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Traveling by car from London to York to Edinburgh Scotland. What should I see along the way?

Hello I am going to be traveling from London to Edinburgh Scotland. I will be staying overnight in York for 1 day. What should I stop and see along the way.

Posted by
5718 posts

This and your other post about driving south infer that you are going to be doing lots of driving in a short time.

London to York is likely to be a 5-6 hour drive without stops, depending on where your starting place is and when you are travelling. This and your return journey both cry out to be undertaken by train not driving. A car would be useful if you were planning on staying somewhere rural, but not in city centres.

York to Edinburgh is probably a 5 hour drive.

We can’t readily advise on what to see en route, as you haven’t given any information on your interests. With so much driving, I would be tempted to break the journey with a rural walk, such as Rutland Water on the way to York and Holy Island on the way to Edinburgh.

York deserves 2 days and travelling by train would give you more time there.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks again. I already reserved a car because I'm staying in London for 7 days. 3 of the days I will be driving to south England to visit Castles. Primarily that is what I am interested in on my way to Edinburgh.

Posted by
4720 posts

If you want to see anything in York then you haven't got time to stop off en route. It's a long drive and depending on where you're staying it might take some time to get into central York.

Posted by
597 posts

My suggestion would be Hardwick Hall. It's not far off the M1, has lots of interesting history, and can rpovide a good lunch. It's a National Trust property.

Posted by
4736 posts

Peterborough (Cathedral), Rutland (Belvoir Castle), Stamford (Burley House), Grantham, Lincoln (Cathedral), Newark (Castle).

All with little deviation from the A1.

(Somehow Rick bypasses all of these …)

Posted by
1681 posts

For the York to Edinburgh drive, you could head over towards the coast and visit Alnwick Castle. The detour only adds about twenty miles and thirty minutes to your drive. The area around Alnwick also has several ruined castles which we found far more interesting than Alnwick Castle. However, the gardens at the castle were very interesting.

Another alternative would be to stop off in the Borders region of Scotland and visit one of the abbeys. Dryburgh is our favorite, although Melrose is probably more convenient.

Posted by
8889 posts

"I already reserved a car because I'm staying in London for 7 days. 3 of the days I will be driving to south England to visit Castles." - That rings alarm bells. I hope you aren't planning to stay in central London with a car and drive out to these castles every day. Hotels in central London do not have parking. There may have expensive parking nearby, but not on site. There is a daily charge for driving in Central London (£11.50, see here: ). You cannot drive to any of the tourist locations in London.
Driving from central London out to the edge (M25, the ring motorway around London) takes 1-2 hours depending on traffic. Even driving from a suburb out to the M25, and then round it takes time.

London to York is 2 hours by train, 5-6 hours by car if you don't stop, and you will arrive in York frazzled. York to Edinburgh is similarly 2½ hours by train, 5-6 by car with no stops. And York needs 2 nights (1 full day) minimum.

And I like Marco's list. Why does Lincoln never get a mention?

Posted by
64 posts

It is not too late to un-reserve the car. It makes no sense to rent a car for what you are planning to do.

Posted by
214 posts

Alnwick Castle is vastly overrated, imo, popular mostly because of Harry Potter. Bamburgh and Lindisfarne is far better.

Lincoln gets less of a mention because it’s not a guidebook destination. Much like Durham, a nice place but not part of the generic tourist trail that most follow.

What confuses me most is why people will dedicate up to a week to London alone yet will blitz through the rest of the country in 3-4 days. I get there’s lots to do in London but travelling takes time.

Posted by
1934 posts

May I suggest that you click this map entered on London:>,-0.2416801,47262m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1

Then find your hotel and pull the yellow man to show street view. Then try and find the route to the castles in the south that you plan to visit. When you have done that - try and click and drag to show your route to York & Scotland - or use Google Earth.

For what you are planning to do, most people would use the trains. (Fares are cheaper when advanced booked for longer journeys).

I can’t see how you would have much time for side trips when doing such a long journey in so short a timespan. Cars are best in country areas - not London.

Posted by
2989 posts

One of my favorite castles is not on the straight line from London to York, but you would only have a slight detour. Highly recommend Warwick Castle. It is north of Oxford. After you see it, you could go eastward and rejoin your trek north.

You spoke about south of London castle country:
Hever Castle, Bodiam Castle, Dover Castle, and Leeds Castle and others can be lined up in a string of sights.
You can see more than one castle per day.

These are some good sights to get you started.
Hope this helps.

Posted by
7 posts

Ok let me be more clear here. I appreciate all the feedback so far. Let me further explain my trip. I am arriving to the UK for a 13 day vacation. 7 days will be in London. With my vacation package I have a rental car for my whole trip. It will be parked at my hotel for the first 3 days while I visit the sites in London. The next 3 days I will be driving to certain castles and Dover in southern England then ending back at my hotel each of the 3 days. On the 7th day I will be driving to York and staying overnight. I plan on leaving early and seeing most of the sights. The next day I will be finishing up in York then driving to Edinburgh. There I will be staying 4 days and visiting sites around there, Then the day I leave Edinburgh I will be taking my time and sightseeing down towards Liverpool, staying the night there and the following day heading towards Heathrow airport to catch my flight at 530 PM.

Also I drive 10 hours daily for my job. So the driving I will be doing is easy for me.

Posted by
2989 posts

"With my vacation package I have a rental car"

Because we travel to England frequently, I will ask, where did you find your vacation package?
Is it through a travel agent?

In your last 2 posts, you have given us facts about your trip we didn't have before.

Posted by
64 posts

Sounds as though your itinerary is planned, and no suggestions from anyone will change it. Have a nice trip.

Posted by
727 posts

I am also traveling from London to Scotland in a few weeks with an overnight stop in Yorkshire. (A little background, I am originally from Cambridge, UK and have travelled back and forth between the UK and USA about 30+ times). I really hope you take the advice of some of us more experienced travelers. No one needs or wants a car in London. To drive out of North London each day to visit castles to the South is just an awful idea. It may not look very far, but don't underestimate how bad those drives can be. You will spend most of your time in traffic - along with some aggressive and frightening drivers. You will be cranky and frazzled. As other have said, take the train to visit the castles and another from London to York. You can easily walk around York for the rest of day, spend the night, and take the train to Edinburgh. However, If you must keep your car - then drive out the last day you are in London and head North to York. (I warn you this is not a fun drive either). Not much to see along the way unless you really want to make a significant detour but then you will miss out on time in York and York is very much worthy of your time. Here is an interesting article on getting to York


Posted by
639 posts

Sounds as though your itinerary is planned, and no suggestions from
anyone will change it. Have a nice trip.

I do hope you have a nice trip, and that the posts that actually answered your question, asking for suggestions of places to stop along the way between London and Edinburgh, are helpful to you.

I'd be interested to know how it goes for you. If you're not put off by the deluge of don'ts you've received, I hope you'll follow up by posting a trip report. I wish I were going to York and Edinburgh again, and I hope you enjoy those places as much as I did a few years ago.

Happy trails!

Posted by
267 posts

My boyfriend, who lives in a town near Windsor (so he knows his castles), went to teach a workshop there in York and really loved it, wanted to stay longer & see more. Perhaps if you don't get specific suggestions for side trips that you would like, you might like to spend a bit more time in York itself.

A friend I made while living/working at the Girl Scouts' world centre, she just started being a supervisor at the train museum there in York, that sounds like a great place too. Since you drive 10 hours a day, maybe you like transportation museums. :)

I do hope you get the specific answers you were originally asking for, have a great trip.

Posted by
4720 posts

On the 7th day I will be driving to York and staying overnight. I plan on leaving early and seeing most of the sights.

In which case my earlier post remains valid, you won't have time to stop off en route to visit other sights if you intend on seeing most of the sights in York.

Let's just say you leave Hendon at 08.00 and you're really lucky with the traffic, you'll probably reach York in about 4 hours. By the time you've located your lodging, found a parking space (you haven't elaborated on your York accommodation) and checked in you've already reached early afternoon. Fit in a quick lunch somewhere and you haven't got long left to cram much of what York has to offer. How much time you spend driving for work is irrelevant, this is about maximising your time in order to do what you're coming here to do and that is to sightsee. Unfortunately you can't see everything, or even a fraction of what you could see so you have to prioritise what you want to see more. This is why there were so many recommendations to travel via train but as you've now explained that you're tied to the car then you need to accept that your options will be curtailed somewhat. There are plenty of places to stop off en route as some posters have pointed out but you need to know that the more you stop the less time you'll have in York. The city deserves at least two days for any visit of worth, a couple of hours in the late afternoon/evening will just leave you frustrated that you didn't have more time.

Posted by
4736 posts

The drive up the A1 actually has interest of its own to anyone with an interest in roads, if only because its standard varies so much. A four-lane motorway can suddenly become a 1950s era two-lane twisty dual carriageway. The M1 way has road construction through the East Midlands north of Leicester at the moment. The A1 is a bit loaded through South Yorkshire, but there is little way round that.

Posted by
5630 posts

We drove to York from Warwick on the M1, spent three wonderful nights there.
After leaving York, we visited Castle Howard, then to Pickering for one night. We then crossed the Yorkshire Moors on our way to Whitby, spending most of the day in Whitby, then on to Durham for a couple of days.

We enjoyed it all, Yorkshire is great, especially the people.

Posted by
3709 posts

There’s nothing wrong with lodging near the ring road @ York and using the park and ride lots and bus service. I think the A1 is normally the better way to go vs the M1.

If you have any Swedish or Norwegian ancestory there are little known sites in Hull worth seeing.

Rather than driving to the opposite side of London every day why not explore sites just north of London.

Posted by
5766 posts

I agree with much of the concern voiced above about having a car/driving in London. I understand your position, so just confirm the lack of costs, budget time accordingly, and good luck with motoring around London.

That said...we did a trip from London to Edinburgh, mostly by car, and enjoyed it.

I wanted no part whatsoever of driving in London proper, so we began by taking the train out to Salisbury. We picked up our rental car there, then we did Stonehenge, Avebury, and headed for the Cotswolds. After that we headed for York, with a stop for a few hours ay Warwick castle (a bit Disneyfied, but still worthwhile and recommended if you're at all near). We did hit a horrible traffic jam between Warwick and York, where we sat, unmoving, for an hour - I assume that was due to some accident or other event, rather than just bad traffic, but we never found out. We spent 3 nights and 2 days in York and thoroughly enjoyed it. After that we headed northeast, stopped overnight in Durham, another recommended stop. Heading north to Edinburgh, we broke up the drive with a long stop at Holy Island, which we loved - don't miss it. We stayed 3 days in Edinburgh (parked our car while we were there) and of course really liked the place - I could have lingered. From Edinburgh we drove through the highlands (Fort William, Loch Ness, Inverness) - I wish we had had more time there. We dropped our car in Inverness, and flew to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, rented a car there and spent a couple days on Lewis (beautiful!). From Stornoway we flew to Orkney, and spent a couple more days there (wonderful, and one of my favorite places, but off your path). Heading back, we flew from Orkney to Edinburgh to London.

Bottom line: I would not discount the posted advice above, but setting aside the question of having a car in London, there's plenty of great places to stop and see as you motor north. Be careful driving on the wrong side, and prepare for some shockingly narrow roads you will encounter once off the motorways (wrong-side driving + narrow lanes = you better take care). Have fun.