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Itinerary advice - Bath / Cornwall / London

Hi all, I'm trying to plan a reasonable itinerary focusing on the London / Bath / Cornwall area. My current thought is the below itinerary, which gives us two full days in Cornwall and three full days in London, but also lets us hit some of our must-sees (Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Avebury). We plan to pick up a car in Bath and keep it until we get back to London. Any advice is welcome! I'm particularly interested if anyone has thoughts on the Day 6 / Day 7 portion.

Oh, we are looking at something like the last full week of September 2016 - maybe Day 0 is Thursday 22 September.

Bill

Day 0 – fly out from U.S.

Day 1 – arrive Heathrow, transit to Bath, sleep Bath

Day 2 – Bath, sleep Bath

Day 3 – Glastonbury, drive to Penzance, sleep Penzance

Day 4 – Cornwall, sleep Penzance

Day 5 – Cornwall, sleep Penzance

Day 6 – Dartmoor, maybe Stonehenge, sleep Salisbury

Day 7 – Stonehenge if we missed it, Avebury, sleep London

Day 8 - London, sleep London

Day 9 – London, sleep London

Day 10 – London, sleep London

Day 11 – fly home

Posted by
5547 posts

Seems more sensible than many itineraries I see on this forum! Days 3 and 6 involve fairly long drives. Day 6 is probably a 5 hour drive with a stop, then 2 hours for Stonehenge.

You will need to think about where to drop the hire car in London - taking it into central London isn't recommended. Heathrow possibly? Some of the car hire places in Bath don't open on a Sunday. You don't want/need a car in Bath itself.

Posted by
1889 posts

I would throw in a stop at Wells on the way to Glastonbury. I do not rate Glastonbury highly.

If you drive from Glastonbury to Penzance, most of the journey will be on expressways. I think it would be better to try and take a more interesting route - such as the A39 along the north side of Exmoor. Places to see on this route are Dunster, Selworthy and Lynmouth. Then follow A39 to Barnstaple/ Bideford area for an overnight. (If you arrive early, go and see Clovelly, otherwise do that on the next day). The A39 in he Exmoor area is very bendy with steep hills.

Next day, continue SW on A39 and visit Boscastle & Tintagel. Next, perhaps detour into Padstow but I would miss Newquay. Then 2 nights in Penzance area. (You should arrive early - if so, go and see St.Ives). Next day = Mousehole > Minac Theatre (cut into cliffs bear Porthcurno) > Land’s End etc. and back to base.

Leave Penzance area and start heading back east. See St.Michael’s Mount (from mainland) > consider visiting Glendurgan and Trebah Gardens (near Falmouth) > Truro > Eden Project (near St.Austell) > overnight in Fowey/Lostwithial area.

Next day - visit Polperro and Looe before heading off east. (I would not bother with Dartmoor). In south Devon, Salcombe, Dartmouth & Totnes are all worth a look but I don’t think you will have enough time. Anyway, see hoe things are going - you should be able to reach Stonehenge/ Salisbury. (Montacute House, near Yeovil is virtually on your route but time constraints will mean you would probably have to miss it).

Google the places mentioned for more info. I am really fed up with the RS American spell checker changing all my correct spellings because it thinks it knows better!

Posted by
1672 posts

We have visited Cornwall several times, including a week in June, 2016. Penzance is NOT a good location for seeing Cornwall - it is too far west and has traffic problems. The best choice for Cornwall is somewhere at the western end of the peninsula and another location towards the eastern end. Cornwall is not the place for a "stay in one location and day trip" arrangement. The only truly central location is Truro.

Be sure whatever location you choose includes parking - many places don't.

We stayed near Zennor and in Mevagissey. Zennor is a good location for visiting the scenic areas at the western end of the peninsula, ancient stones, and Mousehole. Mevagissey is a good location for visiting locations on either the north or south coast - it's charming in itself and near Fowey and the adjacent estuary and it's only an hours drive from there to Tintagel, Boscastle, and Port Isaac. Bodmin Moor is also nearby.

Definitely include Wells, even if only for a two hour lunch break. The cathedral is lovely and there's an intact medieval close off to one side. I am not a fan of Bath, except for the Roman Baths. You might consider on your day 2 leaving Bath late afternoon and heading over to Wells or Glastonbury, both of which would be lovely in the evening.

Posted by
279 posts

Bill, my wife and I did a very similar itinerary in June 2012. Transit to Bath on arrival is a snap, we used the trains (Heathrow Express to Paddington and then rail out to Bath). Bath is so lovely and you've got just the right amount of time there, in my opinion. Cornwall is lovely, but we thought Penzance was a but dull for the tourist. I think St. Ives or tiny Mousehole might be a better option for pure charm. Dartmoor is wonderful - we skipped Stonehenge so we could have more time in Dartmoor, but that sounds like it would eliminate one of your must-have visits. We were in the Chagford area in Dartmoor (visiting on our drive from Bath to St. Ives) and found a stone circle in the moors between Chagford and Gidliegh (Scorhil - mentioned in RS guide book only briefly) which was magical, solitary and free (though not famous or enormous like Stonehenge). Since you were wondering about Day 6-7, I'd say that it is a bit ambitious and will probably result in too much car time. How/if you adjust would depend on what you'd be willing to do without or to cut back on. 3 full non-travel days in London at the end puts a lovely bow on the trip and is probably a good amount of time in London (even though you could easily spend a week there). Looks like so much fun. Cheers!

Posted by
2939 posts

To comment on your days 6 and 7.
I would sleep more than one night in Salisbury. There is Stonehenge to see, and don't miss the wonderful Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury Museum, and downtown area of Salisbury for strolling and seeing a couple of old city gates. Good restaurants and pubs.

"We plan to pick up a car in Bath and keep it until we get back to London."
Not necessary, or even the best plan. Once you check into your hotel in Salisbury, drive up to Avebury and see it. Then return to Salisbury, turn in your car, and stay a night or two. You will want to take the "Stonehenge Bus" out to Stonehenge. It leaves from the town center, near the Tourist Information office. Buy tickets for Stonehenge and the bus ride out from the Tourist Information Center.

Many hotels are in downtown Salisbury, or walking distance to the cathedral and the Tourist Information Center.

Take the train back from Salisbury to London.

We spent most of May 2016 in England. We took a trip out to Salisbury by train and stayed three nights. We spent a week traveling by train in the countryside of England, and two weeks in London.

A car is great for going here and there out in the countryside of England. But once that part of the trip is done and you are heading back to London next, time to ditch the car at the first available opportunity to avoid the London area traffic.

Also, the train service from Salisbury to London is excellent. (An hour and a half) Fast. Nice clean cars with tables to use as a desk for your laptop. Food/snack/drink service cart rolls down the aisle. Relax and enjoy seeing the countryside sitting higher up than you would in a car.

An added benefit of the train. It puts you into London at Waterloo station. A very convenient location.
If you had driven back in the car, best place to return is Heathrow Airport. Then....you still have to take the Heathrow Express train or tube into London. You may as well just arrive by train in the center of London directly from Salisbury.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks all! I think this will help us refine our itinerary quite a bit (though I think we're stuck with at least one day of mostly driving). I hadn't thought about dropping off the car in Salisbury but that seems very convenient.

Bill

Posted by
149 posts

I keep replying to questions on Cornwall and I'm going to repeat myself because I feel so strongly about it. Skip Land's End!! It is the most disappointing and commercially driven part Cornwall. I wish someone had told me to not waste time on it. But since you are staying in Penzance, I agree with what others said above about going to Mousehole, over to Minack, and to some stone circles that direction. Have fun!

Posted by
3 posts

Hello Bill, Looking at Cornwall, and all the sweet places you could choose to stay, Penzance is not one of the nicest at all !