I'm just delighted to find this forum tonight -- got some very useful tips already by reading replies to other posts. Thanks to everyone who takes a moment to read this one. Feel free to toss out any and all ideas and advice that come to mind, whether for getting to/from places or for sights not to miss. I read the Rick Steves Best of England book last week, and I like the sample travel itinerary.
Background + interests: My wife and I have 4 kids, our oldest turned 18 this summer, and going to see England was always on our list. We love British history, Monty Python, British comedy TV like Black Adder, Keeping Up Appearances, Father Ted, and The IT Crowd. Also, Dickens and Jane Austen (books & movies) and shows like Cranford and Larkrise to Candleford, Downton Abbey, and Harry Potter of course. We also love Radiohead, Slowdive (any Shoegaze music), Sting & The Police, and The Beatles. Some family ancestors were born in Cardiff Wales, Abergavenny Wales, near Manchester, Glasgow.
Current plan in a nutshell:
- Arrive at Heathrow T3 on October 14 at 7am
- Take a bus to Salisbury or Bath (not decided yet) to an Airbnb or Hotel (also not decided yet)
- Rent car there, stay 4 to 5 days exploring (possibilities: Stonehenge, Bath, Puzzlewood, Glastonbury, Bristol, Cardiff & South Wales)
- Super cute Airbnb in Fairford from Oct 19 to 22 for exploring Cotswolds and a day trip to Oxford
- See some of Stratford-upon-Avon including Holy Trinity Church where my wife's 13th great grandmother married in 1587 (while Shakespeare was going to church there!!)
- Drive up near Liverpool to an Airbnb in Chester (Little Stanney) near the John Lennon airport. One day for Liverpool & Beatles things, a Sunday drive to Snowdonia park and Betws-y-Coed and Beddgelert, Conwy.
- Oct 25 early morning flight to Belfast, rent a car, drive out to Giant's Causeway early, spend the rest of the day slowly winding back toward Belfast and fly back to Chester on an evening flight.
- From here, the plan gets a little hazy, but we thought to see a piece of Hadrian's wall on our way to Glasgow where we'd spend 2 nights in a cute Airbnb (I hate long driving days and Oct 26 would be one of them)
- Drive to Fort William and check in to the Alexandra Hotel October 28. Stay there until Oct 31.
- October 29 in the morning is the last trip of the season for the Jacobite train (the Harry Potter train to Mallaig and back)
- See some of Loch Ness in Fort Augustus, maybe make a day trip out to Isle of Skye one day.
- October 31 drive to Inverness. See some of Inverness area. Drop off rental car there and board the Caledonian Sleeper at 8pm. Hopefully we'll sleep on the train ride back to London and wake up in London November 1.
- Stay in Covent Garden area near the tube station in an Airbnb Nov 1 to 5.
- Either extend our current Airbnb booking to the 9th, or switch over to a hotel near Green Park tube station or else at The Resident Victoria just south of Buckingham palace until the 9th. Explore London without a car from Nov 1 to 8, check out on 9th in morning and get ourselves to Heathrow hopefully via the Picadilly Line from Green Park or Victoria Station.
I've already had to scale back a few daydreams of seeing Penzance, Pembrokeshire Coast, Canterbury, Newcastle-on-Tyme (Wallsend, where Sting grew up), and probably also York, and I'm open to scaling back even more -- The kids were excited to ride the Caledonian Sleeper so I booked tickets for October 31 and also the October 29 Jacobite train, but then that kind of forced me to go too fast through everything north of Liverpool, unless I cut a little more out of the early part of the trip.
I would love to squeeze in Blenheim Palace on our Oxford day, and maybe Warwick Castle when near Stratford-upon-Avon.
Q: Is Cotswolds still pretty in mid-October?
A big thanks to anyone who scaled this wall of text! All the best, Paul