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Bath/Devon/Cornwall w. small kids- April 2020

Hello! New member here. I would deeply appreciate feedback on our tentative itinerary for Bath/Devon/Cornwall in April 2020. My husband and I did London/Portsmouth/Cotswolds in April 2019, but we're bravely (by my standards) taking our 4 and 5 year old daughters on this trip. Their first international vacation, first plane ride, the whole bit. I've booked accommodations, but am a bit overwhelmed with planning our sight seeing. Any tips or feedback on travelling in this area, or generally travelling with children, would be wonderful. Our itinerary is as follows:

4/9- department Logan (Boston).

4/10-4/12- Arrive Heathrow. Train to Bath.
- Potential sites: Roman baths, Longleat, Parade Grounds, Victoria Park, Skyline Discovery Trail
- What stop (Glastonbury, Wells?) might we make between Bath and Dartmouth for lunch, stretch, sites? It will be Easter!

4/12-4/15- Dartmouth, Devon.
- Potential sites (obviously not all of these!): Dartmoor Park, Miniature Pony Centre, Little Dartmoor Walk and Dartmouth Castle, Foss Street, Black Pool, Geocaching, Pennywell Farms, National Marine Aquarium, South Devon Railway

4/15-4/18- Falmouth, Cornwall.
- Potential sites:Eden Project, St. Michael's Mount, Tintagel, Southwest Coast Path

4/18- Heathrow to Logan.

Thank you so much for anyone willing to read and/or share their feedback or experiences!

Posted by
4131 posts

We stayed three nights in Bath in 2017 and loved it. Stayed at the Brooks Guest House. Dined on the best Fish and Chips in England at The Scallop Shell.

We did Glastonbury and Wells. The Cathedral at Wells is worth a visit. Glastonbury was OK, but I guess we expected more.

We are doing Devon and Cornwall this July.

Posted by
3980 posts

By law, any shops over 3,000 sq ft have to close on Easter Sunday, so you will find cafes open, but not shopping centres. Unless you are having a late start, Wells maybe a little too early for lunch. The cathedral there is stunning, but being Easter, it maybe closed for services. Glastonbury is not recommended, full of hippy dippy, new age types and a range of over-priced vegan cafes.

If you want somewhere smaller for lunch, I recommend Topsham near Exeter. There are some excellent cafes and it’s a pleasant place for a mooch round and being on the River Exe, you can walk alongside the river.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you! Glastonbury isn't high on my list, but my husband is interested in the Tor. I think we'll probably skip it. I appreciate the recommendations for fish and chips and the town to stop. I will check them out right away!

Posted by
16770 posts

Caveat: I don't have children.

I assume you'll be renting a car when you're ready to leave Bath.

I like gardens, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Eden Project. But it's quite large and it's expensive. I have a feeling the children might get tired and/or bored long before you felt you'd gotten your money's worth.

I think the way you've listed your itinerary, with the same date attached to two locations when much of that day will be spent in the car, tends to give the impression that the trip is a lot more leisurely than it will be in actuality.

April 18th is listed for Cornwall, yet it is apparently the day you fly home, which means much of April 17 will be spent driving from Cornwall back to Heathrow. ViaMichelin (said to be optimistic) estimates that drive at just under 5 hours with no allowance for stopping, traffic delays, etc.

By my calculation your time is allotted this way:

  • Bath (2 nights; that's one full, non-jetlagged day plus a few hours on your arrival day)
  • Dartmouth (3 nights; that's about 2-1/2 days)
  • Falmouth (2 nights; that's about 1-1/2 days plus maybe a few hours on April 17 before you start driving east)
  • Heathrow/near London (1 night)
Posted by
3928 posts

The Eden Project will be interesting for the kids but I'm not sure for how long. My children were older when they went and there was a limit to their attention span.

Your children are unlikely to get much out of Tintagel, it requires an understanding of the myth and a good imagination. It will also require nerves of steel on your behalf when your kids go anywhere near the cliff edge. Personally I think they'll be bored there.

Posted by
4 posts

That is great feedback about the Eden Project. I thought might get old, fast, for the kids.

I have absolutely had that concern about the cliffs at Tintagel! My husband will be so disappointed if we don't go, though. I don't think it matters much the kids' familiarity with the myth. They'll think the ruins are cool and *I think * there is a lot of space for them to run around away from the cliffs, and that is what they will enjoy most.

Though our kids are pretty cooperative, we're going in with low expectations. I don't anticipate getting to half of these sites, but hope to prioritize them appropriately.

Our flight on the final day is at night, so we'll trek it over from Falmouth to Bath to drop the car and catch the train to Paddington Station.

Posted by
3928 posts

There are plenty of open areas on top of the cliffs at Tintagel were the kids can run around quite freely. I haven't been since the new footbridge has been opened but it looks like it eradicates much of the hairier parts of climbing between the two parts of the site. The beach is great if you can time it when the tide is out. If your husband has his sights set on Tintagel then by all means go, it's not all about the kids!

I would also seriously consider staying closer to the airport on the night before your departure. The last time I was in Cornwall was in April and the drive home from Plymouth to Portsmouth took over 6 hours due to traffic instead of the estimated 3.5 hours offered by Google. Falmouth to Bath is a longer distance. I would not want to risk such a delay and then face two train journeys and the requirement to be at the airport 3 hours before your flight. I wouldn't suggest staying in the immediate area around the airport but somewhere within an hours drive/train.

Posted by
63 posts

We enjoyed Glastonbury so much we opted to stay 3 nights. This gave us time to explore the countryside and enjoy conversations with some of the locals. Since you've booked your accommodations, here's what I suggest: allow yourselves the time to fully experience any of the destinations on your list - when you are there. If Wells Cathedral astonishes you (as it did us), invest some extra time to enjoy it - even if you don't visit the other places on your list for the day. If the kids are thrilled with miniature ponies or Tintagel Castle - enjoy some extra time!

I will always remember my first international vacation - thanks to my parents. The experiences we shared and the perspectives I learned as a young American helped me grow. I will always feel grateful and eager to return!

Garrison

Posted by
328 posts

This sounds like such a great trip! We're taking our kids - 3, 7, and 9 - to this area in May! We've been traveling with our kids since our oldest was an infant and you are going to love it!! You experience a place in such a different way when you have little people with you.

I have three thoughts for you.

First, I feel you are asking a lot of your kids with your plan to travel from Cornwall to London and then an overseas flight on your final day. You are looking at a long car ride, followed by a train ride, followed by a long flight. Can they really sit still and behave that long? You know your kids best but I suggest thinking about how likely they are to be patient in the airport and sit still on the plane after sitting still so much of the day beforehand. We have always planned something relatively active before our international flights and stayed within 1 hour or less of the airport to minimize the amount of time they are in the car.

Second, a week or two before you depart start talking to them about what to expect at the airport - tell them the times they will have to wait patiently (ie. security lineups), that they will have to stay close to you all the time, that there is no fighting/yelling in the airport, that they will have to go to sleep at such-and-such a time on the plane, that they will be tired when you arrive but they just have to be patient until you get to the train .... whatever it is you expect from them. Walk them through the steps you need to go through to get on the plane - tickets, check baggage, security, wait, lineup to board plane, etc. Discuss it in a fun way every day, making it part of the excitement of the trip. The more they know what to expect, the better they will behave and easier your trip will be .... especially when you are all jet lagged and trying to figure out where to go in London.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to have each kid complete an art journal for the trip. I started doing this with our kids when they each turned 3. We just use a medium-sized multimedia art book with blank pages. Before we leave, we colour or paint a cover page and fill the first few pages with a map (either drawn or glued in), a page where the kids make a bucket list for the trip (I think ice cream is on every bucket list we have ever created!!) and a calendar which we fill in with our itinerary. Then, each day we fill a few pages with bits of things from the day (napkins, ticket stubs, post cards, a peacock feather my daughter found once, cut up brochures, etc... I pack a few small glue sticks), we talk about what they did that day and they draw or colour a picture about something they enjoyed (just scribbles when they are 3, so I label them), and I write one or two sentences about what they want to remember from the day (as the kids get older they have started doing the writing themselves). We also use colourful washi tape to stick in several photos of them doing something from that day (use an instax polaroid cameras or HP Sprocket). I hit up the scrapbooking section at our local craft store for some relevant stickers to finish off the pages.

My kids treasure these journals. They love showing them to their grandparents when they get home and it is a special treat when they are allowed to get them out (I keep them out of reach to protect them) and look through them. The best part is that they help the kids remember so much more about our trips. I can't recommend doing this enough!

Have fun!!! You are going to love traveling with your kids!!

Posted by
40 posts

I took my girls to St. Ives in Cornwall by train from London and spent 5 days there. Believe me that the train ride is LONG! Over 5 hours and just feels like it is mainly a travel day. The three of us absolutely loved our time there and St. Ives has a lot to do with children. We didn't have a car, but we got a taxi ride to St. Michael's Mount and getting Cornish pasties. For just having one week in England, I really strongly suggest going with two locations vs three. 4 and 5 is very young and your kids are not used to such long flights and the jet lag with such big time differences. We still feel it takes us a few days before we get our sleep cycle back to English time after flying over from the States. The beaches in Cornwall or fantastic, there are tons of places to eat, and lots of art activities and hiking in the area. My two cents, but just suggesting it since less meltdowns make for a happier vacation for everyone.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for your responses. I hear you loud and clear. I was thinking because our flights are not until 8 pm that it would be plenty, but I do agree that it would be asking a lot of the kids that day. I am going to contact out host and see about cutting from four nights to three in Cornwall and spending the last night in either Bath, where we will return the car, or London. Perhaps Bath because then we won't have to head all the way from Cornwall to London the day prior to leaving. I know there are concerns expressed about the number of place we'll be staying, but we're confident that will work just fine for our family.

Posted by
15 posts

A great place to take the kids near Bath is Longleat Safari Park, our kids absolutely loved it and it makes a great day out.