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Road trip help and itinerary suggestions

Hoping some have some suggestions. We fly into Heathrow and we are renting a car. From Heathrow we would like to end up in Edinburgh for four nights then down Liverpool for two, and down to bath for three before we head over to London for three nights. My question is where would you suggest is a good stopping point between Heathrow and Edinburgh? Plus any suggestions on definite things to see and do in Edinburgh, Liverpool or Bath. Thanks so much our trip is not until October 1.

Posted by
8884 posts

Why are you choosing to drive?

Even driven in the UK before. Experienced driving on the opposite of the road? Negotiate a roundabout?

Get the RS Great Britain book.

Will help with your research.

Posted by
9 posts

My husband does not like using public transportation. We have done trips in Europe via train and he did not like humping our luggage through the stations etc.

so for this trip he wants to drive.

Posted by
8884 posts

Good Luck.

Parking is abysmal in urban centers.

As far as water activity it will be cold.

Posted by
1010 posts

Are you planning to drive to Edinburgh in two days straight from Heathrow. That is frankly a crazy idea. You will be jet lagged driving on the “wrong” side on crowded motorways and sailing past hundreds of interesting places.
The best plan would be to fly into EDI rather than hundreds of miles away, but maybe you’ve already booked the flights.
Note also that a car is an expensive liability actually in Edinburgh, Bath and particularly London.
Your itinerary is perfectly suited to travel by train but you seem to have ruled that out.

Posted by
4482 posts

Sorry, but this is why so many of us are fans of light packing. Not only will parking be an issue but the trains are so much faster.

Posted by
7906 posts

Warning, driving from Heathrow (South of London) to Edinburgh, way North of London will be a royal pain in the butt. Driving through London would be a disaster, but even taking the M25 Orbital around London will be very, very slow. It can be a parking lot most of the time.

I learned my lesson the hard way and getting around London took me SEVERAL hours.

I suggest taking the train to Edinburgh, you will save a lot of hours, even if somehow traffic is not so bad. Just driving to Edinburgh will be a long trip.

Also, don't think of trying to drive such a long distance right after a transatlantic flight.

Further, I suggest stopping in York for a couple of days, it is amazing. It is between London and Edinburgh. It is FAR more interesting than Liverpool.

In Bath consider the Brooks Guesthouse, at a great location with great breakfasts.

Posted by
6670 posts

I agree with the comments above re the dangers of driving after an overnight flight and the efficiency of trains for a trip like this. But the question was where's a good stopping point between LHR and Edinburgh.

Via Michelin is a good way to help plan a road trip, though it underestimates driving times by failing to account for traffic or any stops. It shows two alternate routes, each 7+ hours, so an overnight midway would be a good idea. Just eyeballing the map suggests somewhere in Yorkshire for either route. I'd suggest a town rather than a city to minimize urban traffic. I've been to Richmond, close to the eastern route using the M25 and M1, it's a nice place amid great scenery. The western route, using the M25 and M6, passes near Lancaster and Kendal around halfway. I don't know those places but Kendal is close to the scenic Lake District.

Use a map and guidebook to help you figure out where to stop. But don't assume there will be much time or energy for sightseeing with the length of this drive, even broken up. If trains don't work for you, consider a connecting flight from LHR to EDI. That would get you there the same day, giving you another day on the ground for Edinburgh or later in the trip.

Posted by
1010 posts

I’d agree that York is a lovely small city, well worthy of a visit. But to suggest that it’s far more interesting than Liverpool is misplaced. The attractions at both are very different and will attract people with different interests. Liverpool is particularly interesting for many North American visitors.

Posted by
369 posts

I agree with everyone who is urging you not to drive from London to Ediburgh. If you've never driven on the other side of the road, adjusting can be more difficult than you'd think. Some people do fine, but it's really hard for others and you won't know until it's a little late to change your plans. I drove in Chester and found it very difficult. The countryside of Wales wasn't difficult, but anytime there was any kind of traffic, it was hard.

You also really don't want to get off a transatlantic flight and drive immediately. Have you considered flying from London to Edinbugh?

We took many trains when we visited in 2018 and didn't find it difficult at all. Pack light.

Posted by
2072 posts

Why not fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh?

You won't need a car in Edinburgh (problems parking, parking expensive, very congested and very good public transport.)

Hire the car from Edinburgh Airport when yoiu leave.

I could suggest lots of things to see and do that I would enjoy, but there is no guarantee you would also enjoy them... what sort of things were you thinking of?

Get a copy of DK Eyewitness Great Britain for ideas. It has a lot of pictures and full of ideas.

Posted by
878 posts

If you're insisting on driving, consider going in reverse order - drive from LHR to Bath, then Liverpool, then Edinburgh. Maybe one train trip from Edinburgh to London? Or stop in York on way back to London. Hopefully you have a plan for ditching the car on the outskirts of London. Or drop the car in York.

Since you have so little time in each city, just look at the itineraries for the relevant Rick Steve's tours, or the three star sites in his guidebooks for ideas on what to see.

Posted by
1196 posts

Your best bet would be a connecting flight to Edinburgh then drive from there. I like a road trip so I can understand your husband’s perspective but the drive from London to Edinburgh is long and going to be quite a waste of your holiday time.

Posted by
713 posts

On another discussion here in the England forum, isn31c said that the AA and RAC, the main UK motoring associations, have route planners which are more realistic in terms of driving times, etc., than others. I think they would help you nail down the number of days you will be in transit on the road for planning purposes, and locate desirable stops along the way. I found the links in case you want to pursue them:

https://www.theaa.com/

https://www.royalautomobileclub.co.uk/

Because you dislike using public transportation, I won't suggest that you take trains. You can enjoy the landscape from the privacy and comfort of your rented car, and you'll only have to move your luggage between your car and hotel rooms, not onto and off of trains.

However, I would suggest that if your calculations start to show your spending more time on the road than you like, as compared to time on the ground in your destination cities - you consider traveling between London and Edinburgh by air. If you want to do the trip in the order you've stated, you'd begin by flying to Edinburgh, and pick up the car when you're ready to leave for the next destination.

I also agree with the suggestion above by markcw, to make the trip in reverse order - drive from LHR to Bath, then Liverpool, then Edinburgh. Edited to add: I used the AA trip planner to look at this, and it makes sense to me. Their suggested route straight from LHR to Edinburgh goes to the West anyway, and passes not far from Liverpool. If you add Bath as the first stop, then Liverpool, it seems to be quite an efficient itinerary. And again, you might consider flying from Edinburgh to London for your final three days. Only you can decide how you want to split your time between traveling in the car and exploring the places on your itinerary.

Posted by
15717 posts

This is my suggestion:

Do the trip in reverse order.

Driving after a transatlantic flight is a dangerous thing to do. Your husband doesn't want to lug baggage on and off trains-- how much luggage do you have-- then there is a direct bus from Heathrow to Bath. You won't need a car in Bath so after visiting that city, rent a car there for your departure.

Then proceed to Liverpool, and Edinburgh. You won't need the car in either city.

You could then drive to York, spend a day or two and then proceed to London.

Or....

Keep your itinerary and start with London. No car needed or advised. Then proceed on your currently planned route.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you so much for all your comments and strong advise about driving.
We are familiar with driving on the left as we have in many of the islands and in March we will be driving in Australia for a couple weeks. Plus we will be flying business class so we will be able to sleep on the TA flight. Plus we do plan on dropping the car off before we go to London for the 3 nights. Last, I want to mention about the luggage we will be taking. We will not be overpacking as we are accustomed to international travel but after our 2 weeks in Great Britain we will be taking a 15 night cruise back to the US. So we will need various types of clothes.

So with all that said.....I may rethink out itinerary and go to Bath first as it is closer. Although my first plan was to only drive to Strattford Upon Avon on the first day, then to York for a night, then on to Edinburgh.

I do like the suggestion of going to Bath first and then maybe flying back from Edinburgh.

Thanks again for all your suggestions....It has made me think.

Posted by
1010 posts

I know you don’t want to use the train, but I would just point out that it is much less stressful to take the train from Edinburgh to London than to fly. The train stations are right in the city and you can find accommodation very close to them. Once you’ve on the train you can sit back and relax and watch the countryside go by until arrival right in the city.
When you fly you have to get yourselves out to the airport, get there in enough time to check in and get through security (none on the train). Then on landing get your checked luggage - you will presumably need some if you’re taking a cruise. And then get yourselves into London. Overall it is a little quicker and more relaxing by train.
If you still want to fly see if you can fly into LCY, which is much smaller and closer to the centre than the other options. And watch out for luggage and other charges when booking.

Posted by
9 posts

Ok….we have changed everything around. Now flying into Edinburgh……so now do I book a car or take trains to York, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bath?

Posted by
1010 posts

That’s a great change of plan. Assuming you are spending a few days in Edinburgh pick up a car when you leave town ( a car in Edinburgh is almost as bad a plan as in London). Get one from the airport to drive down to York. There’s some splendid countryside and lots to stop off and see if you have time. Then you can drive the rest of the route and drop the car either in Bath and train to London or at LHR.
Make sure that you choose accommodation with parking in York and Bath if needed - they are both best explored on foot.
Your new plan could be done fairly easily by train but I’m guessing you don’t want to do that. And, especially in the north, there’s a lot of good driving routes and sights to see, but you need time for that.

Posted by
878 posts

Your update mentioning the trans-Atlantic return crossing jarred my memory - a friend had done a similar trip several years ago. He had a relationship with a small inn or hotel close to LHR, and he was able to stash his additional bags for the eventual sailing there while on the first part of his journey, then picked them up on his way to Southampton. This wouldn't work for your new itinerary, but for future reference, I found the left luggage service Stasher online, which offers long-term luggage storage at a number of locations - including LHR, London train stations, and also Southampton. They use Premier Inns for many locations. The advertised rate is L6 per day per bag, and extended periods are OK. This could also be a solution for those needing to store bags just before or after a short-term apartment rental. Just something to keep in mind for future travels.

Posted by
2494 posts

Changed plans - I would skip York (not because it is not worth seeing - but so far off route) and once you have hired the car in Edinburgh - drive to the Lake District in NW England. Then Liverpool but also visit nearby Chester before heading south for Cardiff and then Bath. (Note that you are missing out on the scenic Snowdonia National Park in NW Wales).

Posted by
1010 posts

York is not in any way off route between Edinburgh and Liverpool. You can either drive down the east coast to York and then across the Pennines to Liverpool or down the west coast passing the Lake District NP. Neither is a wrong answer.

Posted by
9 posts

We have also decided to use the train from EDI. So now my thinking is Edinburgh to York, then York to Bath. Will spend more nights in each place and do day trips from there. Would it be better for us to get a rail pass or just get individual tickets?