Great Britain Travel Recommendations

I’ll add another vote for Avebury over Stonehenge. It’s far larger and less busy. While you’re in that area, make sure you know where to look for white chalk horses on the hills.

If you’re in the area, Chester is a town on the border with Wales. It’s become a bit of a tourist trap, but has Roman walls you can walk around the city and is an easy place to stay if you need an overnight.

I know you’re not headed into the highlands, but it made me remember when I geeked out on the castle from the movie and my wife had never even seen it. Ha!

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Depends if you want cities or the countryside? There are the usual touristy places, London, Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford etc. I’d be drawn to the industrial heritage, the industrial world as we know it was born in the UK. Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and the North East all have lots going for them in different ways, museums all over the place. Living museums too, Ironbridge, Beamish etc. Or the countryside, simply stunning in the UK, mainly green and rolling. The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, North Wales, all of Scotland (!). We have Roman, Norman, Medieval, Georgian, Victorian architecture all over the place. Ruined abbeys and castles, steeped in history. Literature too, Dickensian London, Bronte’s in Haworth, Jane Austen, Tolkein Trail, Shakespeare in Stratford, Beatrix Potter in the Lakes, Pullman in Oxford, the list goes on. And then there is Scotland, Wales, Ireland, all the other islands, how long have you got…

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How long is your trip? It is of course better to visit fewer places and have more time at them, than constantly be on the clock.

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Canterbury Cathedral maybe next year, we are coming back with our daughter and thinking of London/Paris/Switzerland/CinqueTerre via the Chunnel.

I’ve been told to visit for decades, any stones & walls (castles)? Not sure if it makes sense given I was thinking a bee-line from Ironbridge/Wales-Castles to York.

sadly like Canterbury/Kent, another one on the UNESCO World Heritage list that seems a bit out of the way given our short timeframe and interest in also visiting Ireland.

my wife has a Townie 7-speed cruiser, but doesn’t really ride. But we both lift weights :joy:

Both! And Silbury hill (around 2400 BC) has the volume of an Egyptian pyramid that predates the pyramids! And a couple centuries before Avebury. I know it’s not that exciting to look at a pile of rocks, but the mind wanders thinking of the Neolithic past.

Going for more this vibe. I asked my wife, and she is thinking (hate to put words in her mouth) of quaint little towns and castles and pre-industrial revolution history.

Car hire so we control the clock, and I think this is turning into a whirlwind tour. The short list started with London, Bath, York, and Edinburgh, followed Dublin and ???. Something like 6 days GB and 5 days Ireland, or maybe 7/4 split. Still trying to workout the right mix, with initial focus on the front end of the trip. So I’m trying to map out a route that squeezes in some stuff between those anchors.

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If you’re driving to Edinburgh you’ll be going through or pretty close to Northumberland. Which has castles and walls galore (some of the best preserved bits of Hadrian’s Wall, plus castles include Bamburgh, Alnwick - aka Hogwart’s - Lindisfarne, Dunstanburgh, Warkworth), plus some beautiful hills and moors (maybe not as beautiful as the Lake District but a lot quieter) and some of the best (and quietest) beaches in the country. Lots of Roman roads as well, though if coming from the US then driving on a dead straight road may not be as much of a novelty as it is for those of us who are more accustomed to wiggly UK roads!

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Avoid Cumbernauld and a few other listed here: Carbuncle award scrapped after 17 years highlighting Scotland’s ugliest building and most dismal town | The Herald (heraldscotland.com) :wink:

Growing up in the 80s you couldn’t say what’s it called? without the inevitable answer :roll_eyes:

cumbernauld what’s it called (youtube.com)

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She would fit right in on an e-bike at a trail center :wink:

In which case you likely want to dip into the Cotswolds on the way to Bath.

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On Hadrian’s Wall. Well worth a visit to

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I didn’t see a total trip length…
There is SOOOOO much to see in the UK that you can easily spend a lifetime.

I’m more familiar with Scotland - my family is Scottish and I’ve visited every few years, usually to visit family, but the last few trips have been purely vacation with no family obligations.

Not sure this will format, but I’ve sent variations of this itinerary to a few friends now…

Hey! Two weeks is a solid amount of time - you should be able to see/do a TON. Most of what I’ll write below is stuff I’ve done personally. But, the country is well covered in travel guides. And you’d have to try to have a bad trip - small country and something to see/do every few miles. The hardest part for me is limiting what I do and just enjoying and relaxing (vs trying to jam 100 things in every day). https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk Great site for finding hikes/walks. Many are short/easy. Bring some decent shoes (won’t need full boots unless you plan more difficult hikes). Just filter and search the areas you’ll pass near. Probably the best way to see sites that are neat but not on the main tourist agendas - little old ruins, nice views, etc. Packing - comfy walking shoes, light jacket/fleece, light raincoat/windbreaker, maybe rain pants if you plan to hike enough to warrant it. It’s never warm enough to require shorts or sandals (current heat wave notwithstanding). Weather changes quickly - keep the rain stuff in the car. Bug spray too - summer is midge season (small biting fly, similarly annoying as peak mosquitoes season here). Rental car - get the smallest car you can stomach. Between fuel prices and narrow roads, big cars don’t make sense at all. It’ll likely be manual unless you request automatic, but pretty sure both of you can drive stick, so no problem there. I find it takes a few hours to get used to driving the wrong way, not a big deal. Pedals are the same, it’s just your left hand shifting instead of right. Bring a GPS with UK maps pre-loaded if you can - cheaper than burning international data on your phone. At least on Verizon, you pay per day, so we just make sure to limit use when not in wifi range (and you’ll get wifi in most places, often free/public). 4-5 in Edinburgh is more than enough for site-seeing, even if you’re working through it. Obviously, the castle & Royal Mile are the highlights. Park the car and walk/bus. No point driving unless the hotel/work is out of the city center. There’s also good rail service from the airport, if needed. I’d recommend just doing a big loop. From Edinburgh, head through Fife to St. Andrews. Spend a full day and night there. The practice putting green is a fun/easy way to get a golf fix without actually playing a full round. https://www.standrewsputtingclub.com The city is easily walkable (they all are) - the old cathedral ruins, castle, and uni are the highlights. Eat: https://thegrangeinn.com Sits on a bit of a hill with view back to city, short drive out of city center. On the way to St Andrews, stop in some of the coastal villages (Crail, etc) for tea and sea views. There’s an old Cold War bunker near Crail. https://secretbunker.co.uk A bit touristy, but something different. From St Andrews, head over to Pitlochry. Stop at Scone Palace on the way and wave at my peeps (that’s roughly where we’re from). Pitlochry is a resort town on the edge of the highlands. Lots of shops on the main street, a few pubs, etc. Blair Athol distillery is located there. I’ve done their tour twice now, it’s pretty good, and it’s a scotch you won’t find in the US (most of their production goes into Bell’s blends, IIRC). Blair Atholl village is a bit further up the A9 road, has a large wool clothing shop (House of Bruar) if you want to shop a bit. The back of the store has a short hike up/around some waterfalls that’s nice. From there, decide if you want to do the traditional whisky tour in Speyside. The A9 continues west and the A95 heads into the Spey Valley. I haven’t done that part of Scotland, but guidebooks/sites should be good. No need unless you really want to hit a bunch quickly, there are distilleries all over Scotland and tours are mostly the same (I’ve done 3 different so far), so I think I’d find it repetitive. Then head to Loch Ness (Inverness isn’t worth staying in - pick a B&B somewhere along the loch), visit Urquart Castle, maybe do an evening cruise or similar. From there, head to Skye (book EARLY - you’re there peak season and everything books up). Plenty of hiking/walking, Portree is the best place to stay - airbnb somewhere with views, if you can. Talisker is there. Dunvegan Castle is neat. Fairy Pools is an easy hike. Eilean Donan castle on the way in or out of Skye. Fair warning - roads on Skye are often single-track (one lane for both directions) - lots of pulling over to let people pass (there are pullouts every so often for this). It’s fun, if you’re ready for it. If you have time, you can head through Ft William on the way back out. Ben Nevis is Scotland’s highest peak, it’s a long day hike, if weather allows, but you can hike part way up - the views are awesome (first half is doable in sneakers, second half requires hiking shoes or boots). Lime Tree Hotel is nice. https://www.limetreefortwilliam.co.uk Also nearby is the Glenfinnan Viaduct and train (of Harry Potter fame). And a canal/locks that link the sea (Loch Linnhe) to Loch Ness. Head through Glen Coe, stop for views, and work back towards Edinburgh. Sterling Castle and Wallace Monument are on the way. Or stop in Glasgow if you want some more city time (I haven’t spent much time there). Other places I’ve been that might not fit in an easy loop… - Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle (east coast) - Lewis & Harris (Outer Hebrides, 3 hour ferry ride from Skye or Ullapool), St Kilda (way out of the way, but totally worth it) - Ullapool (cute coastal town, ferry terminal) - Braemar (small mountain town - the drive up from Blairgowrie through Spittal of Glenshee is gorgeous) You could head there from Scone, then cut across the mountains to get to Pitlochry, but that’ll burn a full day probably). Obviously, there are a hundred other options, but the above is probably pretty close to what most of the 5-7 day guides will recommend, give or take a few stops. Let me know if you have any questions.

Like I said, two weeks is plenty to do a big loop and still take your time at each stop. Best bet is map out the must-do sites/activities and make a loop. There will be things to see/do in just about every village and along the way.I haven’t spent any time in the NE (Aberdeen, whisky trail area, etc). Mostly base my trips out of Perthshire (family) but last trip we did the Outer Hebrides.We’ve had good luck with Airbnb, but usually stay in hotels in the cities.
Fort WIlliam - https://www.limetreefortwilliam.co.uk
Portree - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/30854266?adults=1&children=0&enable_m3_private_room=tru[…]1000&federated_search_id=ca0be20a-4534-40b4-96c9-99aedafe0311
St Andrews dinner - https://thegrangeinn.com

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Um. No. Keep it on. If the summer continues at it is, you want to keep the zip closed and the hood up too.

Sorry.

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LOL. That’s fair, but I think we’re saying the same thing - if you’re going to be outside for more than a few hours at a time, you want the rain gear easily accessible.

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Apparently I might be too, here is my daughter’s (partial) DNA results

ok that was interesting, given my Aunt’s ancestry work and if you can trust DNA testing, it seems my younger daughter picked up France from both of us, Scotland (mostly wife but she thought it was Irish!), and Poland. HOWEVER two of my sisters also did the Ancestry dot com test and its 50% Spain and Mexico, and one clocked in at 11% Scottish (both 10-15% UK). Can you trust DNA tests?! My dad’s parents were from Michoacan (Mexican/Spanish/French) so that was uncanny. Apparently my ancestors were very friendly people :rofl:

Like I said above, quoting the title track from that U2 album, this trip is “A Sort of Homecoming” ???!!! although I think now my theme song for the trip is leaning towards Van Morrison - “And It Stoned Me” :rofl: - and anniversary song Tupelo Honey (“You can’t stop us on the road to freedom, You can’t stop us 'cause our eyes can see, Men with insight, men in granite, Knights in armor intent on chivalry, She’s as sweet as tupelo honey, She’s an angel of the first degree, She’s as sweet as tupelo honey, Just like honey from the bee”)

Sure we get it, lived in the Pacific Northwest for a handful of years.

Ireland and Cornwall are very similar in my experience! so I wouldn’t worry!

In my own experience, it’s very easy to ruin a trip by trying to pack too much in, especially if you’re driving between places - you end up seeing tarmac & feeling the hassle of normal life vs. the experience of really being somewhere different. If you want to see more and tick more boxes, you need more trips and more time. Also, we’ve learned to generally avoid “flagship” tourist destinations in favour of ones that aren’t so busy but feel a bit more real still, but it depends on what you’re after.

Yeh, keeping the driving time as short as possible would be my advice, so I’d perhaps cross-off York if it was my trip, as nice and interesting as it is, and focus on a small area the cuts the travelling time. Loads of history coming up from Avebury/Silbury/Bath, Cotswolds (if that’s your thing), Welsh Borders/Ironbridge, Norman castles in Wales etc.

You say you’re coming in autumn? Best start sacrificing your first-born etc to the weather gods! UK weather is a constant lottery (and it’s been mainly losing tickets for a while now :cold_face::cloud_with_rain::wind_face:). There is seasonality, but that just means it varies from dodgy in spring/summer, to generally awful in the remainder. Sorry - best suggestion is to Be Lucky! :laughing:

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yes its a balancing act, living in California we’ve done a LOT of car trips across the Western USA over bigger distances.

We can handle the rain.

Think the difference to the US is, you don’t need to drive that much to see lots of interesting things. It’s perfectly feasible to base yourself somewhere for a week and do less than an hour driving every day, and still do something different every day.

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Maybe? My experience for nearly three+ decades has been living on the West Coast, mostly in California. Here is a comparison map:

From here, the Bay Area and Napa Valley are about 2 hours. But we don’t get there much anymore. Lake Tahoe is 2 hours. Yosemite National Park is 3 hours. About 3-5 hours to go up or down the coast. We drive ~4 hours for a 3 day weekend to see my older daughter on the Central Coast. It’s 6-7 hours to Los Angeles to visit my Aunt. My other daughter lives in Phoenix, we’ve driven twice and it’s 12+ hours. Visiting my father-in-law (RIP) was 3.5 hours north. Boise and Sun Valley are 9 hours, Jackson Hole and the gateway to Yellowstone about 14 hours. Seattle is 12 hour drive, Salt Lake City is 10 hour drive. I’ve done all of those, multiple times.

These intercity travel times by car, well, they all look easy
London to Bath ~2 hours
Bath to Conwy ~4 hours
Bath to Ironbridge ~2.5 hours
Conwy to York ~2.75 hours
Ironbridge to York ~3 hours
Conwy to Keswick / Lake District ~3 hours
Keswick to York ~2.25 hours
York to Vindolanda ~2.25 hours
Vindolanda to Edinburgh ~2.25 hours

And Ireland:

Distances seem small to my eyes.

I think maybe you misread his comment and he agrees with you

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