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Trip to England in July - details finally - need opinions please

I posted several months earlier with generalized questions about my upcoming trip to England. At that time I wanted to go to Wales or the Lake District, Cornwall or Devon, and possibly the Cotswolds. After receiving a lot of generous and valuable help from forum users, my wife and I worked out most of the basics. We have reservations for:

July 11 - Fly Charlotte to Manchester (business class, thank god!)
---> get rental car at airport and drive to Ambleside

July 12 - 16 - Stay at Nanny Brow, Clappersgate, Ambleside
---> depart Ambleside 7/16 early A.M. for North Devon

July 16 - 20 - Stay at Highcliffe House, Lynton, North Devon
---> depart 7/20 for the Cotswolds

July 20 - 23 - Stay at Burford House, Burford
---> depart 7/23 early for Manchester

July 23 - stay at Manchester Airport hotel (turn in rental car)

July 24 - leave Manchester for Charlotte

With these dates, times, and locations in mind, does anyone have suggestions about things we could do/see/experience, possibly even day-trips? A couple of things we've considered are:

  • drive to see some of Hadrian's Wall while in Ambleside
  • take a boat tour across one of the lakes near Nanny Brow (Windermere??)
  • drive to see Tintagel, West from Lynton
  • possibly drive to Glastonbury

I really appreciate any help anyone can offer!

Posted by
216 posts

Going up to Hadrian's Wall from Ambleside will require a fair bit of driving - about 90mins minimum one-way. Doable for sure, but you'd have to set a day aside for it.

Posted by
2140 posts

It is quite a long haul from Ambleside to Lynton and you won’t really have any time for detours. This means that you must stick to the M6 down to Birmingham and then the M5 to Bridgewater. From Bridgewater, you follow the A39 towards Minehead. Now it really become wiggly and slow going with some very steep hills for the final few miles to Lynton.

When you are in Lynton, I would not bother going to Glastonbury. Just off the A39 that you have used to reach your base, find the villages of Allerford & Selworthy - both well worth a look - especially Selworthy. Also go to Dunster - which is near Minehead. Try and do this early - before the bulk of the tourists arrive. If you are into steam railways you might wish to try The West Somerset Railway.
Also from Lynton, you might like to go to Tarr Steps - which is the kind of bridge that Fred Flintstone built. It is down a back road near Liscombe. Drive just out of Lynton to the Valley of the Rocks - watch out for wild goats! A narrow road leads through a deep valley to Brendon & Malmsmead - only a short distance from your base. I would also drive via Combe Martin to Ilfracombe. Further down to the coast - going west is Clovelly. A private village that you pay to enter but has real people living in it. No Cars - just donkeys to hump stuff about.

Lynton to Burford:> Have you been to Bath? If not, you could take it in en-route. Leave M5 at junction 22 and follow A38 NE coming off after a few miles to Axbridge - worth a quick look. Then drive through Cheddar Gorge and find your way to Bath. (Bath can be congested and parking difficult). Then continue to Burford.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for the replies.

akkejakke , I expect for us to spend most of the day seeing Hadrian's Wall and associated "stuff". The fact that it's so old, and what it represents historically, I guess is the draw for me. Am I kidding myself? Is it worth the trip?

James, thank you so much for the detailed information. I'll be using my Garmin with U.K. maps installed, but I plan to use your route, as described, to make sure I get to destinations. My GPS too often loses its mind and takes some hare-brained route.

I explored Bath my last time in England, and while it was beautiful, I don't think I'll go back this trip. To your reference, many of the streets seem only wide enough for a lawn mower. I had a Mondeo then and whacked one of the mirrors on a parked car's mirror--Avis wasn't pleased.

When I was a kid I was fascinated with the whole King Arthur legend. It may be totally unrelated, but is Tintagel worth a visit on one of my day trips from Lynton?

Great advice from both! Thank you.

Posted by
216 posts

To be brutally honest I don't know the western end of the wall very well. I certainly like the eastern end very much though (that said I am very much biased), and if it interests you to see it I say go for it.

Posted by
2140 posts

You can’t always trust satnavs. Sometimes they just connect your start point with the end point and you could end up going down narrow roads. I always have a road atlas in the car - even though I know most routes pretty well.

I have not been to Tintagel but it is doable as a longish day trip from Lynton. I would drive to Clovelly first - see that and then decide whether or not to press on to Tintagel. The A39 from Lynton to Barnstaple is one of the most bendy roads I have ever driven - so will be slow going. You might also like to consider this garden - which is near Great Torrington:> (I have not visited).

If you go down to Lynmouth - you could use the cliff railway - consider going for a boat trip along the coast. You will see boards on the quay advertising these.

As you are not going to Bath, the best way to get from Exmoor to Burford will be the M5 to J11A east of Gloucester and then A436 > A40 to Burford. You might like to consider taking a detour whilst on this route by crossing the Severn Bridge and taking A466 to see the ruins of Tintern Abbey. (You will need to pay the toll Wales bound only - about £6.60). Do not use the M49 and lower bridge. Go to the junction of M5 with M4 and turn left onto M4. As you descend a hill - fork left onto M48 which will be for the upper bridge. Leave at first exit on Welsh side. Just do the same when returning but take the M5 northbound at the Almondsbury interchange. (You may like to detour into Chepstow to see the Castle).

Check out Google Maps and street view (grab & drop the yellow man) to see the kind of roads. Here is Exmoor to get you going. Check out the hills on the A39 - especially at Porlock and dropping down to Lynmouth. Also look at the narrow lanes - perhaps in the valley to Malmsmead.,-3.6943681,11z/data=!5m1!1e1

Posted by
4939 posts

Definitely visit Tintagel if you are considering it, such a spectacular setting and an absolute must if you're interested in the Arthurian legend.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks again, guys!

akkejakke, since I'm too far away from the eastern side of the wall, I'll take my chances and go for a day trip and see the western end. No matter what, the history is there. Also, sometimes, it's the little unexpected things you find that make the trip worthwhile.

James, thanks again for the great detail. My wife is printing off your responses to carry with us as a guide.

JC, thanks and I will definitely visit Tintagel. If I get back to North Carolina without going there, I'm sure I'll regret it.

Posted by
269 posts

I got the chills when I visited The National Trust's Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter in near Sawrey Hawkshead, across from Ambleside.
The house was closed that day, but we could visit the gift shop and gardens. The hamlet and views between the ferry and house just stirred my soul knowing that a writer I loved tended the garden and walked the area. Only 6 miles from Ambleside and you can take the Windermere Lake Cruise/ferry.

Posted by
764 posts

I loved our time along Hadrian's Wall and it is definitely worth a visit. We spent 3 nights in Haltwhistle, so we had 2-1/2 days. I liked the area so much we came back on our next trip and spent a week in Northumberland. That said, it is a long day trip from Ambleside. If I were staying in Ambleside, I would find something closer to do. But, if you don't think you'll be back, Hadrian's Wall is very interesting. It's much more than just a wall.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks again, James. After looking at your linked page, I'm now trying to figure out the best place to visit Hadrian's Wall, either Maryport or Carlisle. They seem to be similar driving distances from Ambleside.

Gail, I watched the renee zellweger movie about Beatrix Potter the last time I was in England, several years ago. It's one of the reasons I decided to go to the Lake District this time. The farm used in the movie was, I believe, Yew Tree Farm. Will go there time almost certainly.

Eef, thanks for your reply. It's just further verification that I should see Hadrian's Wall.

Posted by
2140 posts

Neither Maryport or Carlisle will give you a good view of the wall - it pretty well does not exist on the lowlands. (Perhaps a local will know more than me on this). The lookout at Maryport is a modern reproduction. I would suggest that your best place to see the wall would be at Housesteads Roman Fort. You would need to go along the B6318 and find the large car park. Then climb the hill to the fort. Click this link & you will get a Google Map showing this are in close up. Use the slider to zoom back and you will see that it is roughly half way between the North & Irish Seas. Then you can figure out a route from Ambleside.'s+Wall+%26+Housesteads+Roman+Fort/@55.0132736,-2.3654385,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x487dbb9aff62fced:0x4126ef9a80295de7!8m2!3d55.0132736!4d-2.3304142!5m1!1e1!6m1!1e1

You may like to know that you could go by train for the day to Edinburgh. This would involve driving from Ambleside to Penrith, leaving the car & catching the train. (Edinburgh is about 1 hour 40 minutes from Penrith). Trains at

Posted by
3210 posts

This may be too far out of the loop you have planned for your trip. But maybe next trip you'd want to do this. The city of Winchester is just south of a direct line from London to Bath.
It was the capital of ancient England before the capital was moved to London. Ancient kings were buried at beautiful Winchester Cathedral. There was an ancient royal palace there; only the Great Hall remains today. In that Great Hall is a table that Henry the 8th believed to be possibly King Arthur's Round Table. Henry the 8th had it restored and repainted. It now hangs in the Great Hall of the old palace. You can go in and see it. A portrait of Arthur is on the table, and around the edge of the table are the names of King Arthur's knights.
Good train connections in and out of Winchester. An interesting town to walk around in for an afternoon.
Have a great trip.

Posted by
1 posts

We just came back from England and enjoyed Tintangel a lot. Also Hadrian' Wall was an awesome experience. We spent the night in Carlisle and visited the Roman Fort, the Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda. This last place is very interesting.
If you are planning to visit ruins, including Tintangel and Housesteads Roman Fort you may consider purchasing the National Heritage 9 day membership.
Have fun!