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Train itinerary (but will rent car if absolutely necessary!)

Hello - I am joining my sister in London in June; we will have 12 days "on the ground" exclusive of flying days. We've both been to London before, but still want to spend several days there to see spots we've missed. Our main objectives this trip are to spend some time in the Lake District and the Cotswolds, finishing up in Bath before heading to a Heathrow hotel the night before departure.

Thinking of starting in London before heading off north to the Lake District...can I arrange this by train? Also, I was last in the Cotwolds about 12 years ago...I'be been told it's a zoo now during peak tourist season. Is there another cute, relaxing, village-y place we should consider?

Thanks for any help!!

Posted by
3122 posts

To your first question, it is possible to get to both the Lake District and the Cotswolds by train, but if you don't have a car you'll be limited to buses (or walking) to get out into the country in these regions to get that "village-y" feeling.

Personally I felt that the Lake District was somewhat overrated unless you're a serious walker or a big fan of the 19th-century literary figures associated with it. The town of Keswick seemed a little overly cute, and the TI office was very busy even on a weekday in mid-May. Also, I guess my impression was influenced by the fact that the public restrooms aren't at the TI office, but rather a few blocks away at the Pay & Display car park, and not very well signposted -- I had to ask a couple of people in order to find them, while I was becoming increasingly desperate, LOL.

Can't speak for crowding in the Cotswolds, but another region that's equally accessible from London, or even more so, is the East Anglia - Norfolk region. That might be more relaxing. Check threads on this forum about places there if you're interested in that as an alternative.

There's also Cornwall, of course, but it's also likely to be very busy in June and it has similar limitations with public transportation.

Yours is a typical dilemma because train and bus lines tend to go where there are plenty of people (i.e., paying customers), thus the smaller village areas don't tend to get convenient or frequent service -- or any at all, depending how remote. For example, train service to Marlborough in Wiltshire (near Avebury) was discontinued decades ago. I would say an exception is in Scotland, where the buses go to places that feel amazingly remote.

Posted by
1465 posts

Look at the Treasure Houses of England online. If you tour these you will go to Great Houses with fabulous Gardens and you will gain a wonderful experience of the Arts and Architecture of England's past. There are 10 listed ; these are Beaulieu, Blenheim Palace, Burghley House, Castle Howard, Chatsworth, Harewood House, Hatfield House, Holkham Hall, Leeds Castle, and Woburn. Many historic figures have called these home. I don't know if there is a joint pass available, or if they are only by separate admission. The National Trust UK also has a 7 or 14 day Touring Pass available for their own list of properties throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I agree that there are crowds in the Cotswolds and the Lake District, but if you have a car you can drive the road less taken. We did arrive at an historic home once when a bus tour had just arrived and were going to turn back when one of the docents let us in ahead of the group. Don't worry, you can find quaint villages everywhere, and if you are driving you can stay in a charming farmhouse b & b with sheep and horses in the yard and an intimate dinner and drinks with the other guests.

Posted by
2451 posts

Please look at this rail map:>http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/images/structure/css/nationalrailnetworkmap.pdf

For the Cotswolds, a good ‘jumping off’ point from London would be Moreton-in-Marsh - with is NW ion Oxford. As has been said, getting around the villages can be difficult without a car. www.traveline.info will have details of buses. (Getting from Bath to the north Cotswolds without a car is not that easy). http://www.carlberry.co.uk/rfnshowl.asp?L1=MOR0010
https://www.cotswoldtourismtours.co.uk

If you were to go from The Cotswolds to the Lake District by train, you would firstly need to reach either Cheltenham or Oxford in order to proceed north - though some options go via Worcester. You can reach Windermere by train and would leave the mainline train at wither Oxenholm or Lancaster - probably. (Split ticket at Birmingham usually reduces the fares. Cheapest fares for pre-booked specific trains around 11 weeks in advance). www.nationalrail.co.uk

Also consider going to Wales. For this option, I suggest you take the train from MIM to Hereford (split ticket here usually reduce the price) - and then another train north to Shrewsbury (worth a look or overnight stay) before heading west on the *Cambrian line. (I would head to Porthmadog because it is on the railway as well as having narrow guage steam railways that will take you slowly into scenic areas. See > www.festrail.co.uk
*https://www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/cambrian-lines
https://www.visitwales.com
Buses in Wales:>https://www.traveline.cymru/

Posted by
7829 posts

epid nailed it. The Lake District is beautiful, but without a vehicle, hiking is the name of the game there.
We did Rick Steves day drive circle from Keswick and it was nice, but we were there in October and the weather got pretty cold and wet.

We do love the North of England, in particular, York, Yorkshire Moors, Whitby and Durham.

We loved the Cotswolds, but yes, so do many other people. Still, we loved the area and since I love Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon is a must.

Posted by
286 posts

Last summer when visiting Wales and Devon we found that the local taxis were a relatively convenient and inexpensive way of getting around. There was no problem in being dropped off and arranging a pickup later in the day.