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self-booking cathedral tour?

Greetings from the US - I'm wondering if I could self-book this itinerary without too much difficulty: - April or September, not winter - 2 people, one over 66yrs (me) - 10-14 days in England - rail transport to sites listed below - B&Bs with ensuite bath, twin room. I realize that ensuite costs more, but for medical reasons, I'd prefer it - round trip airfare from Atlanta GA, US To - Canterbury Cathedral - York Minster & Holmfirth, Yorkshire - Wells Cathedral - Salisbury Cathedral - Kings College Cambridge - at least 1 "climb the bell tower" sort of tour of cathedral construction And perhaps one night in Wales ... Any insights from you good folks would be appreciated.
Ta

Posted by
2783 posts

Hi Tim, you can book these very easily yourself. You didn't mention London, but if you are going to London you could make Kings College and Canterbury Cathedral day trips. For York take the train from London's King Cross station to York, you could make York your base or a small village like Thirsk (home of James Wight aka James Herriot). To get to Holmfirth (no train station there) you will need to take the train to Huddersfield, then either a bus or taxi to Holmfirth (if you didn't know, this is where the made the show Last of the Summer Wine) which is 6 miles(there isn't a train there). For Wells and Salisbury, you could take the train from London Paddington or Waterloo to Salisbury. To get from Salisbury to Wells (Wells does not have a train station) it would be easier to rent a car, you could take the bus which would take over two hours.

Posted by
3813 posts

To start looking for B&B accommodations, you can go to the book store or library and look at the Rick Steves' Great Britain guide or the Rough Guides England book. Or you can go to www.tripadvisor.com and enter in the search box "B&B Canterbury, England, UK". It will produce lots of choices for you. Do a separate search for each location. This is your best bet for Holmfirth, as there are not many guidebooks that even mention it. After you nail down specific dates to be in each place, you can make your reservation by email or call the hotel directly (doesn't cost that much). Be sure to ask for any discount they may offer, tell them you are a senior. Or you can write to them by "snail mail" if you prefer the old fashioned way. I always get a prompt response by mail, and a letter confirming my length of stay. Of course, they can send you the same confirmation by email. You will find most B&B owners or hosts/managers to be very helpful with transportation tips. Once you are staying at your first destination, they will be helpful in helping you plan your next journey on the train or bus (coach, it's called over there).

Posted by
1465 posts

Hi Tim: My husband and I are of similar age and have done a similar trip a couple of times. I would reccomend September over April because you can still have Summer like weather then; whereas we had snow in the North in April. I would not be too concerned about booking ahead B & Bs for every night. Just book your arrival and maybe your last night. Unless you hit a "Banker's Holiday" or School Break there are plently of B & Bs available as this is a major source of income for small town residents. Just arrive before 5 pm and check the local Tourist Information Office, often at or near the Train Station. If you arrive after closing they post available bookings that you can call yourself. You can pick up brochures that list local accommodations. If you are a techie these are on line. As far as "ensuite". Sometimes you are the only guests so you don't have to worry about privacy issues. By the way most ensuites are smallish shower stalls. If you want a really nice soaking tub it is in the Hall Bath which is usually just across from you or next door. Don't ignore small businessman hotels and inns...sometimes these have bigger rooms and baths. You get more for your money the further away from London you go. I would reccomend Durham Cathedral as it has the most fantastic pillars and is the tomb of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. I loved King Edward's castles in Wales...but you really need a week to enjoy all of them. Bon Voyage

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the great tips and suggestions. I'm thinking Sept 2014, after I retire earlier in the year. Being blind in my right eye, I think I'll give car hire a miss; besides, I have fond memories of the trains back in 1967, though much may have changed. Would I be better off to plan a continuous tour, staying 2 nights at most places, or base myself outside London near a train station, and make day trips to the places on my list (except for Huddersfield & York)? I'm going to try to find out if the train trip from Penarth or Barry in south Wales to Huddersfield is an overnight. If I'm going from Wells through Bristol to Huddersfield, I thought why not see a bit of south Wales. Kathleen, Salisbury Cathedral offers tours up inside the hidden places, a definite attraction for me. Durham is the oldest surviving Norman cathedral, I believe. But I still have some problems understanding Geordie.

Posted by
1465 posts

Hi Tim: I can reccomend "Britain by Britrail 2012/2013: Touring Britain by Train" by La Verne Ferguson-Kosinski & Darren Price. It shows itinaries and things to see in the major stops along the way. I would suggest using a circuitous route instead of back and forth to London if possible to save time; although you can take different routes back and you may have to hub through London anyway. There are smaller railway systems in Wales and Scotland...I'm not sure it they cooperate with the Britrail Pass. It's nice that we qualify for the Senior rate.