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Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Christchurch, NZ
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Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

My husband and I are planning our first trip to the UK in August next year and I would love suggestions for a driving route. It is a trip for our family roots and the must visit places are:

London

Edinburgh

Oban

Inverness

Isle of Sky

Swansea

Somerset

We plan to spend 4 days in London and then begin our drive north. We thought we would catch a train to somewhere outside of London to pick up a rental car rather than try and find our way out of London by road.

We have allowed 14 days for the driving trip but I'm not certain if this is realistic. I'm concerned that we might be spending most of the day on the road and not having time for sightseeing. We figure definite overnight stays would be York, Edinburgh, Oban, Inverness, Portree, Liverpool and Somerset.

Suggestions for driving routes and overnight stays would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.

Ooopsy...forgot to add that we plan on taking the ferry for a day trip to Larne (Glenarm) from Scotland.

Edited: 10 November 2013, 06:34
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1. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

I would look at either train or flying to Edinburgh from London before you pick up a car.

It is a long drive, unless you have places you wish to visit on the way and feel the car would be more beneficial.

A car is not really needed to get round Edinburgh either so you wouldn't really need to hire one until you leave the city.

UK
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2. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

I agree with you that 14 days is not really long enough for the driving. It could be done but do you really want to be on the road every other day?. If you actually want to see these places, and therefore allow say at least 2 days at each plus a day every time you drive, you'll find that's 19 days excluding London. And 2 days isn't very long in some places.

I think if you had 3 weeks you'd still find yourself regretting the need to move on but at least you wouldn't be in the car almost every other day. If you write down explicitly where you'll be each day, noting a travel day as a travel day and not "cheating" and putting it as being in one place or another you'll see what I mean.

Manchester, United...
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3. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

I agree with the previous posters - it is possible in theory, but the reality will be a lot of travelling between destinations rather than spending time at the places you've said you want to visit.

For example you've mentioned an overnight stop at York but this isn't on your "must see" places. If the trip is to maximise the must sees then I'd second suggestion of train to Edinburgh (perhaps even the sleeper) so you'd miss York and then once you've seen/visited your Edinburgh choice get a car from there & cover the Scottish destinations.

York's a city well worth visiting - walls to walk, lovely Minster (= cathedral), medieval streets, museums etc, but these would take at least a full day (and ideally more) from your limited time. In other words it's about where your priorities lie - the family areas or the sightseeing.

Harrogate
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4. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

I agree with the others that you are going to be under some time pressures doing all of this in the time available. One of the issues is that Somerset and Swansea are a bit out on a limb and take you away from the main axis of your journey. With this in mind let me offer the following suggestion. Get the train from London to Somerset (somewhere like Taunton?). Hire a car there and use it to drive out along the South Wales coast to Swansea. From there you could either drop the car back in Taunton and revert to trains for the run north or drive. I would be tempted to get rid of the car and then hire another when I got to Scotland. I also notice that Flybe do some reasonably priced flights from Cardiff to Edinburgh so that is another option for you.

Manchester, United...
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5. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

I think it would make sense to break up your trip into three parts:

1 London

2 Somerset and Swansea ( as suggested above). Then fly from Bristol or Cardiff to:

3 Scotland. Fly in to EDI or INV, pick up hire car and tour to Skye, Oban etc.

Cardiff, United...
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6. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Depends on flights. I take it these are not booked yet?

If flying in and out of Heathrow, I'd probably do the following London - train to Edinburgh - hire car to tour Scotland, then fly to Cardiff and Bristol to collect another car for Swansea - Somerset - drive back to Heathrow.

If you did it the way Dhmellor suggests above then it wouldn't make sense to pick up a flight home from somewhere in Scotland (which may possibly go via Heathrow, but Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt would all be possibilities.

Christchurch, NZ
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7. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Thanks for the helpful replies. I will look at the option of flying into Edinburgh rather than London and doing some of the travel by train. York had been recommended to us as a 'must visit' but we may drop it. The same with Larne. Larne is the place of my great great grandparents' marriage prior to their emigration to NZ but I haven't found any evidence of their residence or birth there. Lonely Planet doesn't rate it so unless I find further evidence of their connection, it will free up another day.

I hadn't thought that 2 - 3 hours driving every other day wouldn't be too taxing but I think of the roads in NZ which are probably less congested.

Train travel is not something that we have ready access to in the South Island so I hadn't considered it an option for travel. Are the stations readily accessible for carting luggage in and out of and are most centrally located?

Flying internally doesn't hold much appeal as I am a nervous flyer so a 'budget airline' wouldn't work for me. We will be spending 4 days in London before catching the train to Paris for 4 days and continuing on to travel around Italy and the Greek Isles.

We will be away for a total of 7 and a half weeks and we are both in our early 50s.

Cardiff, United...
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8. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Flying into Edinburgh initially would work for you then.

Stations in the UK are nearly always right in the middle of the city and easy enough to negotiate with luggage in most cases (especially the larger stations and big intercity routes).

You should definitely get a car for touring Scotland, but schleping it all the way down the M6/M5 isn't the funnest journey. You can get a train direct from Edinburgh to Taunton, but it's something like a 7 hour journey. Personally I'd fly Edinburgh to Bristol everytime, but that one's up to you!

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9. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Why not travel by train as you can travel from london to edinburgh and the train has a stop in york on the way on he route i use. (Have a look at thetrainline.com maybe) which may solve some problems. The views on the train north of newcastle up to edinburgh are beautiful coast views and york is a beautiful place.

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10. Re: Suggested driving route for England, Scotland and Ireland

Although mentioned above don't use the trainline site to book tickets.

Use the various train operators sites as they don't charge a fee, unlike trainline.

Have a look at the nationalrail website