need itinerary help for england and wales via public transportation

I have some questions to plan my itinerary using all public transportation for the first part of my trip from London to Ediburgh. I am having trouble putting it all together by using public transport and to get a variety of experiences and I would appreciate any info you can give me or changes of any sort. Thank you!!.

Arrive London, 8:30 AM, Heathrow— Cotswolds, 3 nights.

(Are there buses that go directly to this area from Heathrow? Or, would it be better to take the train to Paddington and then on to Moreton-in-Marsh)? I would like to do some easy walks. I read of one out of Moreton.., another from Bourton..and one in Broadway. Hidcote Gardens. Any comments? Best base of operations–Moreton…because of transportation?

Cotswolds—–northern Wales, 4 nights.

(How best to get to this area, train from Moreton.. or)? I would like to see Snowdonia via Welsh Highland Railway out of Caernafon, getting off in Beddgelert to do easy? walk to Aberglaslyn Gorge. I am also interested in the Slate Caverns in Blaenau.. and the Nat’l Slate Museum in Llanberis. If I do Welsh Highland Railway, would that give me a good taste of Snowdonia, or would the Snowdon Mtn. Rail with another walk be better? I would also like to see Conwy for castle and Plas Mawr. Beaumaris? Harlech castle? Suggestions for best base(s) of operation to do this?

northern Wales—–York, 4 nights

(With my schedule above, where would be the best place to catch the train to York?) In York, I would like to see some museums, church and Castle Howard. I am also thinking of going to Pickering and taking the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Whitby for a night instead of 4 nights in York to see abbey, museum, Robin Hood’s Bay? Cook Museum? Other ideas, Fountains Abbey? Leeds for Royal Armouries Museum?

York area—-Edinburgh

(Again, with schedule above, is it best to leave from York to get to Edin..or???)

Thank you!!!

mantaraya 13/05/13    Getting aroundEnglandWales Link Report

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That’s a lot of connections and train/bus travel!

I think this website might help you out a lot

Michael Huxley 13/05/13    Link Report

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  • Crikey – that is a lot of connections, it sounds like you might be in danger of not seeing the wood for the trees. There are millions of things to do in all of those areas so maybe you should pick out the ones you really, really want to do, plot them on a map and see what else is reasonable to manage within the vicinity? Trying to cram in too much could make it a very fraught trip! Bear in mind also that train travel in the UK is expensive so it might be worth setting yourself a budget for trains and fill in the other bits with buses. Some routes (such as York to Edinburgh via the east coast mainline) take you through spectacular countryside and are worth doing by train. You can take the coach from Heathrow to Oxford and then connect to buses for the Cotswolds or take the train to Charlbury, Moreton, etc.

    Clare Currie 14/05/13    Link Report

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  • 2 excellent suggestions. Thank you! The website made me aware of how long it takes to get somewhere in Great Britain via public transportation vs. having a car.

    Suggesting I choose those things I want to see the most and figure out train/bus times to see just how many activities will fit into those scedules is an excellent one and will take me sometime to put together.

    Do you suggest I get any of the tickets in advance and book places to stay as well? (I will be starting that leg of my trip on July 17).

    mantaraya 15/05/13    Link Report

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  • From the research I’ve been doing, it’s suggested pre-booking for the high season (Jun/July/August) a good idea. I would book the 3 nights for the Cotswolds.

    Captain Courageous 16/05/13    Link Report

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  • The cheapest way to travel is usually by National Express coach – they run from Heathrow and it’s a couple of hours to the main towns of either Cirencester or Cheltenham in the Cotswolds. From Cirencester and Cheltenham, there are very cheap local buses to all the places you mention. Definitely try to book all your coach and train travel in advance as it’s a lot cheaper that way… and because it’s the summer holidays, try to book accommodation in advance.

    I agree that you are trying to fit in a lot, especially by public transport! The general rule of travel in the UK is that anywhere from London has the quickest routes. Your itinerary is complicated because it zig zags. It might look as if the places are all really close on the map, but going by public transport makes it tough.

    I would recommend putting in a stop at either Liverpool or Manchester before or after North Wales (these lovely cities are both great transport hubs). I hate to say it, but I might cut the Cotswolds… the other places you mention are a lot more dramatic and exciting. If you do that, you could travel straight from London to the North. That way, you’re really close to North Wales and maybe you could visit the Peak District too? Manchester or Liverpool to York (or Leeds) is easy enough and then I totally agree about the gorgeous train journey up the East Coast to Edinburgh.

    Hope that helps a bit. Have a fantastic journey – oh, and the Rough Guide to Britain was updated this year!

    Rachel Mills 16/05/13    Link Report

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  • Thanks for the great info and gives me more to think about! I know, it would be so much easier to stay on one side of Great Britain without zig zagging around, but I have been told by several friends that I have to at least see the Cotswolds and do a few walks there. (I would not be hopping all over the place seeing as many towns as I can, just 3 or so with a few walks). (:

    I am also thinking of only 2 nights in the Cotswolds and adding that extra night to either North Wales or York areas instead.

    Once I get to Wales, I thought the first night could be spent in Conwy just because it will be a long trip, although it could be done at the end of my time in Wales before leaving for York. I’m not sure about the most efficient route and places for the night for my time in Snowdonia area. Here are some thoughts on possibilities:
    I could go to Betws-y-Coed as I have heard there are nice walks there (1-2 hrs.), on to the Slate Caverns and take Ffestiniog Railway to see more of the park which would then go on to Porthmadog.
    I could see Beaumaris and Caernarfon and possibly make a trip to Llanberis to see the Slate Museum. From there I could take the West Highland Railway and go all the way to Porthmadog or only as far as Beddgelert and get out there to do some walking such as to Abersglaslyn Gorge or along Llyn Dinas.
    Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

    mantaraya 16/05/13    Link Report

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  • The Cotswolds are beautiful in a very archetypically English way – lush countryside, pretty villages and, I’d agree, worth experiencing. BUT (isn’t there always one…) it will be very, very busy in July (coach-tour-tastic) and pretty expensive too. I can’t tell where you’re based, but if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the UK then yes, take in the Cotswolds but absolutely make sure you book ahead. If you’re likely to be back another time, maybe consider visiting the area out of peak season.

    Clare Currie 17/05/13    Link Report

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  • Hi,

    I am slowly, but successfully making plans, thanks to everyones’ advice.

    The problem I am having now is booking train tickets online. I live in the U.S. and do not have a credit card with chip/pin capability so I would not be able to use the machines at the stations to get my tickets and some places don’t have machines anyway. I get conflicting info from different online train booking sites. Some tickets are off peak day single, some anytime day single and a few are advance which I know I have to buy now. Help!

    mantaraya 30/05/13    Link Report

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  • See The Man in Seat 61 (www,seat61,com) – this is your best bet for Britain.

    Gerry 31/05/13    Link Report

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  • This is a fantastic site; very informative and easy to understand. Thank you for sending it to me!

    He mentions buying off peak and anytime tickets at the station. Advance tickets I buy online and pick them up at the ticket machines, or for U.S. citizens, the tickets can be mailed.

    What if I want to pick the tickets up at the station, but do not have a card with chip/pin technology? Without it, I believe I cannot use the ticket machines. So that’s my question which I could not find addressed on his site.

    Do I pick up the tickets from someone at the window in any station where they sell tickets? Or just at the station the train leaves from? Or is something sent to me via email and I print them out like an airline ticket?

    Thanks again!

    mantaraya 31/05/13    Link Report

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