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Need advice for 2 week itinerary for Cotswolds to Cornwall in late June

We’re heading for England in late June and have approximately two weeks to play around with before hopping to Ireland for another couple of weeks. We’ve been to London several times, as well as to the north and as far south as Bath, so this time we want to concentrate on the south, Cornwall and the Cotswolds.
Perimeters: in and out of London, planning on renting a car upon arrival for entire stay. Husband is 70, I’m 67, we’re active walkers but not hikers or cyclists, love small locally owned accommodations, history, art and architecture, good food. We like to spend 3 nights in one place whenever possible.
One scenario takes us from Heathrow to Salisbury ( cathedral, market, Stonehenge) , onto to Cornwall (Falmouth? Penzance?) and then to the Cotswolds (Moreton on Marsh? Chipping Camden? with a day trip to Stratford). I am asking for feedback on whether this is a reasonable itinerary-? Or should we reverse the order, ie start with the Cotswolds and then loop down to Cornwall, up to Salisbury or thereabouts before returning to Heathrow.
Where else in this part of the country might we consider including for a semi-leisurely 11-14 days? We haven’t yet purchased our tickets across to Dublin so we have some wiggle room on our planning for the England portion of our trip. Thanks for your suggestions.

Posted by
3052 posts

I'll respond to your plan to take a day trip to Stratford (-upon-Avon, yes?). Having been there a couple of times, I find it is hard to see the points of interest in one day because Mary Arden's farm and Anne Hathaway's cottage are outside the town, and the town itself is bigger than you'd expect, not to mention that it experiences traffic jams. If you get a really early start and do your own driving with specific turn-by-turn directions already well rehearsed you can probably make the rounds in a day, but if you also want to see a play in the evening you'll be driving back to your Cotswolds lodging in the dark.

The HoHo bus is nice because you get to hear the guide's commentary, but it goes at bus speed and once you get off then you have to wait until the next time it comes around to be picked up and taken onward to the next place of interest. It departs from a point right next to the parking garage, which is very convenient if you choose not to drive yourself around.

Another consideration is that Stratford-upon-Avon is not to everyone's taste. It's full of tourists, many of whom don't know much about Shakespeare or the Elizabethan era but just want to say they've been there because, hey, everyone on the planet has at least heard of Shakespeare. I got a sense of "tourist fatigue" from the hotel clerks, shopkeepers, theater ticket agent & others as if they just sort of tolerate their jobs. (I know that sounds harsh, but it was my honest impression.) Not that I wouldn't go back; I just would plan enough time to do justice to the sights, which for me would be at least two full days.

Posted by
6113 posts

I never think it’s a good idea to get off a long transatlantic flight then hire a car and drive for a couple of hours with jet lag, even if you have been here before.

I like Salisbury, but personally would give the overrated Stonehenge a miss. Bases in Cornwall - I like Fowey, Falmouth, St Mawes or Mevagissey. Penzance wouldn’t be my preference nor Port Isaac which has been ruined by Doc Martin groupies.

The Cotswolds cover a wide area, so any base is ok. I like Winchcombe (Cheltenham is a great day trip) or Minster Lovell rather than the predictable Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden or Moreton-in-Marsh options. I think a day in Stratford upon Avon is plenty time - be prepared, as it’s tourist tacky at its worst - every coffee shop is “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” even if it only opened last week! I have never had a decent meal there as they know most people won’t be returning so prices are high and standards low.

The order of locations doesn’t really matter as you will be there before the school holidays from mid July. Have you considered flying from Bristol to Dublin?

Posted by
2191 posts

Yes, you do not have to return to Heathrow to fly to Dublin. Bristol certainly has flights to Dublin. Alternatively, consider going from Heathrow to Oxford for night 1 and then hiring a car for The Cotswolds. Rather than going to the south-west (Devon & Cornwall), consider Wales for a few days. You could end up in Holyhead - ditch the car and go as foot passengers on the ferry to Dublin.

Posted by
6682 posts

We stayed at the Volunteer Inn in Chipping Campden for six nights and used it as a base to visit Stratford Upon Avon, Blenheim Palace, Oxford and the Cotswolds. It has the best pub in town and a great Indian restaurant.

Also, we are planning a week in Devon and Cornwall this July. I am told it will be filled with British tourists and traffic will be heavy. We plan to take the train from Paddington Station to Exeter, spend a couple of nights there, then rent a car and head to Cornwall. We plan four nights in Truro at the Merchant's Inn. There is lots to see in Cornwall.

Posted by
73 posts

Thank you to all who replied to my query, especially for the heads up about using Bristol Airport to get back over to Ireland! It never occurred to me that their would be an airport there sizable enough to have flights to Dublin. Thanks to for the sobering take on Stratford upon Avon- I had no idea it was so overrun, and in what sounds like an incredibly tacky way. Back to the drawing board!

Posted by
715 posts

Penzance and Falmouth are strange choice for Cornwall, any particular reason for picking those two towns?

Posted by
6682 posts

Stratford Upon Avon was wonderful. We took the HoHo bus from near the parking area and we were able to visit all five of the Shakespeare sites. We did this in October and it was not crowded. I wouldn't miss Stratford.

Posted by
7574 posts

I too liked Winchcombe in the Cotswolds.

Did the hike to Belas Knapp Tomb. Done in cold December weather a few years back. Sudley Castle and gardens were decorated with Christmas lights. Really lovely. Sat by the fire at the White Hart pub.

Still imagine Winchcombe will be pleasant in June.

Totally disagree about Stonehenge. Love the mystery of how those stones were moved and what the purpose of stone circle is.

If you want to see it go.

Thankfully I was blessed to see it nearly 30 years ago so I have photos ( as in taken by a 35 mm camera) that show me and two friends an no one else on a cold winters days. Honestly no one else was there.

We’d trained early to Salisbury and took a bus to the site. Then back to Salisbury to see the Cathedral and meander. Had a fabulous Indian meal in Salisbury and nearly missed the last train back to London! The whole day was one of my favorite travel moments ever.

Posted by
73 posts

Caro, thinking Penzance as a possible 3 night base in Cornwall only because RS suggests it as a good, less touristy place to stay. Falmouth only a thought because people of the forum have recommended it. We definitely will visit St. Ives as I am a museum docent and want to see all the art there, but it sounds very touristy & crowded from what I’ve read-no? Open to all suggestions.

Posted by
73 posts

James, don’t need a cross-Atlantic flight in or out of Bristol. We’ve got mileage tickets into Heathrow and out of Dublin; we’ll book a separate one way ticket from England to Ireland, probably Bristol now that I know that’s a possibility into either Cork or Dublin.
But agree that more cross-Atlantic flight options would be a plus! Coming from Portland, OR we have very few options.

Posted by
11908 posts

I have stayed at both Falmouth and Penzance and both on tours. Falmouth was a Road Scholar tour and we stayed there 6 nights. Penzance was on a Rick Steves tour and we stayed 3 nights. I much preferred Falmouth. Perhaps it was just where our hotel was located in Penzance (kind of near the station and not a particularly interesting area) but I just didn't like it much. I DID have a great view out of my hotel window there but preferred walking around Falmouth, including taking the small ferry across to St Mawes.

If you are going to St Ives avoid it during school half term holidays. That's when my Rick tour visited and yikes, it was jammed. I've been to Port Isaac a couple of times as well and agree it is overrun although I am sure many still find it charming.

I also love Stonehenge. I'm not a new-ager, just appreciate and view with a certain wonder how those old ones moved the giant stones and aligned them. I don't care about the purpose, just the outcome. I also like to walk back from the stones to the Visitor Center thru the nearby field on the path that takes you by the Cursus and barrows.

I generally stay in Salisbury for 2 nights and take the local shuttle bus from either City Centre or the Station out to the stones, coming back by Old Sarum. If you've an interest also try to attend Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral one evening (usually at 530, I think but check on the time). There is also a rare medieval Doom Painting in the smaller church of St Thomas in the Centre area that has just been cleaned and restored.

Posted by
24064 posts

St. Ives is very touristy, but it was absolutely worth it for me because I'm interested in art and ceramics. As is so often the case in coastal towns, most of the visitors spent their time down near the water. I walked around a lot and found much of the town not overwhelmed at all. Just head uphill.

A general warning about Cornwall: The tourist infrastructure seems to lag the demand, which seems to have spiked as a result of the Poldark/Doc Martin double whammy. If you want to sit down at a restaurant table for dinner in any of the coastal towns, you need to make a reservation. I don't know that it's necessary at lunch, but if you don't reserve for dinner, your only choice may be the local fish-and-chips truck.