Need input in planning 12-14 day itinerary for mother & grown daughter trip to London, Cotswolds, possibly York and Cornwall trip. Planning to fly into London; spend about 4 days there. Willing to rent car and/or utilize trains. Second priority is the Cotswolds. Would like to also see some combination of Windsor Castle, York, Wells, Bath, Conwy Wales and maybe Cornwall but realize probably can't do it all. We are both experienced travelers with lots of energy and adventuresome spirits! All ideas welcomed and appreciated.
I won't pretend to suggest an itinerary, but... 1. Visiting the Cotswolds and Cornwall (maybe Conwy; it's been some time) is really enhanced if you have a car. Your other destinations are cities where a car would be an annoyance. 2. Use trains to get from here to there. If you want to rent a car, rent it after you get There. Book your cars ahead. 3. York is a two-hour train trip from King's Cross Station in London. It's an easy stroll from the York station into the center of town. 4. Windsor Castle is a popular day trip out of London. 5. Bath is a longish two-hour train trip from London's Paddington Station. 6. Oxford is near the Cotswolds. Many people take the train to Oxford, see the city, pickup up a rental, and head out for the Cotswolds. Oxford is well worth visiting and devoting a day to it. It's a busy city of about 100,000.
7. All trains out of London go through ugly industrial scenery for 30 miles or so once. A good time to rest your eyes.
Cornwall is a long way from North Wales. Trying to get to both on the same 2 week trip will probably not work well. I suspect you would spend too much time on the trains. The Cotswolds are either worth a day to see the "cuteness" or many days to enjoy walks. Blenheim Palace is worth a solid half day or more. It's between Oxford and the Cotswolds. Conwy is about a three hour drive from Stow-on-the-Wold. York is also about a three hour drive from Conwy. Trains can also be used. Windsor Castle is worth a half day. It's a great place to spend your first day after your long flight. You can walk off your jet lag and see the castle. From there you can drive to Bath with Stonehenge, Avebury and Laconte being (almost) on the way. You could actually stay in Wells and do a day trip to Bath or the other way around. Accomodations are easier to find and a bit cheaper in Wells than in Bath. You can get a better rental car rate if you keep it a week or longer but I definitely agree you have no need for a car while in London, Bath or York. Do the math to see what makes sense. Dropping the car off in York and taking the train to London to end your stay makes sense.
Nancy, with one exception, you do not have too much. The one exception is York. It is WAY out of the way and while a very nice town, it is overrated on this board. It is worth a day or so, but a completely different direction from all other places in which you have an interest. Four days in London is fine, so long as you spend all 4 there and to not take side trips. Actually, I will add another that is WAY out of the way: Conway, Wales. Bath and Wells are nice, but nowhere near as attractive as London, Windsor/Oxford/Cotwolds, and Cornwall. Cornwall is spectacular. You can get from Cheltenham to Plymouth in 2.75 hours via train. I would train to Oxford and use it as a base to see Windsor, Oxford, and Blenheim. I would then drive to the Cotswolds and spend at least a couple of nights. From there you can drive the Cotswolds and Stratford, Coventry, etc are close. If you prefer longer stays, day trip on day 5 from London to Windsor and train to the Cotswolds, driving to Oxford and Blenheim from there. If you decide to spend a night or two in Bath to see it and Wells, you could drive and then drive to Cornwall. Alternatively, turn in the car in Cheltenham and train to Plymouth, picking up a car there for 2-3 days driving around Cornwall. Falmouth is a charming town for a stay. St. Ives is also charming. You can then train from Plymouth to Paddington station in 3.5 hours. Assuming flying from Heathrow, I would suggest training the day before departure to Paddington, then Circle Line to Hammersmith and the Piccadilly line to Hatton Cross and a hotel. One thing you should know, the roads in the Cotswolds and even moreso, Cornwall, are very narrow and winding. Many are one lane in places.
Nancy, my wife and I visited in June 2012. Our trip included Bath, Cotswolds (as a day trip from Bath), and Cornwall. Bath is great, Cotswolds are picture perfect, and Cornwall is about 4.5 hours drive (mostly highway driving so very easy) to Cornwall (St. Ives). Dartmoor National Park has a stone circle mentioned in Rick Steves book - Scorhill - which is just off the main road on the way to Cornwall. If you're interested I can give you more information, but finding that stone circle and enjoying it by ourselves was a highlight of our trip. Happy travels!
Considering only driving, Cornwall's the kicker. It's eight hours from either Penzance or York. York and Conwy are only three hours apart.
I think you could easily do London and York, then the West Country, in the time you have available. Do York as a day trip while you are in London. It's two hours each way on the train which leaves from Kings Cross station. Several hours there will give you enough time for the highlights - Yorkminster and walking around the medieval streets, perhaps a brief walk on the city walls, starting from near the Minster, heading clockwise......The west country is best done as a circuit, picking up your car at Heathrow. You can go either direction - highlights include Wells, Glastonbury Abbey, Tintagel Castle, St. Ives, the very western tip of Cornwall which is overflowing with neolithic stones, the Lizard, the moors, Devon castles, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Winchester....Due to the elongated shape of the Devon / Cornwall peninsula, you will be able to see more of the area if you change accommodation frequently. Staying several nights in one location will necessitate either a lot of backtracking or choosing hotels which are not close to the coastline.