two weeks is not a long time. London-York-Bath-Heathrow, if you must return from Heathrow. Just my opinion.

Posted by
19160 posts

Bath and York are both extremely touristy themselves. A much larger percentage of the people you see out and about in those smaller cities will be tourists, whereas more of the people you see in London will be Londoners. However, if you prefer the vibe of smaller places, that would be a good reason to focus on places like Bath and York on this next trip.

A week isn't long enough to see much of Scotland. Two weeks would allow you to see more there.

Posted by
3 posts

Two weeks isn’t long enough, but there are childcare issues that dictate the length of the trip! Our Scotland plans are pretty firm as I have hired a private guide for four days starting in Glasgow and covering Oban, Mull, Stirling and hiking in the National park, ending with three days in Edinburgh on our own. This guide has been more than accommodating, so I actually increased our time with her from three to four days. I planned on taking the train from York to Glasgow where we will meet our guide. I am not willing to drive ( I live in a really rural area and would rather leave the driving to somebody else), hence the private tour for Scotland. We will be flying home to San Francisco from Edinburgh. Im kind of looking forward to trains and busses, hoping for good scenery. Thanks for your responses, they are giving me more insight!

Posted by
348 posts

We spent a week in Scotland years ago with our young teens and my mother-in-law. While I would have loved more time, we got a great taste of Scotland. Your plan, while a little different than ours, sounds good to me. (We had a car and explored from a cottage in Stirling as our base). We also spent a week based in London and a week based in Bath. While I liked both I would choose London over Bath.

Posted by
3299 posts

Nothing to prevent you from visiting Bath, York, or even Hampton Court Palace or Windsor Castle as day trips from London. All are reasonably short train rides away.

Posted by
741 posts

Hi Susan -

I think you are acknowledging that you can’t fit Bath and York into the same trip, which is wise. Now I love Bath, I have friends there and visit in normal times fairly frequently but for what you require, York might be more appropriate logistically.

What I would suggest is that you book a hotel in London for a couple of days and get over jet lag and have a wander round - Dr. Johnson was right - “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” - see the usual sights/sites, visit the art galleries and maybe a museum or two and then head to Kings Cross station and catch the train up to York, which will take less than three hours and stay there for a couple of days. York is an immensely walkable city, packed full of history and will occupy you fully for several days, plus there are trips from York to nearby sites - you may not make Blenheim Palace but there is Castle Howard, Beningborough Hall, within striking distance of York. Also Fountains Abbey with the water gardens and Studley Royal deer park near Ripon will fill a full day if you grow tired of York. Even the east coast is not too far from York, Whitby being a favoured destination if you have the time.

When it’s time to head for Scotland, the same train that brought you up from London will whisk you up the LNER East Coast line to Edinburgh (Durham, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Berwick on Tweed are stops on the same line) and, if necessary, on to Glasgow.

This means you break the journey up to Scotland into a couple of more manageable trips as opposed to the full day marathon a direct train to Scotland from London would involve.

You say you plan to hike in the ‘National Park’ - where exactly do you mean? I’m just curious!

I’m sure you’ll get differing advice, all of it relevant and good. It’s down to you to decide how much or how little you want to cram in and what your ‘must see’ priorities turn out to be.

Hope you have a great trip, wherever it takes you!

Ian

Posted by
6056 posts

Go to the Betty's Stonegate location in York. The other one is too modern and hurried. Look out the window for the cats.

Posted by
240 posts

Unfortunately the cafe at the Stonegate shop is shut, and they are just doing afternoon teas at their main shop on St Helen's Square.

Been to all the places in question other than Scotland and spent a semester in Bath.

I would pick what makes the most sense logistically as all are great. There is a world of stuff to do in London of course, Bath is beautiful and has a solid 2 days of sights. Easy to go from there to any number of other places (Wells, Wales, Oxford, numerous castles). However Bath is not exactly on the rest of your route. Same goes for Blenhiem and Oxford.

York is also a great 2 days worth of sights and I enjoyed Durham as well. I'm a big cathedral nerd and theirs is very unique. I wish I could have seen more of the country, but public transportation can make that hard.

To maximize your time I'd do London straight to York then Scotland.

Posted by
741 posts

Wasleys - Little Betty’s on Stonegate closed? Nooooooooooo! Say it ain’t so!

Posted by
2834 posts

I would skip Bath and visit York on the way to Glasgow.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks all for your responses! My daughter and I decided that since we arrive on a Sunday morning, we will go directly to Oxford and spend two nights, and visit Blenheim on our first full day. We will try to visit Bath on another trip, there just isn’t time to do it all. We will spend 3 nights in London, one or two in York and take the train to Glasgow, where we meet our guide for the Scottish section of our trip. The hiking will be in the Trossachs National Park near Loch Lomond. We end our visit in Edinburgh, where we will have 2 nights.
As I looked over all of the activities I had scheduled for the cancelled trip in May 2020, I realized that many of them involved crowds, so although we are both fully vaccinated and dedicated mask wearers, we will try to limit indoor sights and enjoy the outdoors as much as we can. Once again, thank you for your thoughtful recommendations, I’ve enjoyed reading them all.

Posted by
7991 posts

Good plan susan. I’m not a fan of London or Bath, but I absolutely love York. I think choosing London and York and saving Bath for another time is smart.

Posted by
26010 posts

Unfortunately the cafe at the Stonegate shop is shut, and they are just doing afternoon teas at their main shop on St Helen's Square.

uh oh. So sad. No more Swiss cakes. sad.

Posted by
12343 posts

Bath leaves me cold, but we love York, and have been there twice so far. So I would vote for London and York.

But if you prefer to avoid London, I suggest you head straight to York, and then add a few days on the coast in the charming village of Whitby.

https://www.visitwhitby.com/

This is a very scenic 3-hour train journey from York, or less if you choose to do the past part by bus. There are numerous lovely walking options there, plus exploration of the ruined abbey and the village itself, with its Captain Cook connections. We did the coastal path from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay and took the bus back; a nice day out with great scenery.

The town can crowded on holiday weekends, but midweek in May should be fine (and we had great weather at that time, just like in the photos). Lots of nice lodging options and some nice cafes and restaurants.

Or perhaps ianandjulie will have a better suggestion for a few days around Yorkshire to add to York itself. I pay close attention to and always appreciate their advice as they live there and know the best places, especially for walking.