First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who helped me plan my trip - all I knew when I first found TripAdvisor is that I wanted to end up on the Isle of Skye to visit relatives and my partner wanted to hire a car from London and drive through England and Scotland.
So - we arrived in London (St Pancras International Station) on a Friday morning after a Eurostar train trip from Lille. The Eurostar is a great way to travel - cheap, fast, efficient and relaxed. We dumped our luggage at the Left Luggage area of St Pancras and headed off to the British Museum - what an amazing (free) place. Then headed back to the station to pick up luggage and catch the tube to our Chiswick B&B. We bought Oyster Cards which worked great.
We stayed at The Wellness Home, an excellent B&B that I found on TripAdvisor. I’ve found the TripAdvisor reviews of B&B's invaluable. Friday night, I went to a cafe on Chiswick High Road alone because my partner was not well - I felt quite safe and relaxed alone in Chiswick.
Next day (Saturday) I spent in Chiswick because my partner was still not well. Walked down to the Thames and back down Chiswick High Road after picking up some laundry.
That night we caught the tube to the station opposite the South Bank Centre and walked across the pedestrian bridge - great views of London from the bridge. We attended a perfomance of Mahler's 9th at the Royal Festival Hall after having dinner at Le Pain Quotidien - we enjoyed both. Then we returned to Chiswick where I bought a late night icecream.
Next day (Sunday) we caught the tube to Heathrow Terminal 1-2-3, cashed in our Oyster Cards, then caught the courtesy bus to Alamo Car Hire. It took us ages to get a car, but finally we were on the road to Oxford. We parked at a Park and Ride and caught the bus into Oxford. We wandered around the historic city of Oxford, stopping at the Covered Market for lunch, which was disappointing due to the lack of people and atmosphere, and poor quality and service at the café we chose.
We then headed off to Chipping Campden for a quick look around. It is indeed a charming Cotswold village, and we stopped for a coffee. Finally, we arrived at Ludlow which we just drove through on our way to Angel House, our next great B&B, about 10 minutes’ drive from Ludlow. It was great being in the English countryside, although my partner found the narrow English roads took some getting used to.
Next day (Monday) we explored Ludlow (a lovely little town) before heading off to Ironbridge – what a great bridge – very picturesque, as is Ironbridge village. Next stop was Chester, where we took the Park and Ride again – luckily, because it was so busy – and wandered around looking at the Rows, the Cathedral and part of the Walls. We didn’t have time to walk around the Walls, but got a great view overlooking the main street.
Finally we arrived at our B&B at Liverpool – Sefton Villa, which is a fantastic B&B and reasonably priced. We had dinner at Elif in Lark Lane that night and were a little disappointed, but it was OK. The next day (Tuesday) we caught the bus into Liverpool, checked out Albert Dock before walking to some grand old buildings, eg the Walker Art Gallery and St George’s Hall – we then walked to the Catholic Cathedral and had a look inside. (Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go inside the Walker Art Gallery.) We had a delicious lunch at the Catholic Cathedral café. Then we caught a bus back to our B&B and headed up to the Lake District.
The Lake District – wow! That’s all I can say – wow! What amazing scenery – it’s like you’re transported into another world. We stopped at the Windermere Information Centre - the person we spoke to had a wealth of information about where to go and what to do. We had coffee in Windermere, then drove up to our B&B (Brookfield Guest House ) in Keswick for a warm and informative welcome from Ronnie. Driving into Keswick for dinner that night was no problem because the carparks are free after 7 pm.
Next day (Wednesday) we tried to find the Gale Road Carpark so we could walk up Latrigg, but we couldn’t find it! What with all the information we had been given, we couldn’t find a decent map which showed up clearly where the attractions were. So we headed off to Derwentwater instead to take the Keswick Launch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t operating due to poor weather (windy and rainy), so we just walked part of the way around the lake – beautiful. Then we took a scenic drive around the Honister Pass and back via Whinlatter Pass – a very nice drive and not too narrow. Had dinner in Keswick again.
Next day (Thursday) we tried to find Castlerigg Stone Circle, but somehow managed to miss it! Wanting to push on, we headed for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, via Hadrian’s Wall. We parked (for a fee!) at Steel Rig, a wild and windy place, for a look at the Wall – very impressive scenery – then drove at Housesteads for another look. I didn’t realise that you had to pay to enter the Fort, so we just walked up the long path and looked at it from a distance. Next stop, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, a great city of bridges. We walked along the Quayside and stopped for coffee at the Cathedral café. A nice quick visit.
Onwards to our B&B at Powburn, Northumberland – Cheviot View, a lovely country B&B. We had dinner at the local pub, the Plough Inn, which had a cosy open fire, friendly service and surprisingly good food. We drove to Alnwick the next day (Friday) to go to Barter Books, a great second-hand bookshop in an old railway station – great design and atmosphere. Then we drove to Seahouses on the coast and could see Bamburgh Castle from there. The Northumberland coastline is spectacular, and the view of Bamburgh Castle on the coast road is great. We had lunch at the Barn at Beale, then headed up to our B&B in Edinburgh – Doris Crook, another small, friendly B&B.
We had time to catch the bus into Edinburgh that afternoon and wandered up and down the Royal Mile, saw Greyfriar’s Bobby and St Giles Cathedral; then had dinner a Pancho’s Villa, a surprisingly good Mexican restaurant on the Royal Mile. We’d seen a jazz bar (called The Jazz Bar) so went back there later and listened to some great live jazz before catching the bus back to the B&B.
The next day (Saturday) it was raining, but we walked into Edinburgh through the Meadows and visited the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery of Scotland – both 5 star attractions – and free! We went back to our B&B and had dinner at a local Indian restaurant called Voujon – excellent food.
Sunday we headed off to the Isle of Skye, via Dunkeld and Invergarry. We made a detour to Dunkeld as we’d heard good things about it – it was very quiet on a Sunday morning, but the Cathedral by the River Tay was worth looking at and we had coffee and scones at a local café (Spill the Beans). We had afternoon tea at the lovely Glengarry Castle Hotel - it was too late for lunch unfortunately; then stopped at Eilean Donan Castle (with a free carpark) to take photos, etc. Finally we crossed the Skye Bridge and drove up to Portree, which seemed to take a long time and made Skye seem very big! We visited my mother before checking in at our B&B, Larchside, a few minutes’ drive past Portree. This B&B was good value at 27.50 pounds per person per night. My brother and his family lives just down the road from Larchside, and they offered us dinner which we didn’t refuse.
The next day (Monday) we took my mother out for a drive around the Trotternish Peninsula – we saw the Old Man of Storr from a distance, but didn’t stop at the carpark because there is no view from there – you need to walk some distance, and my mother was not up to that. We did stop at Kilt Rock though and took some lovely photos – it was very windy but not too cold. It started to rain as we approached the Quiraing so we didn’t take that road and continued up to the Skye Museum of Island Life, which unfortunately was closed. We drove back down past Uig and to Portree for lunch. We also had dinner in Portree at the Bosville Hotel, which was OK.
Tuesday we wanted to drive to Elgol and take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk, but unfortunately they weren't operating due to poor weather, so we took the Brigadoon Sea Eagle and Wildlife Boat trip from Portree instead. This was a great two-hour boat trip that enabled us to see plenty of sea birds, including sea eagles. We then took my mother out to dinner at the Cuillin Brasserie which has a great view of Portree Harbour.
On Wednesday my brother drove my mother, his son, my partner and me to Armadale Castle and Gardens, which gave my partner a welcome break from driving. The scenery was magnificent on the way – mountains looming overhead and beautiful blue skies. The gardens were lovely and relaxing, and we had lunch at the Stables Restaurant. On the way back we stopped at the Eilean Iarmain Hotel and took some photos of the beautiful scenic views from there.
We had dinner at my brother’s again that night and then headed off to Glasgow the next day after saying our goodbyes to my mother and brother (Thursday). We went via Glen Coe and Loch Lomond, stopping at Spean Bridge for lunch, Tyndrum for coffee and Luss for a break. (Luss was dead in the late afternoon.) Both the routes from Edinburgh to Skye (via Loch Laggan) and from Skye to Glasgow were very scenic though.
We finally arrived at our B&B in Glasgow – Glasgow Guest House, a good, budget B&B. We had dinner at the very fancy Sherbrooke Castle Hotel, and the next day (Friday) caught the train into Glasgow to have a look around. We wandered around the centre before catching the underground train to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It’s a fair walk from the station to the museum, but it was worth it because it’s an interesting museum in a grand old building. We had lunch in the café there before heading back to our B&B and driving to Glasgow International Airport to catch our flight to London – the first leg of our long journey home to Adelaide.
All in all, we had a wonderful time in England and Scotland and I’d love to come back again one day and stay longer in the places we enjoyed, such as the Lake District, and also to visit some new places such as York and the Yorkshire Dales.
Thanks again for helping to make our trip so well-planned and smooth – we couldn’t have done it without you!