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First Family Trip to Europe (4 & 6) – June 2022, England/Scotland

Hi everyone

We had initially planned our first family trip abroad to France for June 2022 (1 month duration), but with everything going on, we were thinking of simplifying the trip a bit. Since our flights route through the UK, we thought why not explore the UK more. (RS didn't have a UK forum, so might need to also post in the England forum).

For trip planning, I’ll be starting over from square one, which is ok.

Since the kids are younger, activities are focused around them, but I always try to blend them with ones we (parents) would like as well, so beaches, bike rides, hikes, history , food/seafood…

Of course, it may still be cold, but that is fine, we will just bring the appropriate clothing,

I’d like to keep it to 3 bases. Was thinking the following for the itinerary (York or Edinburgh, Skye, Cornwall (Fly to Cornwall).

I’m not sure if there is any leisurely biking at any of the locations, and of course the weather could be nippy for the beaches. Open to all suggestions, itinerary changes, etc.. Personally, I always enjoy the wow factor items and the small things, but that may be different for everyone.

Thank you so much

Posted by
18911 posts

Are you still planning about a one-month trip? Do you plan to drive, use public transportation, or a mixture?

I would recommend more than 3 bases if you want to explore. There's more than a day's worth of stuff to see in both York and Edinburgh, and for me they're too far apart for day-tripping from one to the other. It's about 2-1/2 hours by train or nearly 4 hours by car (without traffic, navigational errors, looking for parking, etc.). And Cornwall is also slow to get around. You can spot-check some driving times on the ViaMichelin website. In addition, if you zoom way in, the roads considered most scenic will be highlighted in green.

Skye is definitely worth several nights (4 would be my minimum), and having some extra time there is good since the weather is unpredictable. It's not so much the temperature (the western side of Scotland is a bit warmer than the east) but rather the potential for a lot of rain. However, lodging on Skye is inadequate to meet the demand, so a long stay can quite expensive. If you have a rental car (which I recommend for that area, not having had one myself) you will at least not be limited to lodgings convenient to the bus lines. But even so, that's likely to be an expensive part of your trip. You can check booking.com to get an idea of lodging costs, though it's quite possible that many places on Skye don't have their availability and prices for next June loaded yet.

I'm not an active-sports person, though I do a great deal of urban walking. And I don't have kids. But I observed many families enjoying the very good National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It is designed to appeal to all ages, and it does.

In both Cornwall and the coastal towns and islands of Scotland, it is critical to make reservations for dinner if you want to eat sitting down. The infrastructure has simply not kept up with the tourist load resulting from Outlander, Poldark, Doc Martin, etc. It's not just fancy places where you'll need a reservation.

Posted by
228 posts

A month gives you lots of time, which is just as well as you’ve chosen two of the most far flung places to visit with Skye and Cornwall! Flying will cut down on travel time though. June is a good time to visit as you will have long days, particularly in Skye. The wild flowers will also be at their best.

When are you planning to visit as remember there are the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and there is an extended bank holiday from Thursday 2nd- Sunday 5th June. You need to decide whether to visit for that or after it! The week before is the half term break, so many people will be taking an extended holiday. Accommodation may get very busy and public transport may not be running normally with a restricted service.

Both York and Edinburgh have plenty to keep the family entertained and either would be a good base. As well as the city itself, both are good bases to explore the surrounding area. Both cities can be explored on foot or by public transport. You don’t actually need a car for them BUT you will if wanting to make day trips. Make sure any accommodation you book has enough dedicated car parking space available.

Cornwall is a popular destination and the children will love it.

Skye is all about scenery and depending on how good the children are at walking, the walking may be a bit too strenuous. Also there may be less to do if you should get a very wet spell...

Have you thought about Mull rather than Skye? I have to admit I much prefer it and it is a much more manageable size. Scenically it is as good and is less busy as there is less accommodation. It is reached by a short ferry ride - Oban is the best point. This does need to be booked well in advance. You can also get the foot ferry across to the tiny island of Iona which doesn’t allow visitor cars. It was the centre of Celtic Christianity with St Columba.

Don’t underestimate travel times. Distances may not seem far but will take a lot longer to cover than you might expect. Roads on Skye and in Cornwall are narrow and also busy and there may be slow moving traffic - anything from a farm tractor to a caravan. You may find in Cornwall and Skye you need to have two bases unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time travelling each day.

Posted by
715 posts

Hi Max -

Here’s some food for thought. If you were based in York, you could fly to Cornwall from nearby (about 25-30 miles) Leeds Bradford International (stop laughing British readers!) Airport as Eastern Airways operate direct flights to Newquay and occasionally, Penzance from there.

The downside with this is that the flights are not frequent, especially the Penzance ones, and the aircraft are small - not jetliners, small capacity twin turbo props. Also, and worst of all, LBIA is the highest airport in the country, not handily situated and with infuriatingly poor public transport connections. I would suggest that if you can’t drop your hire car off at the airport and you have to use public transport, you catch the train from York to Leeds (frequent) and take the special airport bus from the centre of Leeds - I’ll look more into that if you decide you need info on that if you like - or alternatively catch the Ilkley train from Leeds (relatively frequent) and get off at Guiseley (first stop) and transfer to the airport by taxi from Guiseley station (it’s the closest station to Leeds and probably the airport, which is about 10 - 15 minutes away by taxi).

Despite the difficult access (which even the airport recognises is weird) it does put Cornwall in easy reach, just 1 hour 25 minutes away flying time. Let me know if you need further detail adding to this nearer the time.

Ian

Posted by
5562 posts

You don't say how old your kids are. That would help. I love Skye and to see it you should spend time on the Island, but depending on the children's age how much there would be to keep them busy. I actually think Mull might be a bit better. I found this link. Although to be fair there are things on Skye too, but fewer rainy day (and when I say rainy day in Scotland I'm talking about the drenching all day rain. You have to accept rain can come any day and every day particularly in the west.

The one thing about basing yourself a bit more inland--near Inverness--is that you can follow, or rather avoid, the weather. It can be pouring buckets in the west and Culbin Sands or the Cairngorms are in sunshine. We stayed in Strathpeffer and from there you can get to the west in a little over an hour. And you do the same time to get to the Cairngorms. Here's the Kids link for the Cairngorms. This search has been fascinating for me, I didn't know about these places near Inverness! And check out Caithness!

When you go to Edinburgh be sure and include the Dynamic Earth in your plans. There are Scottish children all over the place there and as an adult I was fascinated to see a slightly different view on the natural world. I was particularly struck by the ice age exhibit.

What a great trip you are planning for them!

Posted by
1 posts

I planned a UK trip for us for 10 days from scratch for my family of 4 in 2019. My kids were 8 & 11 at the time, and everything was planned with them in mind, but I must say that the adults had just as much, if not more fun than the kids did. I'd be happy to share what we did if you'd like. I used a million and one resources and then created my own plan.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks everyone! Extremely helpful.

The kids are 4&6 currently, and will be a year older at trip time.

It appears the main question will be the rain. Again, we don't mind it being nippy, but if there is a great enough chance that it could be raining so much during that time that we can not be outside, maybe we should not consider Scotland this time around. If it was just adults, than it is easier to plan activities inside, but much of the trip we would love to be outside/nature doing things with the kids.

I would plan on using the rail system for the first few days, but after that, we would want a car so we can see the best bits, once I get over jetlag and the nerve to drive on the other side of the road.

Additionally, although this may be mute if it rains so much, but are there beaches worth going to in Scotland. Not looking for warm water of course, but as long as the kids can play in the sand, etc..

If it is the UK, would you suggest staying southern England for a better chance with weather (although nothing is guaranteed in England).

Thanks
Max

Posted by
715 posts

You are right, the weather in the U.K. is uncertain. At any time. Penalty of being a comparatively small and northerly island. But I wouldn’t let that put you off as you can also have brilliant weather at the most unexpected times. My honeymoon, back, ooh, well over thirty years ago now, was in April in the Highlands and we packed for a worst case scenario and wandered into a heatwave! I was going to say the beaches in Scotland have one thing in common and that is hypothermia, but my own experiences give the lie to that. My sister in law once got heatstroke on Skye and on the same trip I got so dehydrated on a hike I spent half an hour in a stream trying to rehydrate and cool off!

Travel optimistically, but think layers, layers, layers!

Posted by
228 posts

Nobody can predict the weather in the UK. Ian and Julie have already mentioned layers, but don't forget waterproofs for the kids and also possibly wellies. Let them splash and enjoy the rain! My grandsons at that age weren't bothered by rain as long as they were well kitted out and didn't get cold or hungry. They regarded it as part of the fun.

Posted by
18911 posts

The western side of Scotland tends to be a bit warmer and a bit wetter than the rest of the country. Weather varies greatly from year to year. I spent 26 days in Scotland in July 2019. Although I got sprinkled on in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, the rain in those cities wasn't enough to be an issue, nor was it cold. On the other hand, I had enough rain while staying in Oban and on Skye that some hoped-for outdoor activities didn't happen; that was really disappointing though not surprising. My clothing (long johns and water-shedding nylon slacks in addition to a rain jacket) kept me from getting totally soaked to the skin, which would have made me pretty miserable.

Our resident Skye expert has said she prefers May-June to mid-summer, finding those months to be a bit drier. Wikipedia's climate-summary chart for Portree confirms her impression.

Posted by
2746 posts

You seem to be really concerned about rain interfering with outdoor activities. If you're going to be anywhere in the British Isles at any time of year, the chance of rain is significant. I don't think you should plan on certain locations based on an assumption that their climate tends to be a little drier than some other locations. I once had a conversation with a family who lived in Inverness and went to Cornwall for a weekend of camping. They owned a gas heater, but left it at home in Scotland assuming they wouldn't need it in Cornwall. They ended up having to buy another one, they were so cold.

What you should do, if you want to enjoy the UK, is what the natives do: dress for the weather, go out in the rain unless it's really pouring or lashing, and be alert to take advantage of sunny intervals when they come. I bet your kids will adapt to this. I knew one toddler who loved her red Wellies so much she insisted on wearing them to bed.

Posted by
2791 posts

You didn't say anything about London but if you aren't planning to go there, you might want to rethink that decision because of all the interesting sights and museums-the Natural History Museum is especially nice and what child wouldn't want to see the mummies in the British Museum? This would give you great options if it were raining. Also the Tower of London would be a child-pleaser. Our daughter took her first ever photo when she was there at age 4 and wanted to take a photo of one of the Beefeater Guards.