We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

Illinois
Level Contributor
16,395 posts
16 reviews
Save Topic
Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

I wasn't really sure where to ask this question, so I went with the general UK forum. I'm tentatively planning a trip to the UK in June 2012. It would be me, my sister, my 14 year old daughter, and my 8 year old nephew.

Right now I'm thinking a week in London (as sister and nephew have not been) and then take a train to either North Wales or Newcastle and rent a car.

In North Wales we would probably see castles (Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris) and Snowdonia, possibly scenic train trip. I researched this for myself and my daughter, and I think it could be done by public transport. Would that still be best with 4 of us (sister and nephew have not travelled much), or should we rent a car?

In Northumberland, I was thinking Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, and Lindisfarne Priory as well as some part of Hadrian's Wall. When researching this area previously, it seemed that it was doable by public transport but more challenging.

I have driven in the UK, but not since 1991, and then I had a Brit with me to make sure I was going the right way. With another adult along I would be willing to try it again, but I was wondering if one area would be easier driving than the other or if you would recommend just public transport. I thought maybe Northumberland would be easier as I think it's flatter and maybe the roads aren't as winding?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,788 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

For rural areas like this I think you're generally better off with a car, especially if there's a number of you when the costs of multiple fares on public transport will add up quickly

Neither area is particularly difficult to drive in. Like everywhere in Britain, there are some narrow roads, but take it easy and you should be OK

Both areas are also fantastically beautiful IMO, with a wealth of historical buildings (you've chosen probably the two best areas in the whole of the UK for castles), and great coastlines. Northumberland inland is hilly rather than mountainous, the upland scenery in North Wales is rather more spectacular

Illinois
Level Contributor
16,395 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

Thanks for the advice. I just thought of another question. It looks like we could fly into London and home from Newcastle without really increasing our fare, which seems like it would simplify things. Is there an airport in North Wales where we could do the same thing, or would we have to take the train back to London and then fly from London?

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,788 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

I don't think so. Nearest airport of any size is Liverpool I guess. Nearest big international airport will be Manchester

Illinois
Level Contributor
16,395 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

That's what I thought, but I don't know the non London airports so well. We would actually fly Newcastle to LHR and then home, but it still seems simpler than taking the train back, staying another night in London and then flying home.

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
176 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

Stopping in, say, Conwy, North Wales, would be just over an hour's drive on dual carriageway or motorway to Manchester International Airport. Direct flights to New York and Chicago, or a short hop (less than half an hour) back to London Heathrow if your return flight leaves from there.

Makes absolute sense to hire a car for the flexibility it gives. Rural buses do exist but can be few and far between when you have a schedule to keep to.

A satnav is the answer to your navigation problems. If you already own one you could easily buy a UK map for it, perhaps even sell it afterwards

North Wales or Northumberland are fine choices for scenery and castles.

Illinois
Level Contributor
16,395 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

Manchester would work out great as we can get a direct flight back to Chicago. Are MAN and NCL as bad for check in as LHR? At LHR I always leave a minimum of 3 hrs as you never know what they'll do with security on flights back to the States.

UK
Destination Expert
for Chester
Level Contributor
3,632 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

Not in general as there are fewer passengers. If you fly in and out of Manchester there are direct trains from Mcr Airport to Newcastle.

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
176 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

The official line on check in is usually 3 hours for an international flight to the USA from UK. All those security checks! Manchester is quite slick at getting you through however, so there'll be time for a meal to pass the time. Or you could risk it it and turn up a bit later, especially if you do an online check in. (Easy to give this advice but when it comes to my own flight I probably turn up bang on the three hour suggestion!!)

Never used Newcastle - always fly direct from Manchester to USA (just feels more civilised than hopping down to LHR and hops have the added problems of adding 2-3 hours to a long international flight along with worrying about your luggage keeping up with you) - surely the Newcastle flight isn't direct is it? Although Manchester is an International airport, it is much smaller than LHR, so feels much less hassle.

london
Level Contributor
2,122 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

I think 3 hours for any international flight is standard, no matter which airport ... so if you were flying Manchester to USA it would be 3 hours, but if you were flying Newcastle to LHR as a domestic flight it would be less but then you have the aggro of changing flights at Heathrow

glad you're thinking of hiring a car ... you see so much more, and at your own pace, if you have your own transport

Cardiff, Wales
Level Contributor
3,565 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Driving in North Wales or Northumberland

hi again btgm! Nice to see you are planning a return trip to Wales! I echo pintpot's advice. The areas in north Wales you are looking to visit are popular and so are well signposted nd the roads have been much improved over the years. Therefore you can decide how brave you feel as to whether you stick to the "A" roads or venture off on some side routes.

Technically speaking, there is actually an airport in North Wales, on Anglesey, although "airfield" would be a better way to describe it! It does a twice daily shuttle between Anglesey and Cardiff but it only operates on weekdays (as it is essentially a taxpayer subsidised service to carry mostly civil servants back and fore between north and south Wales), although members of the public can take the flights as well. I would not recommend it though. It is a 19 seater plane that makes you feel like you are in an Indiana Jones movie!

Edited: 03 October 2011, 19:00