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Feedback appreciated for UK trip with elderly parent

My husband and I are taking my 84-year old mother to England at the end of September for a “bucket list” trip to see the village/house in Leominster where her grandfather lived in the late 1800’s. (My husband and I will stay on for a 2-week trip to Portugal after we get my mother back to LHR.) Other items on her to-do list are to take the Black and White Trail, tour a formal English garden, see the Cotswolds, and tour Snowdonia National Park in Wales, with a little bit of London sightseeing at the end (she’s been there before). I would greatly appreciate feedback on whether the itinerary below makes sense and to get other travelers’ tips about the transportation, lodging, and sightseeing.

Sep 21-25 Hereford (4 nights):

Thurs Sep 21 - Heathrow to Hereford by train. Flight arrives to LHR at 2:20pm. Stay at Charades Guesthouse in Hereford from Sep 21-25. (Uber from train or can guesthouse pick up?)

Fri, Sep 22 - Hereford. Pick up rental car, Leominster Friday market (9am-1pm), drive the Black & White Village Trail.

Sat, Sep 23 - Hereford. Drive to Stratford-upon-Avon for Cotswold Walks & Villages Tour (myself & husband) / Tour of the Cotswolds (mother) by Go Cotswolds.

Sun, Sep 24 - Hereford. Garden(s) visit - options include Picton Garden, Witley Court and Gardens, Arley Arboretum/Gardens.

Sep 25-28 North Wales-Wrexham area? (3 nights):

Mon, Sep 25 - Drive from Hereford to North Wales. Town and lodging TBD.

Tues, Sep 26 - North Wales. Drive to Llandudno to take the Snowdonia & The 3 Castles Tour by Adventure Tour Snowdonia.

Weds, Sep 27 - North Wales. Local sightseeing, TBD (soccer match?).

Sep 28-30 London (2 nights):

Thurs, Sep 28 - Take train from Chester to London. Drop off rental car locally and Uber to Chester or drive to Chester to drop off rental car. London lodging TBD. Evening sightseeing.

Fri, Sep 29 - London. Sightsee (Ideas so far: Thames River cruise, Sky Garden, St James Park)

Sat, Sep 30 - London to Seattle. Final sightseeing in the morning then arrive to LHR by 1pm for 3:25pm flight.

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
1004 posts

Given you need to be in Llandudno on 26th surely it would be logical to stay there. It's a fine Victorian seaside resort so a pleasant place to stay, and just right for your tour. You should be able to get rid of the car there and take the train straight to London (some direct trains and plenty of others with a simple change at Chester and/or Crewe). It might even make sense to take a train to Chester on 27th giving you most of a day to look round the fine Roman city.
I don't know whet you plan re a football match on 27th. There are no professional football teams based in North Wales and even if there were hoping that there would be a game on on a specific Wednesday night is very optimistic. There might be games being shown on TV that you could watch in a pub.

Posted by
6718 posts

At Hereford the Charades guesthouse is literally just round the corner from the Railway station.
There will be taxis outside the station front door. I guarantee it'll be the shortest journey the driver has done all day.
I would book the through train to Hereford- the 1734 from Paddington/1800 from Reading, which arrives Hereford at 2026. If your flight is on time that should be a very nice fit.
Not too much time, and not too much of a rush either.
This is one case where, with your Mum, I would pay the bit extra to go into Paddington, and back out again (usually the advice is to change at Hayes and at Reading).

The previous one at 1550 Paddington/1619 Reading, arrives Hereford at 1942, changing at Great Malvern.

If you think you would like assistance for your Mum at Paddington and Hereford don't be afraid to pre book it.

As for North Wales I agree book 3 days at Llandudno- it's got loads of choice and won't be that busy in September. Try to get somewhere on the Promenade for the great sea views.

Drop off the car in Llandudno late on 27 Sep. Uber/taxi to Llandudno Junction (or shuttle train from Llandudno to Llandudno Junction (same platform change) and through train to London Euston from Llandudno Junction. Again pre book assistance at both ends if you at all need it.

Posted by
1877 posts

Heathrow to Hereford by train is doable if you take a bus to Slough and pick up the train there or go into London to catch a train. However, it will be a tiring day for your mother so you might consider staying somewhere closer that first night. Are you familiar with I use it to figure out my transportation choices when traveling. You mention Uber several times, but keep in mind it might not be available except in very large towns/cities. However, taxi in England is always a great choice. I was last in the UK last fall and found taxis to be very reasonable when I needed a ride to my hotel or to the train station, etc. I even used it to get to Jane Austen's cottage in Hampshire as there was no public transportation which could easily get me from a nearby town to the site. Also, even though it is only about 52 miles to Stratford, Google says it will taken 1.5 hours. The drive there and back plus the all day tour may be tiring for your Mum also. I took the Go Cotswold tour last fall when I was in Chipping Campden and I know she will love it. If possible to drop off rental car in Chester sounds like a good option. I am just a few years younger than your Mum and was in the UK for 4 weeks last fall. I was traveling solo so could set my own pace and taxis were usually my best option for short hops. Hope all of this is helpful. I admire you both for helping your Mom achieve her dreams and hope you will write a trip report after your trip.

Posted by
27426 posts

I'd be very surprised if your transatlantic airline doesn't advise you to be at Heathrow 3 hours before departure time, and I've encountered enough lines in airports that I shoot for 3-1/2 hours, then I allow extra time in case of transportation disruptions. I'd probably be leaving my hotel between 10 and 10:30 on the last day, so there wouldn't be any sightseeing going on that day. But perhaps all of you are early risers.

I really liked Bodnant Garden, a National Trust property that's about 8 miles from Llandudno. It's not small, though, and I unfortunately don't remember anything about the terrain. It might not be practical for your mom if she has some mobility challenges.

Posted by
6718 posts

By the way very few long distance trains stop at Slough so you would have to change again at Reading, and the buses are not stopping that close to Slough Railway Station after the Bus Station burnt down.
For your Mum get her a Senior Railcard, cost £30, to save 1/3rd off train fares. And yourselves a Two Together Railcard (cost £30).
So London to Hereford is £56.90 on that evening train, which is an anytime day single, so can be used on any train.
With the railcards that becomes £37.55 each.
There are no advance fares on that route.
Then you can use it again from North Wales to London.
On the 0937 to Llandudno to London Euston that will typically save you £15 each.

As Ann (Craven) has brought up access at Bodnant here is their Access Statement

Posted by
6 posts

Oh my gosh, you have all provided such valuable feedback already that I'm elated and very appreciative! I will take all of your suggestions and make some adjustments to our itinerary accordingly, likely with some follow up questions in the coming few weeks. Thank you again!

Posted by
2493 posts

Note that the 9.37 does not go from Llandudno to London but from Llandudno Junction - which is just to the south of the town. You can however take trains from Llandudno to Chester - should you wish to see that small city (well worth a look). Not sure where you would put your luggage and the station is a bit of a walk from the historic centre.

I am not sure why you are splitting up on the Saturday for The Cotswolds? I would take mum in the car and not bother with tours. Drive SE from Hereford on A438 and go into the centre of Ledbury - which has some very old black & white beamed buildings. Then continue SE on A438 to Tewkesbury . Then A46 eastbound crossing M5 junction 9 and at next roundabout - take B4077 to Toddington. The nearby village of Stanway is worth a look before continuing SE on B4077. Now set the satnav for Lower Slaughter and the more busy Bourton-on-the-Water = both very attractive Cotswold villages. Then find your way to Broadway and then Chipping Campden - both very attractive Cotswold villages. (Kiftsgate Court & Hidcote Manor Gardens are both nearby). Now you could either return back west to Hereford or go NE to see Stratford-upon-Avon - it depends on how things are going.

If you are near Bromyard - suggest you visit Lower Brockhampton Hall (NT).

When driving Hereford to north Wales - A49 from Hereford going north - be sure to call into Ludlow. Just N of Ludlow (A49) - visit Stokesay Castle. Continuing north - take A5 and just after passing Chirk you turn left at a roundabout and soon come to Froncysyllte. Suggest you detour R here and find the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct = the wonder of the Victorian age. The continue W to Llangollen and on to Betws-Y-Coed and then A470 down to Llandudno area. An alternative route is to go from the aqueduct (near Ruabon) on A483 and then A55 north Wales expressway to Llandudno area. Going this way could allow you to drive into Chester and see that city though you might encounter some congestion. It might therefore be best to break your train journey from Llandudno to London and spend a couple of hours or so seeing Chester then.

Another vote for Bodnant Gardens. Mother should be OK in the top part of the gardens but going into the dell is steeper.

Google the places mentioned.

Posted by
6718 posts

On the Saturday for the tours I notice that they leave Stratford-upon-Avon at 0850.

It is at least 1 1/2 hours drive from Hereford to Stratford-upon-Avon, time to park up (at least that's in the same street), get to the coach station, that is 2 hours, so you are leaving Hereford by no later than 0645.

Moreton-in-Marsh is about the same driving time from Hereford, so you could leave half an hour later, but that still seems early unless you are all early risers.

Posted by
6718 posts

As for Chester there is a company called Stasher (who come recommended by other forum members) to store your luggage.

One of their storage locations in Chester is at The Best Western The Queen Hotel, which is straight outside Chester Railway Station.

Each piece costs £5.90-
There is a free shuttle bus runs into the City Centre from the Railway Station every 10 minutes.

When you buy your train tickets to Chester you can also add on a 'Plus Bus' ticket. This costs £1.65 for railcard holders and covers all public buses within the city (by whichever company)- and there is a very frequent service from the station.

From Llandudno to Chester an advance train ticket costs £4.15 for railcard holders (it is the same fare from Llandudno Junction), onward from Chester to London Euston, it should cost between £23 and £31 each advance fare.
Rather than the inconvenience of changing at Crewe- through trains (taking a shade over 2 hours) leave at 1432, 1632 and 1732- that is the last through train.

Posted by
6718 posts

Having just re-checked the Chester free bus it runs every 15 minutes now- it is service 40 and is run by Aintree Coachlines (the Tourist Board website gives the old frequency of every 6 minutes, which is very out of date)-

This is full details of the Plus Bus ticket-
which shows that, if booked this way, railcards do give discount on bus services within a city.
I use Plus Bus all the time across the UK- it is very good value.

Llandudno also has Plus Bus, which also covers Conwy- so if you are travelling by train the same day from either Llandudno Station you can buy that to travel round the area-

Direct trains depart Llandudno to Chester at 43 minutes past each hour until 1143, (calling at Llandudno Junction 10 minutes later and take 1 hour 6 minutes.

Posted by
6 posts

While we are somewhat early risers, you make a valid point about the travel time from Hereford to Stratford-upon-Avon and to Moreton-in-Marsh. We felt that by taking an organized tour we would get more information about the history and other local commentary. The tour that included walking between a few villages sounded like a nice option for my husband and me rather than being on a tour van the whole day. We will definitely research all of that a little further now based on feedback from the group.

The train and bus information is invaluable, so a huge thank you for that! Also, many of you have mentioned staying in Llandudno for the Wales portion of our trip and touring around Chester (and about the luggage storage there) on our way to London so I'll definitely look into incorporating those areas into our itinerary.

Thank you for all of the information!

Posted by
2493 posts

Not suggesting touring around Chester but just visiting the compact city centre.

Posted by
6816 posts

Not related to itinerary, but ensure somebody is holding her arm if you need to go on cobblestones or up/down stairs. When I took my at the time 83 year old mom to Rome back in 2012, those were the only things she needed help with.

Posted by
6718 posts

By the way there is also a City Sightseeing HoHo bus for Chester which has the railway station as one of it's stops-

In a city like Chester it makes far more sense than in London, where the buses just sit in traffic jams all day. At £10 for your Mum and £13 for each of you it is far more sensibly priced than many of the HoHo buses- I think it was Ponta Delgada, Azores the last time I saw one so reasonably priced.

There is also one for Llandudno-

Posted by
6 posts

I definitely appreciate the tips everyone has made to help make this trip comfortable for my mother, which in turn means it will be more fun for my husband and me!

Posted by
6718 posts

I have been in Chester today.
The Ho-Ho bus runs from opposite the station entrance at 32 and 2 minutes past the hour from start of April to end October, first bus at 0932, last at 1732.
As well as the basic £13/£10 fare for 24 hour use, there is an £11/£8 fare after 2pm, also a 2 day ticket for £14.50/£12, also a 24 hour combo ticket which includes a half hour river cruise with 'Chester Boat' for £17/£14.
That saves £3.65 off the separate price.
The boats also do a longer 2 hour cruise through the Eaton Estate, the ancestral home of the Duke of Westminster as far as the picturesque Aldford Iron Bridge.
The free bus into the city leaves from Stop S7, straight outside the main door of the station.

As well as the free bus there are 13 normal buses an hour run from outside the station into the city centre, which can be used with the bus add on to your train ticket.

I did check but the car hire office which used to be at the station is no longer there.

Within the station there are elevators to the far platforms. There are restrooms, including accessible ones, both on the platforms and in the station entrance before the gateline, where there is also a tourist information stand.

Posted by
233 posts

The football fixtures for next season have not been released yet, also it not known for certain which division Wrexham will be playing in - likely League 2 after thier win over thier championship rivals Notts yesterday. The fixtures are released late June for the EFL. Also, putting that aside, most midweek fixtures are played on a Tuesday Championship down not Wednesdays, weekday fixtures are not planned for every week like they are on a Saturdays during the season and of course Wrexham could be playing away that week too. If a visit to the Racecourse is must, you are going to need to be flexible until the fixtures are announced later this year.

Posted by
6 posts

The football scheduling information is very helpful, thank you. I knew the fixtures wouldn't be released until the summer, but I appreciate learning that midweek fixtures are mostly played on Tuesday for Championship down. This will likely be an entirely separate after the fixtures are released to determine what match we can most likely get tickets for, possibly for an EFL or Premier League match when we're in London at the end of our trip. My husband and I are staying an additional night in London so a match on Saturday, Sep 30 would be ideal.