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Driving through English Countryside

New York, NY
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Driving through English Countryside

Hi all,

hoping someone can help get me on the right path :-)

I'm going to spend a few days in Ireland driving Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula (probably only about 4 days- hoping that's plenty!) then planning on taking a ferry over to England to do tour of English countryside. I think i will only have 6 or 7 days to drive in England, but there's so much we want to see. and I can't prioritize!

I wanted to do a bit of a 'literary tour' to see places Jane Austen lived and wrote about as well as Shakespeare's Stratford and Wordsworth's Lake District...want to work in charming old villages and castles along the way.

So far I've been considering the following places- but unsure what's the best to do and what I really have time to do:

Arundel Castle, Pentworth house

Guildford: Chawton and Clandon Park

Bodian Castle


Leeds Castle



The Cotswalds-

Warwick Castle

Stratford upon Avon

Peak District- Chatsworth House and Burghley House

Lake District

Can anyone give some advice on what's doable within 6-7 days and what on my list i can skip or what i should add?

thanks much!

Bucks, UK
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11. Re: Driving through English Countryside

The idea of flying from Dublin to the UK and picking up a new hire car is a good one. However, what you can see depends on where you have to get to to fly home. You have too many places to visit, that's for certain, but deciding which ones to drop also partly depends on where you then have to end up and what you most want to see. Consider getting an open jaw ticket so that you don't have to waste half a day or longer flying back to Dublin to get your return flight.

You also don't say when you are coming. Be aware that many large houses are only open from easter till early/mid-October, because low visitor numbers and the costs of heating these huge houses make it uneconomic to keep them open over the winter. That might make a difference to your schedule.

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12. Re: Driving through English Countryside

Some thoughts on the Ring of Kerry. I am very used to narrow country roads. I like to think that I have pretty good nerves. A few years ago I set out to drive the Ring of Kerry going anticlockwise. What I didn't know is that all the coaches seem to go clockwise. The effect of this was that everytime I went round a blind bend there was a massive coach coming towards me on the wrong side (my side) of the road. I decided that I was too young to die and that the screams from the passengers were off putting and so we left the main road and went back by deserted (and very beautiful) roads across the centre of the penninsula.

I learned two things from this. The first is that Ireland is full of beautiful, magical places where most of the tourists never go. Secondly, if you absolutely have to do the Ring of Kerry and sticking pins in your feet won't do instead then go clockwise.

So far as your England itinary is concerned I would agree with all those who have said do less and see more unless you just want to tick things off a list and drive on.

On the literary and castles side - and depending where you arrive from Ireland - Haworth (Bronte's) and Skipton Castle? Will depend on whether your eventual route comes north or not. If you do go to the Lakes then you might include these.

New York, NY
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13. Re: Driving through English Countryside

HI, just wanted to thank you all for your help. Yes, i'll be picking up a different car rental in England and will be flying from Ireland over there. Not sure yet where i'm flying into. I'm going to digest all this info and decide what to do! Sadly i think i will be taking out the Lake District for this trip and definitely cut out a bunch of castles. I'm hoping i can get in Bath, Rye, Chawton House and the Cotswolds...

thank you again!



Stanley, Falkland...
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14. Re: Driving through English Countryside

What's the Cotswolds got to do with Shakespeare, Austen or Wordsworth? :-)

If they (famous writers) are your priority, and have nothing to do with the Cotswolds, why cram it in?

New York, NY
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15. Re: Driving through English Countryside

I realize Cotswolds have nothing to do with the writers...but i'm trying to get in a bit of variety as I'm traveling with a friend who has never been there. They wanted to see some beautiful small villages and we had read Cotswolds is lovely. :-)

Groomsport, United...
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16. Re: Driving through English Countryside

Have a look at this site to give you some ideas....It may even be worth joining the National Trust if you are visiting several ------ as once a member you get free entry/parking.


The folks on here need to know where your start point will be to give you a better idea. Try and suggest a basic route (using Google maps) and then ask the questions about time, distance, availability etc.

Don't forget Northern Ireland if you have the time

Good Luck.

Hampshire, United...
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17. Re: Driving through English Countryside

But... but... but... the UK is FULL of picturesque small villages! Just because the Cotswolds is famous for them, doesn't mean the others aren't just as pretty!! The Cotswolds is a particular 'style' I suppose, because of the stone used in the buildings

Mind you if you're in Bath, then it's an easy trip by car to Castle Combe and Lacock which just about count as the Cotswolds.

If you're visiting Chawton and Winchester, then the villages in the Test Valley are delightful - Stockbridge, Wherwell, Longstock

If you're visiting Rye, then the villages in the Weald of Kent (Cranbrook , Penshurst Place, Leeds Castle, Chiddingfold, Sissinghurst etc etc etc) are just as pretty.

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18. Re: Driving through English Countryside

You can fly direct to Kerry airport from either Stansted or Luton with Ryanair, but read their terms and conditions.

New York, NY
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19. Re: Driving through English Countryside


After reading all your great advice- I edited out a bunch of places and decided to start my journey in England rather than Ireland where I arrive from NY. My friend and I will take a flight right from Dublin into Birmingham to start our journey.

-First question- I arrive from the States around 10:30am in Dublin. Any idea how long I should plan to get through customs before I head out on another flight from there to England? Trying to allot for enough time and determine what time I should book on Aer Lingus as i'm booking this separately.

for Day 1 when we get from US/Dublin/Birmingham- we plan to spend the night at Coombe Abbey and just rest on the grounds.

Day 2- drive to Stratford upon Avon to spend the day and then drive on to either Broadway or Chipping Campden to spend night

Day 3- explore more of the Cotswolds- seeing Bourton on the Water, Upper and Lower Slaughter- Lacock and Castle Comb!- making our way to Bath for night. Overnight in Bath

Day 4- explore Bath, overnight Bath

Day 5- here’s where I’m utterly confused- on our wishlist was Chawton for Jane Austen, Arundel and Bodiam Castle and possibly Rye (which we will most likely have to drop) but my friend really wants to see these castles so I hesitate to drop them.

Bath to Chawton is about 2 hour drive.

Chawton to Arundel about 1 hour 15min

Arundel to Bodiam about 2 hours

Bodiam to Rye 30 minutes.

Clearly this is too much as I need to be in London for Day 6. So what do you suggest I leave out? Should I just skip Chawton and head to the castles.? My goal is to stay overnight in a place nearby one of these locations where I can drop off car and take train into London rather than driving there. Any idea where I should overnight on Day 5 for easy access to drop off car and take train to London on Day 6?

Thanks in advance for all your valuable advice and help! I’m welcoming any suggestions for places to stay in Cotswolds as well ☺



Adelaide, Australia
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20. Re: Driving through English Countryside

If you're not staying the night in Stratford-upon-Avon, use the Park and Ride for ease of parking: shakespeare-country.co.uk/StratfordParkAndRi…