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16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

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16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

First, let me introduce ourselves, our interests & travel-style. We're a 70 yr old couple planning to travel with a 15 yr old granddaughter. Tentative plan is to arrive at a London airport from U.S. on morning of 15 April for a self-drive tour of Isle of Britain after 3 nights at a suburban London B&B.

While 2 or 3 nights at a B&B are nice, in the countryside (which we tend to prefer over cities) we often spend just one night then drive 100-175 miles down the road to where dark catches us stopping at a Budget B&B - usually without reservations. We enjoy scenery from car & dont mind driving 4-5 hrs a day.

Interests include mountains, beaches, scenery, observing everyday life, walking 2 or 3 miles a day, historic sites, some museums & castles. Tho we expect to spend 3 days in London area (& visit some other cities more briefly) we really prefer eating & sleeping in small towns/rural areas - & at places where locals do rather than in touristy places.

Our very tentative & incomplete itinerary follows - hoping for suggestions, critiques, overlooked sites, etc.. Thank You in advance for reading & especially replying!

Tues 15 Apr. - arrive at a London airport (prefer location of Heathrow if can get budget flight there) at aprox 8am, rent car & do limited sightseeing outside London (perhaps Windsor Castle) that first day, This would be the first of 3 overnites in a B&B in an outlying London suburb.

Wed 16 Apr - drive to public parking & take public transit into London for the day returning to B&B for overnite.

Thurs 17 Apr - same as above. (Due to my back problems we prefer to get a car at time of arrival to minimize my/our handling of heavy suitcases.)

Fri 18 apr - Stroll around Oxford University campus, spend midday in Stratford-on-Avon & overnite perhaps between Coventry & Nottingham.

Sat 19 apr - Motorway to Kirk Deighton (ancestral home, near Wethersby) a few miles west of Yorkshire, midday at York Cathedral, City Wall & Shambles. Drive Northeast thru Moors to Whitby area for overnite (Regret: probably will reach Moors Visitor Ctr after it closes).

Sun 20 Apr - Drive to one of the Hadrian's Wall sites, probably in Hexham area, for a stop. Cut thru to main Hiway into Cheviot Hills with stops at Scottish border & perhaps Jedburgh. On to Edinburgh area for 2 overnites (with possible detour to Dunbar & Castle - ancestral interest).

Mon 21 Apr - Spend day in Edinburgh - Castle, Knox House, Golden Mile, Holyrood & hope to have reservations for a special evening meal with musical program at a downtown location as bus tours do. Overnite same B&B.

Tues 22 Apr - Stops at Perth, Pass of Drumochler & Culloden Battlefield & on to Inverness area for overnite. (So far this covers 8 of our 16 days in Britain & I fear I may be running out of space for a post so I will stop here & continue the itinerary in a follow-up or reply post.)

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21. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

I'd go back to the old advice, pick 1 or 2 places you want to see per day and go from there and always allow for journeys to take twice as long as planned so dont build them so tight you can be flexible.

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22. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Quite apart from all the warnings about driving in the UK and how stressful it can be - you should also be aware that a lot of hotels and B&Bs will be in small, old buildings. Rooms tend to be small and not generally suitable for more than two people (the US style of two double beds in a room just would not fit the average room size in the UK) and also don't assume a hotel or B&B will necessarily have a lift.

We also don't have anything like the US tradition of motels at every road junction that you can just turn up and get a room at.

Edited: 03 October 2013, 15:48
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23. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Much good advice above, but no 17's advice re train travel needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt. It's definitely not a good idea to try to do all of your proposed multi-destination trip by train, carting all your worldly goods around with you! However, it might work to do one or two luggage-free day trips by train - e.g. London to Oxford and back on 18 April.

You could then delay picking up your hire car until 19 April and drive north to Yorkshire to resume your route. If you do this you would obviously need to spend your first few nights in central London so that you have easy access to London's excellent public transport.

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24. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau


Many Thanks to each of you for sharing your ideas & knowledge! It is invaluable! We are already revising our first 4 days (London & Oxford) & I'm sure we'll make significant adjustments/changes in others as soon as we can get them re-evaluated. We're already thinking that we will not rent a car upon arrival but use what we save on carhire to cover the higher cost of lodging in central London. We're now thinking we will take some type of shuttle (suggestions?) into a central London 'budget' hotel (perhaps Ibis?) upon arrival. I think a shuttle driver can prevent most of the lifting of luggage that i cannot safely do. Normally, we will each handle our own <50 lb suitcase with wheels, overnight bag & personal bag/purse. I almost never take my suitcase out of car - just put a few days clothes into a small bag to carry up those inevitable stairs. Since my wife & granddau each weight little over 100 lbs that will limit them in handling luggage. My wife increasingly follows my pattern of leaving suitcase in car most nights. On Fri Apr 18 we'll probably get another shuttle to take us to airiport for carhire.

Trains are just not a workable option for us - not only because of my back but because they do not serve a number of our top priorities. As I tried to convey initially, our preferences are not the usual ones. Our top priority areas are Scotland, Wales & in England the Lake District, Moors, Stratford & Stonehenge. We want to spend some time in London, York & maybe Oxford but those are not tops on our list - unlike for most people.

I should have mentioned we are semi-experienced with self-drive trips - but each country/area is different & we continue to learn to adapt & change. One was 2 weeks in Ireland & one week in Netherlands & Belgium, 3 were on European continent & altogether covered areas from west coast of France & Basque Spain eastward as far as Dubrovnik Croatia & north thru Bosnia, Hungary & Czech Republic & several countries within that circle. Last spring we spent 13 days in New Zealand & 18 in northern NSW & southern QLD, Australia. (We've taken a few Cosmos bus tours - Britain, Italy, Costa Rica.)

Yes, typically by 8am we've had breakfast, loaded car & are on road & dont reach next lodging til 8 or 9 pm. Except for my back problems, we're fortunate to have pretty good health & we do 'go hard' & generally have a full day - tho the bigger half of it is out of car, walking in countryside or strolling a town, going into our favorite sights, etc. We trade off driving & try to limit it to 4 - 5 hrs a day - which means we normally go between 100 & 200 miles per day - depending on roads & stops. I need to go back & check my prelim figures on time & miles for this trip.

Based on our readers critques, we will be re-examining our route, destinations, etc. Given the additional info above, we hope to receive further evaluations, suggestions & critiques.

Thank You!


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25. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

TravellerPlus re Reply #2,

Thank You so much for such an informaive reply! Besides your (& others) point recommending staying in central London (on which we have already changed our thoughts & will do) I especially appreciate being alerted to school holidays that first week & Easter travel. Also the links to route guides w time & distance & driving codebook. If I understand correctly, when we first arrive in Dublin - to change planes & continue to London - we will go thru immigration but not customs? Thus, we'll have to do customs when we return to Dublin - I think.

Thanks Again,


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26. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Plenty of information for you to digest, jerry.

Shuttles in London have been poorly received for years; the last 10 years have seen one company try to make a go of it with less than stellar reviews. A prebooked car service (car and driver) aka a minicab will be cheaper than a shuttle for three and more amenable too.

WIth respect to inexpensive hotels, you will have to let us know your budget in pounds. If a lift at the hotel is a necessity then that will raise the cost per night and again will mean you should book well in advance for some stays.

I must reiterate what others have said: UK driving isn't like driving anywhere else. If Mrs 46 won't share in the driving then the burden will fall on you, but you will be lucky in that you will have - I presume - at least one navigator to help sort out roadsigns and directions.

A and B roads aren't like motorways, and should you meet any single track roads then all of your attention will need to be focused. That style of travel is wearying - the last time I made a road trip I covered a great deal of Scotland but was worn out after a week of doing so.

You may wish to reconsider taking a car to Stratford-upon-Avon and Stonehenge; the former is easily reached by rail from London Marylebone station and the latter has a handful of day tours which may not be ideal but could be easier all around.

If you will fly back to the States from DUB then check to see if your flight will be one that's part of the US Border pre-clearance program. If it is then you will pass through US immigration and customs at DUB airport and fly to the States as domestic pax. The program is in place at some Canadian airports and is handy, albeit a bit OTT in that one's boarding pass and documents are checked more than half a dozen times in the space of five minutes or less.

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27. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

I suggest that you use Google Streetview, and youtube, to cheat, by 'driving' some bits of road before you get there. I would suggest that you plan shorter drives, which gives you the option of either a direct route, or a longer wiggly scenic route of you feel like it. The UK is small, but quite varied. You don't need to drive long distances to see something a bit different. I could give a lovely rambling scenic drive through Leicestershire & Rutland, with several possible stops for lunch in nice villages, then into Stamford for example - but if it was tipping down with rain, it might not be so good.

You obviously enjoy these driving holidays.. though it's my idea of hell, so maybe take my advice with a pinch of salt. I can think of nothing worse than sitting in a car for 4-5 hours day after day. Clearly you like it!

Four hours of this isn't much fun:


If you're going to drive for that many hours, you will end up doing this for part of it:


Though there are some good drives in the UK. The northern stretch of the M6 is the only enjoyable section of motorway I cna think of. Google for "UK's most scenic drives" or somethign and you'll find suggestions.

The UK, England particularly, has a high population density, and busy roads. We have the busiest roads in Europe, We own twice as many cars per mile of motorway as any other country in Europe - so they are probably twice as congested as any other European country. Driving in France is a pleasure, even on the wrong side of the road, as it's much quieter. Generally, the further north you go, the quieter it is (barring business around Manchester)

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28. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Just a couple more caveats if you plan to stay at B&Bs which are people 's homes in UK..

. You will find triple rooms almost impossible to find even if pre booking and even two rooms in one house may be a challenge 'on spec'. Also being breakfasted and on the road by 8 a.m would be difficult when most B&Bs do not normally begin breakfast before 7.30 For earlier breakfasts mid week you need to look for places catering for business people.

Finally, 8 a.m starts will have you travelling at the height of the rush hour- something to be avoided if at all possible. A twenty minute journey regularly took me more than an hour in the mornings .

We want your trip to be enjoyable so do bear such things in mind when planning. Then come and have a great time

Edited: 04 October 2013, 08:37
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29. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Consider using Premier Inns for overnight accomodation while on tour. See www.premierinn.com for more information.

Family rooms - typically containing one double bed and a bed-settee made up as a double - are available, usually on the ground floor, and there is ample car parking space (although leaving luggage overnight in the car may be inadvisable). If not within the Premier Inn building, there are eating/drinking places close by - nothing memorable or atmospheric, merely handy and serviceable. It is possible to be back on the road around 8 a.m. - I have done it occasionally - if you are satisfied with a cold collation (bread, cheese, cold meat, tomatoes, fruit) eaten in your room as the facilities include a "hospitality tray" (kettle, limited amounts of tea, coffee and sugar - you may like to carry extra in the car).

There are similar chains (Travelodge) but I believe that Premier Inn offers the most extensive coverage within the British Isles. The only snag, considering that you plan to travel around the Easter holidays, is that Family/ground floor accomodation needs to be booked in advance.

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30. Re: 16 Day Preliminary Itinerary in Britain: Couple & Granddau

Your suggestion of 150-200 miles per day in approx 4 or 5 hours of driving is perfectly reasonable. The only issue (for you) will be that to achieve that distance in that time, then you will need to use fast motorways without any delays or accidents. Motorways will take you away from villages and towns and being "in" the countryside and you will be expected to drive at 70mph in order to keep up with the traffic.. For those unfamiliar with those types of long, high speed journeys on potentially busy highways, it can be quite a mentally tiring exercise - possibly more so than you can imagine.

Also, your comment in the OP about how you plan to "drive 100-175 miles down the road" suggests an unfamiliarity with the UK road network. Most drivers in the UK would see a journey of that distance (or 12 - 13 journeys one after the other) as a particularly onerous undertaking, given the traffic density we suffer from.

Most of this advice is well intentioned so please take it as such. However, if you want to spend all that time in the car then it is possible. Most of us would just think that it's a tiring way of seeing places with little opportunity to experience them.

April 18th (Fri) to 21st (Mon) is the Easter Weekend and the first major "holiday getaway" time for UK families. Expect the roads and tourist destinations to be particularly busy for those four days - more so than you would already have expereinced up to that point. Good Firiday and Easter Monday are often taken as holidays from work by most people although shops and attractions should be open (it's one of their best weekends for visitors and shoppers). Accomodation in places like Oxford and Edinburgh could be a problem during this period without pre-booking.

Edited: 04 October 2013, 10:38