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England Itinerary help please :)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

My husband and I are using the Rick Steves England book as a guide and following his itinerary fairly close. Here is what we have thus far:
September 8 arrive in London Heathrow (terminal 3) and take the train to Bath.
Bath for 3 nights then pick up a rental car on the Monday as I see from reading the forum there are limited if any rentals on a Sunday.

Bath to Cotswolds for 2 nights (still deciding where to stay in that area but have Ricks picks highlighted).
Ironbridge Gorge (1 night) then heading to Liverpool (2 nights). Drop car rental in Liverpool (if possible).
Liverpool to York (2nights)
Campridge (Do we stop on the way to London and stay a night to allow for more time there or better to day trip from London?
Train to London - stay in London for 5 nights.

We are thinking of taking the car rental (hire) from Bath to Liverpool then using a train for the remaining trip. We are still researching the costs etc of picking up the car in Bath and leaving it in Liverpool.

My questions to all the knowledgeable travelers out there are regarding the car rental and train travel options and any obvious holes in this itinerary?

Thanks for your time and any assistance.

Posted by
5590 posts

Ironbridge Gorge itself is small and it doesn’t take long to see the bridge. If you find yourself with some extra time, nearby is Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Jackfield Tile Museum. Both are within a 5 minutes drive from the bridge. When we spent a night in Ironbridge we stayed at the Best Western Valley Hotel and we’re pleased with it.

Posted by
214 posts

The picturesque Severn Valley Railway is not far from Iron Bridge, if one is on an indsutrial heritage kick they are worth combining. Also the Railway Arms at Bridgenorth is a great real ale pub.

Posted by
300 posts

I’d do Cambridge as a day trip from London. It’s not a very car-friendly city, and it’s small enough that you can hit the main highlights in a day without doing an overnight stop. It also makes your train journey from York to London a lot easier without having to change trains for Cambridge.

I’m not sure I’d pick Ironbridge Gorge as a top choice on a (first?) trip to England unless you’re particularly interested in the Industrial Revolution. If you do choose to drive from Cotswolds to Liverpool via Shropshire, then take a look at Ludlow (one of the most beautiful small towns in England), Stokesay Castle and Shrewsbury as possible sights en route.

Posted by
3173 posts

Apart from it being a Sunday picking the car up on Monday is a good idea because of the risks of driving straight off a TA flight when jetlagged.

I didn't realise that Ironbridge was in the RS books.

Drop the car off at Liverpool John Lennon airport, on the southern edge of the city. There is excellent transit into the city from there, straight to the Albert Dock as well as the City Centre, and linking in to Merseyrail- the city rail network.

From Liverpool there is a direct hourly Transpennine Express train to York, no change. A 1 hour 50 minute journey leaving usually at 24 minutes past the hour. Alternate trains extend to Newcastle, the others terminate at York.
Book ahead for the best 'advance' fares.

When you know where you are staying in London, come back to us and we can advise on the "best" rail route for your day trip to Cambridge, as there are several.

Posted by
3173 posts

PS- also at Bridgnorth is the Cliff Railway- a steep electric funicular which links the river and the top of the town. It has been closed for reconstruction but should reopen at Easter.

Even if you drive there it's a fun thing to do.

Posted by
1472 posts

You are covering a fair bit of ground in your itinerary. Also remember that 2 nights is only effectively a day and a bit in a place as you need to allow time to travel between overnights. (You are also bypassing some wonderful places too...) I'm assuming you have already decided your expectations of each of the places Rick has chosen and have decided what you want to do in each. 2 nights in York and you will barely scratch the surface, so you will need to be focused here as to what you can realistically achieve.

Don't religiously stick with the Rick picks for places like the Cotswolds. Be prepared to be adventurous and stop off in some of the many small villages and towns he doesn't mention. These will be less busy but equally as enjoyable.

What are your expectations of Ironbridge? If you just want to see the bridge, then that is a very short visit. If however you are wanting to spend time exploring the area, then an overnight may not be enough. There are several different museums associated with the industrial heritage of the area as jaimeelsabio has already highlighted. If you are at all interested in social history then Blists Hill Victorian Town is well worth a visit - but be prepared to spend several hours there as there is so much to see. If you enjoy bone china, then the Coalport China Museum is a reall gem of a museum with some wonderful examples of bone china at its best. I also enjoyed the Jackfield Tile Museum as well with the wonderful displays of decorative tilework.

Laughing Spam Fritter has mentioned the Severn Valley Railway. This is a beautifully preserved steam railway running through attractive countryside. It is a real step back in time toi the days of leisurely travel with some lovingly tended stations.

Looking at Cambridge - do this as a day trip from London. If you are planning to drop the car in Liverpool and then using the train, York to Cambridge will take about two and a half hours with a change at Peterborough. You will need to store luggage too.

Posted by
48 posts

Wow! Thank you so much for the great information. I truly appreciate all your help.

It sounds like Cambridge from London is a better option. I am looking at recommended hotels as well as some AirB & B in London so if required will hop back on here for train advice. Thanks again.

Yes we are covering a lot of ground plus skipping many areas….so hard to pick where to go and not go as we would love to stay longer but will just have to return. Agree with you about the 2 nights being 1 day so will look closer at that as we really do prefer to not be packing up and changing rooms so often. The dilemma is always trying to find the balance between seeing as much as possible but yet taking the time to enjoy the area/culture.

Ironbridge Gorge, sounds like we need to discuss what we want to see and do in that area.

Thanks also for the tip about trying other small villages not just the Rick Steves suggestions.

So many great tips, we will take all your suggestions into consideration and thanks again for the help.



Posted by
7542 posts

You are so right about having to make difficult choices about what to see and what not to see.

London Lodging: Rick barely mentions Premier Inns in his England guidebook. (You have to search to the back to find any info). However, they can be a good source of value lodging and have many locations throughout London and the UK. My personal favorite is Premier Inn Waterloo. It's sister property, Premier Inn County Hall is just a few blocks away. These allow for an easy walk to Westminster and multiple transportation options through Waterloo Station for both tube and train. Small groceries and restaurants near by. There is also the Southbank to walk along and enjoy.

I also want to mention that you may want to use another guidebook to supplement your RS guidebook. He provides great information on the places of interest to him. Sometimes that means that entire areas are not included that you might be interested in. There isn't any need to spend a great deal of money, just visit your local library.

Posted by
48 posts

Thanks "Carol Now Retired" for the lodging tips, I hope to book London this weekend. In regard to other guidebooks I have visited our local library and taken out a Fodor's Travel and other England books as well as using the internet bloggers. So many great tips out there that can actually be overwhelming. I have used the same process on previous European trips and have found the combination helpful.
I do like the option of AirBnB for London if we can swing an affordable one just for the option of having a place to make the odd meal, however am looking at all options. I will definitely look into the ones mentioned by you Carol.

I know we are skipping Lake District and that was a tough decision however we want to see areas that are completely unlike anything we have at home. Canada has some amazing lake areas so that is why we are sadly avoiding it this trip.

Thanks again,

Posted by
6995 posts

We stayed in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds at the Volunteer Inn. Highly recommended, it has spacious rooms, reasonable rates, the best pub in town and a great Indian restaurant.

Why not ship Liverpool and head on to York. You need more time in York to walk the ancient walls, visit three museums (one is the National Railway Museum) and of course visit the amazing Minster (Cathedral).

Posted by
48 posts

I have added a day in York instead of staying in Cambridge. Liverpool is a must see for my husband is a Beatles fan ;)
Thanks for the hotel information as well :)