Please sign in to post.

Should I skip Wales & head straight to Scotland?

Well traveled in Western Europe, only visit to UK was 20+ years ago. I want to see everything, but not yet being retired, I have time constraints. Original plan: 8Sep - Pick up rental car at Heathrow (after 4 days in London) and drive to Chester, then Caernarfon, and one overnight. 9 Sep - drive to Glencoe (high priority to experience a bit of the Highlands) but need to be back down in Glasgow for a 3pm football match on the 10th (Celtics). After that 4 days in Edinburgh. I am debating whether to “give up” Chester & Caernarfon and spend that extra day in the Highlands instead. So much to see everywhere and I recognize I am not doing Wales justice with only one day, but everyone raves about Wales so wanted to get this in, but am I cutting myself too short in the Highlands and should I save Wales for another trip completely? Or worth it to take the day to drive and enjoy Chester & Caernarfon? All opinions appreciated!

Posted by
7095 posts

Driving all the way from London to Glasgow just for one night in Wales is not worth it at all, the drive is frankly very annoying... Only motorways, and the M6 is BUSY.
Even if you were doing it by train and just spending the night in Chester, it would still not be worth it to me.
Just take a train to Glasgow and rent a car there for 2 days to explore a small bit of the Highlands!

Posted by
2494 posts

Wales is well worth seeing but what with your desire to see Glencoe and be in Glasgow for the match plus Edinburgh & London, you are trying to do too much in the time available.

I can’t see the point in hiring a car in London to drive to Chester and onto Caernarfon. You could instead take a train (pre-book for cheapest price) from London (Euston) to Chester & stay a night in a hotel. Then, on the same day or the next day, take train to Conwy (instead of Caernarfon as Conwy is closer and on the rail network). Try and also pop around (unlikely to have time) to nearby Llandudno before taking a train back to Chester where you stay the night. (The part of Wales seen from the train between Chester & Conwy/Llandudno Junction is not exactly scenic). Of course, you could always go direct by train from London (Euston) to Glasgow and return for a vacation that lets you see Wales properly. I can’t see the point in hiring a car to drive up and down the country.

Next day :> train from Chester to Glasgow* (check into hotel & see the match). Next day, hire a car and drive to the highlands - giving as many days as you think you need before going to Edinburgh where you turn in the car.

Once done with Edinburgh - train back to London (King’s Cross) but I would suggest you break this journey with an overnight in York - you will need separate tickets for each leg.

Posted by
1309 posts

I will say before someone from Glasgow does...no "s"on the Celtics.

Posted by
8662 posts

Abort the outlier from this trip... You face the same dilemma that all travelers do. Way more that you want to see than you have time for. It is important to really focus in on your top priorities. Would Wales be great to visit? Sure, when you actually have time to do so.......

You can save yourself some money, time, and frustration by taking some trains instead of quite so much driving. The biggest challenge with driving is that the driver doesn't really get to enjoy the scenery at the same level as those who are just riding as attention has to be paid to traffic. Add in getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road from which you are familiar and driving will take a lot of attention.

Posted by
3824 posts

"Should I skip Wales & head straight to Scotland?"--Yes.

Posted by
4359 posts

I feel your pain, but yes. Say goodby to this teeny taste of Wales and do better by Scotland. :)

Posted by
6113 posts

With the timescale you have and having to back track to Glasgow, it would make more sense to see Wales and drop the Highlands, as you don’t have time to do this area justice.

Whatever you do, don’t drive from London - take the train.

Posted by
2745 posts

Definitely forget Wales. Do you have your airline tickets yet? If not, please fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh and save yourself driving or taking the train all the way up to Scotland.

Posted by
33339 posts

London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley by LNER train takes about 4:20.

London Euston to Glasgow Central by Avanti West Coast takes about 4:32.

I defy you to get there that fast by plane.

An hour, or pay premium for half an hour to the airport.

90 minutes check in.

90 minutes flying time. If the flight actually goes and hasn't been cancelled as most have been.

an hour all in to get to Edinburgh.

Total, 4:30 to 5:00 by plane. And all the hassle.

Posted by
6826 posts

I’d skip the Caernarfon part. If you wanted to go to Chester and dip your foot into Wales, you could stop at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Valle Crucis Abbey / Abaty Glyn Y Groes, or Plas Newydd Historic House & Gardens Llangollen on your way there. Near Chester, yet in Wales is St Winefride's Well Shrine, Maen Achwyfan Cross, and Rhuddlan Castle.

What Nigel mentioned, however, makes the most sense to me. If you want to see Wales and do it justice, you need to visit there for a couple weeks.

Posted by
6113 posts

…. and to do the Highlands justice, you need more than 1,5 days!

Posted by
15729 posts

Since you said you will be returning to the UK, on this trip drop Chester and Wales and save it for when you can do it justice.

Take the train from London to Glasgow and rent the car there. Or......you an leave the driving to someone else and take a one day tour like one from Rabbies. Small 16 passenger vans and they know where they are going. The departure is from Glasgow near the train station.

8 Sep--train to Glasgow

9 Sept--Highlands touring

10 Sept--Football

Posted by
5428 posts

I will say before someone from Glasgow does...no "s"on the Celtics.

And no "the" either, it's just Celtic. Everyone will know you mean Celtic F.C. just by saying Celtic and to cover any further possible confusion it's pronounced 'seltic' rather then 'keltic'.

Posted by
1884 posts

Disclosure, I am of Welsh heritage. I would suggest taking train to Chester and staying a night (great little city) then rent your car and explore northern Wales. Wales is closer to London and you would have less time used just to get to your destination. Scotland is lovely and there is so much to see there I'd fly into Scotland next time.

Posted by
3824 posts

I'd choose one or the other; Wales or Scotland.
Save one for your next trip.
Better to do each one justice than to have it be a blur of a rushed day or two.

Posted by
29 posts

Can’t say enough thanks about everyone’s comments. I especially appreciate your straightforward opinions and they have all been extremely helpful for this trip and the next! We are bailing on Wales so we can return and really enjoy all of Wales next trip over the pond. I realize we are only scratching the surface of the Highlands, but at least the three I am traveling with (who have never been to Scotland) will get a touch of the Highlands by visiting Glencoe and this will interest them in further exploration in the future. And we are cancelling the car hire out of Heathrow and taking the Euston to Glasgow train instead. Wonderful advice. Much better plan.

Posted by
2494 posts

I think you have made the right decision. You need time to see Wales properly. Now you can concentrate on Scotland during the limited time available. (The Isle of Skye was my highlight in Scotland).

Posted by
7906 posts

James is right, Wales is amazing. More castles there than anywhere in the UK. Also, it is very scenic.
We have been to Conwy and more in north Wales as well as much of south Wales (Cardiff, Tenby, St. David's and more).

Plan on coming back for a lengthy visit.

Posted by
29 posts

Will keep these notes for future. Given everyone recommending taking rail instead of driving London to Glasgow, am I assuming correctly that it is unlikely the rail strikes will effect those plans? I realize no one has a crystal ball, but we don’t experience that in the U.S. so not sure when to be cautious. Should I not worry so much about the strikes?

Posted by
33339 posts

my crystal ball is cloudy after the August strikes.

In September who knows?

Could go one way, could go another....

If and when I get wind of further strikes I'll post about them - there has to be notice given at least 14 days before the strike