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North or South for second trip?

Last year, our family went on a three week European tour that included a few days in York, London, and Oxford. My wife and I are thinking about returning to England for 10 days or so in May 2024. Here is my dilemma and question:
I could spend more time in London, BUT... the Lake District and northern parts look fantastic as well. So, should we do a more northern trip to include the Lake district, Cotswold area, and end in London OR... fly into London and visit sites such as Brighton, Canterbury, etc. in the south? Whichever area we choose, we do plan on doing some hiking.

Posted by
4330 posts

Only you know the answer to this question….. both are good answers and will be good trips. Just different. My answer would be biased based on where I have been and loved versus where I have not yet been - plus my own personal interests which may not be the same as yours.

You can’t go wrong.

Posted by
2489 posts

I don't think much of Brighton and the beach is just a strip of pebbles. You will be better off going to the more scenic areas such as The Lake District, north Wales or even Scotland. (The Cotswolds are regarded as the south).

If going to northerly areas, see if you can fly into Manchester and for Scotland consider direct flights from wherever you are coming from. www.skyscanner.net is good for finding flights but book direct with airlines.

Posted by
7626 posts

I’ve been to England several times now, and haven’t yet gotten south of London much. York was on first trip, but subsequent trips have included hiking in Cumbria and Northumbria. We hiked Hadrian’s Wall, end to end. Even a part of it, with amazing Roman museums, 2,000 year old walls and forts, and the English countryside, would be worthwhile. A service can even transfer your luggage to the next destination, so you’re not carrying everything with you.

Having said that, I’ve not been to the Lake District, either. With apologies to Horace Greeley, I’d say go north, young man. Unless, of course, you have things to the south that you absolutely have to see on this trip.

Posted by
6698 posts

There is also Newcastle Airport for the North of England

Posted by
81 posts

If you want to walk, whilst it is of course possible in Kent and Sussex, you are going to find much more that is pleasing on the eye in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Scotland, generally. And don't forget you could fly into Newcastle, Glasgow as well as some smaller airports to make that more accessible.

I think it hinges on what "some hiking" means to you.

Posted by
346 posts

We are pondering the same thing Andrew after our first trip this summer! I was wondering about the ease of flights/ public transportation in comparison. From my limited research, it seems there are no direct flights from the US into Newcastle; one must fly into LHR and connect. Is that accurate? Or train from Edinburgh or Manchester to the northern parts?

We liked Eastbourne and East Sussex so much. East Dean was quaint and apparently is a popular spot for hikers in this part of the country. We hiked a limited part (4 miles) of the South Downs Way from Seven Sisters park to Birling Gap. It was gorgeous! One could continue on the path through to Beachy Head and Eastbourne. That is a nice stopping town. My daughter visited Whitstable and loved it there as well. So many possibilities!

Posted by
7906 posts

We love the British countryside and the North of England is great. We especially loved York, Durham, the Yorkshire Moors and Hadrian's Wall.
The Lake District is great for outdoor stuff like hiking. We prefer historical places.

The North has less traffic if you are renting a car. Any where near London, Manchester or Birmingham there is lots of traffic.

Still, the SW part of England and South Wales are wonderful. Love, Bath, Winchester, Salisbury, the Cotswolds and in Wales, Cardiff, Tenby and St. Davids.

Posted by
6805 posts

South and east, Canterbury, Dover, Rye, Hastings areas is a nice trip. Cornwall is also nice. The Lake District, Hadrian’s wall, Alnwick, Holy Island is also nice. Of course there is that entire area between Bath and Stratford Upon Avon that includes the Cotswolds. It would be difficult to make a bad choice.

Posted by
2063 posts

Definitely north for me - starting with Northumberland which is an area tourists rush through on their way to get to Scotland, not realising just what they are missing - superb beaches, the Cheviot. Keilder Forest and Lake, Hadrian's Wall. There is the early Christian history on Holy Island as well as ruined castles (Dunstanburgh, Warkworth , Norham) as well as stately homes (Bamburgh CAstle, Alnwick Castle, Cragside...) Add in gardens, small towns, some superb walking and delightful people...

Coming a bit further south you have the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors both good walking country with plenty of friendly small pubs and delightful small villages to discover. There are ruined castles and abbeys as well as the North York Moors Steam Railway (and not forgetting Whitby with it's Dracula links).

The Lake District - more good walkingt as long as the water activities, Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway and some very good stately homes (Muncaster, Levens Hall, Sizergh, Dalemain) and of course Beatrix Potter.

Finish off in the Peak District, popular with English visitors but not yet on the foreign visitors list. Again there is lots of good walking, attractive small vilages to explore with country pubs. Stately homes include Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, Hardwick House. In may you will also get the well dressing in many of the villages

Choose three areas and allow a week in each.

Posted by
1003 posts

mustlovedogs (and others). There are a small number of direct flights from the US to Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. If you want to get to Cumbria or Northumbria Manchester is the easiest of those as it has a station attached to the airport with direct trains to many locations up there.
But you will also be able to do one-stop flights to those three and to Newcastle from a number of European airports, not just Heathrow. For example Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam should all have a variety of options. Dublin is particularly useful as it has pre-clearance to the US on the way back, allowing you to arrive home as a domestic passenger with no immigration formalities.

Posted by
7012 posts

There are ruined castles and abbeys as well as the North York Moors Steam Railway (and not forgetting Whitby with it's Dracula links).

wasleys, so which is it? Slains or Whitby or both? I've been to both of them and can definitely see resemblances to what my vision is of Dracula's castle. I know Bram Stoker spent time at Cruden Bay but was he also at Whitby?

Posted by
346 posts

That just the kind of information needed Johnnew. Thanks so much! I have decided that I need to plan the transportation pieces of our next trip a little better. I really enjoyed the train travels we did, so taking a train from Manchester into the northern areas would be a nice option.

Andrew, how long of hikes do you undertake? I was quite impressed with the length of walks/hikes the British people do. Seems like what I considered longish were like just a walk around the block to them. Bravo!

Posted by
2063 posts

To answer your question Mardee,

Forget Slains - Dracula's castle is actually in Romania at Bran and that looks a lot more dramartic (and Gothic) than Slains.

Whitby very much trades on its links with Bram Stokes and Dracula. He visited Whitby in 1890 and the setting inspired him to write Dracula. He used many places in Whitby in the novel. Have a read here for some background.

Posted by
7012 posts

I did read it - thanks to both of you! - and it definitely has some good arguments for the Whitby camp. But I'm still wondering if there's something of Slains Castle in there as well. This article makes a good case for Scotland. :) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/09/cutting-his-teeth-how-bram-stoker-found-his-inner-dracula-in-scotland

Maybe he found inspiration in both places. Regardless, I love the book and have read it multiple times over the years. Wherever he got his inspiration from, I'm glad he got it because it's an incredible story.

Posted by
6698 posts

There are also European connections into Leeds Bradford and Liverpool airports. Both, especially Leeds have good road connections to their closest train stations.

Posted by
4293 posts

Whitby is now on my list. I'm a sucker for literary referenced locations.

Posted by
6698 posts

Wasleys meant Muncaster, rather than Munstere- automatic spell connection, again.

Posted by
7012 posts

Whitby is now on my list. I'm a sucker for literary referenced locations.

Allan, I mentioned something about Whitby on the post you referred to. I'm actually thinking about making next year's spring trip all about literary locations (well, maybe not all but as many as I can find). I'm heading to France and England, and there are so many locations in both countries that I've read about. Should be fun!

Posted by
2063 posts

Wasleys meant Muncaster, rather than Munstere- automatic spell connection, again.

Yes I did. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll correct it.

Posted by
2063 posts

Mardee, do you know Anne Bronte is buried in St Mary's Church yard in Scarbourgh ?

Posted by
7012 posts

Mardee, do you know Anne Bronte is buried in St Mary's Church yard in Scarbourgh ?

No, I did not! But I'm glad to learn it - thank you, wasleys! Is that the Scarborough in the song about Scarborough Fair? I imagine the other Brontes are buried in Haworth? I wanted to go to Haworth on my last trip but didn't make it, so maybe that's a possibility also. I haven't read Anne's books; just Charlotte and Emily's but I guess now I will have to read something Anne wrote.

Actually, that's given me a really good idea. You can search for famous people on FindaGrave by location so I just ran a search for famous people whose graves are located in Haworth and here are the results. I'm going to start doing that every place I visit. I love visiting cemeteries!

Posted by
1170 posts

It has been many years for me, but if you re interested in hiking, there are options North and South (and the Cotswold, which is neither). I have done some short hikes along the coast in Cornwall near Bostcastle (wonderful town) and Tintagel. I have also hiked a short section of Hadrian's wall up North. Neither were Brighton Beach or the Lakes District, but both were wonderful and I would love to repeat them. I have also hiked between towns in the Costwolds. You can't go wrong with any in my mind.

Posted by
1177 posts

The Cotswolds are most definitely in ‘the south’. In England what is north and what is south is not based purely on geography but on historical social and economic factors. People in the Cotswolds speak with southern English accents and it’s a wealthy area, therefore it’s unassailably South.

The Midlands include Birmingham and Stratford on Avon but not the Cotswolds even though geographically it’s close.

Posted by
7012 posts

People in the Cotswolds speak with southern English accents and it’s a wealthy area, therefore it’s unassailably South.

Helen, that’s interesting. I guess I don’t think too much about geography but that’s the opposite of the states. Here, the more economically deprived states are in the south, and I would say probably the wealthier states are on the east and west coast. Obviously, there’s exceptions to that but as a general rule, that tends to run true.

Posted by
3821 posts

Andrew, back to your original question.

The south of England has a great many castles, if you have any interest in seeing those. Canterbury and Dover would be on my list for southern England.
The South Downs Way is described here:
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/south-downs-way/
It hugs the southern coast with amazing views, towns and pubs along the way.

The Cotswold Way is profiled here:
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/cotswold-way/
There are some flat and level sections and some hilly sections.
The trail passes through villages with good lodging and restaurants.

The Lake District is fantastic. We stayed in Keswick and did walks around there. We stayed at the Crow Park Hotel and it was great. We saw a play at the Theatre By The Lake one evening. Lots of good pubs and restaurants in Keswick.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you all for such great feedback! One thing I should have been a little clearer on... regardless of whether we do North or South, the Cotswold are in the mix for a visit. That's happening regardless. For the hiking, I think we'd rather do easy trails and keep being able to pack light. The other option would be to do a mix of hiking and museums and ship the hiking gear home after that portion of the trip. I actually did something similar on our last trip... about 5 days in, I was in London and realized I wasn't going to use a second pair of shoes I brought, so I just shipped them home to save backpack space.

Posted by
76 posts

The answer has to come from you. I have traveled and enjoyed both. Favorites include Hadrian's wall, York, Canterbury, Dover Castle, Peak District, Isle of Skye and Dartmoor. As you can see it is all so there is no wrong.

My approach to London (which I love) and going someplace else is to fly into London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc and then go where I want to go outside London. I always fly home from London so return there for the last part of the trip (2, 3, 7 days) and then fly home. London isn't going anywhere and there is always something new to see if you look around (e.g., there is a Victorian tunnel under the Thames that allows you to walk from Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs add in visits to both sides and you have a great and cheap day).