Britain/United Kingdom/England/3 week trip July 2013 England, Scotland
We are interested in suggestions for a driving itinerary for England and Scotland, we are flexible in what city to start and end. We have only been to London and environs for two weeks previously, and have traveled extensively elsewhere. Would like to stay in really cool castles, bed and breakfasts, no chain hotels, and like to see some main tourist sites, but also some small out of the way places we can interact with locals. we have used your site previously for a 3 week driving trip around France and were so happy with our answers and referrals to chateaux, etc to stay. We can do a loop or go one way, we are flexible, like to try to stay in maybe only 3 or 4 places as bases and do day trips from there. thank you so much, we love your very valuable web site.
Judi and Barry ( grandparents age 60, love to walk, drink martinis and eat well, have to say not impressed so much by english food on last trip, loved ethnic restaurants, like architecture and art, and just hanging out in town and meeting people and talking)
If an American-style dry martini is what you want at the end of a charming English day, here are some suggestions. Use a good guidebook and the internet to see what tourist sites you want and to check out details of the places I mention.
If you arrive at Heathrow (or even Gatwick), be sure to book several days at Great Fosters, which is not far from Heathrow. Historic country home with an outstanding (in my opinion, very outstanding) restaurant. You will be able to visit nearby Windsor, Hampton Court, Runnymede, and take a cruise on the River Thames.
You might just want to use Great Fosters for, say, 3-4 days to shake your jet lag, using cabs instead of a rental car. Then pick up a rental car at Heathrow or Windsor and head west, or fly to Cornwall out of Gatwick and pick up the car at Newquay Airport.
In Corwall you need a car. Stay at Mullion Cove Hotel near the Lizard Peninsula (good restaurant and bar) and visit the small villages in the area, St. Michael’s Mount, the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and Port Isaac where they film the Doc Martin TV series.
Drive northeast, visiting the city of Wells and nearby Glastonbury, and stay for a while in the Cotswolds. A popular old line hotel is Lygon Arms in Broadway, but I prefer Old Swan and Minster Mill at Minster Lovell. Use this as a base to visit Cotswold villages and Blenheim Palace, ancestral home of Winston Churchill. Be sure to get into Oxford (if you stay there, make it The Randolph). Another luxury country hotel is Lords of the Manor at Upper Slaughter; good central location and really great food and drink. In my opinion The Old Butchers in Stow-on-the-Wold is the finest restaurant in the Cotswolds -- small, family owned, contemporary cuisine; spectacular!
Head north to York and Yorkshire. Swinton Park seems to fit your description for a castle-type hotel. I have not stayed there but it gets very high marks. Walk the Yorkshire Moors, and visit the coastal towns and Castle Howard where they filmed Brideshead Revisited.
In Scotland, my favorite locations are Edinburgh, Inverness, and the west coast. See the fascinating sites of Edinburgh and the marvelous scenery of the Scottish Highlands. In Edinburgh, a great stately home is Prestonfield on the edge of town for food and great drinks. Just sit in a large comfortable chair and someone will appear and take your drink order; there is no “bar” as such. Another wonderful restaurant is The Witchery near Edinburgh Castle.
For scenic Scotland, check out Loch Ness Lodge and also Glenapp Castle Hotel.
As I said, you might want to fly from London to Cornwall. You also might prefer the train from York to Edinburgh, and then rent a car for the Scottish Highlands and the west after you have seen Edinburgh. You may want to fly out of Glasgow to return home.