Itinerary - England/Scotland/Ireland/Wales

As you may guess from the title we are planning an extensive trip. We will be away for 6 weeks (including flights) - 40 nights in the UK and Ireland.

There are many posts on here about itineraries - mostly for shorter periods. I have received some great advice regarding Ireland. Everyone's "must sees" and reasons are different but I thought I would share what we have planned. Our interests include scenery, trains, family history, local food and traditional music. Please comment if you wish.

I have not added all of the details about what we want to do/see but can answer any questions. When we are spending a few days in one place (Thirsk, Chitterne and Boscastle) we will use this as a base and do sightseeing in different directions.

Day 1 - Arrive London 4pm (flight from Australia)
Day 2 - London
Day 3 - London - evening performance of Les Miserables
Day 4 - London then overnight sleeper to Fort William
Day 5 - Steam train excursion to Mallaig - overnight Fort William
Day 6 - Train to Glasgow - overnight Glasgow
Day 7 - Glasgow
Day 8 - Train to Edinburgh - Fringe performance in evening - overnight Edinburgh
Day 9 - Edinburgh
Day 10 - pick up car - drive from Edinburgh to Jedburgh via Glenkinchie Distillery - overnight Jedburgh
Day 11 - drive Jedburgh to Kendal via Housesteads Roman Fort/Hadrian's Wall - overnight Kendal
Day 12 - explore Lake District - overnight Kendal
Day 13 - drive Kendal to Thirsk - explore Yorkshire Dales - overnight Thirsk
Day 14 - overnight Thirsk
Day 15 - overnight Thirsk
Day 16 - drive Thirsk to Porthmadog (Wales) - overnight Porthmadog
Day 17 - day at Portmeirion - overnight Porthmadog
Day 18 - drive Porthmadog to Caernarfon - drop off car - bus/train to Holyhead - catch 2pm ferry to Dublin - overnight Dublin
Day 19 - Dublin
Day 20 - Dublin
Day 21 - pick up car - drive to Ballina via Newgrange - overnight Ballina
Day 22 - drive Ballina to Kinvara - overnight Kinvara
Day 23 - drive Kinvara to Dingle via Cliffs of Moher - overnight Dingle
Day 24 - explore Dingle Peninsula - overnight Dingle
Day 25 - drive Dingle to Kinsale - overnight Kinsale
Day 26 - drive Kinsale to Rosslare - overnight Rosslare
Day 27 - drop pff car, catch ferry to Pembroke (Wales), pick up car - overnight Fishguard
Day 28 - explore Pembrokeshire coastal scenery - overnight Fishguard
Day 29 - drive Fishguard to Chitterne (near Salisbury) - overnight Chitterne
Day 30 - overnight Chitterne
Day 31 - overnight Chitterne
Day 32 - overnight Chitterne
Day 33 - overnight Chitterne
Day 34 - drive Chitterne to Boscastle (Cornwall) - overnight Boscastle
Day 35 - overnight Boscastle
Day 36 - overnight Boscastle
Day 37 - overnight Boscastle
Day 38 - drop off car in Plymouth - catch train to Cambridge - overnight Cambridge
Day 39 - explore Cambridge the train to London - overnight London
Day 40 - London
Day 41 - all day in London - depart Heathrow 10pm

Posted by emma
London
1048 posts

Just a couple of points
Re your train journey from Plymouth to Cambridge.
This planned journey goes via London and involves a painful change of London Stations from Paddington to Kings Cross, and would take a minimum of 5 hours, a large chunk of your day.
You would be better going from Plymouth to London, staying in London an extra night and doing Cambridge as a day trip, as it is only 45 minutes by train, a very easy commute.

The drive from Thirsk to Porthmadog is a bit of a hike. Is there a particular reason you want to be in Thirsk for 3 nights? It might be better to stay for 2 and then spend a night somewhere between Thirsk and Wales, maybe in the Peak District?

After you drop your car off in Caernarfon it might be easier to get a cab to Holyhead. I have no idea what it might cost, but I doubt it would be extortionately expensive and it would certainly be easier than a bus/train combination with luggage.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1378 posts

My only comment would be about your stay in Kendal in order to explore the Lake District. Since you are coming from the north it would be more convenient and save you time to stay in Keswick rather than backtracking from Kendal which is to the south of the Lake District. Kendal is a nice town but it isn't really in the part of the Lake District that people go there to see. Unless you have a special reason for going there I would consider changing your plans and stay within the Lake District rather than staying outside of it. Usually we rent an apartment or small house near Keswick but last summer, we didn't stay as long as usual, so we stayed at The Herdwick House, a great little B&B right in town. If you change your mind I highly recommend it!

Posted by gandy79
17 posts

Thanks for the ideas.

Emma, I am aware of the change of train in London but am thinking it would be nice to have 2 full days in London at the end of the trip rather than going up to Cambridge for one of those days. We have allowed the whole day to get from Plymouth to Cambridge. I will consider your suggestion as that part is not really finalised.
Re 3 nights in Thirsk: We are planning on basing ourselves here as we would like to spend one day travelling across the Yorkshire Moors and on to Whitby/Robin Hood's Bay and go to York on the other day. I was concerned about the feasibility of driving from Thirsk to Porthmadog but have received some fantastic advice and suggestions re that day from an earlier post on the forum. Caernarfon-Holyhead - I have checked the bus and train timetables and it is easy and doable and we will only have a small, wheeled cabin bag each.

Anita - Changing our accommodation from Kendal is a possibility I am considering. Thanks for the tip.

Thanks again.

Posted by James
340 posts

Firstly, I would not bother with Cambridge. Had you driven - or gone by train - from London to Yorkshire, then a detour to Cambridge might have been worthwhile. Why choose Cambridge when Oxford = a similar type of place, would have been so much easier to reach by train when coming up from Cornwall.

You say that you are landing at Pembroke. By that, I take it you are using Irish Ferries from Rosslare. The odd thing is that Stena operate a service from Rosslare direct to Fishguard. So, why would you choose to stay in N Pembrokeshire (Fishguard) rather than S Pembrokeshire where you say you are landing back in Wales? Anyway, if you are only staying in Pembrokeshire for 1 full day, this does not give you anything like the time you need to see this area properly.

Your day trip from Fishguard will either have to go south or north. If going south I would do Stumble Head > perhaps Aberiddy*, then St.David's & possibly Whitesands Bay (sands are not white), the go east to Solva before returning back to Fishguard. If going north - take A487 to Newport (Pemb) about 2Km NE leave A487 & take back roads to Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber. Return to A487 & head for Cardigan. From Cardigan take B4545 towards Gwbert but 1Km out, turn R & head for Mwnt *. Then use back roads to Aberporth - then back to A487 & soon turn L on B4334 for Llangranog. No parking in this village so park in field & use shuttle mini-bus. You can see Llangrannog here (& click for other places on the Ceredigion coast). If you are fit, walks along coast either way from Llangrannog are excellent. http://www.cardiganshirecoastandcountry.com/llangrannog-cardigan-bay-wales.php
* These places are down narrow roads - make sure you can drive backwards!

New Quay - the next place up the coast is also worth a visit as is the beautiful harbour side town of Aberaeron. If you have time, you might want to go back to Fishguard via Cenarth - where men in Coracles are often seen on the river. Google these places & select 'images' to see what they are like. Also find them on Google Earth.

So, 2 whole days should have been given to Fishguard and even then, south Pembrokeshire including the lovely town of Tenby is being completely missed.

Now for your journey east to Chitterne. To be quite honest, it looks like you are going to miss many places of interest in south Wales. Assuming you are using the A40 to Carmarthen - then A48 > M4. About 5Km E of Carmarthen is the National Botanic Garden of Wales - just 1Km off your route! http://www.gardenofwales.org.uk

Shooting on to the Cardiff area - 2Km S of M4 J33 is www.museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans (free). If you do make a pit stop at this place, you must return to the A4232 expressway - go south to the next junction & loop back to M4 J33. (See it on Google Earth).Then, at the next junction M4 J32, you will see Castell Coch on a wooded hillside. I suggest you come off the M4 & follow signs for Tongwynlais - terrible road humps - & proceed to Castell Coch. http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/castell-coch/?lang=en
You might just about be able to do the above on your trip to Chitterne but really, you should have had at least 2 nights in the Cardiff area.
You are also missing in the immediate Cardiff area > http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/caerphilly-castle/?lang=en www.cardiffcastle.com www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff (closed Mondays) http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens/
www.visitcardiff.com

Continuing E on the M4 - you are missing Tintern Abbey (ruin) & the lower Wye Valley (N of the Severn Bridge). http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/tinternabbey/?lang=en

Chittern > You will probably go to Bath. Bath is very congested although the middle is pedestrianised. You might find it easier if you drive to Warminster & take the train. (parking by rail station).
An easy drive from Chitterne is > www.longleat.co.uk/explore/longleat-house
From Chitterne, it is also possible to reach the Dorset coast at Lulworth Cove & Durdle D.