Happy Tuesday to all, We'll be making our first journey to the UK this year. Here are a couple questions for your consideration: 1) We're planning on the beginning of September. I'm prepared for "decent" weather. Should I expect it to feel a lot like home here in Seattle? Some sun, some drizzle, some overcast skies? 2) We're planning on doing the main island, likely something similar to Rick's three week itinerary. However, we're considering tossing in Northern Ireland. I don't want to cut much out of England/Scotland to do this, but if anyone feels it'd be worth it to snip out some main island stuff for this, I'm all ears (or, in this case, eyes). Would it be too difficult/cost too much time to, say, 2-3 nights to catch a glimpse of Dublin and Giant's Causeway? We're not sure if/when we can make it back, but we were super impressed with the Ireland class this weekend up in Edmonds, so perhaps we should save it for a seperate trip? Thanks in advance!
I'd save Ireland for another trip. Look at the map- I think I am correct in saying that Dublin and Giant's Causeway are on opposite shores? Also, Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland- they are 2 different countries sharing an island. 3 Weeks will give you a good tastes of parts of England, Scotland and Wales (by no means will you see it all). If you want ideas, suggesstions, get back to us with something more specific. Sample itenaries, specific questions, etc. My husband and I have visited the UK more than 40 times, and have only touched a small part of that lovely place!
Thanks Toni! Wow, you must really love the place. We figure we'll only be able to make this one trip there, so we want to experience as much as we can. We were leaning towards excluding a quick Ireland jaunt, but thought we'd ask to see what others think. We will save it for a separate trip then. As far as what we'd like to do on the main island, we will likely stick to something close to this itinerary: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/britain/brit22.htm There are a couple things not on there I'd like to see, and a couple I may not be opposed to purging. If you have any suggestions to add/remove from that list, I am open to hear them! Thanks so much.
Rick's trip doesn't match up very well with the parts of the UK that we've enjoyed most. We just aren't very interested in the Cotswolds and Lake District areas (we did do a 1/2 day tour of the Cotswolds once when we were staying in Stratford-Upon-Avon) and it spend more time than I like in some areas. Also, we use trains (and a few buses) and do not have ANY desire to drive in the UK. 1- they drive on the "wrong side"! 2- Gas prices are VERY VERY VERY high and parking is VERY costly and difficult to find in many places 3. In the big cities, the congestion, etc. is not for us and in the more rural areas, we just don't want to deal with smaller roads, etc. Besides, we've found the trains to be very effcient, enjoyable and they get us where we want to go. (I realize that others enjoy driving in the UK, and want to explore areas not well served by the trains, like the Cotswolds, etc.) If I was to plan a 3 week trip, this is what I'd do (realize this is based only on my personnal preferences) 1- fly to London- plan on staying there at 4-7 nights. Do 1 or more day trips by train. Possible trips: Stratford-upon-Avon, Windsor, Bath, Winchester, Brighton, Oxford or Cambridge, Cardiff, etc. 2- train to York- spend1- 2 nights 3- train to Edinburgh- 2 nights 4- train to Aviemore (in the Caringorm Mts.) spend 2 -4 nights (possible day trips- whisky distillereis, Blair Athol & castle, etc.) 5- train to Inverness- spend 3 to 7 nights with day trips to Loch Ness,Orkney, Isle of Skye, Great Glen, etc) 6- train to Glasgow- 1 or 2 nights 7- train to Snowdonia area of Wales (long trip)- probably stay in Betws-y-Coed- 2 nights 8 - to Cardiff (fly home from there or London
I know it's more than 3 weeks- but I don't know your priorities.
Needed more room.... You could also decide to pick 3 bases and do lots of day trips. You could, for example, spend a week, or more, in London with day trips, a week in Scotland (either Inverness- my favorite, or Edinburgh) and a week in Wales (not sure where to base for that as we've not spent much time there except for Cardiff)or some variation of that. I wrote an article about basing in London and doing day trips several years ago. Unfortunately it is no longer archived on AAA Carolina's site. Feel free to private message me with your email and I'll send you a copy of it. I'd also recommend that you take Rick's philosophy to heat- figure you WILL come back. We thought our first trip to Europe might be a once in a lifetime thing. Then we spent more than 20 years going twice a year!!! Have had to stop our international travel in recent years due to family health issues, but hope to start again as soon as we can! London is a fantastic city and the train network in the UK is good (though it has gotten a bit expensive unless you buy tickets about 12 weeks in advance or if you will be traveling enough to make a BritRail pass worthwhile). It can be an expensive city/country, but with good planning it isna't that bad at all. And many of the museums are free or low cost! Free to ask all kinds of questions here or by private message! There are lots of well informed, well traveled, nice people on this board.
If you only want to do 2-3 nights in Ireland, it's probably better to leave it for another trip. If you could get it down to two weeks in England/Scotland and leave a week for Ireland, it would be workable.
Just bear in mind that every year I expect September to continue warm and dry and that my vegetables will finish the season well. Every (well nearly every) year its gotten cold and wet then. I don't know where the rain comes from. That's in the centre of England. YMMV.
Hi Alex, you will love the UK. You should really plan to see Cotswolds and the Lake District, they both are fantastic. There are so many beautiful quiant villages and the best way and at times the only way to see them is to drive. There are many, many villages that do not have any train or bus service. The Cotswolds and the Lake District deserves two day each.
Thank you Brad, Nigel and Robin. Great information. We did ask ourselves "what if it rains every moment of every day?" - Our answer was "that would suck, but we still want to go." I just don't see how we will see what we want to see in the Highlands and other areas without a car. I am considering looking at perhaps railpasses for everything South of, say, Hadrian's Wall and getting a car for the North. This is a process and all of your tips are helpful as we consider what to do!
I agree with the suggestion to save Ireland. You think you won't get back, but it really is likely that if you enjoy your time there you will figure out a way to get back. I have driven in the UK and I enjoy doing so. I've not spent any time in the Cotswolds, but I did enjoy the Lake District and Hadrian's Wall. I really like Scotland and encourage you to not shortchange it. It is different from England. Pam
Thanks Pamela. My heritage is Scottish, so I intend to take in as much of that country as possible!
I actually would note that rail access between Belfast and Dublin is a quick couple hours and there are connections by rail and ferry from Glasgow to Belfast as well. I did this the last two years, but Stena have changed the route since I did the trip.