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Edinburgh to London ?

Hello- In the early stages of planning for a second trip to England (Just London the first time)for my self and 19 and 21 year old sons. Assuming the universe cooperates, I have purchased tickets in and out of Dublin for three weeks in late January/February 2022 (yes, I know, it's so cold, but I teach and that is when I am off). We are thinking of about a week or so in Ireland, then a hop over to Edinburgh (or Glasgow), and meander south, before we hop back to Dublin to return to the states.

I really want to visit Hadrian's wall and the Alnwick gardens as we make our way southward, if we can make it work. My youngest wants to visit the tank museum in Bovington. Other than that, I just love travel so any new experience is great for me. We wouldn't mind a couple of days in London if it works out. Anyone want to recommend an itinerary for Edinburgh to Bovington? Would love to keep it to train/bus travel, but I will rent a car for the Ireland portion of events, so I can rent a car for some or all of this part of our journey as well. We are all pretty introverted and like history, military history, good food, activities/events that locals participate in. My children will abandon me if I drag them to another museum, but we would all be down with some castles.

Posted by
368 posts

Hi Mommy,
A few things jump out to me about your trip.

Alnwick and Hadrian's Wall are both in Northern England.
In late January will Alnwick or any gardens be worth the effort? I don't know.
Bovington is about as far South as you can go in England.
Is it possible to change your flight so that you can depart from London?
There castles all over Britain.
Scotland is wonderful.
Bring your raincoat.
All that said it should be a wonderful trip. Your sons are very fortunate to be able to do this with their mum.


Posted by
3 posts

This is probably the first time anyone has ever requested an itinerary from Edinburgh to Bovington?? That would be akin to a foreigner holidaying in the States asking for an itinerary from Washington DC to Stark, Florida as opposed to Orlando. LOL! Sorry, not trying to be sarcastic (just a little humor).

But seriously, rent a car if you have that option and take in Northumerland's best sights by car. In addition to Alnwick, include Lindesfarne and Bamburgh Castle nearby. Best stops on Hadrian's Wall include Housesteads and Chester's Roman Fort ruins. Try driving through Scotland's "border" region and see at least a couple of the amazing abbey ruins like Jedburgh or Melrose. Once below Hadrian's wall, Durham and York are two ancient towns not to be missed. From there, the entire central to Ssouthern England is all yours and the sky's the limit on what all you could include from there!

Posted by
1474 posts

NOTE that Bovington isn’t in London, it’s in Dorset, which is 125 miles SW of London.

Edinburgh to Bovington is about 450 miles. There is no way you can do this itinerary easily by bus/train, especially if you want to include Alnwick and Hadrian’s wall. ALSO be prepared for snow which can bring the country to a standstill...

450 miles may not seem a vast distance to you, but is going to take a full, day to drive - and yes you will need to drive. Doing Alnwick and Hadrian’s wall with add in extra miles and time. You will need to factor in at least one overnight!

Take the A1 to Alnwick for Alnwick gardens and then cut across country through Rothbury and Otterburn to pick up the A68 for Housesteads.

Is Alnwick Gardens worth seeing at that time of year? There will be few flowers around although there should be a few early bulbs. The trees will still be bare. This means you will be much more aware of the underlying structure of the gardens and the massive effort to create it. These pictures were taken in late March, but will give you an idea of what to expect.

Allow plenty of time for the gardens. They are huge and need a minimum of 2-3 hours.

Hadrian’s Wall - try and allow time to walk some of it. Make sure you have sturdy shoes as it could be muddy. BUT also bear in mind at that time of the year it could be covered with snow! Houseteads Fort is possibly the best place to head for. As well as the fort (don’t miss the latrines!) there is a lovely walk along the wall to the west - walk as far as legs and time allow. In your time frame, this is probably the best use of time.

This is going to take you a full day, so plan an overnight in say Hexham, Corbridge or Haltwhistle.

Next morning use the B6318 which follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall (you can see it on the skyline to your right) to Greenhead where you rejoin the A69. If it is snowing, use the A69 instead of the B6318. The B3618 is a roller coaster of a drive with a lot of blind dips which will quyickly get covered in snow.

From Carlisle, pick up the M6 and head south. This is still a 350ish mile drive, so you may want to make another overnight stop. If so, I would suggest Bath, which is a wonderful Georgian City (think Jane Austin) and also has the most amazing Roman baths (although I can’t find anything about opening hours in Jan/Feb).

Don’t forget, in winter there will be restricted daylight and you may not want to drive in the dark. Poor weather, especially fog will also slow down the journey.

The Tank Museum website says allow 4-5 hours for a visit so that is going to take up another day. Near by are the ruins of Corfe Castle, which must be some of the best in England. Even if it is closed, they are still impressive viewed from outside.

So you need to factor in 3 days for the trip. Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle, Chester’s Roman Fort, Jedburgh and Melrose Abbeys would add another 2-3 days to the trip!!!

Posted by
6113 posts

The Alnwick garden water is turned off over the winter, so the main feature won’t be operational in January/February and there won’t be much colour in the borders. The castle itself isn’t as interesting as many in the area.

Be prepared for snow and cold, wet weather. Holy Island is a magical place to visit but the castle will be closed for the winter. You may find that many National Trust and other heritage properties are closed for the winter, but the grounds will be open or they will only be open at the weekend.

Beamish Living Museum in County Durham is a full day out and tells of local life from the 1800s. It’s a Williamsburg style operation, in period costumes.

York is the obvious historical spot en route south.

Imperial War Museum Duxford is another great day out near Cambridge.

Do you want time in London? The Imperial War Museum and the Churchill War Rooms plus history galore. Bovingdon is a very long day trip from London - train from Waterloo to Wool, then a taxi. The train journey itself is 2.5 hours plus extra time needed at both ends.

Places may have restricted entry as we have been warned that social distancing and mask wearing maybe here for a few years.

Posted by
5258 posts

From Carlisle, pick up the M6 and head south.

Or, return the car in Carlisle and catch a southbound train. The train will be more comfortable than the M6 and less risk of trouble due to weather.

Posted by
13800 posts

Jennifer has given you some good suggestions for traveling down the eastern side of the country.

You can also travel down the west side of the country which is more scenic but not so in January/February. I would have suggested Edinburgh--Glasgow--Lake District--Northern Wales--Bath--Bovington--Southampton Airport (for a flight to Dublin.) Much of this can be done with train/bus and local taxi.

Posted by
5 posts

I don’t know how to respond and thank everyone individually for their kind and thorough responses. This is, therefore, one thank you for everyone. These are extremely informative and I have printed them to incorporate into our final itinerary. This has really provided wonderful clarity

Posted by
2620 posts

Ryanair has a nonstop flight from Dublin to Edinburgh for less than $35. To save even more money, pack light so you don’t have to check a bag. This means you’ll need to do laundry, so I suggest bringing powder laundry detergent (liquid pods takes up room in your quart size baggie). I would also bring sheets of color catcher just in case you need to mix whites with darks. There are also places where you can drop off your laundry in the morning and pick it up at the end of day that costs a minimum of 15 pounds.
Not sure if it costs more to rent a car in Scotland and return it in England, but you can take a direct train from Edinburgh to Newcastle (1h 30m) and rent a car there and drive up to The Alnwick Garden (45m). I would then sleep in Newcastle one night.
From Newcastle you can drive to Hadrian’s Wall (1h 30m) and sleep in Durham (1h 15m) for two nights. On day two, spend the day touring the city. From Durham it’s a 5h drive to Bath and I would make this my home base for three nights. The next day drive to Bovington and return your car in Bath at the end of day.
I would give Bath one full day for sightseeing and the following day take a direct 1h 30m train to London. While in London, I would skip riding the tube (or underground as some call it) and get around by taxi since there’ll be three of you. If you have questions that need answering, ask your cab driver. He is also a good person to ask for dinner recommendations.

Posted by
13800 posts

Some other suggestions:

If you don't want to drive in England/Scotland, Rabbies offers one day escorted tours to Hadrians Wall and Alnwick Castle from Edinburgh. They depart from Edinburgh. The tours are in 16 passenger vans not big buses.

I, along with many people on this board, give Rabbies high ratings.

Posted by
1029 posts

An advantage of dark winter skies would mean a vist to Keilder Observatory might be a great stop.
They do a series of lectures and the hot chocolate isn't bad too.
Car needed for this as the Observatory is way up on the fellside thru the forest.

If you want to splurge Wild Northumbrian nearby has really quirky accommodation ,we stayed in a yurt

Posted by
109 posts

Although Bovington tank museum is THE place for all things related to tanks it is a bit of an outlier on your trip. If you are stopping off at York (and why wouldn’t you?) you could visit (depending on restrictions)
the army museum
The air museum close by at Elvington
The Cold War bunker
Or a bit further afield
Eden camp
Leeds armoury

Hopefully these could satisfy your military history interest without having to trek the length of the country.

Posted by
2620 posts

If you take the Rabbies tour from Edinburgh, you can take a direct train from Edinburgh to London (4h 45m).
To get to Bovington from London, take a direct train to Salisbury (1h 30m) and sleep in Salisbury two nights. On day two, rent a car and drive to Bovington (1h). On day three, drive to Stonehenge (30m) and return car in Salisbury and take a late afternoon or early evening train back to London.

Posted by
53 posts

Lots of military stuff in the UK. Going south, near York is the Yorkshire air museum at Elvington. Restored WW2 air base, aircraft and ordnance on display and outlying building such as the control tower and living quarters. Good for half a day.
Imperial war museum at Duxford near Cambridge. Lots of aircraft and military vehicles. Full day.
RAF museum at Cosford, Shropshire. Biggest range of military aircrafyt I've ever seen, it was free when I went. Mainly inside so ideal for Jan/Feb. Half to full day.
In London, HMS Belfast, battleship moored on the Thames which you can explore above and below decks. RAF museum at Hendon, I've heard its downsized. Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.
Portsmouth, home of the Royal navy. Many naval museums and attractions.
If you do visit Hadrians wall, make sure you are off the unlit narrow country roads and back on the A roads before sunset, 4:45pm.