1st ever visit to UK, what to see, what to skip...

In September, my husband & I will be making our 1st ever trip to the UK which has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I have friends who live in Stafford so that will be our base. We're probably going to take a trip south of there and then later north of there. I'm working on the southern itinerary. Is this too much to try to see? Anything I should skip? We have 14 days total so I know we won't have time to see much of anything in 'detail'. That's OK, I'm not one to read all the tourist signs, etc. I want to get the vibes of the area. Day 1: drive from Stafford to Tintagel; stay there &explore area Day 2 finish seeing that area; drive to Glastonbury via Dartmoor Nat'l Park/Exeter; check into B&B that'll be home for the next few days Day 3-5 This is what we hope to see Glastonbury Stonehenge, Avebury, etc. Salisbury Cathedral Cotswolds Chepstow in Wales Forest of Dean on the way back to Stafford Too much, huh? Should we skip Tintagel?
Thanks in advance. Linda...

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Tintagel: I definitely wouldnt stay there. The ruined castle on the edge of the sea is interesting to see (maybe half an hour- you cant do much), the village itself is all tourist souvenir shops- really offputting, maybe a quick walk through- thats it. Stay elsewhere in Cornwall. Otgherwise youer plan is very workable, and good places to see. A nice area for driving in and around as you seem to be planning,. I do also suggest Lands End, the town of Dunster on the Somerset (North) Coast and Tintern Abbey (one of my favorite spots). Tintern far exceeds Tintagel.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1560 posts

Agree with above, Tintern abbey. We also loved Bath which you can do in half day, we took free walking tour from Cathedral and one of our favorite towns was Wells outside Bath I think on way to Stonehenge, first saw it on Rick's England videos, enjoy.

Posted by Bruce
Boulder, Colorado, USA
27 posts

While in Glastonbury, make sure you go up Glastonbury Tor, also stop in at the Chalice Well. On your way to Avebury, which I like better than Stonehenge (you can touch the stones at Avebury), stop and have a look at Silbury Tor. Also (about a 1/2 mile hike) go up and have a look at the West Kennent Long Barrow. Also look for the giant white horses on the hillside. Further, the whole Wiltshire area is a magnet for crop circles! (not trying to start a discussion on what the are/aren/t, but they are certainly something to look at!) Wells Cathederal is a gem. I enjoyed it much more than Westminster.

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

I'm thinking, then, that instead of seeing Tintagel, perhaps my time is better spent in the other areas. I checked out Tintern & it looks fascinating. Any suggestions as to where we should consider staying? Not specific accommodations but what part of that 'rectangle' of places that's about 65 miles x 50 miles. I have to remember that we're talking about a relatively small area (comparing that mileage to here helps put it in perspective). Thanks to all for your help. I'm sure we'll have a fantastic time but it helps to get input from those who have experience. Linda...

Posted by j.c.
Cary, NC, United States
842 posts

Linda, I see no particular problems. I would suggest leaving some flexibility and time in each day's schedule. That way, if you want to linger at some place, you can. Or, if you don't like some other place, you can leave. For example, my guess is you've never seen anything like the Dartmoor. You might want to spend more time there. Or, you might not. When driving, it will usually take you longer to get from A to B than to cover an equal distance in the U.S. This is especially true if you stay off the Motorways, which you should. Just don't plan anything outrageously challenging, but relax and take it easy.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Place to stay: depending on how far you plan to go; We like Luttrell Arms in Dunster (an old coaching inn with all the ambiance). However, it will not be a problem, this is not a heavily travelled area, and there is a good choice of hotels. Country house hotels on the moors tend to excel in their restaurants - that is their key point for attracting customers

Posted by Al
Saint George, UT, usa
11 posts

On a sunny day, the views from Tintagel are great. The site is just ruins, but the location on the coast is a plus. It is a long drive to get there. Sherborne and Sherborne Castle (built by Sir Walter Raleigh) are worth a stop if you are nearby. Also the Swannery at Abbotsbury near Weymouth is great if you can be there at the right time of year (usually mid May to mid June) to see the swans. In Southeast Wales I would recommend Hay on Wye and the Brecon Beacons.

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

You all have been VERY helpful so I have lots of pages of notes! Now comes what seems to me to be the hardest task: finding a place to stay for 4 days and 3 nights to use as our 'base.' My English hosts like to stay at B&Bs and it sounds like a good idea! I have been going all over the Internet & through my travel books (esp. Rick's of course) and am not doing very good at finding something in our area of travel which is reasonably priced for 4 people/2 rooms. I've seen that places are more expensive the closer you go to the Cotswolds towns, in general. We're hoping not to spend more than $100 which right now would be about 60 gpb. I have a funny feeling it will be hard to find something nice at that rate. Any advice as to what towns/areas I might investigate? Thanks again, Linda...

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1560 posts

We have used "smoothhound.com" several times with great luck. lists B&B's all over. Also Barnes and Noble has a book called something like BandB's in England, might check that out too. If going to Stonehenge stop off at lovely town of Wells, it was great. First saw it on Rick's England video.

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

My eyes are SOOOO bleary & tired from going through my travel books and web sites looks for accommodations. So far for this Sept. trip (9th-13) in the southern areas, most places are 1) no availability; 2) too expensive. I'm learning a lot about the area but when I look at the map and see a town that looks like it's 'out a bit', it really isn't! Seems every town has B&Bs no matter what size. Are there any 'chain' hotels that are generally reasonably priced? I checked all the Best Westerns in the area and so far, no luck. THanks a lot. This forum is so very valuable esp. to us 'newbies.' Linda...

Posted by j.c.
Cary, NC, United States
842 posts

Linda, most U.S chains have properties in the UK, along with European and UK chains, like Premier Inn. So, check Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, etc. Check VisitBritain.com for info, too, and pointers. Also, take a look at reviews on Tripadvisor and similar sites. Whether or not you find the reviews helpful or not, they can help locate places to stay. Prices are going to be higher than you would pay in the U.S.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

When we travel through UK we look for old coaching inns. Most towns and large villages have them, or an equivalent. Usually in the center of town. A uniquely
"English" atmosphere. (We try and avoid American and/or global chains.) You should not have a problem fiinding them, although they may be in towns you wont find in the guidbooks.

Posted by Al
Saint George, UT, usa
11 posts

I rechecked all the B&B's I stayed out 2 years ago and the lowest price today is L56 for 2 people in one room. You didn't say the ages of the other 2 people but unless they are children <13 you probably need to plan on minimum L60 per room. You can try the Youth Hostels if you want something in your budget.

Posted by Sophie
Los Angeles, CA, USA
33 posts

I am leaving for England on Sat and while in Bath the 3 of us will be staying at Windwistle Cottage in Frome, just outside of Bath. It was recommended by Alan Price of Celtic Horizons (RS recommends). Alan is a very knowledgeable tour guide as well, and on previous trips, took us to Stonehenge, Avebury, Salisbury Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, and Bath. Have fun!

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

Again, thanks to all. We've found a lovely cottage in Broadway which is a bit north of where we had hoped but it's such a great place! Haven't booked it yet but may do that today. The only consideration now is that my friend's husband won't be going on this leg of our sightseeing and I don't want my friend to be stressed out by all the driving. I've contacted Celtic Tours to see if they ever pick up in the Cotswolds to tour the area from Glastonbury to Salisbury, in general. I suspect there will be someone who does. I am MUCH calmer! I think that planning our NEXT trip to the UK <wishful thinking>, I'll be much better equipped. Thanks, Linda...

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

I'm afraid I have only skimmed your post, so hope I'm not off. If you found a lovely cottage in Broadway, book it. I sounds like you will have a (needed) car and Broadway couldn't be better for location. It is a stone's throw from Hidcote Manor Garden, Snowshill, Snowshill Lavender (just bought another kilo this week), Chipping Campden and oh... I could go on. If you have a car, its not hard to do a day trip to Somerset and Wells and Salisbury and that area. Enjoy. Book that room before it goes - hope its as nice as it sounds.

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

Nigel, I just emailed the owner of the cottage in Broadway. I, too, hope it is as nice as it sounds but I look at it as an adventure! It's self catering which is just fine since we are a 3 minute walk from the shops and restaurants. As for driving to the places south of there, I'd rather stay 4 nights at one place than going from place to place, at least for my first visit to the UK. I am looking foward to obsorbing all the 'vibes' that I can of life there. I have to now get working on a trip for a few days north of Stafford! I am soooo excited! Linda...

Posted by Linda
Acworth, GA, United States
31 posts

Whoops, I have had the lavender place on the top of my 'must see, must do'. Sounds like it's worth it! Linda...

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Broadway is a greta location to see the Cotswolds, one of the top rated villages, with good shops, restaurants sightseeing etc. Not too far North in reality

Posted by Sophie
Los Angeles, CA, USA
33 posts

I just returned from our England/Scotland trip and once again had Alan Price of Celtic Horizons be our tour guide for Stonehenge and Bath, as well as a close-up of the canals that are in the area. He did not disappoint. His in-depth knowledge added so much to the enjoyment. He picked us up at the Bath train station and did all the driving. He charges by the hour, no matter how many people in the car, so for the 3 of us, it was well worth it. Here's his link: http://www.celtichorizons.com/main/index.php?site=tour. He knows Wales and the Cotswold areas, too.