Scotland, Hadrian's Wall, the Waterloo Reenactment and Bastogne

A friend and I are planning a history buff's tour next year. It's the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterlook so they will have a big to-do in June. I have already found that lodgings in Waterloo are sold out, with the possible exception of the $425US/night hotel, so we are likely going to take a tour out of Brussels.
Better ideas would be appreciated!

We have about three weeks, and plan to visit Hadrian's Wall, sites in Scotland, then possibly Amsterdam or Bruges, definately Bastogne, Luxembourg (highly recommended WW2 museum) followed by Waterloo and back to Washington State.

My initial thought was to fly into London. I have been there before and don't plan to spend any time in the city. Train to Newcastle, pick up a rental car, drive along Hadrian's Wall, loop through Glasgow and parts of Scotland, spending some time in Edinburgh, back to Newcastle, turn the car in then ferry to Rotterdam or Amsterdam. Take 10-12 days in England/Scotland, the rest in Belgium, etc.. Fly home from Amsterdam.

But there's another thread on this site about ferrys from England which says the Newcastle ferry isn't a good deal, mostly designed for truckers. Slow isn't necessarily bad, we will need a down day at that point.

So - better suggestions for how to do parts of Scotland, Hadrian's Wall and then Belgium?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

To simplify and save time, fly into Manchester, get the car, drop it in Edinburgh and fly to what's next.

Posted by Mark G
London, United Kingdom
75 posts

Hi

I live in London and am a history buff too - last Summer I took a week to see some of the northern Battle of the Bulge sites & Luxembourg City (although not the museums there on this occasion). I've been to see Hadrian's Wall too. As to suggestions, and depending on cost / availability, why not see if you can just fly into Scotland and hire a car from there (Glasgow; Glasgow Prestwick; or Edinburgh) for Hadrian's Wall? Then try and fly from Scotland to Belgium - for instance I believe Ryanair (huge budget airline) fly Edinburgh to Brussels (Charleroi). The advantage there is that Charleroi is handy (in a car) for both Waterloo and the western edge of the Ardennes. In fact Luxembourg is perhaps a 2½ hour drive. There are literally hundreds of historical sites and museums, from all eras back to Roman times to see in the Low Countries, so you simply need to decide which ones are most to your liking. And don't forget that from August 2014 to late 2018 there are many commemorations and things to see covering the First World war, particularly in Western Flanders and Northern and Eastern France. Enjoy!

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
2325 posts

mikelf,

If you want to go to the Military museum in Luxembourg, its out of Luxembourg City. The one that people kept telling me to see was in Diekirch. Unfortunately, my time was limited and i didnt know about it so i had to pass this time. If i remember correctly, there are daily commuter trains there and i think it was like a 2+ hour journey.

As far a Bastogne goes. you will love the place. Hopefully the museum at the Mardasson Memorial will be open (again) since they were doing a remodel when i was there. If you have a chance try to get a tour at "The Barracks". Its not that far out of town. Its still an active military base and apparently, the Belgium Government wants to shut it down, so who knows how long it will be open. Some really cool hardware displayed in the museum.

happy trails.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
408 posts

For Hadrian's Wall, I can recommend Ashcroft Guest House in Haltwhistle

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3646 posts

Hi,

If you are set on seeing Waterloo, which I recommend, have a car at your disposal and plan of spending a day and a half or so to get a comprehensive visit of the places involved, ie Wavre, Placenoit, Ligny, etc. It's almost impossible to see the place without a car. I only had a day, ca 8.5 hrs. There are numerous museums and pertinent sites in the town and in the surrounding villages, all connected with the event. You'll be pretty much saturated in tracking these sites down. Best to prioritize.

Posted by mike_l_f
6 posts

Thanks for the good suggestions. I looked at the RyanAir site for flights from Edinburgh to Brussels. Looks like I would have to check my carry on bag because they have a smaller size definition - and their back check fees are steep.

I'm still curious about the overnight ferry from Newcastle to the continent. Perhaps I should open another question just about that. It's 170 pounds for two people including a room, so we would get a chance to sleep while traveling to Amsterdam. Then spend a couple of days there, rent a car and head off to visit the sites we want to see before the Waterloo reenactment.

It will be hard to choose what to see. Lots of history.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

You're about to let this Newcastle fixation screw you into the ground. Back up and regroup.

The ferry situation is nowhere near what you think it is.

You're flying into London to take a train to Newcastle which does not leave from the airport and goes where you don't need to go. That is a day tossed out the window. The ferry is another one shot. It's not like you have time to toss away in three weeks at the rate you'll be burning money.

Ryan is not the last word in flights. Look at BA and SAS and see if they aren't close. Also look at making your whole flight a three-legged multi-city.

Of the British airports mentioned:
London is out of the way.
Only Ryan serves Prestwick.
Turnhouse and Glasgow generally require a connection on the continent and thus have later arrival times.

Manchester is usually a bit cheaper and has earlier arrival times in the northern UK.

Posted by mike_l_f
6 posts

Thanks for the suggestion of Manchester, it got me thinking. Flying from the Pacific Northwest is more complicated than the East Coast, but I did find an interesting flight from Seattle to Amsterdam to Edinburgh. You are right that there's no sense spending time someplace you don't want to be, so flying into London is probably a waste of time.
I also looked at some other options for flying from Edinburgh to Amsterdam or Brussels. Looks like about $200 for two people on EasyJet to Amsterdam, but then you have to rent a room when you get there, so the ferry at $289 with a room is likely a bit cheaper, and would be a different experience. We are pretty used to ferrys in this part of the world, but I've never been on one overnight. Some friends of mine just took the ferry from Puget Sound north to Alaska, which sounds like fun. Of course if this one is very commercial, dirty and full of truck drivers who are getting their drinking in before hitting the road, it might not be very enjoyable. I hope to hear from people who have taken it.
Newcastle is at the east end of Hadrian's Wall, so we could rent a car in Edinburgh, do all of our running around in Scotland and the borderlands, tour the wall from west to east and finish up there with a bus or taxi to the ferry dock. Or drive back to Edinburgh and catch a plane. In either case we'll need to organize a car in Holland.
Fortunately we are six months from needing to buy airline tickets. The only thing I am working on organizing now is the Waterloo part of the trip.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1086 posts

Icelandair flies from Seattle to Glasgow, and from either Amsterdam or Brussels back to Seattle, all via Reykjavik. It takes longer than the nonstops because you change in Reykjavik with about an hour layover, which is enough time in that small airport. Generally costs less than the nonstops too, and you have to bring your food or buy it. Narrow-body planes. But it would simplify the flying part of your trip.

I don't know anything about the ferry from Newcastle, and if you want a long boat ride as part of your vacation it should fill the bill. But if your goal is to see the sights you mentioned in the time you have, why not fly between Scotland, or northern England, and the Low Countries?