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Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

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Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

Hello everyone,

How are you! I was wondering if you might be able to assit me with planning my extremely ambitious, exhausting driving tour of England and Scotland next month. I suspect many of you will be shocked by how much I'm trying to pack in during two weeks, but I am a young guy travelling alone and can handle quite a cracking pace. Plus I have a short attention span! And I can always drop things if I find I'm running out of time between destinations, there'll be a priority thing I'm sure. I'm from Australia so am familiar with driving on the left, and will have an automatic compact car with GPS. The only inhibitor will be traffic!

Please help me clarify where I should stop for the night to spread things out a bit, that's the issue I'm struggling with, I'm completely open to flipping things around, with the caveat that I generally prefer staying in hotels in larger cities (can get good corporate rates plus company is subsidising this trip for approved hotels - they owe me one). Also additional sites to see along the way would be great, especially towards the end of my itinerary where I haven't done much research yet. I'd like to take the most scenic routes if possibles between destinations (except when doing a long haul between destinations such as Edinburgh -> Cambridge), anywhere where there might be a sunset over fields of barley, now that would make the trip!

Saturday / Sunday / Monday (overnight stays in London):

1. See sites in London


1. Pick up car from Heathrow in the morning

2. Salisbury (see Salisbury Cathedral, Wilton House, Stonehenge)

3. Bath (see Roman Baths etc)

4. Overnight in Bath


1. Bath surrounding area (see Stourhead gardens, Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey)

2. Exeter (drive through, perhaps see Cathedral, Powderham Castle)

3. Dartmouth (drive through, see Royal Naval College)

4. Plymouth (see Mayflower departure spot, walk along the Barbican)

4. Overnight in Plymouth


1. Penzance and surrounding area (see Castle on St. Michael's Mount)

2. Bristol (long drive I know)

3. Overnight in Bristol


1. Painswick (see Painswick Rococo Garden)

2. Drive around Cotswalds

3. Cheltenham

4. Overnight in Cheltenham


1. Drive more around Cotswalds

2. Hidcote Manor Garden

3. New Forest

3. Oxford (walk around the University, walk along River Cherwell)

4. Overnight in Oxford


1. Woodstock (see Blenheim Place)

2. Stratford-Upon-Avon (drive through, maybe stop at Shakespeare's Birthplace, see Warwick Castle)

3. Nottinghamshire (see Sherwood forest - it's a boy thing, just to have a quick stop and look see)

4. York (look at Minster from outside if not open)

5. Overnight in York


1. Castle Howard

2. Fountains Abbey

3. Yorkshire Dales (drive through)

4. Lake District (lake Windemere)

5. Overnight in Lake District (any recommended place?)


1. See a bit more of Lake District

2. Hexam (see Hadrian's Wall & Housesteads Fort)

3. Edinburgh (see Edinburgh Castle)

4. Overnight in Edinburgh


1. Braemar (up through Grampian mountains, see Balmoral castle)

2. Inverness (see Loch Ness, Ben Nevis mountain)

3. Overnight in Scottish highlands (any recommended place?)


1. Argyll

2. Some other place/sights to see in Scotland, not sure yet (reccommend?)

3. Overnight in Edinburgh again (or somewhere else?)


1. See some more of Edinburgh before driving down to Cambridge (long drive I know yikes)

2. Cambridge (take a cruise down river Cam)

3. Overnight in Cambridge


1. Norwich (seems nice?)

2. Some things to do down East Anglia coast?

3. Overnight somewhere else


1. Drive back to London

2. Maybe see Greenwich

3. Take it easy, enjoy last night in the UK.

4. Overnight in London


1. Fly home around mid-day!

Bingley, United...
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1. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

This itinerary starts off as plain nuts then ends up as totally insane

It has nothing to recommend it unless you are getting car miles

Sheffield, United...
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2. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

I'd have to agree with alan.

seriously mate, I'd cut down big time on the number of destinations. With 2 weeks I'd be doing something like London, Cotswolds, Lake District, Edinburgh, back to London and even then thats cramming a hell of a lot in.

If you do your planned itinery I hope you like seeing the back ends of cars moving very slowly.

Hampshire, United...
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3. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

I read all your caveats about being Australian, young, attention-span of a gnat ☺ and all that, so was pleasantly surprised with your itinerary for Salisbury, Stonehenge etc, and onto Bath. Unfortunately after that, I've lost the will to live. Seriously, that is a crazy schedule, and I'm not sure what you're trying to prove with all that driving. I'm just printing your post off now, so's I can curl up somewhere with my road atlas, and really concentrate on what you're suggesting.

Will get back to you later... (although I'm not sure you really want us suggesting you cut back a bit) But for example, your drive from Edinburgh to Cambridge is over 6 hours, without any stops (and that would be plain stupid not to have rest breaks). I'm not sure you'd arrive in Cambridge in time to have your river trip, so what would be the point of all that driving?

Please reconsider...

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4. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

Thanks for the advice everyone, it actually is much appreciated. Without forums like these, where will daft people like me come to for advice :-)

Regarding the err 'packed in' itinerary, I can certainly understand the concerns, but if you look at some of the 8 day tours offered by firms like Trafalgar, I mean, those guys can take people all over the UK & Ireland - London, Stratford, York, Lake District, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Waterford, Cardiff, Bath etc, in 8 days! Of course, they are just skimming the highlights, but considering all the hassle of getting on and off of a bus, queing at rest stops, staying too long in places you don't like and staying too short in places you do, I would have thought since I have 16 full nights, I could see a fair bit of England and Scotland with slightly more depth than what a tour company could offer.

But that doesn't mean I'm not open to change. For example, I agree, the trip from Edinburgh to Cambridge might be a bit long - if so, let's break it up by adding an overnight on the way somewhere, and drop the side trip to Norwich. Likewise, we can tweak the trip from Cornwall back to Bristol by adding an extra night in there somewhere and dropping a night / destination somewhere else in the itinerary.

I found out the cities I can actually stay in England (so Cheltenham overnight may end up being in Stratford, Swindon or Warwick, with the overnight in Oxford coming back to Swindown, plus Lake District stay may be in Preston? And Cambridge in Peterborough?):






















And in Scotland:







Hampshire, United...
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5. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

I haven't sat down yet with my cup of tea...

but just browsing those cities quickly, and in no particular order:

Worth staying at in my opinion would include:

Bath OR Bristol; not both

Derby (for the Peak District; glorious area of N. England)

Stratford upon Avon OR Warwick; not both



Edinburgh (or Glasgow, but prefer E'burgh)


I'd give Plymouth a miss, but you're determined to get there, so hey, let's include Plymouth!

I have friends around the Taunton area who might object to me leaving it out, but tough! Wells is far prettier, and in the general area, as is Bath and Bristol, come to that. Oh well, make that Bath or Bristol or Wells; not all 3.

Will think some more, and oh, by the way, the tours that do 10 countries in 3 days? (you know what I mean)...It's not the customers driving! Big difference when you can relax in between the stops. And even they have 2 drivers for the long trips.

I appreciate your enthusiasm - or foolhardiness; can't quite decide yet ;-)

I'll have a think some more, but I'm sure there are plenty of others out there willing to give you their suggestions.

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6. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

I have to agree this is a crazy schedule. You will cover a lot of ground but will you enjoy any of it?

I'm only going to comment on one tiny part of your trip.

Balmoral Castle is closed to the public in August while the queen is in residence.

You might see a tiny glimpse of the place from about a mile away but that's it. There are hundred of better looking and more interesting castles in Scotland than Balmoral.

If you are determined to do Scotland in 2 days I would suggest you concentrate on Edinburgh and forget the rest.

Hampshire, United...
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7. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

I think I need a very large drink now! Not completed, but I started losing the will to live again ;-)

My thoughts so far: and it's worthwhile checking driving distances with www.theaa.com (and add 20% to the times they give)

Monday - London

Tuesday - Kind of all right (miss out Wilton House if short on time) (hah!)

Wednesday - Bath/surrounding area

then on to Exeter. Miss out Dartmouth; it's out of your way, a lot. Onto Plymouth (AND TO EVERYONE ELSE; THIS IS NOT WHAT I'D RECOMMEND TO NORMAL PEOPLE, OK? I'm just going with Pan's mindset). Overnight Plymouth

Thursday - Please give up on Penzance; way out of way! Way beyond way out of way...

Suggest instead, from Plymouth north to Bude and follow A39 Eastwards: Clovelly, Westward Ho!, Lynmouth and Exmoor (My Taunton friends should forgive me for that!). Overnight in Bristol (OK, so I am suggesting you stay in Bristol and Bath!)

Friday - Painswick / Cheltenham/ Cotswolds/ Hidecote Manor Garden/ Stratford and or Warwick. Overnight there. (Yes, I realise I've missed out Oxford; it's gone to the end). Miss out New Forest. Way wrong direction.

Saturday - From Warwick/Stratford, drive up to Peak District (Move Nottingham to the end); you have a choice of Caverns, or you could stop off at Chatsworth. On to York. Overnight York

Sunday - Castle Howard (not sure where it is!) / Fountains Abbey. Stay on the East side; up to Newcastle and Jedburgh, for example. I'd need to check where your hotels are around here.

Monday - Hexham / Edinburgh

Tuesday - I start getting hazy here, as you may need the Scottish contingency to comment further. I was in Inverness for my hols recently; I know it's 3 hours from E'burgh to Inverness by train...

Suggest staying in Inverness or go along Loch Ness to Fort William

Wednesday - Argyll and that area. Stay overnight in Glasgow

Thursday - Glasgow to Carlisle / Lake District ? overnight in Preston

Friday - Chester (pop into Wales? you can't leave it out, really, can you?!) longish drive to Nottingham. Stay overnight in Peterborough

Saturday - Cambridge - have that damned river cruise!) and over to Oxford and Blenheim Palace

Sunday - Back to London and as you say, "Take it easy"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would never, never recommend this to anyone, but you did ask!

How does that sound?

Right: where's that drink? A loooooooooooong one, I think.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland


Yes, pan, you are young and keen, but in this itinerary you may have bitten off a bit more than you think.

Last month I took seven and a half clear days to do a driving tour of the north of Scotland. I put about 1600 km on the car in those days, starting and ending in Aberdeen, and staying for three nights in Inverness and a wee village near Kyle of Lochalsh.

Added to that trip was a jaunt from Inverness to Orkney, but I decided to go on a tour, as it was too long a drive at 0500 to catch the ferry from John o'Groats.

Now I'm a bit older than you, but a seasoned traveller and one who's keen to drive, esp in new places. Having said that, I was weary to the bone every night, and more than ready to get some kip at the end of each looonnnngg day.

Many roads in Scotland are single carriageways, and away from the A roads are plenty of single-track roads; you may want to get some miles in, but one can only travel so fast on one of those narrow roadways.

Have a look at the trip planner at www.theaa.com, and see what estimates are for some of your journeys from point to point. The timings at the AA's website are fairly accurate, I found, and a bit of an eye opener.

Whatever you do, please drive carefully.

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9. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

Yikes, thanks so much for the updated itinerary - that really helps! I'll check that route against hotel availability and tweak it but it makes a bit more sense now.

Actually the first leg of my tour was really just following Frommer's suggested itinerary for a week in the West Country / Cotswalds at frommers.com/destinations/…0221020795.html and they wanted to drive from Penzance all the way to Painswick before lunch! Which is why I got my crazy idea that all this was do-able, especially if I stopped in Bristol for the night on the way to Painswick.

Thanks also for the advice on Balmoral - will skip it and check out something else, perhaps have a look see in the Scotland forum. And good tip about Scotland... I have three nights up there, I'll see if I can stick to the more major roads to save time.

Please keep the ideas coming!



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10. Re: Whirlwind itinerary for England / Scotland

Some specific points, and some general ones.

Specific. Have you looked at a map for where the New Forest is? Its beyond crazy to visit it in between the COTSWOLDS and Oxford. You wont make it. Not achievable.

Specific. Why Cheltenham? Why Norwich? Waste of time given your itinerary.

General. I had a friend who insisted on an itinerary like this (she was from Texas "where they are used to driving long distances" yada yada yawn yawn). She had to abandon it about 25% in, and as a consequence missed many places she *really* wanted to see because she ran out of time.

General. You will see less than if you planned something realistic. If you drive through many of the places you mention, you really might as well not bother because they will look just like every other congested city centre unless you get out and walk around.

General. Your plan is dangerous (you would be driving 18 hours a day), the coach journeys you mention would have 2 drivers..and they know the way and probably wont get lost, its inevitable you will. There isnt enough slack in your plan to make it, let alone for niceties like toilet stops, lunch and the like, let alone for getting lost.

Specific. Its not achievable. So why not plan something that is, because you wont be able to follow your plan beyond midday on the first Wednesday, which is when the wheels will come off your Mad Max odyssey .