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Cotswolds and Wales in June 2023

Hi, I'm really amazed at the wealth of info in the travel forum on this site! You all are amazing!

My husband and I are planning to visit Cotswolds, North Wales and London in June. Still in the midst of planning and your insights and suggestions will be most helpful. I have some preliminary ideas so far and have the following questions:

  1. From Gatwick, take bus to Oxford, stay 1 night. Pick up rental car in Oxford, possibly Enterprise.
    What's the best way to get to car rental from Oxford City? Does Enterprise pick up customers?

  2. Driving to Cotswolds, staying 3 nights at Bourton-on-Water.
    Planning to visit: Lower and Upper Slaughter, Wold-on-Stow, Bibery, Lacock, Chipping Norton, Broadway, Castle Combe.
    How can I best arrange the visits over the 3 to 3.5 days there?
    Possible to squeeze in Highclere Castle and Brampton (Downtown Abbey)?
    Any other must-sees?

  3. From Bourton-on-water, drive to North Wales.
    Which is the best route to take and any good stops along the way? Stay 4 nights.
    Planning to visit: Snowdonia, Anglesey, Conwy, Caernarfon, Betwsy-Coed, Llanberis, Llandudno.

Which is a good place to base at? Conwy, Betwsy-Coed, etc? Should we stay one night in Anglesey?
What's the best way to arrange the places over the 3.5 days there?

Would like to take the railway up Snowdonia. Any difference between the diesel and heritage steam trains? Would you suggest a return ticket? Would there be enough time to spend at the summit? Or should we buy one way up and walk down? Is it a nice walk? How long would it take?

  1. From North Wales, leave for London. Wondering if instead of driving all the way back to Oxford to return car and then take train/bus into London, is it possible to drop off the car in North Wales? Is there a convenient drop off for Enterprise there? And would it be cost and time efficient to take a train into London from North Wales? Or should we focus on South Wales to avoid the long drives?

Thanks for taking the time to look at my questions. Would appreciate any input on any of them.

Posted by
2444 posts

You could go by train from Gatwick direct to Reading where you can change for another train to Oxford. (Bus might get stuck in jams on the London ring M25).

Once you have walked around Oxford & picked up hire car, I suggest you drive the 7 miles or so NW to see Blenheim Palace - although that could be done another day. If staying in Bourton-on-the-Water, make sure that any place you reside has parking. Note that Castle Combe and Lacock are quite a way to the south. However, Stratford-upon-Avon is about a 40 minute drive NE so you could go and see Will Shakespeares old house. In the Bourton area visit Chipping Campden - which is better than Chipping Norton and could be combined with Hidcote Manor Gardens / Kiftsgate Court. You might also like Stanway House but check opening times for all of these.

Route to N Wales from N Cotswolds:>
Here is a route that takes in places of interest but does use winding roads so can take some time! I suggest you try and look at the roads on Google Streetview & see if you think it is right for you.
Join A44 going towards Evesham - which you loop around on the by-pass. Then B4084 towards Pershore
& pass south of Worcester to rejoin A44 going towards Bromyard. (It is very bendy). As you approach Bromyard, look out for signs directing you R to LOWER BROCKHAMPTON HALL. It is a bit of a drive but at the bottom of the hill you will find the Hall. (Everything you expected Ye Olde England to be).http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brockhampton-estate/
Return to A44 & continue W to join A49 heading N. Do not take Ludlow by-pass but drive into this small town and take a look around.
http://www.ludlow.org.uk
Now back onto A49 going N (towards Shrewsbury). About 10 minutes up the road is this:> http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stokesay-castle/
Stay on A49 heading for Shrewsbury & then A5 going NW into Wales via Llangollen (try & see the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct) at Trevor.

You can either take the winding A5 into NW Wales via Bettws-Y-Coed OR A483 expressway towards Chester and then A55 expressway going west.

In the Conway area , you could visit Bodnant Garden (see You Tube Video) and Llandudno. In addition to Bodnant, I would prioritise driving back to Betws-Y-Coed & then A5 to Capel Curig > A4086 > via Beddgelert & A4085 via Garreg to PORTMEIRION.http://www.portmeirion-village.com
Alternatively, if the weather is clear, you may wish to prioritise going to Llanberis and up Snowdon via the mountain railway. You could then add Caernarvon Castle to this trip.
http://www.greatorme.org.uk
You might wish to fly on this zip-wire:> http://www.zipworld.co.uk
Scenic train rides through Snowdonia National Park:> https://www.festrail.co.uk

Direct trains go from Chester to London (Euston) in around 2 hours travelling much of the way at or near 125 mph - strikes permitting!
PS> Chester is worth a look.http://www.visitchester.com

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks so much for the detailed reply, James. Much appreciated!

I've been to Bleinhem and Stratford before and so left them out of the planning for this trip.

You've given so much to explore! Wonderful!

Posted by
2444 posts

OK - so that explains why you left Blenheim & Stratford-upon-Avon off the list. Have a great trip. I’m sure more people will chip soon.

Manchester Airport has direct trains to Chester and north Wales - for anyone who wishes to avoid London. Who flies to MAN. see >https://www.skyscanner.net

Posted by
1920 posts

Would like to take the railway up Snowdonia. Any difference between the diesel and heritage steam trains? Would you suggest a return ticket? Would there be enough time to spend at the summit? Or should we buy one way up and walk down? Is it a nice walk? How long would it take?

I’m assuming you mean the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis up Snowden.

Diesel train tickets are cheaper than those on the steam trains and you can buy a single ticket on them.

You can only buy a return ticket for the steam train journey. You have 30 minutes at the summit and HAVE to go back on the same train.

Both use the same coaches and the views are the same!

It is recommended you buy tickets in advance as trains don’t carry many passengers (a coach tour will fill a train) and if you arrive without a ticket you may have a very long wait before getting a train, or may not even be able to buy a ticket.

The problem with that is, you have no guarantee of a good day for the trip. It can be bright and sunny at Llanberis but the cloud can roll over and it can be raining at the summit...

Walking down will take 2-2.5 hours depending on how fast you walk (and how busy the path is.) It is well marked path but quite steep in places. Loose gravel on the path can make it slippy depending on your footwear

Check out prices here.

Buy tickets here.

Posted by
7717 posts

South Wales has much to offer. Cardiff Castle, The Museum of Welsh Life, several other castles, Tenby and St. Davids.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the detailed information on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, wasley. Very helpful information - I didn't know return tickets are only for the steam train.
Yes, you're right, will need to make advanced booking and hope and pray that the weather will be fine!

Posted by
7 posts

Agree with you, geovagriffith! There's lots to see and do in South Wales too. And I found out that whale watching is available from June! The only place I've been to in Wales is Cardiff. Hoping to see more in June.

It's probably too much to visit both North and South Wales in about 4.5 days, so will have to decide on one area. Decisions, decisions...