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3 Month Research Trip to England - Info Needed

I am going to London, Liverpool, and Manchester this summer for 2-3 months to do research. It will be my first time in Great Britain and I want to get some sightseeing in when the archives are closed. I plan to stay about 1 1/2 months in London, 1 Month in Liverpool, and 2-3 weeks in Manchester. Luckily, the trip is mostly paid for, but the sightseeing will have to come out of my own pocket, and I'm a graduate student on a budget. I am an outdoorsy type that is really interested in all phases of English history. So, my questions are:

(1) I think I have London covered, but what are the can't miss sights in downtown Liverpool and Manchester? (I also kind of into exploring old and broken down industrial sites, so I'm looking forward to exploring these cities)

(2) My plan is to fly into London and then rent a car to travel to Liverpool and see Oxford, Blenheim Palace, and Warwick Castle on my way. I know that train travel is preferred, but is it ok to travel by car if you want to see some sights along the way?

(3) What are the recommended hostels in central London, Liverpool, and Manchester?

(4) I really want to rent bikes and explore the cities. First, is that recommended or is it too dangerous? Second, are there any recommended bike rental places in London, Liverpool, and Manchester?

(5) From Manchester, I want to see the Peak District, and from Liverpool I really want to take a drive through Conwy and Caernarfon - is it worth renting a car to see those sights or are there shuttles/public transportation that can take me to those places from the cities?

Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry to hit you with so many questions, but thanks!

Posted by
3419 posts

LUCKY YOU!!! I'm so happy for you- but I am jealous. Not sure that bikes in London are a good idea. Traffic is horrible. I also have seen lots of signs saying not to park/lock bikes in certain places. I'd rely on my good feet and the tube/bus network at least in London. London is a wonderful city for walking. Also, I would encourage you to reconsider public transport for day trips out of London. Gas (petrol) is very, very, very expensive, parking is expensive and often not conviently located, and it is amazing what can be seen from buses and trains! Here is a link to an article I wrote about basing yourself in London and doing day trips by train.

http://www.aaacarolinas.com/Magazine/2008/Jan-Feb/britain.htm?zip=28208&stateprov=nc&city=charlotte

Posted by
756 posts

The bus network in north Wales is very comprhensive,there are day tickets and most likely weekly tickets too.
Arriva I think is the biggest operator. A day ticket is about £4.50 for unlimited travel.
If pushed for time, I'd train to Bangor , then pick the bus up.
transportdirect should help route planning.
travel well

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks Toni and Richard. Pardon my ignorance about public transportation in England, but it seems from your comments that it covers much of England, not only the cities as it does in the US. Is that correct?

Posted by
3419 posts

That is correct. The train network is fairly comprehensive (except for the Cotswolds and a few other areas) and buses cover most of what the trains miss. You will love the UK. Wales is lovely and if you get the chance, I'd encourage you to see some of Scotland- even long weekends would work for parts if you got cheap flights or good overnight rail connections.

Posted by
756 posts

Rural services may well be limited,but neighbouring towns tend to have a decent service.Remember we are a titchy place towns might only be 10 miles apart.
The big cities gte the most services, and tend to be cheaper to travel between,National Express, is the Greyhound equillivant.Withh Megabus/train offering fewer services,and less timings(but prebook the cheapest fares)
The national parks get better services than gerneral rural areas and thankfully the coordination between companys and even trains is much better than it used to be.

Posted by
756 posts

You might want to check the www.28dayslater forum
The slate quarrys above Llanberis might be worth alook, and I theres some old gold mining workings north of Dollegau,