Help needed with UK trip

Travel Forums Europe Help needed with UK trip

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1. Posted by earlnjanet (Budding Member 6 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

Hi, we're planning a trip to England, Scotland and Wales in September. We'll fly in and out of London, picking up rental car at airport. Our main question is what is the best route to take. Our plans are to visit Yorkshire and the Lake district then traveling through Scotland and Wales, before returning to London for our return flight. We will spend 3 weeks in the UK. Does this itinerary sound reasonable? Is there a better route to take to accomplish this trip? We've traveled extensively in Europe and some in the UK but never did all 3 countries at one time. Any help and suggestions you can offer will be appreciated. Thanks, J

2. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 4149 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

>Our plans are to visit Yorkshire and the Lake district then traveling through Scotland and Wales, before returning to London for our return flight.

Imo that's not a logical route. To me it makes no sense to drive north to Yorkshire before going south to Wales (even to North Wales!) then north to Scotland then south to London again.

Without knowing your specific interests (e.g. particular places, history, landscape, ancient sites, walking etc etc) it's difficult to be specific. There are a myriad of options and three weeks is nowhere near enough to see everything mainland Britain has to offer. But imo it would make more sense to travel:

1. London> to and northwards through Wales (e.g. Cardiff > Brecon Beacons >Pembrokeshire > Aberystwyth >Caernarfon

2. Along the north coast of Wales via the A55 to the M6

3. Off the M6 at Kendal and the Lake District

4. Up to Scotland (huge...which bits do you want to see? Edinburgh? The Highlands? Inverness? All the way up to John O'Groats?)

5. Back down the eastern side to London via Yorkshire (and maybe Lincoln or Cambridge or Oxford or Stratford-on-Avon......)

Remember that UK towns, cities and motorways are very congested so journeys are always slower than map distances suggest. Rural roads are often narrow and winding with little opportunity to pass slower vehicles. Always allow more time for any journey that map software suggests.

Remember also that central parking in cities, towns and visitor-popular places is often difficult and expensive. Always have enough coins to hand for parking ticket machines (many outside big cities don't take cards).

Enjoy your planning! :-)

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2547 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

Yes you can see a lot in that timescale.

Are the flights already booked, or some other reason for flying into London? I'd be tempted to look at flying into Manchester instead, to avoid some miles and the worst of the traffic.

Yes a loop seeing Yorkshire - Lake District - Scotland - Wales works. (The sequence looks fine to me, I wonder if Leics misread it?) Do you have some specific goals or must-sees already?

For me the star attractions are the Lakes, West Highlands and Orkney. If you're history buffs and at all interested in the neolithic then plan for a couple of days on Orkney seeing Skara Brae, Maeshowe and the Ring of Brodgar at minimum.

Travelling up through Yorkshire I imagine York is on your radar? One of Britain's nicest cities. Possible other things to look into are Castle Howard, Eden Camp, Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey.

The Lakes splits mainly into two - North and South. If you are pressed for time I'd head to Keswick and explore from there - Buttermere, Borrowdale. If you have longer, the main centre for the south Lakes is Ambleside, then Coniston, Langdale, and Grasmere is on the way to Keswick. Are you walkers? Nowhere in the world that I've found has such a network of walking paths, both high level mountain routes and low level walks along rivers, woodlands and lakes. I'm happy to make detailed suggestions if you come back with the size of walk you'd like.

Heading up to Scotland, Glasgow is real Scotland and Edinburgh is very tourist friendly, but the Highlands are the main event. Do not miss driving through Glencoe. If it were me, my Scottish itinerary would look like: wave at Glasgow on the way through, go to Helensburgh and visit the Hill House if you're architecture buffs (a Charles Rennie Mackintosh building), up the side of Loch Lomond, over Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe. Swing south to visit Oban and take a daytrip on the ferry to the islands - the state operator CalMac run a 3 Isles Daytrip which takes you onto Mull then by bus across the island to visit Iona (religious history) and Staffa (natural history - volcanic blockwork which beats the Giant's Causeway hands down). Up to Fort William and take the Road To The Isles (with a photo stop at Glenfinnan) to Mallaig and over to Skye. On Skye I'd aim to see the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr. Boat trip from Elgol to Loch Coruisk particularly if you're walkers. Possible side trip to Raasay if you're social history buffs and want to read Calum's Road first. Also at the north end of Skye there's a good social history traditional life museum that's worth a look.

The NW coast from here is a driving tour route called the North Coast 500 going over the epic Bailach Na Ba road to Applecross, Torridon, Gairloch, and Assynt. Grand landscapes with mountains rising from the murk. Then across the north coast to get to Orkney. Back down to Inverness (the riverside area is a nice place to stay) and if time allows head East to Speyside for Whisky Mecca. Lots of distillery tours to be done, and drams to be sipped in tartan-decked hotel bars. Head south down the A9 past Perth and Stirling to Edinburgh where the tourist infested Royal Mile will feel like a plastic Vegas version of Scotland now that you've seen the real thing and you can feel superior to those visitors who've added an Edinburgh stay to their London holiday to say they've ticked off Scotland. :) Exit Scotland via the Borders towns of Galashiels and Melrose. Abbotsford was Sir Walter Scott's house, if you're interested in literary things.

The highlight in Wales for me is Snowdonia. Caernarfon is a lovely little walled town with lots to see, though I'd probably stay in Porthmadoc and use that as a base for seeing Portmeirion village, the Lleyn Peninsula to the west, and the mountains and valleys of Snowdonia to the east. There are plenty of preserved steam railways in this part of north Wales, together with lots of industrial heritage in the form of slate mines.

I've rambled lots so will wrap up for now. Come back with more detail on what you'd like to see and do.

[ Edit: Edited on 26 Jan 2022, 14:08 GMT by AndyF ]

4. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 4149 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

>The sequence looks fine to me, I wonder if Leics misread it?

I didn't misread it, Andy. For me, as a driver, it wouldn't be sensible to go all the way up from London to Yorkshire (especially after a probable overnight 'red-eye'), then cross-country to the Lakes, then back down to Wales then back up to Scotland then back down to London (possibly passing through or very near areas already visited). But that's just me.... :-)

I agree Manchester might be a better airport option though there are fewer direct Mancs (or Bham or Edinburgh) > US flights at the moment (Covid). Depending on the US starting point the OP may have no option but to use Heathrow or Gatwick if they want a direct flight. However, if they are able and willing to take an indirect flight there are e.g. US>Mancs flights via e.g. Amsterdam. will give all the flight options for their dates and starting point.

[ Edit: Edited on 26 Jan 2022, 18:42 GMT by leics2 ]

5. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2547 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

Quoting leics2

to the Lakes, then back down to Wales then back up to Scotland

I'm reading it as Wales after Scotland.

6. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 4149 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

Still think it's a bit illogical to go from the Lakes up to Scotland and then go back down to Wales, thus driving straight past the Lake District (or via Yorkshire, if coming down the east coast).

Hopefully the poster will come back and clarify a bit. :-)

7. Posted by nancy119 (Inactive 6 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

hi, if you are planning to go UK trip then you must be go
Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales this is an amazing places

8. Posted by earlnjanet (Budding Member 6 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

Leics and Andy, thanks so much for your great info. It is much appreciated.
My original (uninformed) thought was that making a circle would be the most efficient way to make this trip. Our intentions are to visit the Yorkshire Dales (All creatures great and small fans), probably based in York to enjoy that city's history and culture. Then on to the Lake district for a couple days before heading to Scotland. The couple we're traveling with have never been to Scotland so would like to see as much as possible, (my husband and I lived in Scotland 50 years ago when he was stationed at Holy Loch with the US Navy. We revisited for 10 days just prior to the lock down.) We were thinking Edinburgh, Glasgow, castles along the way and a stop in Dunoon for old times sake. We'd like to visit a few of the islands continuing on to Fort William and Loch Ness. We were planning on finishing the trip with North Wales. I don't know how much sense this makes in your experienced view but hopefully you can help us make informed decisions regarding our itinerary. All advice and information is gratefully accepted. Thanks again to both of you for your help.
P.S., we'll look at Manchester as an alternative when we're booking our flights.

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2547 posts) 17w Star this if you like it!

That sounds great.

I think All Creatures Great And Small was around Thirsk? Lovely little market town.

For just a couple of days in the Lakes I'd look at staying in Keswick and exploring from there.

Sounds like you know Scotland quite well!

I'd do that trip. Not killer mileage for three weeks, and visiting lots of highlights.

10. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 4149 posts) 17w 2 Star this if you like it!

Yes, 'All Creatures' is/was set around Thirsk. James Herriot's surgery in the town is now open to the public.

I'm not sure how many Scottish islands you'd fit in given your own time constraints and the ferry timetables (as your itinerary is more-or-less set check their websites and, if necessary, book your crossing ). Maybe just Skye, now joined to the mainland by a bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh?

Keswick and Kendal both have straightforward access to the M6 (your route from Scotland and down to N Wales). Imo either would make a good base (there's a good bus service between the two towns). Kendal has two castles (ruined) and is set on the river Kent, Keswick is set on Derwentwater and the river Greta and is very near the prehistoric Castlerigg stone circle. Check on googlemaps to see which town is best placed for what you particularly want to see.

In N Wales I suggest you visit Conwy for its castle (1283-87) then drive through the Snowdonia National Park via the A470. At Capel Curig either take the A5 past Llyn Ogwen and the Glyder range or the A4086 which goes past Snowdon to Llanberis. Both will eventually take you to Caernarfon, which has the best-preserved Medieval Welsh castle (1283-1330). If you have time drive over the Menai Suspension bridge (1826) to the island of Anglesey then turn right to Beaumaris which has excellent views of Snowdonia and a castle (1295-1330) which is a perfect example of concentric planning.


[ Edit: Edited on 27 Jan 2022, 18:22 GMT by leics2 ]