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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.

Dennis

Posted by
1224 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
132 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
67 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.

Garrison

Posted by
2722 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
23 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
132 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
451 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.

Posted by
1 posts

By now you must be wondering if your trip will still happen. A lot of accommodation providers are closed until further notice, but there might still be a chance they will reopen by June.

Bearing in mind social distancing will likely continue for some time, your preference for rural areas is probably wise, and self catering is more likely to be open than B&Bs.

WIth all that in mind, (from my own bias), I'd agree with the recommendation of Northumberland. The coast is stunning and there are lots of castles, if you like them (Bamburgh Castle is impressive).

If you'd like a special experience, stay a night or two on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is cut off by the tide twice a day, and is a very special place. Make sure that you follow instructions on crossing safely: https://holy-island.uk/holy-island-causeway-tips-tides-safety/

You could even drive up to Edinburgh from there, which is well worth a visit.

There's a webcam pointing to the castle, if you'd like to get a sense of the place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2OM_4ZG6Xs

Posted by
36 posts

I would suggest adding Northern Wales to this next trip. Conwy and Caernarfon have two of the most impressive medieval castles I have ever seen in my life, all without it feeling like Disney World as Warwick Castle felt to me. Very scenic too in that region, with Snowdonia not far to do some great sight seeing and hiking if you are in to that kind of thing.

I have a question for you though..I have booked a few nights in Burford this time around vs my last Cotswold trip in Stow-on-the-Wold. How is Burford? I too, am into the charming, historic setting and ambiance.

Thanks!

Posted by
4245 posts

I expect that you won't be doing this in 2020. We have week in Cornwall scheduled for mid-July and won't be going.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks, guys, for the recent posts.

CZ, Burford is small, quaint, and charming, much like other Cotswold villages. We stayed at the Burford House and liked the people, the food and being in the middle of town so we could walk and explore. When we booked, we elected to stay in the most historic room there, the Sherborne I believe—uh, could have been a bit more convenient. Not bad, but I think it dated from somewhere around 1600. Some of the lower rooms are a little nicer, but if you want historical feel, I’d recommend the Sherborne.

geovagriffith, I fear you are correct. We have flights booked and paid for mid/late June, and it’s not looking good! Honestly, I’m not sure what to do. We paid $$$ for a couple of nice Business Class seats, hoping for a nice trip to one of my favorite destinations in the world, and in about a month we were in the grip of a pandemic! If anyone out there has some good advice/insight, I’d love to hear it. So far we’ve been “waiting and watching”.

My wife and I have a lakehouse in NC and rent it through VRBO. We are also experiencing disruptions from a hosts point of view. BUT, we’re still alive and healthy. I’m sorry that so many others have not been that fortunate.

Posted by
2979 posts

Dennis, I think you have the right approach in "waiting and watching." Unless there is a specific deadline from a vendor to receive full cancellation, waiting to see if the airline cancels your flight is a good idea. Best case scenario, they cancel flight and you get full refund. Worst case scenario , either airline or you cancels flight and you get a voucher.

It is hard to see a "dream trip" disappear and I can tell you had put a great deal of thought into yours. I hope that you will be able to take this trip in the future.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you, Carol. My biggest fear is not knowing what to do when the time comes.

Posted by
1528 posts

Dennis, I understand when you say "My biggest fear is not knowing what to do when the time comes." That fear of not knowing - not knowing if we're going, not knowing if we can go later, not knowing if we'll get refunds, not knowing when we can reschedule - can be worse than just knowing and getting on with it.

Can we help you with that? Perhaps we can help you figure out "what to do when the time comes."

Which airline are you flying? There are some great "refund" threads where people have described their experiences in getting refunds or vouchers with a variety of airlines and in a variety of situations. My upcoming trip had 3 airlines for 3 different segments. I've had to research and follow each one to understand their policies and timelines.

Perhaps those threads would help you, or (with some more details) someone may be able to offer advice on your specific scenarios. Here's a good one with a variety of examples:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/how-are-your-refunds-going

And one specific to British Airways, if you happen to be flying them to London:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/transportation/good-eperience-with-british-airways

Then at least you'll know what to do when the time comes and can rest easy (or at least a bit easier) until it does.

Posted by
2593 posts

The coronavirus is to peak in the middle of June. Yesterday on Good Morning Britain they said that a lot if shops won’t reopen for six months, but I do t know how accurate that is.

Posted by
556 posts

The thinking in the U.K. at present seems to be that things will gradually return to normal in factories and shops, with appropriate social distancing. What is going to be difficult is re-opening hotels, restaurants and pubs. All are currently closed, and it is doubtful if they could operate economically if patrons had to keep the appropriate distance from one another. Some, of course, may never reopen.

Posted by
4245 posts

Dennis,
I know Delta and United have both extended their policies allowing revision or cancellation of flights through the period that you planned to go.

We love driving through the British countryside. It is beautiful and so much history, wherever your go.

Here is my review of our four week drive tour of Wales and England in 2017.
28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for the many ongoing replies, everyone.

CWsocial, you are so kind and reassuring. We booked through Expedia, but they’re advising to wait until closer to our departure time before we tie up their phones. I’m sure they’re flooded right now.

Robin Z — Thanks for the unwelcome but needed news. Even if things are getting better in the U.K., I’m not sure spending hours on a plane (in high anxiety) is a hurdle we could get over right now. I fall into a high risk category, so trying to be extra cautious.

Bob — thanks for your reply. I’m always glad to get info from someone that lives in the U.K. It sounds more and more like 2020 could be a bust. I’m just glad that I didn’t get in deeper by reserving lodging, buying passes, RR tickets, etc. Maybe I can get a refund, voucher, or such to timeshift my flights to early summer 2021. God help us if we have another round of this mess that carries into that period—not for my wife and me, but for worldwide industries that need to work to feed their employees and owners.

geovagriffith — thanks to you also. Good news about Delta for us, I hope. We booked Delta through Expedia, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we’ll get treated like red-headed stepchildren. I’m excited to see your drive review. We love driving everywhere, even around the countryside where we live. We’ve been around France, Ireland, Argentina, Chile, and most of the US, but the English countryside is where my thoughts and longings always return.

Posted by
2593 posts

I booked my flights directly with Delta, for my May trip. I received an email from Delta on April 14th, stating that my flight was canceled. They issued me a eCredit which is good until May 30th, 2022.

Posted by
15 posts

Hi Dennis, I was supposed to arrive at Heathrow London last Friday on Delta. Although I am very sad that I had to cancel my trip this year, I was very pleased with how Delta handled my trip. They sent out an email at the beginning of April cancelling the flight (arrival in London & departure from Edinburgh) and offering to cancel & refund or give a voucher for future travel. At the beginning, the offer was to reschedule by end of 2020 with no extra fees. They subsequently sent out updates on policies and kept extending the time frame to reschedule - up to last one which was through 2022! I was a little concerned initially because I will want to reschedule for the same time in 2021 and the time for rescheduling started with the date flight was booked.

Delta also asked us NOT to further clog up their phones until closer to our original planned departure date. I called Delta the beginning of last week and WAS able to talk to a live person - they put you in line & then call back when it is your turn, so you don’t have to tie up your phone while in line. The Delta gal was great! My situation was a little different in that I had booked it using Miles and paid the taxes & a subsequent seat upgrade by credit card. The taxes and upgrade refunds appeared on my credit card account within a day and the miles were returned to my mileage account overnight too!

I hope you too have a good experience!

From what I have been seeing, I agree with others that you will be offered a better deal from airlines if you hold off until THEY cancel the flight, rather than cancelling because you think it MIGHT be cancelled! Of course, things may change between now and closer to your flight, as the news on the virus restrictions changes too. I would also check the Delta site regularly & see what they are saying for your flight and in general about virus - they are updating this info regularly!

I also had booked 5 lodgings thru AirBnB, with free cancellation up to 14 days before my booking. I cancelled them just before the free period ended and AirBnB already had the Covid-19 as one of the reason choices for cancellation. All my Deposits & Service Charges were credited to my credit card within a few days of cancelling!

Hope this may help you with your dilemma.
Janet