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Itinerary Help

Looking for advice from great Rick Steves' posters!
After spending two weeks in Ireland & Scotland (group tour), we will be moving onto England on our own, arriving first in York. We plan to travel by train between our major hub cities in England. We originally had a few more stay-over cities in our itinerary, but realized it would be too much packing/unpacking and getting to/from trains, so we have now worked out the itinerary below. What do you think?
Day 1 - arrive into York after 7 pm
Day 2 - York
Day 3 - York
Day 4 - Train from York to Cornwall (full day of travel) (see below)
Day 5 & 6 (2 days) - In Cornwall, visit Camborne (to visit Chapel Street where GGF lived), search for GGM's home near Truro. Other sightseeing suggestions?
Day 7 - Train from Cornwall to Oxford, Bath, Cheltenham, Moreton or ????, arriving mid-afternoon
Days 8-10 (3 days) Sightseeing/day tours to Cotswold/Warwick Castle, Blenheim Palace....other suggested can't-miss sights???
Day 11 - train to London
Days 12-15 - London and surrounding (we have London sightseeing plans already selected)

Regarding our 2 days, 3 nights for Days 5&6 in Cornwall, keeping in mind we want to visit Camborne & Truro for short visits to see ancestor's home locations, we would appreciate recommendations of towns that would be good for our lodging needs. Will need to be near a major train station. Once there, we will most likely use bus service or taxis for transportation (may rent a car for one day).

Regarding our 3 days/4 nights for Days 8-10, we would appreciate recommendations for a central hub city for day tours out to sights such as Cotswolds, Warwick Castle, Blenheim Palace, possibly somewhere in Wales, etc.

Also, I've been trying to do the math as far as train fares. Assuming train travel of Edin-York, York-Cornwall, Cornwall-Oxford (for example sake) and Oxford-London, does anyone have a sense of whether the BritRail (England, Scotland and Wales) pass for 4 trips over 15 days would be more cost effective than purchasing the Senior Rail pass ($30 pounds) whereby we would purchase each train trip separately in advance? So many things to consider.....and then there's the BusPlus add-on feature. Any ideas about that? I know this is a lot....thanks in advance for any advice!

Posted by
533 posts

There is only one main train line that goes through Cornwall, and Truro and Camborne are both on it. Either of them (or Redruth, which is the stop in between) could be a reasonable home base for you, although I don't know anything about the availability of accommodation they offer.

As for your other questions, it would help to know (1) what time of year is this trip going to be, and (2) what day of the week is day 1?

Posted by
30 posts

KHBuzzarad - Thank you for train info in Cornwall. We will be in England Oct 4-19. Day 1 of this itinerary begins on a Tuesday.
Thanks again!

Posted by
533 posts

Train tickets for October aren't available yet, but I did some searching on for some sample journeys in early September on the same days of the week as your planned trips. These are the approximate fares that you can expect, per person, using the Senior railcard:

Edinburgh to York on a Tuesday: 18 pounds
York to Truro on a Friday: 67 pounds
Truro to Oxford on a Monday: 37 pounds
Oxford to London on a Friday: 4 pounds (seriously)

With the exception of Truro to Oxford (which is a walk-up off-peak fare), these are all advance-purchase fares for specific trains at specific times.

I wouldn't worry about the various PlusBus extensions. They can sometimes save you a little money, but not much. For example, on a recent trip to Devon, I got a PlusBus ticket for 2.50, when an ordinary bus day pass covering the same region would have been about 5.00. The PlusBus was a good deal because I knew for a fact I was going to use it - if I hadn't, I could still have gotten the day pass without breaking the bank.

Posted by
30293 posts

Good advice above.

Just two thoughts.

In your prior post you said you would be a small group of 3 or 4. Has that been clarified? If you use Senior Railcards you will each need one, at £30 per person. If you are either 2 or 4 you could have one or two Two Together Railcards if you are aware of paek restrictions, at £30 per couple. With the Senior Railcard you can split up; with the Two Together both people whose photos appear on the card must be on the train together each time.

By the way, check the routes that the advance tickets to Cornwall use. Although the elapsed times are very similar, taking the East Coast from York to London Kings Cross, crossing London to Paddington station, and then getting on the Great Western service to the West Country is much more complex than getting on the slower Cross Country service in York and then only having one simple change in either Exeter St Davids or Plymouth onto the Cornish train.

My other thought is very similar to one brought up in your other thread. Have you considered if your group would be well served having a car in Cornwall and the Cotswolds (and perhaps for the journey between - 3 and a half to 4 hours on the road, A30 and M5)?

So how many in the final group choice? All seniors?

Posted by
30293 posts

And if you use Cross Country, you might look at splitting the tickets at Birmingham.

Posted by
30 posts

Big thanks to everyone for your input. Once we added in our possible day train trips while lodging in Truro and Cheltenham, and did all the comparisons, I think we've decided to purchase the BritRail "England" Pass: 8 consecutive days beginning from York on Oct. 7, ending at midnight Oct. 14 in London. Just got off the phone with a BritRail rep who clarified some things for me.

Because we are buying this pass for 4 travelers, we get a discount which works out to $241 per person for the 8 days. To compare, I used estimates of all of the individual train trip fares if we were to use a Senior Railcard (card costs $30 GBP) over those 8 days and I came up with roughly $356 per person compared to the $241. So it remains to be seen if we actually save money with the BritRail pass, but I like the idea of having it for flexibility, etc. The BritRail rep explained to me that if we want to "reserve seats" (not required), we will have to do that once we arrive to England, but that we can do all desired reservations at the first train station we go to. What she couldn't tell me was what the "nominal" reservation fee would be when reserving seats. Since we are going in October, we may just take our chances and not worry about seat reservations.

KHBuzzard, thank you so much for doing the fare research you did for me! That was very kind. I pretty much found the same appx rates and it just really helped confirm for me I was on the right track! (Oh, sorry, no pun intended!)
Ramblin On, thank you as well. I found a nonstop train from York to Truro on Cross Country for about $59 GBP. Although I also saw it for $89 GBP...frustrating! These were "best fares" advanced purchase 12 weeks in advance. But the actual fare doesn't matter at this point since we are getting the BritRail Pass. It is the 12:45 departure from York, arriving Truro 8:07, on a Friday.

Nigel, thank you too! There is definitely four of us traveling together. Still a bit reticent to rent a car, but we may rent one for just a day while in Truro! And oh, boy, I did see that complex route through Kings Cross and Paddington and surely want to stay clear of that! Thanks!

Our current plans for the three days we are staying in Cheltenham would be one day to Bath, one day to Warwick Castle and one day to Moreton in Marsh and arrange a tour company tour of a portion of The Cotswolds. Any thoughts on this plan?

Thank you all again! :)

Posted by
2186 posts

Warwick Castle is a difficult journey from Cheltenham and simply not worth it.

Moreton-in-Marsh is on the eastern side of the Cotswolds and Cheltenham is to the west. (The best villages are between the two). Consider hiring a car (traffic is heavy in Cheltenham) or a driver (fix fee first) for the day. Do this route > Bourton-on-the Water > Lower Slaughter> Stow-on-the-Wold > Chipping Campden > Broadway > Stanton > Stanway > Winchcombe (Sudeley Castle if time) and back to Cheltenham.

For finding buses use
Trains =

Bath can be done by train from Cheltenham.

Also consider going by train from Cheltenham to Chepstow - which has a medieval Castle. You could then take a bus up the Wye Valley to see the ruined Abbey at Tintern.

Also consider Cardiff - which is about 1 hour 10 minutes from Cheltenham by train. (The Cross Country trains on this route tend to be better than those of Arriva Trains Wales).

Posted by
7175 posts

Day 7 - Train from Cornwall to Bath - 2 nights
Day 8 - Bath & Wells
Day 9 - Hire car for Cotswolds drive to Oxford - 2 nights
Day 10 - Oxford & Blenheim Palace

Posted by
30 posts

David, thank you for your suggestions. To clarify, are you suggesting on Day 9 that we hire a car to drive ourselves through the Cotswolds, ending up in Oxford? I guess we could look into a one-way rental car (pick up in one city/drop in a different city)?

Posted by
7175 posts

Yes, I would pick up a car at lunchtime in Bath on Day 8, returning it on Day 10 after morning at Blenheim.