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Need 1 or 2 non-London home bases 2 week trip w/ kids

Hi there. Thanks in advance for the help. My wife and I enjoy traveling w/ our 3 young kids (12, 10, 6) and rent a condo/home as a home base to allow the kids to unwind after a days tour and allow us to cook, wash clothes, etc. We are flying in and out of Manchester in August for 14 days. We have enjoyed London before, but never the other areas of Great Britain or Scotland. I am looking for 1 or 2 good cities (1/week) to use as a home base for day trips. We will have a car. I was thinking 1 week in central or Southern GB and 1 week in Scotland but am open to ideas. The key issues are non-London, want a small # of home bases, and we will have a car so I don't need to be in the middle of a major city. THANK YOU!! Victor

Posted by
540 posts

My eight year old and I enjoyed York and area very much. York has a wall you can walk on, a Vicking museum and is home to an amazing Rail Museum. We took a bus to Pickering and stayed in a bed and bath there. Steam engine thru the moors, hiking and a smal castle. Lots to do in area.

I also would recommend anywhere in Cornwall,

Posted by
2249 posts

Edinburgh would be a good choice in any month other than August cost-wise (its festival time)

Central GB (do you mean northern England??) you could have a week in the Lake District, or Northumberland or Yorkshire, or Wales, but staying in one area isn't necessarily handy for day trips to another. So you need to decide what you want to see, look at an area, and ask again for particular towns.

BTW "Great Britain or Scotland" - Scotland is part of Great Britain (along with England and Wales)

Posted by
185 posts

Hi. A few years ago we spent 5 really fabulous days based in the town of Witney, 12 miles west of Oxford in Oxfordshire. We did have a car. One day we walked about 100 yds to the bus stop to Oxford and took the bus in since I had heard terrible things about driving in Oxford. (the trip took about half an hour and cost about $4).

A second day we drove to see the Rollright stones (about 30 minutes from Witney....Traditionally a monarch and his courtiers petrified by a witch, the Rollright Stones consist of three groups: the King's Men stone circle; the Whispering Knights burial chamber; and the single King Stone. They span nearly 2,000 years of Neolithic and Bronze Age development free. That day we also visited nearby Chastleton House A rare gem of a Jacobean country house, built between 1607 and 1612 by a prosperous wool merchant as an impressive statement of wealth and power and used in the filming of Wolf Hall, and that same day our drives took us through a corner of the Cotswolds and to our favorite tiny (with a great pub) village of Great Tew.

Day 3 we drove to and visited Blenheim Palace and Woodstock (another 35 minute drive)

Day 4 we visited Warwick Castle and we loved it. I know it gets bad press as being too Disneyish but we are in our 60s, are pretty knowledgeable about early modern British history and we LOVED it. And I think your kids would adore it. Also walked into town for a great tea. Driving time just over an hour.

Day 5 was Bletchley, again about an hour drive, a heritage site designed to preserve the uniquely important story of these Codebreakers during WW2.

While we stayed in the Witney Hotel and loved it, Witney is a town with a population of abut 30,000 people and I suspect that you could find the type of accommodations you want.

Good luck!

Posted by
3929 posts

I'd look in Scotland in the West Highlands, Glencoe or around there up to Ft William or over to Oban. This area is sure to please children, and you can rent a cottage.

Posted by
56 posts

I would strongly recommend staying in Ludlow in Shropshire. This is a superb market town, little frequented by American tourists. There is a large ruined castle towering over the gorge of the River Teme, streets of ancient houses, and no less than six entries in the Michelin Guide. Ludlow is the centre of a beautiful wooded and hilly countryside, with easy access to Mid-Wales and the Coast, Shrewsbury and Herefordshire. There are several interesting National Trust properties in the vicinity, and also the quaint Stokesay Castle. Details: http://www.theludlowguide.co.uk/about-ludlow/about-ludlow.html.

Posted by
3145 posts

I think you and your family would enjoy staying in the Cotswolds for the first half of your trip. There are lots of small villages to explore. And a couple of castles to explore. There are several riding stables in the Cotswolds, if you care to do that.

You could drive to Stratford-Upon-Avon (which is in the northern Cotswolds) one day to see all the Shakespeare houses and theatre.

You could drive from there to Warwick Castle to finish off the afternoon.

The Cotswolds Way is a hiking path that connects some of the villages. You could take a walk on this one day.

Your second location could be somewhere in the county of Kent. This is located in the southeastern area of England. There are many castles and stately homes there to see. From a central location in Kent, you could also do a day trip to Portsmouth to see the Naval Museum.

There are some lovely beaches all along the southern coast of England. You could spend a day at a beach town.

I was just thinking what Emma said....If you are thinking of going to southern England, I don't understand why you are flying into Manchester. The best airport for southern England is Gatwick.

The best airport for the Cotswolds is Heathrow (or Birmingham).

You may want to look at a map before you buy your airline tickets, determine which areas you will stay in, and see if Heathrow or Gatwick airports would be a better choice for you than Manchester.

Posted by
3145 posts

For a real adventure:
You could spend the first week of your trip in England. Then turn in your car, and then train into London. Go to the station (Euston) and board the Caledonia Sleeper train. It is an overnight high-speed train to Scotland. When you wake up the next morning, the train will be pulling into the station in Edinburgh.
http://www.seat61.com/CaledonianSleepers.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoMQxVTiHsQ

Stay a couple of nights in Edinburgh seeing the sights, then rent a car and head out on day trips around Scotland. Turn in your car in Edinburgh. Fly home from Edinburgh.

This type of flight is called open jaw. Flying into one airport (Heathrow or Gatwick) and out of another (Edinburgh).

You could also take the regular train during the day and enjoy the scenery:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVoWSTHcnmo

I just think that a high speed train ride like this is much more fun than hours and hours in the car to get to Scotland.
I think your children would love the train ride.