My husband and I just booked tickets to London for this August, with our kids (ages 7, 9 and 11). He's from the Manchester suburbs, and not only did he and I live there together for 2.5 years, but we vacationed with our kids for 3 weeks in 2016 in central England. So, on this trip, we want to visit other areas of the UK. I initially planned to stay in London for a few days, take the train to Bath and then drive around southern England for most of our trip (Cotswalds, Stonehenge, maybe down into Devon/Cornwall or up into central Wales). Now, though, I'm wondering if that would be sufficiently interesting for our children. Would it make sense to spend 5-6 days in the south including London, then drive on up to Scotland? I've never been to Glasgow. I love Edinburgh. We'll be in the UK for 16 days, not including the day we leave, so we have a fair bit of time. But it's quite the drive from, say, Bath to Glasgow. And then, of course, we'd have to drive back down, probably from Edinburgh to London.
We took our kids to London and Scotland when they were 9 and 17. They LOVED Edinburgh- thought it was fun. We didn't get to take them to other areas. but we also love Inverness and I would strongly recommend it for your kids. You can cruise the Loch up to Urquhart Castle (ruins), then on up to the village of Drumnadrochit. That's the 'Nessie' village, but there some nice pubs for lunch, and other shops. You can also cruise the forth and watch for whales, dolphins, puffins, eagles, etc. We have done a (long) day trip up to Orkney from there, too. And you can do Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle on one trip, along with Glen Coe and some other wonderful scenery. If they are into Harry Potter, you can ride the Jacobite train that was in the movies. Lots of other good day trips from there, too. In fact Inverness has the best Tourist Office I've ever visited.
Now, WE DID NOT DRIVE. We used the trains and booked tour companies when we liked what they offered. We just didn't want to deal with driving on the 'other' side, driving a straight drive, paying very high prices for petrol and parking, etc.
Here's a thought:
London- 2 tor 5 nights (could do at least 1 day trip by train to Bath, Windsor, Cardiff Wales, etc.)
train to York- 2 nights
train to Edinburgh- 2 nights
train to Inverness- 3-5 nights
train back to London for rest of trip.
Trains will get you from London to York to Edinburgh much, much faster than a car. Tickets can be comparative bargains if you buy Advance tickets, which probably means purchasing shortly after the tickets go on sale for your travel dates. I don't know how the rail and car travel times compare if you head north from somewhere like Bath.
I will definitely give trains more consideration. :) We've been planning to hire a car after London because there are some things we'd like to do that are a bit more off the beaten path and on the way from south to north. (For instance, many years ago we attended a red kite feeding at Brecon Beacons in Wales, and we thought we'd take the kids this summer. And I'm pretty sure they'd appreciate Blackpool! :D )
But trains definitely would get us around the country faster, and we could see the sites without the hassle of a car. I'm particularly keen to have them experience Edinburgh. So it may be best to prioritize that over other things. Thanks for the suggestions!