Itinerary advice for London to Dublin, to include Liverpool, a pretty beach and garden

Never been to England or. Ireland, will have 14 days in the fall. I would appreciate the wisdom of the forum! Will only do public transportation (no car or hired driver). Love to walk. Flying in to London, home from Dublin (airline tickets are final).

Plan so far is to stay 8 nights in London and would like to do a day trip one of the days to Liverpool, happy to get up early, train in, see The National Trust Beatles home tour, then back to London. But I eventually will need to get to Ireland, and don't know is it better to fly London to Dublin, or Liverpool to Dublin logistic-wise (time versus $, I value time more) with wanting to see a garden and beach? Staying in a London location with good access to train and tube.

Nothing set in stone yet for the remaining days, reservation-wise.

I would love to see a beautiful beach, water or ocean and have read about Rosshili Bay, but It seems prohibitive for public transport and long to get there unless it is on the way to Liverpool? -- don't know that I can do it with public transportation or amount of time? -- would like to find something beautiful that is either near London (a day trip) or on the way to going to Ireland. Or, if there is a pretty beach to visit near Dublin? Have read about Dingle of course, but is there something decent on the east side of Ireland? (Seems like to see Dingle, would need to fly from London to Shannon, bus to Dingle, and eventually to Dublin, a lot of travel).

Gardens, I have read about Kew garden (London) and Sissinghurst, and others, but would just like to see anything with the rolling hills, flowers, tailored hedges. I love that Jane Austen feel (but do not need to go to Bath for the garden).

Again, no experience with England or Ireland (have been to Europe, and am happy to this time go where I speak the language.

Thank you for any suggestions,

Posted by emma
London
667 posts

Rather than going to Liverpool as a day trip why not go on your way to Dublin?
Liverpool is 2-3 hours from London by train on the west coast line so leave London, stay the night in Liverpool to see the sites etc then fly from Liverpool John Lennon airport to Dublin.

Or for more of an adventure you could get the Holyhead ferry to Ireland. This would give you the opportunity to see some great scenery and beaches. Lots of ways you could do it but as an example take the train from London to Chester which takes 2 hours. Use Chester as your base, it's a pretty town with loads of roman/medieval history. It's 45 mins direct from Chester to Liverpool on a very regular train service. You could get off the train a stop earlier than Liverpool at Birkenhead and then get the "ferry across the Mersey" into Liverpool, it's a fun trip!
The advantage of Chester is that it is on the direct train route into Wales which goes through to Holyhead where you can pick up the ferry to Ireland. The train goes right along the North Wales Coast where there are a choice of beaches and castles to enjoy. Maybe, if you have the time, spend a night in a town along the welsh coast and then head to Ireland?

Or you could combine both travel options, use Chester as a base to make, easy day trips to Liverpool and Wales for the Beaches, then fly from Liverpool to Ireland. A cab from Chester to the airport wouldn't be prohibitively expensive.
The train route from London to Liverpool/Chester goes throughout some lovely countryside which would definitely fit your wish to see hedges, rolling hills etc.

Just a couple of suggestions to add confusion to your planning! :-)
Ps if you are interested in gardens you won't do better than a visit to Kew.

Posted by James
226 posts

I agree with Emma. Go by train to Liverpool - or Chester & check into a hotel. (Trains run about very 30 minutes from Chester to Liverpool). www.visitchester.com

Now, you could fly from Liverpool to Dublin but I would suggest you take the train to Llandudno or Conwy (Conway) on the north Wales coast & check into a hotel for 2 > 3 nights. www.visitllandudno.org.uk www.greatorme.org.uk
So, you will now have a beach even though it has a lot of pebbles but with sand at low tide - many better ones do exist in Wales especially on the west coast. (I was on Rhosilli beach 7 days ago. It is on the Gower peninsula in south Wales so would be well off your route). Now for a garden - well how about Bodnant which is just a short bus rice from Llandudno or Llandudno Junction.http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden/ (Gardens will not have so many flowers in September).
You can even see a magnificent medieval castle at Conwy =http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/conwycastle/?lang=en
You could also take the Conway Valley railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog and then the narrow gauge steam railway = Ffestiniog Railway - http://www.festrail.co.uk By leaving the train at Minfforrdd, you could even walk the 1 mile into Portmeirion - so long as you can make it back to the return train. http://www.portmeirion-village.com/en/gallery/photos/portmeirion/

Anyway, from Conwy/ Llandudno Junction - it is a straight forward journey by train to Holyhead for the ferry to Dublin.
http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/

http://www.visitwales.com/explore/north-wales/snowdonia-mountains-coast/must-do-listwww.visitwales.co.uk
For buses > www.transportdirect.info
Trains > www.nationalrail.co.uk (Book ahead for the long journey from London).

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2361 posts

Outside of Dublin and accessible by bus is Powerscourt. http://powerscourt.com. Would definitely provide the Jane Austen feel even though your not in England. You could also train from London to Dover, walk along the cliffs or use public transport from there to St. Margaret's Bay beach. Fall in the UK will most likely be bleak and grey much like a fall day in the Bay Area.
I strolled along the windy Inch Beach outside of Dingle last November. Somewhat reminiscent of Waddle Creek Beach above Santa Cruz. Lastly, as you've not visited either country and are going to be dependent on public transport I'd suggest getting the RS guidebooks or at the very least, peruse them at a library. Practical and informative guides which every first time traveler to Europe should read. You've chosen two wonderful countries to visit. Have fun!!

Posted by Bluewaterquest
Bay Area
12 posts

Thank you for your generosity with tips and information, so much detail and specifics, each of you! I am going to check it all out!

Will take grey sky over crowds of tourists and heat, the bigger concern is reliability of trains and tube being on time in England and Ireland (excluding things that are not working or on strike). Are England and Ireland good about timeliness (as opposed to the trains in Italy, which stop for no reason)?

Posted by emma
London
667 posts

Not really sure what you mean by timeliness in relation to the tube. All lines have incredibly regular services especially in the centre of town when most lines will have trains running every 2-5 minute. You miss a train you just wait for the next one.

Trains, as opposed to tubes, run to fixed timetables and again are pretty reliable. As with any public transport there can be delays but nothing significant to worry about.

When in London don't just restrict yourself to tubes, the city also has an excellent bus network that can get you to a much wider area of the city then the tube.

Posted by James
226 posts

The punctuality of Britain's trains is generally very good. You can see the punctuality of the different train companies here:>http://www.networkrail.co.uk/about/performance/

You can also see in real time how things are right now from home (as long as it is daytime in the UK) by going to www.nationalrail.co.uk and scrolling down to Live Departures / Arrivals. To reach Liverpool or Chester from London, you will be departing from London Euston - so you might wish to try EUS in the box. (25 & 26 May are a Bank Holiday in England & Wales so engineering work might throw schedules a bit). I would also try and avoid travelling on Sundays as trains are prone to diversions due to engineering work. Fridays from 3pm are also best avoided due to high demand causing over crowding & high ticket prices.

The company you will be using from London (Euston) to Liverpool or Chester is Virgin. www.virgintrains.co.uk

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6084 posts

Glad to see you got some thoughtful advice.