11 days 10 Nights in Great Britain

We are first time travelers to GB family of 5 with three teens. Is this itineary possible (ripped from Rick Steves' and edited down) Traveling in late July to early Aug. 24 Day 1: Arrive in London, bus to Bath (sleep in Bath) 25 Day 2: Bath (sleep in Bath) 26 Day 3: Highlights of North Wales (sleep in Ruthin or Conwy) 27 Day 4: Liverpool, Blackpool (sleep in Blackpool) 28 Day 5: Highlands, Loch Ness, Scenic Highlands Drive (sleep in Edinburgh) 29 Day 6: Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh) 30 Day 7: North York Moors, York, turn in car (sleep in York) 31 Day 8: Early train to London (sleep in London) 01 Day 9: London (sleep in London) 02 Day 10: London (sleep in London)
03 Day 11: London (Depart)

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
407 posts

Brian: We did this trip in 21 days. So I would edit the distance a little. It's hard to enjoy stops along the way if you are on the M roads just trying to get there. After Bath. (Sleep) Warwick see castle . Chester (sleep here) day trip to Conwy and Liverpool.Skip Blackpool...go to Kendal (sleep here)...spend time driving thru Lake District. Go to Dumphries (sleep here)..Bobbie Burns. Drive thru Jedburgh, etc . Mary Queen of Scots... See ruined Abbies and Sir Walter Scot's house. Drive Edinburgh (sleep)...See Castle and walk length of High Street. Day Trip to Stirling see palace and Wallace Monument. Skip Highlands save for next trip. Go south to Hexham...walk Hadrian's wall. Go to Durham see Cathedral... Go to York (sleep here) See Minster, Walk town wall. See train museum. Take train to London...see Tower...see British Museum... see V & A...See Tate...see Westminster Cathedral. See street Markets. Bon Voyage

Posted by Steve
108 posts

Hi Brian,a couple of suggestions. You may want to look into the train from London to Bath. We did this in June 2012 and it is really easy and slick (train from Heathrow to Paddington Station, then Paddington to Bath - Rick has an article about how to get from Heathrow to Bath somewhere on this website). I don't know about Wales or Scotland, but it seems like the middle part of your trip is ambitious - sometimes changing hotels every night adds to a run down or hurried feeling, in my experience. London in 3 days is a good, 4 is better in my opinion. Again, just my thoughts. I live over in Wausau by the way, and our trip last year was our first time over there as well. In any case, you'll enjoy!

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
985 posts

Brain - Since it looks like you have your itinerary laid out, you should be able to save a little bit by purchasing your train tickets ahead of time. Check out here for train schedules and to purchase your tickets. Train travel from York to London can be as little as £13.00 pp if purchased in advance. The only downside it that the tickets are non-refundable & non-changeable.

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
571 posts

Brian, this feels very rushed and tiring to me. But it's not clear to me when/where you pick up the rental car you turn in on day 7. I haven't been to all these places, but I've been to some, so here are my comments day by day. D1. Arriving to London via Heathrow or Gatwick, or are you coming from Europe via train? In any case, I think your day is spent getting settled and overcoming jet lag. D2. One day in Bath is sufficient to get a taste of it. D3. Not clear to me if you are getting a car and driving to Wales. If so, does it leave you enough time to see stuff? (187 miles Bath to Ruthin.) I haven't been to Wales so I don't know. D4. Another 30 miles to Liverpool. Are you looking to see both places this day? D5. How far to do expect to drive to the highlands? 200 miles Blackpool to Edinburgh, and another 150 to Ft. William or 200 to Inverness. Then you plan to turn around and go back to E'burgh for the night? Will you ever get to step out of the car? Also, where are you keeping the car in E'burgh? D7. 200 more miles driving to York, plus time to settle at hotel and then drop off the car? You won't have time to see much.
D8. Etc. From here, all is well

Posted by Matt
Washington, DC, USA
571 posts

Part 2. Now instead of being critical, I'll try to help. I can't speak about the trip to Wales because I have no experience, but this leg seems to be the reason you need/want a car? Not knowing what you want to do/see, I can't advise whether only trains are a possibility for the other places, but I suspect they are. I think you might want to cut at least one location and spend more time in the others. One full day is barely scratching the surface of Edinburgh. I had 3 and ran out of time to do an intended day trip to the Highlands. Personally, I'd stay in Edinburgh longer and perhaps book a day trip tour of the Highlands so you won't be so fatigued. At least you'll avoid long hours behind the wheel of a car. Plus, I wouldn't recommend a car in E'burgh so dropping one off there (or maybe sooner, Liverpool?) could save you money. Of course, train from Scotland back to York might prevent you from seeing the north York Moors, but you'd arrive with more time to check out the city of York which is excellent for a day or two. Finally you get about 2.5 days in London, which isn't much, but will give you a good taste. Just my thoughts. Happy travels!

Posted by Brian
Green Bay, WI, USA
2 posts

Thank you to all for the great feedback and ideas. Cutting back seems to be the theme as the trip as outlined is too ambitious. It seems everyone has had some nice experiences. Thanks again.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3055 posts

Some things to consider- could you fly into London and out of Edinburgh? That would save a bit of time. Here's a possible senario (This saves renting a car (major savings on petrol and parking) and gives you more time in the destinations. ) July 24- arrive London July 25-29 London with day trips to Bath and possibly one other location (such as Cardiff Wales) via train July 30 early departure via train to York (rent car there if you really want it for local sightseeing) July 31 York Aug. 1 early train departure to Edinburgh Aug 2- day trip to Highlands via local day tour company
Aug 3 depart for home from Edinburgh If desired you could reduce the time in London and add a day or 2 in Glasgow and fly home from there. If Liverpool/Blackpool is a priority, you could look into a train there from London, then train to York, or possiblly fly home form there after a train from Edinburgh (if possilble).

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You said where you're dropping the car but not where you're planning to pick it up.. It could make a difference.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

You have had some excellent suggestions as to cutting your trip to be more manageable. personally i would delete Blackpool and Liverpool. Yotrk and surroundings need at least two full ays (you would need a car to get to the countryside). Consider train from Edinburgh to York and York to London. I am not a fan of Bath, but you can see all the sights in a day trip by train from London (I would leave bath and London to the end of your trip). The bus/coach to/from bath can take a lot of time, expecially coming back to London, the traffic is usually horrendous As I said I would leave Bath and London until the end. You could easily spend that time in London without going to Bath; but you will give yourself the option

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1304 posts

I agree with others that your itinerary is way too ambitious, you'll be driving all the time. We did something similar in three weeks, Manchester-Chester-North Wales-York-Durham-Edinburgh-Lake District-Manchester, spending three nights in each place (except Manchester, just the night before flying home). With your time I'd either skip the Bath-Wales-Liverpool-Blackpool part (what's the appeal of Blackpool, really?) or skip Scotland. Bath could be a day trip from London if London doesn't have enough to keep you busy. With five people, you probably want to drive between cities instead of paying all those train fares. Besides the obvious left-right switch, UK non-motorways are slower than US. Consider investing in automatic transmission to minimize the disorientation (Ed and others may disagree but I had enough trouble with being on the left without trying to retrain my shifting). An automatic will be a bigger car but with five you might appreciate that. Assume you will return.

Posted by Tim
Ojai, CA
591 posts

Agree with the others about it being too ambitious. For the 1st time to the UK and 5 travelers it needs to be simplified ... fewer destinations. You could eliminate a lot of the travel time by saving some of the lesser places of interest for another trip and then, instead of a round trip from London, do an open jaw flight: fly into Edinburgh and return from London.
I'd recommend 4 nights in Edinburgh (1st night to recover from jet lag with another for a day tour of the Highlands), 2 nights in York, and 4 nights in London (to include a day tour to Bath). That would leave you with just 2 half days traveling (by train) between hotels and eliminate the need for a car.