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Drive from Edinburgh to London

My family, including two teens, will have a whirlwind UK spring break. I would like feedback on my proposed itinerary, particularly regarding the drive from Edinburgh to London. My husband and I have been to London before, although the kids have not. We want to see highlights of London; I'm thinking 3.5 days should be okay for that.

Day 1, arrive from US -- London\ Day 2 -- London\ Day 3 -- London, board overnight sleeper to Edinburgh\ Day 4 -- Edinburgh\ Day 5 -- Edinburgh/St. Andrews\ Day 6 -- Edinburgh\ Day 7 -- Drive from Edinburgh to York (sights along the way? Hadrian's Wall?)\ Day 8 - Drive from York to Bath (sights?)\ Day 9 - Drive from Bath, stop to see Stonehenge, return to London\ Day 10 -- Depart

Alternately, we would drive to Oxford instead of Bath on Day 8.

Posted by
5509 posts

If your flights aren't locked in yet, consider "open jaw" (multi-city) flights, from home to London and back home from Edinburgh or Glasgow (which might involve a London connection). This may come out costing less, or no more, than your four fares on the overnight train. And give you a better sleep that night -- unless the overnight train is something you want to experience for itself.

If you do that, you'll want to drive from London to Bath to York to Edinburgh instead of the reverse. Either way, Via Michelin can help you plan and schedule the road trip -- with the caveat that it commonly underestimates actual drive times, which must allow for traffic and necessary stops. Assuming that you drive south as you now plan to, it shows about 4 1/2 hours from Edinburgh to York, which would give you time for a detour to Hadrian's Wall and maybe even Durham Cathedral. But those stops would eat up time you could otherwise spend sightseeing in York itself.

The drive from York to Bath is about the same 4 1/2 hours. I haven't done it, so I don't know what sights might be easy stops, except for Gloucester Cathedral. But you may need that morning for York sightseeing if you didn't get there early enough the day before. If you choose Oxford instead of Bath the drive will be somewhat shorter.

From Bath to London's western suburbs is a couple of hours, giving you some morning time in Bath. From Oxford it should be a shorter drive. You may want to drive straight to Heathrow and spend the night there before your flight.

For me, this would be a very rushed itinerary -- not only the road trip, but the short stays in London and Edinburgh. Realizing that your spring break time is limited, I'd still suggest you give yourselves fewer stops and more time in each. Consider the open-jaw suggestion above, with a car or train from London to York, then driving to Edinburgh, then flying home from there or Glasgow. That would give you a couple of nights in York with a full day's sightseeing there, and let you make other stops along that more direct route. Bath will cost you time you might better spend elsewhere, experiencing more than Britain's excellent motorways.

Posted by
1375 posts

Both York and Bath would merit at least two nights as would Oxford. In terms of history and time I would say York is a better bet with teenagers. If your time is as limited as that suggests, I would drop Bath/Oxford and concentrate on York.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks so much for the input. I did look into an open jaw. We would have a several hour layover in London if we flew to/from Edinburgh, the sleeper train is cheaper than the incremental cost of the open jaw, and I think the train experience will be a good one for the kids.

Why would driving from London to Edinburgh be any different than going from north to south? I like the idea of taking the train to York, then continuing on from there.

Perhaps we will just focus on York and save Bath and its surrounding environs for another trip.

Posted by
5671 posts

Where are you flying from? There's a great link on the Edinburgh Airport site that tells you the airlines and destinations from the airport. This route map shows you the destinations and airlines for the Glasgow airport. I've flown into the Glasgow airport many times arriving from Chicago at 10 AM and checked into my hotel before noon and up on Princes Street for lunch and to the castle in time for the 1PM gun. :) You could rent a car as you are ready to leave Edinburgh.

I would recommend not only Hadrian's Wall, but also the Abbey's. Jedburgh is very impressive. Floors' Castle was good to. Both are in the Borders. There's a quirky museum in Hexham on the history of the Borders. Do either of your teens like mystery novels? Check out PF Chisholm's books about Sir Robert Carey during Queen Elizabeth's reign.


Posted by
7175 posts

Reduce your travelling and concentrate on England with such limited time.
Day 1 -- London
Day 2 -- London
Day 3 -- London
Day 4 -- London
Day 5 -- Pick up hire car and drive to Salisbury
Day 6 -- Bath
Day 7 -- Cotswolds
Day 8 -- Stratford on Avon
Day 9 -- Oxford
Day 10 -- Return hire car before departure

Posted by
7175 posts

Or make your departure plans from Edinburgh.
Day 1 -- London
Day 2 -- London
Day 3 -- London
Day 4 -- London
Day 5 -- Train to York
Day 6 -- York / Pick up hire car
Day 7 -- Durham
Day 8 -- Edinburgh / Return hire car
Day 9 -- Edinburgh
Day 10 -- Departure

Posted by
3852 posts

About the open jaw:

If you can fly out of Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver, Icelandair offers great fares with open jaw into Glasgow or Aberdeen and return London. Flights into Glasgow with a one hour layover in Reykjavik are about the same length of time as flights nonstop to London. Fights include video screen movies for the children. International arrival in Glasgow is almost elegant compared to what Heathrow can offer up. Icelandair is also the only European airline I know that competes favorably with Asian airlines for having knockout gorgeous flight attendants (in case you have boys).

I don't think you are allocating your time best in Scotland. Although Edinburgh is wonderful, maybe 4 nights is too many. A short 2 night trip to the Highlands might be better than a day trip to St. Andrews as your one foray out of Edinburgh.

Stonehenge is quite a bit out of the way, so if you need a substitution in Scotland that is fairly central you could try these stones, I guarantee that you will be the only visitors there

Posted by
3088 posts

In my opinion, David has come up with two great itineraries for you. Pick one of his 2 suggestions, and enjoy what you have time to see.