help me plan a solo 8 day UK stay...
July 12, 2018 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I am taking my daughter to London in a few days, and from there she will meet a friend for the rest of her trip. I'll be on my own and would love some interesting ideas for the stay...

I had originally planned the week to be in London but generally find I like to explore countryside. I was considering taking the train to Edinburgh or even a flight to Dublin as I have never been to Ireland. Time on trains is a bonus, frankly.

posted by docpops to Travel & Transportation around London, England (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is a lot to do in the UK (and Europe) that's fairly easy to reach by train from London, so we probably need some help narrowing the options down.

- Is there anywhere that you specifically want to go?
- Is there anything that you specifically want to do?
- Is there any era of UK history that you are particularly interested in?

For example, if you like medieval castles and quite like the idea of going to Dublin, then the train through North Wales, stopping at the castles, and then across on the ferry to Dublin, might suit you.

Also, what time of the year are you going?

I've found Rick Steve's books to be good starting points, as they are nice and opinionated about what is and isn't worth it, and give suggested itineraries, like this one for Great Britain. I personally like more time at my stops than he allows, but pretty much everything he suggests is worth going to.
posted by kjs4 at 9:50 PM on July 12, 2018

For example, if you like medieval castles and quite like the idea of going to Dublin, then the train through North Wales, stopping at the castles, and then across on the ferry to Dublin, might suit you.

can you tell me more?
posted by docpops at 11:05 PM on July 12, 2018

This is a pretty good place to start. As far as I remember, all the trains that went to Holy head connected with a ferry to Dublin.
posted by kjs4 at 12:14 AM on July 13, 2018

Virgin Trains do a rail & sail deal to Dublin; you take any Virgin mainline train to Holyhead and then pick up a ferry there. You can get a direct train from Conwy (3 mins walk from train station to castle) to Holyhead if you want to stop off for some castle action before taking the ferry.
posted by terretu at 12:15 AM on July 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're going to do the train from London to Holyhead you might consider breaking your journey at Chester. You will probably have to change trains there anyway but it is lovely town for a day trip. It is the only UK town to have a complete Roman Wall, in on a river, has a cathedral, etc and is generally pretty. If you do this make sure you get tickets that will let you break your journey.
posted by biffa at 1:58 AM on July 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

For trains and countryside, consider the Caledonian sleeper train from London to Fort William - home to the UK's highest mountain
posted by JonB at 4:57 AM on July 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, I had the perfect 10 day solo trip through the UK a few years ago with the following itinerary:

London -> Edinburgh on the sleeper (not, like, strictly necessary as the train trip from London to Edinburgh isn't that long, and also there are many cheap flights, but a fun experience nonetheless--my cabin-mate turned out to be a delightful woman who shared a nightcap with me)

Edinburgh -> Sterling (this is the part I'd cut for time if necessary. Sterling Castle is very cool, but Sterling itself is a small town and without a car there's not much else going on)

Sterling -> Oban (via Glasgow) on the West Highland Railway. DO THIS. This is the "Harry Potter Train" and in the summer they sometimes run the Jacobite steam train on it. But even with just regular ole ScotRail rolling stock, this is just an incredible journey. Like seriously, words can't describe. You can take it either to Oban on a spur, or to Fort William. Oban is the more scenic town--Fort William is more thought of as a jumping-off point for further Highlands trekking and not really a place to hang out in. From Oban you can take ferry trips to several of the Western Isles (you can practically jump to the Isle of Mull). Oban itself has a distillery and several very fine seafood restaurants and it's just quaint and adorable.

Oban -> Durham (again via Glasgow) I had friends in Durham so that's why I went there specifically, but Durham or Newcastle if you want more of a city, I just love the Northeast. If you're at all interested in British labor history or Anglo-Saxon history (the venerable Bede lived and did his work just outside of Newcastle) or Roman history (the start of Hadrian's Wall is also Newcastle) I have suggestions.

Durham -> York Again if you are at all a history buff, York is really a microcosm of all of British history. Like literally the undercroft of Yorkminster has visible revealed layers. "This is the old Roman Wall, and above that we have postholes indicating a Viking longhouse, and then here's an Anglo-Saxon broach we found right there, and then here's the medieval city wall." It's ridiculous.

And then from there I flew out of Manchester but you could just as easily go back to London.

Though I don't want to discourage you from visiting Wales either because YES, VISIT WALES. I've never been to Ireland but I'm sure Dublin is delightful but I could easily also spend 8 days just trekking around Wales. Stay at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel in Snowdonia and climb the mountain.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Rent a car and drive through the Cotswolds!
posted by ananci at 2:23 PM on July 13, 2018

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