4 extra days in Scotland and Northern England?
October 5, 2014 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Next summer, I have 4 free travel days, between St Andrews, Scotland and Liverpool, England. What should I do with those days?

Next summer, I am very lucky to have two big travel plans set up. I am going to the British Open in St Andrews, and then spending a week with extended family in Ireland.

The British Open part of the trip ends on Sunday evening, July 19, 2015.
I then need to meet some family members in Liverpool, England on Friday July 24, 2015, to connect with them on a flight to Ireland to meet the rest of the family.

In between July 19 and July 24, I will have a rental car, and will have to make my way to Liverpool. I could drive from St Andrews to Liverpool in one afternoon. But I have 4 days.

The trip to St Andrews will be my first time in Scotland. I am going straight there, and will not see other parts of Scotland before that event ends. I have been in the south of England - but I have never been to Northern England.

I was thinking: Edinburgh Castle, Hadrian's Wall, York, and maybe a Beatles tour in Liverpool. I really have no other ideas besides that. Am I missing something big? Is that a reasonable plan for 4 days? Anyone have any thoughts for me on what I could do with these 4 free days? I generally like to do things off the beaten path.
posted by Flood to Travel & Transportation around Ellesmere, England (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would go for a general wander around Edinburgh over a specific tour of the castle.

The key English site you might consider between Scotland and Liverpool is the Lake District, this is a national park, filled with lots of beautiful scenery, will be busy in the summer but still lots worth seeing. If you go to York then the Yorkshire Moors might make a good alternative and keep the zigzagging across the country down a bit.

My understanding is that a lot of the stuff on the Beatles tour is a bit ersatz. I would look up some city walking tours and take in the renovated docks and some of the city centre.
posted by biffa at 12:03 PM on October 5, 2014

Don't forget the Scottish coasts; St Abb's Head in the Borders is amazing, and the southwestern side is similarly great; Culzean Castle and the coast is worth seeing. Spend some time in Glasgow (no, we don't have a castle) too.

The Lake District will be packed in mid July; the roads are small and windy, and it seems the entire world is there. York is curiously out of the way, though it has some fine history.
posted by scruss at 12:10 PM on October 5, 2014

The Falkirk Wheel should be on your drive from St Andrews to Liverpool, and is something I've always wanted to see.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:12 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since you have a hire car I am going to assume that you want to spend a reasonable amount of time in it and that you are happy to cover a reasonable distance. Scotland has only about a tenth of the population of England so I would concentrate most of your time there. My suggested route would be a big loop: St Andrews to Perth and then on to Oban via Crianlarich. Once there head south to Tarbert on the Kintyre peninsular and then take the small ferry over to Arran - and the larger one back to the mainland. Back up to Glasgow and finally over to Edinburgh. Then a straight drive on the A66 through the borders and towards the M6 and Liverpool. Night of Sunday 19th maybe around Perth, night of Monday 20th maybe around Oban, Night of 21st on Arran, Night of 22nd in Glasgow, Night of 23rd in Edinburgh. Then drive south to arrive in Liverpool on the 24th.
posted by rongorongo at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2014

I generally like to do things off the beaten path.

Recent relevant post on the blue.

Less idiosyncratic, but still more off the beaten track than York or Edinburgh: the north east coast of England has Lindisfarne, the cathedral city of Durham, and a whole slew of impressive castles.
posted by wilko at 1:30 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd drive St Andrews > Edinburgh > Glasgow > Lake District > Liverpool. That's the obvious trip to take to me.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:32 PM on October 5, 2014

I recently took a trip with some family to go to Islay (around 3 hours drive plus a ferry from Glasgow) to check out the distilleries, and we ended up staying on the neighbouring isle of Jura. We all walked away thinking that it would be one of the most amazing places to come back to with a bit more of a focus on that island: it's beautiful, remote, and there should be endless hikes you can take.

Plus, of course, lots of whisky.

Anyhow, it'd be pretty easy to take one day up, one day back (both leisurely) and have well over a day there. There is a hotel and a number of B and Bs on the island.
posted by vernondalhart at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2014

John and Paul's homes are owned by the National Trust and can only be visited by a tour.

The museums at the Albert Dock are excellent.
posted by brujita at 3:39 PM on October 5, 2014

The Northumberland coast is there for the driving: if you were to head down the east coast, you'd get to see the debatable lands, squared-off castles built for function and not ornament, the cradles of learning in Lindisfarne, Durham, and Jarrow.

The big question is how you go from east to west, and there are some fair options upthread: you could go to Glasgow and parts west, then drop down, and that's a very good option. There are a few others, but only a few, because the Pennine routes are spaced out. You could strafe the north of England from Newcastle to Carlisle, or take the A66 through on the Yorkshire-Durham border, or the winding Dales road through Hawes, or the A59 from York through Skipton into industrial Lancashire, or go even further south and take in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, Ted Hughes country, a landscape of austere moorland and mill towns. But not the M62. That's the fast route, and you've got time.

(Liverpool is a northern city, but it's about as far south as you can get while still being in The North.)
posted by holgate at 8:15 PM on October 5, 2014

Rather than the Beatles tour try a bus tour in Liverpool - this one gets excellent reviews.


I've found bus tours to be an excellent way of seeing a city for the first time... The one in Belfast is outstanding.
posted by Mr Ed at 4:18 AM on October 6, 2014

You should swing by the Kelpies sculpture if you're on your way from St Andrews to Edinburgh.

Also - meetup in Edinburgh? There's a few Mefites around. Post it on IRL.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:46 AM on October 6, 2014

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