Hey folks! I’ll be accompanying my wife to the UK in a few days. We’ll spend a week in Basingstoke, where she has business meetings. While she’s occupied with that, I’ll visit local attractions like Bath and Stonehenge. I also plan to spend several days in the British Museum, something I’ve always wanted to do, and should be able to use a train and the Tube to commute back and forth to London without much difficulty. I might also visit the Tower and the Houses of Parliament during her workweek. If not, we’ll hit them together when she’s done (she’s already visited everything I just listed during previous visits, btw).
After that, we’ll have a week and a half to just roam with a rented car. Our current plans are somewhat nebulous (we like to be free to indulge our whims), so I thought I’d sketch some broad outlines and see what natives or experts on the region would add as “must see” stops. In order, we plan to:
–Head from London to York, whose Roman/Viking/British heritage has always interested me.
–Visit Hadrian’s Wall in the Newcastle upon Tyne area (and see anything else of interest while there).
–Continue north to Edinburg and Stirling for some requisite Scottish exposure.
–Drive all the way to the NW coast of Scotland to visiti Eileen Donan, which is near the Isle of Skye (we’re both big Highlander fans), checking out some lochs and the highlands along the way
–Head south to the Lake District
From there, if there’s time, we might swing into Wales, but I suspect we’ll be running out of days by that point. Anyway, if there’s anything along that route that you think we have to see, eat, ride, drink, or whatever, let us know in this thread.
While in London, consider going to the theater. If you haven’t been to Paris recently or ever, how about spending a day there via the chunnel? I did that a couple of years ago when I was in London for a week, and that was a fun change of pace, though it might be too late to get tickets at less than an outrageous price. You might also consider one or the other of the university towns, Oxford or Cambridge, though I haven’t been to either for a very long time.
I took a day trip to Canterbury last time I was there, and that was fairly nice, if rather touristy in the vicinity of the cathedral. Also went to Portsmouth to look at the Victory, and that wasn’t bad despite the fact the whole area is basically a tourist trap.
In the unlikely event you or anyone else reading this goes to Penzance (why?), I want a report on the Tregeseal East standing stones near St. Just, as they’re part of a story I’m writing… But they aren’t much of an attraction compared to Stonehenge or Avebury, I’m afraid, not worth a visit for their own sake.
Other London things to consider if you end up with more free time than expected:
[li]The V&A (Victoria & Albert) museum. I did this with my dad in january and there was more to see than we could fit into our day, even without the free and paid exhibitions.
[/li][li]There are the galleries - National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery (both in Trafalgar Square), the Tate Modern and Tate Britain (tate.org.uk for more info).
[/li][li]If you want to see London from up high, you’ve now got two options. Both cost about the same I think, which is to say “slightly too much”. One is of course the London Eye and the other is the recently opened Shard. Make sure there’s decent visibility before going up though - you don’t want the view ruined by mist.
[/li][li]There’s always the trusty Natural History Museum. Exhibits could do with modernising (but then I imagine most museums could say that) but there’s still a good half day’s worth to see there, if that takes your fancy.
[/li][li]Just off Oxford St. there’s the Wallace Collection, which may be of interest. They have a room full of old weaponry, which is quite the sight.
[/li][li]Down by the London Eye is the recently moved London Dungeon, which is fun with another person. Or at least it was when I went with a friend a couple of years ago - the new one has only been open for a couple of months
Very interesting ideas so far, thanks. A question for Alex about the Shard: how would my wife, who fears heights in some circumstances, react to the Shard’s observation deck? Is it enclosed or open to the air? I think she’d be fine with enclosed, but an open air vista that high/steep would be very intimidating.
According to the BBC history podcast they has a once-a-lifetime historic exhibition of domestic Roman artifacts and frescoes recovered from Herculaneum and Pompeii at the British Museum, so don’t miss that!
I think the Shard viewing area is enclosed, from what I can make out on the website (if you hover over “The View” you can see a picture). I’ve not been up the Shard yet myself though.
I’m afraid of heights as well but I’ve done the London Eye 4 times in the last 7 years without any issue. Which doesn’t make a great deal of sense as the pods on the Eye let you see down as well as all around - it’s probably because they’re so stable and not open to the air that it doesn’t affect me.
We’ll spend a week in Basingstoke, where she has business meetings
I’m so sorry.
I also plan to spend several days in the British Museum, something I’ve always wanted to do, and should be able to use a train and the Tube to commute back and forth to London without much difficulty.
Yeah, the train to/from Basingstoke is very regular (every 20 mins I think) and doesn’t take too long.
After that, we’ll have a week and a half to just roam with a rented car.
You may have a higher tolerance for sitting in a car than I do, but you seem to be biting off a lot more than you can chew with that itinerary. Even without Wales, you’re going to be spending at least a couple of full days driving in total . I’d strongly suggest spending more time in a smaller area. There’s plenty to do for a week and half in, say, Yorkshire, or Edinburgh and environs, or Wales, or the South West, or the Lake District. Hell, you could spend the whole time in London and not run out of things to do.
•If you want to see London from up high, you’ve now got two options. Both cost about the same I think, which is to say “slightly too much”. One is of course the London Eye and the other is the recently opened Shard. Make sure there’s decent visibility before going up though - you don’t want the view ruined by mist.
I’m pretty sure the Shard is more than the Eye at the moment.
If you can give some more colour on the sorts of things you want to see, I can give further pointers. On the Houses of Parliament, note that for a tour of the building you’ll have to book a ticket and go on a Saturday, whereas to watch a debate during the week you’ll probably have to queue for quite a while.
Thanks again for all the informative feedback, guys. Our flight leaves for the UK this afternoon, and I am sure our trip will be better as a result of your feedback.
Ginger, we do have a high tolerance for car touring–in fact, we love it. And since we’re unsure if/when we’ll be able to return to the area, we’d rather see a few highlights from a lot of different areas than delve deeply into just one or two. The exception, of course, will be my multi-day visit to the British Museum.
I’ll provide sporadic updates in this thread over the next couple weeks as our trip proceeds. First mission:adapting to the eight hour time differential from California! At least we get to fly in comfy business class seats, which convert into beds.