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Planning a trip to the UK with my mother

Hey all, I'll be headed on a 12-day vacation with my mother to the UK, my brother will be joining us halfway on the trip. (Bit of a long story how this came about...) Right now the itinerary looks something like this:

Day 0: Land in Heathrow, London in the late afternoon. Take train to York, have dinner, settle in.

Day 1: York

Day 2: York. Take train to Birmingham/Manchester/Nottingham(B/M/N)

Day 3: B/M/N

Day 4: B/M/N. Take train to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we'll meet my brother who just took a train in from London.

Day 5: SuA.

Day 6: SuA. Take train to Oxford

Day 7: Oxford. Take train to Salisbury.

Day 8: Salisbury, visit Stonehenge. Take train to London

Day 9: London

Day 10: London

Day 11: Late morning flight back home.

So the main part of the trip I'm really undecided on, as you can tell, is which place to visit second (Birmingham/Notts/Manchester). The reason why I'm looking at these three cities is because they are roughly located in between York and Stratford so there doesn't have to be a criminally long ride between these places. Could anyone give some advice which city would be the most interesting/ have the most stuff to do? It'll be nice to go to a place that offers a different experience from York / London as well, to cover the spectrum of what England has to offer. And of course something to keep in mind is that I'll be with my mother, so that takes away some options such as nightlife.

Also, any comments on the rest of the trip? Something I've overlooked perhaps, or a city I should stay longer/shorter in? I know the time in London's pretty short, but my brother wants to visit Oxford and Stonehenge and Stratford seems to be a two-day place so that's the plan for now.

Posted by
33324 posts

I take it that this a return trip after many visits to the UK?

Have you just thrown darts at a map and picked the 3 cities to fight it out, or is something (anything) that drew you to putting them in a hat?

What things do you expect to do in Stratford that will take you 2 whole days (3 nights)?

But then only half a day in Oxford. ?

Posted by
11 posts

Well, I was just looking for a place to visit inbetween York and Stratford. The popular tourist destinations are really out of the way so I actually did just look at the map and choose the major cities along the way, haha.

As for why 2 days in Stratford and 1 in Oxford, I took it off the Rick Steves UK guide and some travelling posts off the net. Im not a uk native so I wouldnt know best though. The plays in stratford seem appealing? Would you recommend staying longer in Oxford instead? I dont know if theres much to do besides admire the architecture...

Posted by
661 posts

Have you already booked your flights? Could you not land near to York, hit it day 1, and move the whole schedule up a day and work your way down the country, giving an extra day in London, reducing travelling.

Posted by
11 posts

@Mike Yep, the flight's been booked. Got a little too eager I suppose, haha. Then again it's only a 2 hour train ride, could be worse!

Posted by
661 posts

You seem to have stirred some passion with your travel plans lol. I'm sure the incredulous replies so far are merely concern on your behalf and all meant in the spirit of being helpful. Not to add yet more straws to an already overladen camel... I show LHR to York by train as 3-3.5 hrs.

Posted by
3428 posts

I'm going to jump in and add to the mix..... why not just stay in London ? We've been to London and the UK more than 40 times. We love using the train system. But most of the places you mention are easy to do as day trips. (York is a long one, but is doable). Check out this article I wrote for Trip Advisor- it is about my favorite London places and train day trips
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186338-c176673/London:United-Kingdom:London.And.Day.Trips.html

Posted by
5678 posts

Hi Andrew, I think that the combo or York / Manchester and Birmingham / Stratford upon Avon is just a bit discordant and so is stirring up the responses. I know when I first looked at your post, my first reactions, was "that's an odd itinerary!" If you are really just staying there because it's between Stratford and York, I would suggest broadening your search. You could for example, be in Liverpool in less than three hours or Chester in about three hours. Either would be very different places and with some more typical tourist things to see. I'm in the middle of re-reading the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, so if it were me, I'd look at Shrewsbury as a possibility.

Pam

Posted by
5383 posts

What I think people have struggled with is the lack of a context as to why you want to visit some of these places. In particular this comes over for York and the floating 'mid-point' destination afterwards. Unless York is a real 'must do' for unstated reasons then leaving it out, going directly to Oxford from Heathrow, visiting Stratford as a day trip from there might streamline things a bit.

Posted by
11 posts

Hey all! Thanks for the advice. Well the issue with doing London first is that my brother will only be joining us halfway through the trip, so ending in London is both to accommodate him as well as end the trip comfortably (no need to travel near the end). He also wants to see Oxford and Stonehenge, hence the timing of those two visits.

But after hearing all the comments, I'm inclined to take out SuA from the trip, add a day to Oxford and London so the last few days will end like looking like:

Oxford, Oxford, Stonehenge, London, London, London.

Less travelling overall, and perhaps a trip to Blenheim can be fit in on those Oxford days! I also wanted to ask your opinions on taking a day trip to Stonehenge/Salisbury. Can a day trip be done from Oxford/London or should we just stay at Salisbury for the night?

York isn't technically a "must-see", just seems like a great place to visit from all the travel guides. I agree it disrupts the schedule terribly though. Perhaps we'll visit it on a subsequent trip. Any ideas for places to start the first four days, keeping in mind we wouldn't be staying in London? Bath seems great, but i dont know where we would go after and make it to Oxford in 4 days (they're already so close together it seems a pity to start at Bath).

Posted by
100 posts

I'm with Toni re daytrips from London, especially if you haven't been to London before. I've done 3 with Evan Evans (plus their daytrip to Paris). The first was the best (all must-sees): Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge. The next was nice: Leeds Castle/Canterbury, Dover. The third was fine: Wawrick Castle, SuA, Oxford. E/E is a well-run operation.

Posted by
5678 posts

I think you have a good plan now. And, if you like it, you can always come back!

Pam