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Itinerary help - would appreciate suggestions

We got lots of ideas from an earlier question for our trip next May (we have waited 3 years to do this) so now this is a draft of our month in England and Wales. Some places and number of days is uncertain and I will try to indicate that and we would love ideas about those parts as well as anything else.
Mostly we are wanting to know when to give back our rental car because we are nervous about driving, especially on the major roads but also on very narrow twisty roads, and would use trains instead of driving where it makes logistical sense. We would like to avoid densely urban areas, except for London.
So far we are considering:
London 3-4 nights
Bath 3 nights (pick up rental car leaving)
Broadway 7 nights visiting lots of villages
Bishop’s Castle or Ludlow ? 2 nights
Conwy 3 nights
Chester 2 nights (return rental car or in York?)
??? Somewhere on the way to York 4 nights
York 3 nights
London. 2 nights

We feel very lucky to be going to this part of the world and would appreciate any feedback.

Posted by
29324 posts

if you are having your car from Bath, through the Cotswolds (you'll get your share of narrow lanes there so by the time you move on you should be a pro!!) and Shropshire and North Wales, and Chester (be sure you have a place to park) I would have thought to hold onto it until you get to York.

Driving from Chester to York can be fairly straightforward, basically west to east, and probably easier than taking a train which would take 2 changes most likely. A couple of hours by car, maybe 3 of you take a scenic route, certainly 3 of on the train.

You could spend a while on the way in the Derbyshire Dales, or maybe go the long way around and visit the Lake District (very scenic, but certainly with its share of narrow lanes. If you are a National Trust member you can park easily and for free in their many Lake District car parks). With 4 nights you have a lot of scope. What appeals?

Posted by
29324 posts

I compliment you on your choice of Broadway which I think is one of the most beautiful small towns in that part of the world (may be slightly biased because my aunt was from just down the road).

Posted by
6113 posts

Driving on the major roads is relatively straightforward - the narrow county lanes are more challenging.

Bishop’s Castle is an odd place - good for 1-2 hours including a cafe stop, but for 2 nights, head to Ludlow.

Three nights is only two full days, so I would add another night or two to Conwy. Spend a day on Anglesey - there is a wonderful coastal footpath. Visit Bodnant Gardens. Climb Great Orme in Llandudno or take the tram. Spend a day in Snowdonia. Visit Conwy Castle.

Add a night to Chester and have a day trip to Liverpool.

Add a night to York and have a day trip to Whitby.

Posted by
855 posts

It looks a very unbalanced itinerary to me with a lot of time based in the Cotswolds. I know they are beloved by all American visitors (and RS) but there are lots of other equally as good, if not better, places to see.

We spent a full week based in Bishop’s Castle, exploring the local area and loved it. Bishop’s Castle is still very old fashioned and set in the 1950s (in the nicest possible way). . I’d want to build in more time for Bishop’s Castle/Ludlow - possibly taking it away from Broadway and the Cotswolds. That area of the Welsh Borders is still undiscovered and has lots of attractive small villages and towns to explore. The names alone are so evocative - Clun, Clunbury, Knighton, Kington, Leominster, Craven Arms and many more. Scenically it is a s good as the Cotswolds too.

Similarly 3 nights in Conwy only effectively gives just over two days to explore the area - again not a lot of time, when you consider all there is to do (see Jennifer's suggestions to which I'd also add Penryn Castle - bling at its best) . Conwy/Llandudno easily fill a full day. You could easily spend another day exploring Snowdonia and another for Anglesey and still hardly scratch the surface.

Both of these areas deserve at least another night added to them - preferably from Broadway rather than on the way on the way to York.

You also have lots of choice on the way to York with the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales or North York Moors. All have slightly different scenery but there are plenty of small villages and town to explore. The North York Moors tends to be quieter than the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District has yet to be discovered by overseas visitors. (Much as I love Northumberland, that is further to drive - maybe save that for another visit.)

Posted by
420 posts

Looking at your itinerary, some quick thoughts. 7 days is a lot in the Cotswolds - though there are great gardens in the area, the villages are small with not a lot to do, and some very samey.

From London you can do lots of very different day trips, so - if you haven't been there before - I would consider adding quite a bit to London. eg Bletchley Park, Hampton Court, Windsor, Greenwich, Kew, Winchester, Salisbury, Chartwell, Oxford, Cambridge - the list is endless. All could be done by train from one of the mainline stations.

As you have a lot of time, I would add a day to York, there's lots there and 3 full days on the ground would be great - don't overlook the Railway Museum, which is terrific (even if you're not big on trains). Maybe day trip from York as a base, some great options.

Liverpool is near Chester, its a great city. (even for non Beatle fans).

Posted by
6180 posts

Not a bad itinerary.

We stayed at the Brooks Guesthouse in Bath and it was great. The location is excellent and the breakfast is super. Also, dine at the Scallop Shell restaurant for amazing fish and chips.

Broadway, is a good choice, but we stayed at Chipping Campden at the Volunteer Inn. Reasonable rates and the best pub in town as well as a great Indian restaurant. We used it as a base to visit Oxford, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon.

Not sure you need a week there.

Conwy is cool, but not sure you need three nights there.

York was one of our favorite cities in England

Posted by
107 posts

I agree with others that 7 nights in the Cotswolds is too long. There’s not really much to do there. Some gardens, pretty villages, pubs and walking. There are other areas which are more interesting and with more dramatic scenery. Anglesey is well worth visiting.

Posted by
179 posts

Thanks everyone. This is all really helpful. A couple of questions.
If we do take the train from Chester to York is that fairly easy to do?
Do we switch trains in Manchester?
If we decide to drive from Chester to York can we avoid busy roads with a lot of on and off ramps, like, would the A roads be more calm? What are the typical speeds on an A road?
Six years ago I drove on the left in Ireland but I am still concerned that there may be lots congestion outside of Chester and that it would be a driving challenge.
Any route suggestions from Chester to York with a stop overnight maybe?

Posted by
855 posts

Driving between Chester and York involves a lot of motorway driving along some of the busiest and most congested motorways in the country. Around Manchester can be a nightmare... The train journey involves a change either at Manchester Oxford Road (or else at Newton le Willows depending what time you leave Chester). It would be a lot less stressful. Also you don't need a car in York (unless you are planning a day out to the North York Moors for example when a car would be an advantage) as all the attractions are within walking distance.

Posted by
3521 posts

I can't think of a bigger waste of time than 7 days in the Cotswolds when there's so much else to see in England. Wales is much more interesting. You should go to St. Fagan's Folk Museum near Cardiff.

Posted by
2074 posts

You can get from Chester to York by train in around 2hours 30 minutes. This will be a lot easier than driving. You will pay more by buying on the day OR too far ahead. Go on the following site and put in for a journey from Chester to York say on a weekday in mid January (to test the system). You should see fares around £20 to £27. These will involve splitting the ticket at the place where you change train company - probably Newton le Willows or Manchester with some options also giving Leeds. You will see company logos appear. This means that your first train will be Transport for Wales (T) or Northern and the second will be run by Transpennine Express. In the event that a pre-booked train gets cancelled or runs late, you have the right to use the next available service of a connecting train. You can also claim compensation from the company that made you late.

If you want to drive - check out the route on Google Maps. I have set it so you should see Chester bottom left and York top right. Traffic flow will be at the time you click the map - so try and click it during UK daytime.