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Platinum Jubilee expectations

My family and I are traveling to Great Britain, starting in London, the first week of June. We are excited to be there for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, but I'm curious how ambitious we can be for seeing other sights. Do you think the main attractions (Tower of London, British Museum, varied Palaces, parks, etc.) will be open? Any suggestions on how to keep tabs on schedules? We are traveling with our 6, 4, and 1 year old girls, a few days in London, Kent, and up to Glasgow. Family friendly suggestions are always welcome!

Posted by
6672 posts

I can't imagine any way to predict now what may or may not be open in June. To keep tabs on schedules, visit the websites of the various sights you want to see. Google can help you find them. Bookmark them and check back from time to time, especially after you read in the news about positive or negative Covid-related developments in the UK.

Posted by
10 posts

I figured for bank holidays, such as June 2 and 3, things would be open. I'll keep tabs on it. Thanks for the input! I've been using Rick Steves books to pinpoint best times to visit some of the sights, but I'm sure everything will be quite busy that week.

Posted by
8888 posts

Summers in London are the very height of tourism. You will find tourists from all over the world.

Book the earliest available entry times for The Tower, Churchill War Rooms, Hampton Court Palace. Most Museums are free and will be jammed. Go early evening to visit them.

Make use of the Royal Parks. There’s the Princess Diana playground near Kensington Palace. Mudchute Farm might be of interest. Visit Hamley’s toy store.

Ride upstairs in a Double Decker bus. Check to see if Duck Tours on the Thames have resumed.

Be prepared for queues.

Book tickets in advance for the London Eye, Tower Bridge Experience, and HMS Belfast.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Claudia! I will definitely take your advice there. On a very different note, we will be spending a few days in the Kent area, as my husband's family can be traced back there hundreds of years. Do you know of any genealogical resource located in Kent we could contact? We've done most of our research through ancestry.com documents. Thank you for your time, I appreciate it!

Posted by
10 posts

I can't wait to look into the Kent archives! What an excellent resource. I'm becoming very eager to visit Canterbury and Maidstone. We found out the house his great-grandmother was born in is now a lovely sandwich shop! How special to eat a meal in a building that has that connection. Have your travels taken you up to the Lake District? We will be hiring a car in Dover for our stay in the Kent area, staying overnight in the Lake District on our way to Glasgow to visit a friend for a week.

Posted by
4605 posts

It's great that you are using Rick's books as a resource, but realize that everything nowadays has either changed or is subject to change on short notice. Especially things like opening and closing days and times. Trust but verify, as a famous personage used to say.

Posted by
33339 posts

I'm concerned that you expect to hire a car in Dover.

Previous posts that I have made here have not been particularly kind to Dover, for good reason.

If you are not familiar with driving in England the profusion of small roundabouts in that town combined with the huge number of large and very large trucks going to and from the ferries wouldn't be my idea of a good place to start.

Jennie, can you explain a bit more about the Dover bit please? I saw the Maidstone and Canterbury connection - how does Dover come into it?

Will you be arriving on a ferry?

Posted by
10 posts

"Trust but verify" Yes! Couldn't agree more. Thanks for the reminder.

As for Dover, it was the only affordable option for hiring a car one way to Glasgow. I am forgetting now if there was even an option for any other car hire from all of Kent. Since there is a train from London to Dover, we thought it would be an easy stop. I appreciate your input. Do you have any advice to avoid this? Or perhaps a road easy for beginners out of Dover? It sounds like an "easy road" may not exist. While we have traveled internationally a few times before, we have not driven on what we think is the other side of the road. (We did reserve the smallest car possible for our family, hoping that would help a bit!)

Posted by
10 posts

I should clarify: when I stated "I am forgetting now if there was even an option for any other car hire from all of Kent," I simply meant there were no available cars from Maidstone or Canterbury with the one way option to Glasgow.

Posted by
2562 posts

For the best advice, we might need to step back for an overview of your plans.

How are you travelling from London to Kent – train? Then hiring a car to travel around Kent before driving up to Glasgow?

Do you really need a car in Kent? A lot can be achieved with buses and trains. But if so, if it was me I’d take the train to Ashford, maybe Canterbury, then return the car to the same place. Train back to London, train from Euston to Glasgow.

Would that work? It would be far easier, quicker and less stressful.

Posted by
7728 posts

Let's hope that the Platinum Jubilee does not turn into the same format as Betty White's 100th Birthday.

Posted by
619 posts

If you have ancestors from Kent, you should know that the Kent parish registers are available online on the Findmypast website. For Kent records, Findmypast is more useful than Ancestry, while it is the reverse for some other counties.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks for the FindMyPast information! I'm signing up for a month right now. The English kept such great records.

Posted by
1016 posts

I was in London for the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 2012. I think you will find most of the tourist attractions will be open. You may have to book ahead for time slots but I wouldn't be overly concerned about missing out. The crowds will likely be heavy, but London usually seems to manage this just fine. I am heading back to London myself this week of June.

I wanted to comment more on your plan to visit Kent and then Glasgow by car. I agree with Nigel, that Dover is not the best place to get behind the wheel. The roundabouts and trucks that are heading to the ferries will make it stressful.
If you are only renting from Dover because that's the only way to do a one-way rental to Glasgow, then I would change up your plans to drive to Glasgow. It's would make for a long and stressful drive (471 miles). I would drop the car off in Kent and take the train to Glasgow via London.

Posted by
10 posts

I am curious, what makes the drive stressful? Are the roads dangerous or unmarked? We typically take road trips across America, but I don't want to assume roads from Kent up to Scotland are as easy.

Posted by
1016 posts

I grew up driving in Essex (across the Kent border) and I now live in the US. Driving in the UK is not like driving across the US for 10 hours. Obviously, roads are marked and main roads are quite good in the UK, but traffic is much heavier and there are far more aggressive drivers on the road. Roundabouts are frequent and getting in the right lane can be stressful as you attempt to change gear while watching for traffic coming up on you from all sides. You just have to be on your game all the time. No sitting back, putting the cruise control on, and just holding the wheel. From Dover, you have to get around London, to go North. (M25 - counterclockwise). You will need to get across the Dartford crossing (toll and notorious for traffic jams) then on the M11 then to the A1. There is not a lot of scenery to look at on this route. BTW - you must pay the Dartford Crossing charge by midnight the day after you cross otherwise you will be fined. You have to pay online. I believe they took away all the toll booths. This is why if you are just wanting to get from point A to B, and not make a worthy stopover along the way, I suggested perhaps the train.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you for the road information! As of now, we are planning on leaving Canterbury very early (5-6am), taking the M25 all the way to M1, staying overnight in the Lake District on our way to Glasgow. We have a few stops along the way, which pushed our route westward. We rented an automatic car with a GPS, so hopefully that will help some. Do you think leaving that early will be helpful? Any other tolls you can do that remember? I'll have to look into that, thank you for the reminder.

Posted by
8888 posts

Nick, Betty White was actress who starred or co starred in many well known American TV series. People Magazine put her on the cover of their magazine regarding her 100th birthday.

Sadly, She had a stroke and died a few days short of her 100th birthday. Google her….you’ll find out who she was.

EDIT: seems poster Nick chose to delete his post where he asked who was Betty White. I’m not deleting my answer.

Posted by
1016 posts

Leaving early will be helpful You can expect heavy traffic to be building up as you get towards London. The Dartford crossing may be easier as you are going away from London at this point. I don't believe there are any more tolls on your route North. An automatic and having the GPS is perfect. Now I know you are stopping to see other things, the road trip is much more worth it. have a great trip.

Posted by
33339 posts

There's a bit of a problem with leaving Canterbury when you plan to. While you may be able to avoid the majority of difficulties circling London you will run into problems further up the line. With 3 hours' drive as far as the outskirts of Birmingham, you will be arriving there at the height of their rush hour.

The Dartford crossing is £2.50 paid electronically (the only way now). If you had left earlier and crossed before 6am it would be free.

So in addition to the toll you have to pay electronically on the Dartford Crossing - by the way I should tell you that the scenic and open air Queen Elizabeth Bridge is only for Essex to Kent southbound traffic; northbound Kent to Essex traffic takes the very pokey and narrow and full to the bursting point with heavy trucks tunnels, the lane you are in dictates which lane in which tunnel - both the bridge and tunnels are covered in speed cameras - I just noticed that the crossing is closed at the moment; so in addition to all that when you get to Junction 3 of the M6 (I presume that for the Lake District you will be M2/A2 to M25, Dartford Crossing, M25 to M1 (watch for average speed cameras and slow traffic in the construction between M1 Junction 14 Milton Keynes to Junction 18 Crick/Rugby East/DIRFT, there are frequent accidents between 14 and 15 Northampton, then leave M1 onto the M6, and M6 all the way to the Lake District?), after Junction 3 of the M6 the motorway splits. The main M6 continues on towards Birmingham, crossing the M42 and then the infamous Spaghetti Junction, then the M5. The Junction 6 Gravelly Hill has always been known locally as Spaghetti Junction because of the twisting convoluted shape of the junction which includes not only the M6 and also the major trunk road A38(M) and A38 as well as several local roads. Most of the way from Junction 3 to Junction 6 is elevated highway. All of these junctions will attract a lot of traffic 24 hours a day, but especially at rush hour which in Birmingham tends to run from around 6:30 to about 10:00 in the morning. The A38(M) leads down into central Birmingham becoming the Aston Expressway (yes, it is in Aston, but express it is not).

The reason I tell you all this is that several years ago the powers that be decided to allow a private road builder to build the M6 Toll road which leaves the M6 at Junction 3A and takes a long loop around the northern suburbs and rejoins the M6 at Junction 11 Cannock. For this bypass it charges the extortionate price of £7.00. There is a slight discount at weekends.

So your choice is traffic and delay or very expensive toll and extra mileage. At least they have actual toll booths.

The rest of the way to the Lake District is just the one motorway but there are several more construction zones with reduced speed and averaging speed cameras.

Just to mention the ease and low cost if planned well of the train. Trains go right into Windermere, and go all the way up into Scotland.

Posted by
33339 posts

Jennie, I just reread your original post - I had forgotten than you will have small children on the drive. At 6,4 and 1 they will all need approved car booster and car seats. That's a legal requirement.

Posted by
3 posts

My family just returned from England. My husband is from there. Trust but verify with the bank holidays for stuff like rental cars. We were surprised that rental car places were closed for the Christmas bank holiday. It wasn’t a big deal for us because we were staying with family. Also, I noticed you are traveling with young kids (we traveled with 1, 4, 11 and 13 year olds before, so I know moving little kids can be like moving an infantry), be aware that many grocery and other stores may close early or be closed on bank holidays. I was primarily thinking about things like diapers, wipes and baby/toddler supplies. We flew with our kids car seats. The 1 year old flew in his seat and we checked the bigger car seat. That was probably 14 years ago, so double check the airline policy about car seats. The airline had to check them and not count them toward baggage allowance when we flew, as they were considered safety equipment.

Posted by
10 posts

mcguckin2572: Great tip about the grocery stores closing early or completely on bank holidays. I'll keep that in mind. There's a Sainsburys near our Airbnb, so I was hoping to pick up some kid friendly snacks soon after arriving. If your children had any favorite snacks, please let me know! We are packing two travel booster seats for the 6 and 4 year old, and renting a carseat for the 1 year old. One less thing to lug around. We will be bringing a stroller, of course. We are trying to stick to no checked baggage, just backpacks and one carry-on!

Nigel, great road and toll information. Fortunately, living in the Washington D.C. area for a few years has dulled our senses to traffic and tolls (paying the equivalent of £15.00 is not unheard of). The route you specified starts out the same as ours. We will be taking M2/A2 to M25, Dartford Crossing, M25 to M1, then taking M1 north until A617/A619/A623 to A6, to A555, to M60, to M61, to M6, to A591, to A66 area, where we will be staying the night. I will be the first to say this is a bit ridiculous and out of the way, but my husband (the driver) insists it will be a beautiful drive.

Since we are driving with young children, are there public WC's or lavatories (or bathrooms, in my American English)? We have "rest stops" here, are there similar things along English roads?

To Bob, I have been thrilled with the FindMyPast research. We are indeed finding records that were not on Ancestry! Thanks for letting me know.

Posted by
470 posts

Jennie, your proposed route takes you very close to New Mills, an interesting town well off the normal tourist radar.
It is built above a deep gorge created by the Rivers Goyt and Sett which loop around the town and there is a walk at the bottom along the river at one point cantilevered on a bridge over the water. There are out of use mills in the town one now occupied by Swizzels sweets who make old fashioned confectionery

Posted by
33339 posts

Say hi to the Crooked Spire as you drive through Chesterfield.

If you want to see the lake (ok, small pond actually but fun walk unless it is sheeting it down like it was for me) which Mr Darcy came out of, that is at Lyme, which played Pemberley, just off the A6, .

If any of you are train buffs or rock buffs, you will be passing by quarry country so you may see some very slow very heavy trains, loaded with limestone or cement. Quite impressive.

The moors and mountains aren't half bad either.

Posted by
492 posts

Turns out we'll be in the UK at the same time, though will be escaping from London for Edinburgh a couple days before things hit full swing in London. I haven't noticed anything outrageous price-wise on hotels and such, and various attractions and activities I have looked in to are still available that weekend and taking bookings (those that let you book this far in advance, at least). So I'm optimistically hoping we'll be able to see enough signs of the jubilee to make the trip seem additionally special and unique, while not so much that it needs overcoming.