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Please help me fix our 3 week England/Scotland trip. Gaps in itinerary and when to train or car?

Hi! Thanks for reading. We are a family of 4, my husband and I and our two sons, 10 and 9. We love to travel. Our last Europe trip was for 28 days in 2017. We went to Iceland, France and Spain. It was amazing! Silly to say but this trip was planned around baseball and the Boston Red Sox. I was able to buy tickets to one of the baseball games being played in London. Our tickets are for June 30th. Our trip will be June 24-July 13. In RS guidebook he suggests saving London for the end of the trip but this doesn't make the most sense for us since we have to be in London a week after arrival. Also, after our last Europe trip we have learned we really enjoy big cities so we want to give London at least the full week. So here is my preliminary itinerary which has some open days. This is where you come in. Help me fill it and fix it. I can tell you things we are not interested in, The Beetles (so should we go to Liverpool?). I am not that interested in Costwolds ( I think it looks kind of boring). We don't really enjoy art museums but do enjoy cathedrals and castles. My children love audio guides and trebuchets. They would love to be able to visit the beach but I don't think that is going to happen. Wouldn't mind visiting Lands End but I do not think we have time for it. When is comes to deciding between the train or a car rental some additional info, my parents are joining us on this trip. However, I am not sure how much they will do with us after London. So for now, I am going to assume they will be with us. I have looked at renting a minivan and 2 cars. It seems very similar in price. My husband wants to pay extra for an automatic so that we can split the driving. At home I do 99.9% of the driving. When we went on our last trip the car was a stick and he did 100% of the driving. He wasn't a fan of this. Also, driving on the left doesn't scare us but we realize it will be a new experience (I have done it once before).

June 23- Fly Boston to London, arrive on June 24 at 8:40am
June 24- Stay in London 6/24-7/1 with side trips to Cambridge and maybe Windsor but I might save it to the last day.
July 1- Train? to York. Stay in York 1 or 2 nights.
July 3- Train or Car to Edinburgh 3 nights with side trip to St Andrews. Or 2 nights and stay near Speyside after day in St. Andrews? I would say car here?
July 4-Edinburgh
July 5-St Andrews
July 6- Head to Speyside for Cooperage and Distillery tour. Drive to Glasgow for 2 nights?
July-7 Glasgow
July 8- Leave for I don't know. This is where I am stuck.
July 9-
July 10-
July 11- Bath for 2 nights with side trip to Stonehenge and Wells. But also don't mind not going back to Bath.
July 12- Bath
July 13 Drop car off around 2pm. Fly back to Boston 4:50pm
Bath looks nice but Wells is more appealing.

Posted by
6576 posts

In general, to get from A to B, take the train. If you want to stop along the way or go somewhere very remote, rent a car. You do not want to drive to York, the train is the better option, the same to Edinburgh. And to St Andrews there are frequent buses from Edinburgh and the nearby railway station in Leuchars. But for exploring the highlands a car seems like a good idea.

Posted by
971 posts

If you and your kids are into castles and trebuchets (my favourite things as well!) you might want to check out Warwick Castle. They have working trebuchet. It looks a bit too much like a theme park for my taste, but perhaps you kids will love it.
Another great Castle is Alnwick Castle between York and Edinburgh. It was as a location in Harry Potter and many other films.
In Scotland Doune Castle was a highlight of my trip there. It’s a lot smaller than Alnwick or Warwick, but much more authenticly medieval. It has also been used in many movies and tv shows, most notably Monthy Python and the Holy Grail. The audioguide by Python Terry Jones is hilarious.
I also agree on the suggestion of taking trains to get from A to B and then renting a car as needed to get to more rural areas such as the Scottish Highlands.

Posted by
118 posts

Alternatively if you decided to stay over in the east after York you could do Whitby, Durham, Beamish (great day out), Newcastle (for city fix) then Northumberland for beaches, castles, poison garden and Harry Potter at Alnwick, Hadrian’s wall. I’m sure someone will chime in with something similar if you went North through the middle. Great Britain has so much to offer besides it’s great cities so please don’t limit yourself to those or the usual suspects. As Emma says the Beatles weren’t the only thing to come out of Liverpool!

Posted by
1305 posts

Hi -

If your kids want to visit the beach, then a side trip from York to say, Whitby, worthy of a visit in itself, is a good idea. There’s a decent stretch of sand between Whitby and Sandsend. For miles and miles of beaches, if you decide to drive there are huge beaches near Bamburgh castle and Alnmouth etc., on the Northumberland coast. Going in the sea is another thing entirely (hypothermia a real risk!) but the beaches are splendid there.

I would suggest the Lake District as a stopping off point from Glasgow, but if you prefer cities to countryside, then that probably won’t float your boat - as has been mentioned here before if you aren’t into hiking then The Lakes hold very little appeal.

Thus the call to stay in Chester is a good one. Liverpool is within striking distance of Chester too. As are the northern cities of Wales with their castles. I also like the model italianate village of Portmeirion but again not everybody’s cup of tea - a bit of internet research may decide you on that one.

You are right about Wells, it is particularly nice and smaller than and less touristy than Bath, although we have friends who live just outside Bath and so have developed a soft spot for it over the years, so in my humble opinion Bath itself is certainly worth a visit. I note you aren’t interested in the Cotswolds - maybe the view of myself and other Brits of ‘very nice, but I don’t get the mass appeal’ is gaining some traction! I can, however, understand that if you’ve never visited England before the Cotswolds does look like you’d expect England to look!

Hope you get enough information to decide your itinerary one way or the other and that you have a great trip!

Ian

Posted by
7836 posts

You haven't planned enough time for York. We spent three nights there. York Minster is amazing, we spent three hours there. The National Railway Museum near the train station is excellent. Also, walking the walls and sections of the old city with its narrow streets. There are a couple of very nice museums there.

Edinburgh is great and you can likely do St. Andrews on a day trip from Edinburgh. We visited St. Andrews and other nearby places, like the church where Robert the Bruce is buried.

Not sure that I would spend much time in Glasgow. However, you could visit Loch Lomond and the western highlands. In the north Loch Ness and Inverness are wonderful.

You haven't afforded much time to the countryside in England. I recommend visiting Bath, Stonehenge, Stratford Upon Avon, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Castle and perhaps Oxford.

Posted by
97 posts

Thank you all! This is exactly what I needed. I will look into the suggested options.

The train seems to win. What type of train pass should I look into?

ianandjulie- That's the real problem of visiting a beach! My kids will want to swim. They swam near Gibraltar/Southern Spain when NO ONE else was! That water was bone chilling!

geovagriffith- I will reconsider more time in York and I agree, I was already questioning the time in Glasgow.

Posted by
1188 posts

Don't forget to post in the Scotland forum too. There are some real experts who only post in that forum. As the majority of your trip seems to be in Scotland, I think you would get really good advice about where to stay and the order in which to do things.

Wells is tiny - I used to live there. It is lovely but only enough to keep you occupied for one day. In my opinion Salisbury might be a better choice. It has a wonderful cathedral and the remains of Old Sarum, the original city, basically an Iron Age hill fort. You are then less than 10 miles from Stonehenge. Personally, I would do Salisbury, Bath or Wells immediately after London, then travel up to York by train, then from York into Scotland. Then do all your Scotland exploring and return to London for your flight home.

Posted by
2554 posts

If you are Red Sox fans then you'll know about Liverpool FC - visit Anfield they'll likely win the league this year.