June of next year we will be taking our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to England for 2 weeks. My husband and I have been there many times, but they have never been. I have two trip scenarios in place: Heathrow to Bridgnorth (which we love) and then Blists Hill or Black County Museum and sites around there, then south to the Cotswolds and Oxford. Finishing in London. The second scenario is Edinburgh, down to Berwick On Tweed, to Newcastle and sites around that area. We've been to all these places. Where we've never been is Exeter, Cornwall and sites along the coast. I would love opinions as to whether this last option would make for a good trip for first timers and for us who have not been there before. What of interest would there be in the area? Thanks so much.
How old are your grandchildren? And what are their interests? Cornwall and Exeter are beautiful. But it would depend on their interests
Suggestion: look at the Rick Steves Best of Southern England tour for the itinerary and activities at each stop on the tour. It’s a 13 day swing around the coast boasting loads of historic sites and spectacular natural scenery. Also, includes 2 important Cathedrals, Canterbury and Salisbury. I recently took this tour in mid-April. You could spend some time in London to do the:major sites and then go to Canterbury and on to Cornwall and ending in Bath. You could adapt this to your own tastes.
Get the Rick Steves guidebook to England to research and plan your journey.
Have fun! You will have wonderful memories!
I think there's something to be said for discovering a new place together, rather than having you and your husband leading the tour having "been there, done that." Cornwall tends to get congested in the summer, but June may not be too bad as it is early enough that British schools are still in session.
How many grandchildren are there, and how old? You'll need a vehicle big enough for everyone plus luggage, unless you rent two vehicles or go by public transportation.
IMO just about any place in the British Isles is fun to visit, so in terms of location/region you really can't go wrong.
Cornwall and Devon are very beautiful but don’t have a lot of big sights. It’s more about enjoying the scenery and atmosphere. If the weather is bad it will be hard to enjoy it.
I like the sound of your Edinburgh and Northumberland trip, but that’s because I love those areas and think there is so much of interest: Hadrians Wall, Durham Cathedral, castles galore eg Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh, Warkworth and Alnwick. Beamish outdoor museum. Amazing beaches (chilly but stunning and often almost deserted). The North East is not as busy with hoards of tourists as other areas can get and people are super friendly and welcoming.
A lot depends on what sort of things you want to do and see. Are you outdoor people who like a lot of walking and scenery? Do you like gardens, ruined castles, stately homes, folk museums... The three areas offer very different possibilities.
Sharon, your post begins with "we will be taking...." If that means you are paying for the trip, I admire and respect your generosity. If that also means that you and your husband are making all the decisions and plans for the trip, then I suggest you ask your daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren what they would like to see and do on their first trip to England.
Just wondering about Bridgnorth. Will you be arriving by steam train (best one anywhere)?
Our grandchildren are 26, 24 and 20, so not little. I want to clarify - I wish we could afford to pay the way for everyone, but we are not. We will all pay our own ways. They asked me to put possible itineraries together since they have never been. Right now I see, Cornwall and area would not be a good fit. I am, however, looking at my 3rd option to present to them would be starting in Canterbury, then Dover, Deal, Hastings, Brighton, Arundel, wetlands, Amberly open air museum, Winchester, then to the Cotswolds before heading to London. Yes, Nigel, if they do choose one of my other options, we will be in Bridgnorth and will ride the Severn Valley Steam train which we have ridden before and loved it! Thanks for all your comments! You've been very helpful.
That assumes the Severn Valley Railway survives this year. The Railway is struggling to survive and currently has a £1.5 million appeal for funds. Whether their hyperbole is true or not I don't know, but they may reckon they may or may not survive through this season.
That is really concerning news about the Severn Valley Railway - its one of the iconic preserved steam railways . I do hopw they don't 'go under'.
Your proposed itinerary looks interesting. I would also suggest the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards.
I did a trip that was similar to your 3rd option last year so have a few suggestions.
Deal castle was fun, but small so won't take long. Consider the Ramsgate Tunnels - used in WW2 to protect the entire town during the blitz. Walking some or all of the Seven Sisters is beautiful and a bit of a challenge. Great way to see the white cliffs. Easy to do a loop to include a pub in East Dean. Battle of Hastings was not in Hastings, but in Battle. Don't forget Salisbury Cathedral.
I am not a big fan of the Cotswolds since I think Kent is prettier, but while based there we toured, Blenheim, Oxford, Bletchley Park and the Royal Air Force Museum Midlands. All excellent. The Blenheim downstairs tour was interesting, and the tours at the RAF museum really helped with understanding. All need to be booked ahead but aren't expensive (5 or 10 pounds).
If you head north, why not include York? We enjoyed a night tour to top off our extremely full and delightful day (~ 20 years ago). We'll have a stop there, again, this year.
I think York is great for all ages and all types of interests, we just spent 3 days there; loved walking the walls, the castle museum, the street scene, the free history walk..
With older grandkids I’d give them a few free days to do something on their own. Explore Oxford, or go to the coast, see a castle, whatever they think would be interesting or fun.