Give me two places to stop on a drive from Heathrow to Cairnryan
July 11, 2019 9:37 PM   Subscribe

I am picking up a rental car and Mrs Gotanda on the evening of the 21st of July and driving via York to Cairnryan to get the ferry to Belfast on the 24th. I know we are missing a lot but those dates are fixed by external requirements. I have a place to stay on the evening of the 22nd in York, but need to make a decision about where to stay the 21st and the 23rd. Tell me if my general plan is OK and gift me with specific suggestions, please. We are more interested in quiet and countryside than cities this trip. I am paralyzed by choice.

Mrs. Gotanda will arrive 6pm at Terminal 2 on the 21st if all goes to plan. We do not want to just stay at the airport or go into the city, so I plan to knock off a bit of the driving. So, we just need a stopping off point that we will not spend too much time at since we will get back on the road the morning of the 22nd. I am thinking of two options:
1. Bletchley: Not too far in case of flight delay. A morning start would get us to York in time for lunch.
2. Leicester: Just because it is half way.
Which is better? And have a suggestion for a nice B&B or something?

The 23rd we need a place between York and Cairnryan that puts us close enough to the ferry so that I won't stress about getting there on time, but also is a leisurely drive from York. I know we are missing so much along the way, but the ferry will leave.

1. Gretna Green is small but quite possibly boring. We are already enspousened.
2. Hadrian's Wall, Brampton is still a bit over 3 hours drive to the ferry.
3. Dumfries. See the Caerlaverock Castle. Just over an hour from the ferry.
Any suggested pubs for lunch and B&Bs along the way much appreciated.
posted by Gotanda to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Dumfries is fine, but I’d go a little further and stop at Castle Douglas if I were you (prettier, less down on its luck and big on its status as a ‘Food Town’ for local produce, plus a little bit closer along the A75 to the port at Cairnryan; that is not a fast road and estimating an hour from Dumfries to Cairnryan is very optimistic).

If you’re happy to take a bit of a detour and you like secondhand bookshops, Wigtown is not too far from Dumfries. If you have longer for the drive and want to take in some of the stunning scenery of that part of the world, do a section of the Southwest Coastal route.
posted by Catseye at 10:21 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Rutland Water is close enough to Leicester and has nice hotels right by the water. Alternatively the Rutland county 'town' (though it's tiny) of Oakham.

(Rutland is England's smallest county and is essentially a tiny pocket surrounded on several sides by Leicestershire).

You can be halfway and still in the countryside.
posted by plep at 12:58 AM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're into modern art, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the nearby Hepworth Wakefield Gallery are both lovely. We often break our journeys from SE England to Edinburgh around there.
posted by dogsbody at 2:06 AM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bletchley is a basically just a suburb of Milton Keynes. To quote Gaiman/Pratchett:

“Note for Americans and other aliens: Milton Keynes is a new city approximately halfway between London and Birmingham. It was built to be modern, efficient, healthy, and, all in all, a pleasant place to live. Many Britons find this amusing.”

Leicester has a one-way system. That's about all. It's not a very interesting place.

Rutland is pleasant and definitely a better option than Bletchley or Leicester.

If you were prepared to do a longer drive on the [x]->Cairnryan stretch, you could stop off somewhere in the Lake District - Keswick is at the north end and pretty accessible from major routes.
posted by parm at 2:15 AM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're into modern art, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the nearby Hepworth Wakefield Gallery are both lovely. We often break our journeys from SE England to Edinburgh around there.
I probably wouldn't go into Wakefield while on my way somewhere else, because of the traffic. You can easily waste half an hour driving into or out of the city.

The Sculpture Park is a much better bet, as it lies literally seconds off Junction 37 of the M1.
posted by winterhill at 2:54 AM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

We've used Penrith for this. Cut across the A66 and stop there, then its under 3 hours to Cairnryan. There's a nice food hall just off the motorway (Cranstons Cumbrian Food Hall) to pick up some local provisions.
posted by sagwalla at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Brampton at Hadrians wall is worth a visit. It was a charming village with some excellent pubs and restaurants when I visited (ten years ago).
posted by monotreme at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bletchley is good only if you go to Bletchley Park and see the museum about WW2 code breakers. If you are interested in tech, computers, maths. WW2 you will like it for at least half a day.

Leicester is ok. I have twice spent a weekend there. I think an hour to see the cathedral and grave of Richard III is ample. It will have good lunch places and great curry.
posted by plonkee at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

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