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London and the North--Itinerary ideas?

Hi all! I'm planning a trip for me, my husband, my 14 year old son, and 11 year old daughter. We have about 2.5 weeks to spend in England. Plan to spend nearly a full week in London with several day trips, then head North. We want to see York, Haworth, Hadrian's wall, Alnwick castle (we have serious Harry Potter fans here), the Lake District, Liverpool/Blackpool (during the Open practice rounds--serious golf fans too). It is a very easy itinerary, except for Haworth. It is a must see for me--I'm an English teacher and writer and huge Brontes fan. But I can't for the life of me figure out how to fit it in. It's an hour and a half (at least) from everything!

My instinct is to go from London to York, stay in York for three days and have Haworth be a day trip. Then travel up to Newcastle and stay for a couple of nights there, then head to the Lake District and down to Liverpool. Flying out of Manchester. Does that make sense or does anyone have other ideas?

And any tips on the areas I've listed would be most welcome! Thanks!

Posted by
17 posts

Oh, yes, we will have a car, though I was considering waiting until York to rent it. What would you suggest for "planning the route right" from London to Haworth. Then would we drive straight to York the same day? And we will be there around the second week of July.

Posted by
31 posts

Have you and your family been to London before? Not sure how many days (full days plus an overnight stay) "nearly a full week is", but if you will make "several day trips", I would be worried you won't have enough time to see much of London itself by overnighting there several nights, but spending a good chunk of your days outside of London.

Posted by
1020 posts

Looks to me like a counter clockwise itinerary would work from York if it fits the golf schedule. Fit Haworth in at the beginning or toward the end whatever works best. I've always thought that any must-see on an itinerary is a destination, not out of the way. So a possibility is York - Alnworth - Housesteads - Windemere - Haworth - Blackpool - Manchester airport. But the distances aren't large so whatever works. Sorry to add a temptation but if you drive London-York it brings Chatsworth onto the radar. It's pretty special. Rather than Newcastle I'd look for interesting places on the coast. Looks like a great trip you're planning.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone! I think we will spend 6 nights in London, and our day trip plans are Leavesden Studios and Windsor (what, a castle AND Legoland?) :). We may drive to Cambridge "on our way" to York instead of making it a day trip. In the past we have spent about 3 days in London, but the kids were 3 and 6 then. We may have to redo the Tower of London and the London Eye for their sakes. But now that they are older there are so many more possibilities. They are smart kids and open-minded enough to appreciate theater and museums as long as I throw in some time at places like Leavesden and Legoland and Blackpool. So we will probably have 4 full days in the city, plus our arrival day. Looking for late night stuff to do that day, as we tend to be night owls at the beginning of our trips because of jet lag. Leavesden won't take the entire day. But I must admit, we don't really get started till mid morning, so I have to be realistic and not overplan. Think that will be enough time? I always go back to the assumption that I will be back, especially to London.

Posted by
934 posts

TheTour de France starts in Yorkshire this year, and I think your dates. might match up.

Posted by
503 posts

Sounds like a fabulous trip! Since you mentioned you are "night owls" I'd recommend downloading the schedule for London Walks - there's a huge variety and a number of them are perfect for kids. Our boys loved them - best part is you don't have to plan ahead. If you decide that's what you want to do, just show up at the meeting place and go!

Posted by
3428 posts

You could order the (free) tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London for your arrival evening. You must order them in advance and I think the only 'cost' is to include a prepaid envelope. Google it. I believe it starts at 10:00pm. But you must be ON TIME. I bet the kids would really enjoy it. A Beefeater does the tour. That way you'd be walking a bit, rather than sitting down like at a concert or theatre- easier to stay awake (LOL).

Posted by
404 posts

Second Nancy's suggestion re London Walks - walks.com. They do day trips as well as 2 hour London walking tours. Their current schedule goes up to about the end of April, their - much more comprehensive, in terms of day trips - schedule for the summer, will probably start going up in the next few weeks. Its good to give ideas of where you can go. There is an Oxford Day (with guide Hilary) they have started to do, which is fairly child (and Harry Potter) friendly. They also include Laycock (Harry Potter) on their Avebury and Lacock summer day tours. (Although these may not be on days that work for you.) They also do some Harry Potter 2 hour walking tours in London - I have done a couple of these and they are very very busy. Often you only get 10-12 on a London Walks tour, a more popular one getting up to 30 but the HP tours are massive (they do try to put more than one guide on each tour, but as they don't know how many will show up, this is a bit hit and miss.)

Have put up more HP suggestions above as, reading your itinerary, to me Newcastle is the outlier which seems to be just there for HP (Alnwick)and Hadrians wall and there are other places to get a HP fix + Hadrians Wall is (to me) not worth it. If you gave up the 2 nights in Newcastle you could have add these to London.

I was in Liverpool last year for the first time in many years, it is much improved, loved it.

Posted by
1313 posts

Several years back my Mom and I flew in to Manchester and did a 'literary' tour of the Lake District and York. We loved the James Herriott country and the Yorkshire dales. One rainy day we just drove around and enjoyed the awesome starkness with sheep hiding under any available boulder. Haworth was a highlight. I think we drove there on our way from York to Lake District, but I'd have to check a map. We visited the Parsonage and then had lunch in the garden of a pub. I cherish the photo of my Mom as she wrote her daily postcards to friends and family-always commenting on how good I was getting about driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. In the Lake District we particularly enjoyed Beatrix Potter's farm and of course Wordsworth's Cottage. We also took a car ferry on one of the lakes and I bet your kids would enjoy that.

Posted by
1364 posts

I'm glad to see you are considering Liverpool. we've gone three times and love it more each time. I just thought I'd recommend that if you pick up the car in York and drive onward from there, you could return it in Liverpool as you don't need it in the city. There is a direct train from Lime St Station in Liverpool to Manchester airport, and it takes about one hour.

Posted by
809 posts

I want to second Toni's recommendation for Ceremony of the Keys - I did it with my 15-yo daughter in 2008 and we both loved it. In fact, we decided to go back for a daytime visit the next morning, just to get more Tower history. We enjoyed York on an earlier trip (when she was 11), and Hadrian's Wall; had intended to go to Alnwick, but we were distracted by a Viking reenactment near where we stayed and never made it to Alnwick. So leave yourself open for serendipity.

We also really enjoyed the Acton Scott Working Farm, a Victorian farm experience that's south of Shrewsbury. Not sure whether it fits into your itinerary, but if your kids are not familiar with farm life it might be fun and interesting for them. Have a great trip!

Posted by
5669 posts

You might want to stop in Hexham as you head west. There's a nice little museum on the Border Country. There's a great book on the Border Rievers by Fraser, Steel Bonnets. I stayed there on a trip that took me from York over to the Lake District. Also, there is lovely little Saxon church in Escomb.

Pam

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you all so much for the advice! I was away from the site for a few days and came back to such great possibilities! I'd love to hear what others think about whether or not to go to Newcastle/Hadrian's Wall/Alnwick Castle. It is kind of out of the way, but I've always been intrigued by the wall and there seem to be other interesting sites around there. Do others think it's worth the trip?

The Ceremony of Keys sounds perfect for us! And London Walks, too. Thank you!

Posted by
8 posts

Sorry to add yet another possibility, but if you are in the North East consider going to Durham. It has a beautiful cathedral (also a Harry Potter setting I think in the cloisters, but MUCH more than that) which is a World Heritage Site and a town in a beautiful setting by the river. Newcastle is bigger and used to be more industrial, but has reinvented itself along its Quayside. Hexham might be a good place to stay as mentioned before: pleasant market town, Abbey, 30 minutes on a regular train trip along the River Tyne to Newcastle and gateway to Hadrian's Wall which you can visit easily from the road. If you drove west on the A69 you will get good views of the border country and be able to visit the main sites easily. You would see a lot in a half day's drive from Newcastle or Hexham.
The coast is also scenic with a series of castles. Alnwick Castle is spectacular inside and out and the Gardens and town are also attractive.
At the risk of causing further confusion: it is only about an hour from Newcastle to Edinburgh on the train along a very beautiful route by the coast!
Have a great trip