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England, Wales, and Scotland in Two Weeks at Christmas

Plan on flying in and out of London. Arrival Dec 22. Plan on going to Bath from airport and spend 2 days. Want to spend 2 days in York (24th and 25th) as I have read that it is really nice there at Christmas. Then back over to Wales 2 days. Up to Scotland to Oban 2 days. Then over to Edinburgh 4 days. Want to be in Edinburgh for NYE and then take a tour of the highlands. We want to see castles and historical places, but am concerned about the short days and possibly bad weather in the countryside areas. Considering doing a rail/drive to see outlying areas, but do not know if we should stick to cities at that time of year. Have considered flying back from Edinburgh, but would like to spend 2 days in London before heading home. Please help.

Posted by
571 posts

Have you looked at the rail schedules to see if this is do-able? It seems to me you're spending a lot of time in trains, sometimes crossing the same territory twice.

It took me half a day to get from Gatwick Airport to Bath by train. So really you'll have 1.5 days in Bath. Probably about the same if you're traveling from Heathrow. Bath to York is about another 4 hours, so again you'll have 1.5 days, not 2. Depending on where in Wales you want to visit, you might consider going there from Bath and then to York, though I understand that would spoil your plan to Christmas in York. (I visited York for the first time last month, btw, and loved it. Terrific city.)

I don't know how you'd go from Wales to Oban or even from York to Oban, but I imagine it will take a long time and probably a transfer or two. Unless you have a specific reason to stay in Oban, perhaps it would be better to cut it and base yourself out of Edinburgh, and see the Highlands via a bus tour from that city. Edinburgh to London is yet another long rail journey. I'd recommend starting in London (before Bath) and flying home from Scotland.

Posted by
3420 posts

I have to agree with Matt that your itenerary is not effectively organized. Your arrival time also impacts your travel. There is NO transportation on Dec. 25 and it is limited on the 24th and 26th. Why not fly into Edinburgh and stay 4-5 nights. That gives you time to do a day trip or two (a coach trip to the Highlands would be good). Then train to York- 1 or 2 nights. Train to London- rest of time with day trips to Bath and Cardiff and maybe another place or so. Or you could reverse this and be in Edinburgh for Hogmanay (New Years) like you want. You need to decide SOON! Book accomodations and meals for Dec. 24,25,26 and 31 and Jan 1 as soon as possible. Double check tranportation for all days!

Posted by
291 posts

Personally I think this is far too ambitious.
On a practical level no public transport runs at all in the UK on Xmas Day and it runs down early Xmas Eve. (Nor will any restauarants, sights or shops be open)
Also most salaried people in the UK take the entire week off between Xmas Eve and the day after New Years Day, most offices and factories are closed in this time. As a result all the major maintenance work will be done on the railways during this week and there will be significant closures and bus replacement services.
Personally I'd just focus on Bath, York and Edinburgh. If you havn't booked a hotel for Edinburgh new years eve you might get a shock when you see the prices.
The period prior to Xmas is one of the busiest for the railways in the UK, fares are very, very expensive then and on long distance runs you might have to reserve seats in advance.