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England itinerary help - June 17-July 1

My wife and I have visited England twice in the last 6 years. Our first trip, we visited London, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath, Nottingham, and Oxford. The second we flew into Manchester and drove quite a few miles. We visited the Lake District (from Ambleside), up to Hadrian’s Wall via “the Struggle”, drove to Devon and Cornwall (staying in Lynton, North Devon), drove around the Cotswolds (staying in Burford), then back to Manchester and the flight home.

For this trip, I’m running short of ideas, but some possibilities I’ve considered are:
- the south coast along the Channel, maybe Dover, Canterbury, Hastings
- Cornwall again, but this time from the south coast including St Michael’s Mount
- the Cotswolds again (endless beauty of course, and I loved the Tollgate Tea House in Dyrham)
- Perhaps the eastern shore along the North Sea and up to York

I don’t mind driving, but want to stay in roughly 3 diverse locations from which we can explore. We love visiting historical sites, but also find a happy distraction in seeing how and where the locals live, work, and go about their routines. Rural areas or small towns are preferred.

Please help and provide whatever suggestions you can.

Thank you.


Posted by
1026 posts

I suspect most responses will be influenced by personal bias, so my bias would be to spend the time discovering the area in the north/east which is the best part of England. That is, for instance, Yorkshire Dales (e.g. Appletreewick as a base if you're staying more south), North York Moors, east coast from Whitby up into Northumberland. I think that gives a good variety of cities (e.g. York, Durham) and landscapes, with plenty of smaller market towns, castles, villages, "ancient Britons" & Roman remains, etc. to include. I guess the exact route depends on where you need to arrive to and depart from; but with your time available and hiring a car, you could make a most interesting itinerary.

Posted by
76 posts

I'd agree with the first poster.

North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland offer some wonderful scenery and then there are the Borders too.

If you haven’t visited Beverley, it is well worth a visit with its Minster, one of the best Gothic Buildings in Europe. There is also York where you could easily spend a couple of days.

Think about the North York Moors with their ruined abbeys and castles and attractive small villages (worthy of the Cotswolds). Whitby with its ruined abbey and Dracula connections. There is the North York Moors Steam Railway. Have a day at the seaside in Scarborough.

Durham City has the best Norman Cathedral in England as well as a castle. The historic centre is walkable and there are lots of attractive walks along the river banks. Don't miss the delightfull Crook Hall Gardens in Durham. Spend a day exploring Weardale or Teesdale. Raby Castle is well worth a visit.

Northumberland has wonderful coastline with trips to the Farne Islands or to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Castles include Bamburgh and Alnwick with its gardens (one of the best contemporary gardens in Europe). Depending on how much of Hadrian's Wall you did last visit, you may enjoy more time exploring that, or there is the North Tyne Valley with Kielder Water. Cragside was the home of a wealthy C19th industrialist and has been described as the house where modern living began.

Borders - there is the coast with the wonderful ruined castles of Dirleton and Tantallon. There are the great Border Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh. Stately homes include Lennoxlove, Traquair House, Manderston and Mellerstein as well as Floors Castle.

Make you first base in or around York - either in the city or possibly split betweeen city and one of the small villages on the edge of the North York Moors. Pickering or Helmsely are good choices.

Then head up to Durham for the second base. Make you final base around Alnwick or a bot further north, somewhere in Borders.

Posted by
53 posts

I recommend the Welsh-English border - starting in Chepstow and traveling north up the Wye Valley (including Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Hay-on-Wye, etc), then perhaps heading to Shrewsberry. The Forest of Dean and Offa's Dyke are also along this border and worth seeing.


Posted by
2516 posts

You have plenty of time. When we did the southeast, the main places we visited were igtham mote, Chartwell, Canterbury, Dover castle and tunnels, Rye, Hastings, Leeds, Bodium castle, Portsmouth naval yard, Bletchley Park, and Uppingham. As others mentioned, Northumberland and the borders area into Scotland are nice. You could also see a lot of Wales with the time you have. Our main stops in Wales included Tintern, Tenby, St. Davids, and Caernarfon, with stops at a number of castles en route, along with a day on Anglesey Island.

Posted by
17 posts

Wow, guys. What great ideas!

All of this sounds great. I had a really bad experience on the outbound flight from Manchester last time. My wife and I flew United business class to Manchester, which was super. However, my flight out of Manchester, still booked as business class, was cancelled and we were moved to an Air Canada Rouge flight. Yikes! I didn’t know that there was a class below Economy, but I think that’s what we got. All the passengers were crammed in like cattle in a train car. I would have just managed down my expectations, but I had paid so much for business class both ways. Sooooo, we figured, from that day forward, we should always fly into London so as to have more choices.

That being said, if we fly into Heathrow, would it be reasonable to take a train to York, rent a car there and begin our excursions/exploration? Perhaps I could even drive over to Wales and spend part of the time there. The day before our departure I could return to York, turn in the rental car and take the train to LHR. I would stay that night in an airport hotel and take a shuttle the next day to my flight.

Of course I’ll have to check train schedules and routes.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted by
76 posts

There is a ffrequent train service between London King's Cross and York which takes about three hours. If you are planning to spend any time actually in York and doing the York attractions, you won't need a car. Everything is in easy walking distance. Hire the car once you leave York.

Posted by
445 posts

I like both the southern route suggested (Canterbury, Portsmouth, etc.) and the York area itinerary. Just a thought, but if you're heading to northern England, I'd suggest you check out flights to Edinburgh or Glasgow as alternatives to Heathrow. Happy travels.