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Glasgow to Birmingham to London... what to do with 9 days

Landing in Glasgow and driving down/flying out of London. Birmingham is a "must" stop along the way for my Peaky-Blinder's-fan-husband. Trying to plan out the most interesting route for scenery and stops along the way. If our route is basically Glasgow to Birmingham to London, what are highlights/stops/towns we should take time to see or stay in along way? Is it worth it to take the long way around (i.e. coastal drive)? Or what "off route" towns/sights are worth taking the time to detour to on the way down? Est 9 days in UK not counting arrival and departure days.

Posted by
19182 posts

What are your interests?

You can plot your route on ViaMichelin.com. If you zoom way, way in, the roads VM considers especially scenic will be edged in green

I spent a lot of my Glasgow time tracking down Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings and other interesting architecture.

The direct route to Liverpool seems to cut between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Those are both popular walking/hiking areas.

Between Liverpool and Birmingham you pass near Chester, a very popular (i.e., touristy) town with a nice historic district.

I think ditching the car before you get to London is a really fine idea, but kinda-sorta between Birmingham and London you have Stratford-upon-Avon, the Cotswolds and Oxford. It would be nice to have a car to tool around some of the Cotswold villages. Oxford doesn't need a car, and indeed folks say a car is a major burden there.

You will find the car not helpful in any of the large cities, and driving will be slower than taking a train.

Posted by
2273 posts

Oxford doesn't need a car, and indeed folks say a car is a major
burden there.

A major burden is quite an understatement but there are excellent Park & Rides around the town. However, apart from the Cotswolds where a car is useful I'd suggest returning the car in Birmingham at the latest.

Also, Edinburgh is a lovely city worth some time. And you should look at flights to Edinburgh as well, it is a larger airport than Glasgow so it can be easier to find flights there.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you acraven. We are a bit all over the place as you can probably tell, lol. My husband is quite enthusiastically social so I'm sure he'll be wanting to chat with the locals. We like some of the touristy stuff and love cute little towns but I can't think of anything I "have" to see to make massive tourist crowds worth it... I'm actually a bit worried about London being overly touristy from what I've read from some people's experiences there. We tend to lean more towards things like scenery/countryside, castles, parks, easy hikes, flea markets, farmers markets, exploring antique stores, historical monuments, and museums. We enjoy eating out and typically pick random hole-in-the-wall restaurants to try. I love the ocean so a coastal beach or two would be nice. If we have to drive a little out of the way to see interesting scenery rather than the highway we'd normally take that route.

Posted by
6752 posts

London may have places popular with tourists but the city is not “touristy.” It is one of my favorite places to visit in the world and I enjoy it more each time I go there. The parks, historic buildings, churches , museums and walks along the Thames are all worth your time. My favorite place continues to be Westminster Abbey and I never miss a chance to visit it.
And we enjoyed a day in Oxford a few trips ago, much to see there too.

Posted by
1190 posts

Look at www.nationaltrust.org.uk for some great places to visit. They have an Overseas Visitors Touring Pass for Couples that will save you on Admissions. There are some wonderful place to visit. One of my favorites is Lacock, a real village, listed with the National Trust for a visit to Fox Talbot studio, the inventor of printing photos on paper! Oh yeah, a lot of Harry Potter was filmed here. If you go via the Yorkshire Dales you can visit a few coastal villages from there, It's hard to find that many long coastal drives as there are so many inlets and rivers and high bluffs. Study Google Earth Maps to get a birdseye view . Scotland has a variety of Admissions Passes; Look at www.visitscotland.com for many choices. Edinburgh is worth a visit to see the Castle and Holyrood Palace; etc. It's an easy drive south from there: stop at Hadrian's Wall and Durham Cathedral. Stop at overnight at York. I also enjoyed the "Treasure Houses of England" like Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace. Those that are not National Trust usually have a 2 for 1 admission available if purchased in advance. Bon Voyage!

Posted by
4879 posts

Sorry, but you need to be realistic about what you can see in only 9 days. Working backwards, I assume that you want at least 4 days in London, which only gives you a full day each for Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham plus a travel day between Glasgow and Liverpool and half a day for the other legs.

Driving in Glasgow and Liverpool isn’t a pleasant experience and I have driven in each numerous times and am used to driving on the correct side of the road! It would seem to make more sense to travel by train rather than drive, as it would be more relaxing and quicker. There isn’t a coastal route option.

If you do opt to drive once you leave Glasgow, it would be advisable to return the car in Birmingham and take the train into London. The obvious place to see en route to Liverpool would be the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales. It’s about 5 hours driving plus any stops.

Chester is the obvious stop en route to Birmingham. You may wish to spend a day at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley if you are Peaky Blinders fans, as it depicts how life used to be in the area.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you Jennifer! I appreciate the feedback.

"Driving in Glasgow and Liverpool isn’t a pleasant experience..." If we're landing in Glasgow where would you recommend we stay outside the city as the most convenient/driving-friendly home-base for a couple days of south Scotland wandering? Our primary goal isn't Scotland but I would like to see a bit of it, even if it's only the southern part.

Posted by
5694 posts

Funny I’ve never found London touristy and I’ve been visiting since the 70’s. I always find something new to see and do. Was there for 20 days and nights last year. You can read my trip report.

Grab Mr Steve’s books on Scotland and England and read them. Will help you decide what you’d like to see. The books are chock full of very helpful information especially for first time visitors.

Although Peaky Blinders was set in Birmingham it wasn’t filmed there. Much of the show was filmed at Dudley’s Black Country Museum which is about 30 miles outside Birmingham. If seeing locations where the show was filmed is a must you’ll also need to visit Leeds and Liverpool.

9 days is a very short amount of time given your arrival and departure days. Take time to research and discuss what are must sees. Will help you plan a flexible itinerary.

Lastly, review distances and travel times. Remember you’ll be driving on the other side of the road in unfamiliar territory. Trying to see too much will only cause angst and disappointment. Be realistic.

Posted by
26047 posts

As Birmingham is a must stop for the husband - where in Birmingham? Or, what do you want to visit or see? I lived for 20 years just outside Brum and know it well, as well as the outlying areas, but don't know what you want to see.

Driving and parking (ha!) in Brum is no fun at all. Really. None. It even has a Spaghetti Junction after the contorted shape.

Tell me what you want to see.

Be aware that the motorway between Carlisle and Birmingham, the M6, which goes past Liverpool (another place not to drive) and past Manchester on the way to Birmingham is extremely truck heavy and under construction (putting in "smart" motorways) and each of the construction zones will have narrow lanes, 50 mph or 40 mph strictly enforced speed limits enforced by speed averaging yellow cameras and very large fines for just over the speed limit either on average or as you pass any of them. The M6 is not my favourite road.

Do you want to see red squirrels?

Plenty of sand at Morcombe Sands, just watch the tide and beware of quicksand - people are killed there every year.

Posted by
11 posts

Hi Nigel - it is actually the Black Country Museum that is a must see; we can't go to UK without going there, I'd never hear the end of it! lol
Sounds like driving over there is painful... living in the Seattle area we have some pretty awful traffic so we're used to that, but definitely not used to public transit. The thought of relying on and reading train maps for me is a bit daunting. I'll have to do a bit more studying of the transit map!

Posted by
11 posts

"Funny I’ve never found London touristy..."
I think maybe I used the wrong terminology. I'm not worried that London is touristy, but full of tourists. I was saying that in planning on our "must-see" sights, I can't think of anything I want to see so badly that I want to stand in a super long line or huge crowd to get a glimpse. I've read some commentary from people disappointed in their experience in London because the locations they wanted to visit were so crowded. I'd rather have a relaxed experience around the city, soaking up some local culture and history rather than stress about what I "have" to see and then be disappointed if it's closed or full.
Along that train of thought... what's your suggestion for cool sights/locations that aren't packed to the brim? Or vice/versa, what would you avoid?

Posted by
19182 posts

I think you'll find the trains in the UK easy to deal with. There are folks here who can answer any questions. And when you're actually in the UK, you won't be dealing with a foreign language, just the occasional accent. You probably won't ever need to look at a rail map; just look up schedules on the website nationalrail.co.uk.

There's a Two Together Rail Card that reduces ticket prices by 1/3 for co-travelers. The Senior Rail Card for those 60+ provides the same discount for an individual traveler. "Advance" tickets will be even cheaper, when available, but they are normally non-refundable and costly to change, and to snag those deals you usually have to buy your tickets rather early, which is a bit risky given the current situation. I bought some train tickets last year before I left home and had no problem at all collecting them from vending machines in several different rail stations in Scotland and England.

The Seat61 website will tell you way more than you want to know about the trains.

Posted by
1151 posts

Also, it is entirely possible to have a wonderful time in England without staying in London. London is still on my extended stay list (and hopefully soon), but because it IS a big city, it didn’t make the cut on my first two trips (except for flying). It sounds as if you are really more interested in other experiences - so feel free to spend time on those! You can’t do it all, so pick what you really want (but that takes research).

Posted by
2837 posts

Unless you're going to Lake District or Cotswolds, I would take the easy trains to all these places. They're also faster than driving. And remember they drive on the other side of the street,so if you haven't done this before, you might prefer not to try.

Posted by
26047 posts

so for the Black Country Museum it is Dudley (birthplace of Lenny Henry among others) you want not Brum. Completely different accent. It may take a bit of practice - maybe take an interpreter to help you with "yam yam".

It is well worth taking an electric narrowboat trip into the tunnel at the Museum.

There's a bus stop just outside, a station about a mile away, and a car parking charge at the museum.

They are hoping to reopen in some sort of way next month, but I don't know how or at what level.

The Black Country Museum is one of the most renowned open air museums in the country.

The fish and chips is quite acceptable. yum

Posted by
4941 posts

I loved Peaky Blinder's, but wouldn't waste my time in Birmingham with way more interesting places in Britain.

We did a great four weeks driving around South Wales and England in 2017.
Here is my detailed review of our trip

28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home

https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Traffic in the Midlands around Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester is terrible. Don't attempt to drive a car there.

If you insist on going to Birmingham, if you like nature and scenic places, the Lake District is nice for hiking.
Keswick is a nice place to stay.

York is out of the way, unless you skip Birmingham. York is amazing, we spent three nights there.

The Cotswolds are great, loved them and Chipping Campden, Stratford Upon Avon, Blenheim Palace and Oxford.