My wife and I are planning a trip to Scotland and England starting in the second week of September and returning at the end of the first week of October. We will be flying into and out of Gatwick and plan to rent a car and drive , except in London itself. My wife is experienced in driving on the left and took us unscathed through Ireland , including one lane rural roads last year. We plan to head north at the start of the trip, towards York and then up to Scotland, and then start back south for the last two weeks. We would appreciate any tips on weather, itinerary or other. Thanks.
I would start with a guidebook and then come back to the forum when you have specific questions.
Allow plenty of time in York-lots to see there-I could have used 3 nights. You definitely want to do the free walking tour by locals that starts at the art center near the Minster. Durham is a good one night stop between York and Edinburgh. Why back track? Fly into Edinburgh and home from London. I would start in Edinburgh since it's farther north and the days will be getting shorter and colder and then work my way south.
Thanks. We have been using Rick's England and UK guidebooks , along with an "off the Beaten Path" guidebook for planning. My wife has been to Scotland several times and has done our Scotland travel plan- mostly to smaller twons in the Highlands , with a two day stop in Edinburugh. From there we head south down the coast, through Whitby, cross over into the Cotswolds , then to Salisbury as a base for trips in that area and into Hardy country, finishing with three days in London and the area around London.
We're looking for comments about any issues with our planned time period such as festivals that might create difficult lodging situations or congestion, or weather issues to consider.
Thanks for the suggestion to fly into Edinburgh and out from London. That makes very good sense, but we've had some bad results with US airlines and want to try Norwegian for this trip, and round trip to and from London looks like the best arrangement with them. We live in Jacksonville Fl., and will be flying out of Orlando- much better rates and choices than from Jacksonville. . We are going north early in the trip, working our way up through Cambridge and York and on into Scotland, around Scotland and then back south.
Last June, my daughter and I did a seven-day walking tour in Dorset following World Walks’ Thomas Hardy walking tour. I’m not suggesting that you do their tour, but you might take a look at the places visited on that tour for some Hardy-related ideas. I am currently traveling myself, so I can’t consult my notes and give you specific recommendations related to Thomas Hardy. But we enjoyed the landscape and the walking (except for the blisters...) We began in Cerne Abbas, which was very pleasant, and ended in Dorchester. I would have loved to visit Hardy’s house in Dorchester but its hours of opening didn’t work with our schedule. So if that is of interest be sure you check their hours.
Thanks. I'm also a Thomas Hardy fan. We're spending several days in Salisbury as a base and are planning a driving tour in Dorset. We intend to get to as many places related to Hardy as we can.
Go to your local library and check out multiple travel books from different authors, not just Rick’s. I really like the DK Eyewitness books for their excellent site maps, terrific street maps for cities, and wonderful photography.
For websites on Scotland, I can’t recommend Undiscovered Scotland enough: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk It lists just about every site of interest from UNESCO World Heritage level to a small crofters museum in the hinterlands.
Since you live in Jax you might find it's a bit chilly by October. I'd definitely plan to layer and have a waterproof jacket.
I've lived in N. Idaho for 20 years (having moved from West Central FL/parents lived in Neptune Bch) but I remember what mid-September was like there!
Thanks for the tips on other guides and the undiscovered Scotland website. We will check those out. Also thanks for the tip on weather. We're aware of what to expect on the weather , and as a Chicago native, I'll be enjoying cool to cold, but my Key West native spouse has a different point of view......
Good for you, having this many weeks to immerse yourselves in travel. I don't know of any festivals, but be aware that the days will be shorter after the equinox, giving you less daylight to sightsee by. And there will be rain, of course.
In terms of itinerary, I will put in a vote for Hadrian's Wall since it's on your way both northbound and southbound. It is awe-inspiring, especially if you can plan a couple of hours to actually walk along the wall. You might also consider Alnwick Castle. As you plan to drive north by the eastern route, take the western side of Great Britain when you start working your way south.
Thanks. I hadn't thought about the shortened daylight but will take that into account. A friend of mine just walked Hadrian's wall with his daughter- all the way across. We might get a chance to take a few steps, but with all the driving we will be doing, time is actually a little tight.
Unless there is something in particular you want to see on the way north between London and York, consider taking the train between those two cities and then renting your car in York. That might save you a day or two of driving.
Thanks for the tip, but we enjoy driving and will start from London, then to Oxford, then to the Costswolds, then up into Scotland to several areas, Edinburgh, Durham, York, back down to the Iron Bridge area, then to Salisbury as a base for Stonehenge inn that direction and then to Dorchester in that direction and finally to Windsor as a base for London and possibly Cambridge , then to Gatwick and home. Although we will use a train to get to London from Windsor, we will keep the car while in Windsor for side trips and to insure we can get to Gatwick in time for the departure process. We're lucky to be retired at this point and finally able to have the time. I wish the open time had come earlier in life when I was younger and could walk and climb all day, but life has it's tradeoffs and I'm fortunate to be in good health at 70.
Have so much fun! Planning something similar in February and we're from Tampa!! But hey - we look cute in scarves and hats. Cold weather will be welcome for a change. A proper winter! Enjoy!!!
We just enjoyed 4 nights in Edinburgh during the August Festival. The Tatoo is a grand and stirring taste of Scottish culture. The taverns are a must to mix it in with the locals. We went to the Tollbooth, an historical pup at the base of the Royal Mile, not far from Holyrood, the Queens summer palace, and the view of the city from Calton Hill is stunning. The Castle is spectacularly imposing. We also enjoyed a flight of scotch at the Scotsman, a truly lovely historic hotel. If you only have a few days, stay in the city. Time is precious. The taxi drivers are some of your best tour guides, so be sure to experience a few. The Art museum is special and the National Gallery is delightful. The tour brought to you by the Writers’ Museum is something we wished we could have experienced. The docent there was a kick! It’s so fun to listen to their Scottish brogue and each tour we took included a rye sense of humor. For a respit, step into Guiles Church. Stunning!
Stayng in Windsor as a base to visit London is not a great idea. You will waste so much time(and money) travelling in and out of the city. You will also have the hastle, and probably cost, of parking your car whilst you are there.
You would be better getting rid of the car and staying in London for your final few days. It will also be easier getting the train to Gatwick from London rather than driving.
With a car, whilst it makes some things more convenient, it does also add hastle. Parking is not easy in many of the towns you are planning to visit. If you can look for hotels etc that provide parking or at least do a little bit of research before you come to work out where the best parking is. Also be prepared to shudder at the cost in some places.
You have a nice length of time to explore the country but prepared for everything, especially travel, to take longer than you think. If you are using route planner like Google maps add 25%at least, to the journey times they give.
Definitely look at some other books besides Rick's. Whilst he is apparently good at providing background guidance for a trip to the UK he ignores huge areas of the country with lots of good places to visit.
I found the Hadrian’s Wall area extremely interesting and beautiful. I can’t recommend local guide, Peter Carney, highly enough.
Thanks to all, we appreciate your advice.