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UK First plans for April 2009

Perth, Australia
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UK First plans for April 2009

Hi there. I'm at the beginning stages of planning for my forthcoming trip to England and Scotland next April/ May 2009. I'll have about five weeks and at this stage, still resisting the urge to pop everything I read about into my plans!

Basically I plan to visit Bath, Cotswolds, Oxford, Yorkshire and the Lakes District and a bit of Scotland. I'm coming from Australia so will probably begin and end in London.

I find what works for me is alternating a couple of overnighters with longer stays in the the one place, with a holiday from my holiday in the middle.

Basically at this stage I am looking for advise in 'joining the dots' and for places which would make a good home base for day trips etc.

I'll be by myself and tend to be a restless and busy traveller. I'm a bit nervous about doing hikes etc by myself but happy to explore by car. Seems the most obvious route is to hire a car and do a clockwise (or anti-clockwise) loop. But being by myself, is car hire cost-effective, or might I be better off to do some of the longer legs by train and hire a car for shorter periods from regional areas? I'm assuming it's cheaper if you hire for longer periods so that's one thing I'm trying to figure out.

The other thing is that I'll be there over Easter. How much is that public holidays in the UK or school holidays? Which parts are best avoided at that time? or anywhere that would be special? What about May Day? Is that celebrated anywhere?

Sorry to be a bit long-winded but this forum seems full of knowledgable, friendly and helpful people

Cambridge, England
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1. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Hi

Sounds like you are going to have a fabulous time and you have hopefully picked a good time of year - no doubt you have heard about the reputation of the changeable British Climate!

Clockwise/anticlockwise is a good plan. You might even be able to squeeze in Cambridge too! The Lake District is also one fo my favourite places in the world).

Public transport in the UK can be a bit of a pain and can be trains can be expensive depending on your route (you can't always get a seat either. Personally I would recommend you hire a car as they can work out quite reasonable if you opt for a small hatchback for several weeks. This will obviously give you greater flexibility and independance.

Schools usually break for two weeks around Easter-however it does vary throughout the country whcih weeks- the public holidays are just Good Friday and Easter Monday. May 4th & 25th are public holidays however other than more traffic on the roads and motorways, there is not much else to say on them really.

Hope this helps you get started.

Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Yes a clockwise or anti clockwise loop would be sensible. As for hiring a car it depends on how much you like driving. Roads in the UK are no fun and are often very congested causing what should be a short run to double in duration. However if you plan your journey carefully and make sure you're not driving at rush hour you should be fine.

for Yorkshire, York is an obvious base, with options for visiting the coast, Scarborough is nice. Get into the moors and have a day out there, Harrogate is also a lovely spa town for a day trip. As you drive up towards Scotland a good overnight stay would be Whitby on the north east coast, a great historic fishing village and where Captain Cook set off from when he came to discover you lot !!! so a bit of heritage for you there.

Heading up to Scotland further and you might want to stop in Berwick upon Tweed which is very pretty, or somewhere earlier than there in Northumbria. Driving York to Edinburgh will take you around 4 hours, its quite a small road after a while.

I don't know much about scotland for touring, but obviously visit edinburgh. Also Scotland is large and you might struggle to get decent distances to visit places and come back down to England again.

Definetly visit the lake district, I'd probably stop in the north initially, perhaps Keswick, then drive through for a day to Windemere which is larger and a good base.

Then back down, Perhaps Warwick or Stratford upon Avon (Shakespear's home) and you're a good final run for London. Obviously you could do this route either way round.

Southampton
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3. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Pernickety who posted above might know if this still happens, but when I lived in Cambridge (I left in 2001) there was a may pole with maypole dancing at The Orchards (a tea room/wooden cabin with a beautiful orchard to sit in, funnily enough) in Grantchester on 1st May. The trees were all in (pink apple) blossom and you sit in deck chairs watching. Grantchester is a village just outside of Cambridge. You can walk there or punt there on the river from Cambridge (but it would take HOURS for the inexperienced punter I should imagine).

The only days of the year when everything shuts down are Christmas day and also Easter Sunday, so you might want to avoid trying to take public transport on easter Sunday. The shops will be shut too.

Manchester, UK
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4. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

The best known festival celebrating May Day is probably the Padstow 'obby 'oss festival (check out the website www.padstow.com/obby_oss/obby_oss.php)

This takes place in (obviously) Padstow, on the north coast of Cornwall, which is not exactly centrally located in relation to the country as a whole, but if you were looking to experience a unique traditional celebration of the coming of summer, this is the one to go for. There is a lot of drinking involved, and a certain measure of lewd behaviour, if the 'oss' manages to trap one of the local young maidens underneath his voluminous skirt (just don't ask!) Suffice to say that it's not a day you're likely to forget in a hurry...

Manchester, UK
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5. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Hi again - the website address should have two underscorings where the blanks appear (i.e. the hyphen key, with the capitals key held down) - just the way it came out what with the whole thing being underlined - hope that makes sense!)

Cambridge, England
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6. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Just to reply to Akkarin (fan of The Black Magician's Trilogy??).

Not sure about whether they are still May pole dancing at The Orchard however I highly recommend a visit too - the website will indicate up and coming events - www.orchard-grantchester.com

You could always splash out (no pun intended!) on a chauffeur punt if you don't fancy the hardwork.

Perth, Australia
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7. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Thanks for all your responses.

The Padstow thing sounds fascinating and I'll look into it.

At the moment I'm thinking of doing a loop through Salisbury, Bath, Cotswolds Oxford etc by hire car, then returning to London for a bit before heading to York and picking up another car for a loop through the north. Then train and day trips out of Edinburgh, and train back to London before heading home. That way I won't have to worry about driving all the time and can relax and lok at scenery from train windows some of the time.

Tempting though Cornwall and Devon sound, I'm trying to restarin myself - and save something for future trips.

Russell, Kansas
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8. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

There is always the beltain festival in Scotland. From what I understand it is quite interesting!

Perth, Australia
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9. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Now that sounds interesting - and looks like I'd be in those parts around about then. Remeber that from reading "The Mists of Avalon".

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: UK First plans for April 2009

Hi

Although hiring a car can give you more freedom if you are willing to plan and pay well in advance and not change your travel plans you can get some very cheap fares on some rail trips. It does take a bit of planning and searching different websites but cheap rail travel is possible. Also there are some cheap bus travel but this tends to be much slower as although it goes by the main routes you do detours to stops in the main cities. Driving in yorkshire and the lakes may be a bit of challenge for you as some of the roads are often narrow, windy and steep - a huge difference to WA roads! Having said that these roads allow you access to places you can not get to on public transport.

I'd probably suggest taking the train (cost permitting) for the longer trips between destinations which will allow you to relax and enjoy the scenery (especially settle-carlisle) but maybe when you get to a destination hire a car for greater freedom.

As for walking on your own, many people do it- it's not as remote as in Australia and you are more than likely going to see others unless you go well off the beaten track. Maps in the UK are very detailed with all paths - and many of the more popular areas will have walks mroe suited to non-locals which should be easily followed. The lake district and yorkshire have low level, less challenging walks that you could do if you are nervous about walking on your own. Most walkers however are friendly and will always say hello - if you are uncomfortable just ask and I'm sure they would point you in the right direction!