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Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Whitefish, Montana
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1,121 posts
144 reviews
Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Planning a trip to the U.K. this July.

Plan so far: arrive Gatwick, four nights in Henley for regatta, two days in Windermere, one night in Glasgow, two nights in Inverness. Want to hike, see the lake, go antique shopping. Can we get around with just trains and taxis or should we hire a car?

We’ve driven in the U.K. many times before.

Thank you kindly

8 replies to this topic
Nottingham, United...
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1,970 posts
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1. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Certainly everything up to Inverness is quicker and easier by train. And possibly cheaper, if you book tickets 10-12 weeks in advance - see www.nationalrail.co.uk.

You say "we" - check www.railcard.co.uk to see if one would save you money. (You can book in advance with the discount, then buy the railcard in the station when you get here.)

Cardiff, United...
Destination Expert
for Cardiff
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2. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Confused by your timescales, especially as you switch between 'days' and 'nights' and therefore it's not clear how much time you actually have available.

After four nights in Henley you have 'two days in Windermere'. Does that mean you wake up in Henley on eg. a Monday, travel to Windermere that day, spend Tuesday and Wednesday there and then travel to Glasgow on Thursday? Or does it mean that you wake up in Henley on eg. a Monday and intend to be in Glasgow by Tuesday night, or Wednesday night?

One night in Glasgow sounds like you don't intend to spend much if any time there (eg travel to there one day, travel from there to Inverness the next). And two nights in inverness is only going to be one full day.

Therefore, depending how much time you have, you may be trying to fit in too many places and you also have at least a couple of days that you essentially lose to transit. For instance, Henley to Windermere is going to be at least a six hour drive, with no stops or diversions. Public transport would involve going into and across London.

If the main interest is Northern Scotland, the quickest and most obvious way from Henley to there is to go to Heathrow and get on a plane.

Whitefish, Montana
Level Contributor
1,121 posts
144 reviews
3. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Thanks so much. Main goals are

1-Henley to see our daughter race

2-Windermere

3-hike Ben Nevis.

Threw Glasgow in because we were thinking about seeing Bruno Mars.

Not a biggie .

We want to spend about 10 days in the U.K.

don’t worry so much about days/ nights yet. Only thing planned so far is Henley.

Really appreciate the advice.

We love rail travel because trains in the US are so awful and U.K. trains are a treat for us.

But- we LOVE driving.

Hate flying.

Whitefish, Montana
Level Contributor
1,121 posts
144 reviews
4. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Thank you!

Cardiff, United...
Destination Expert
for Cardiff
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74 reviews
5. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

"don’t worry so much about days/ nights yet."

That's your main issue. You have ten days, you've already allocated four of them and you are proposing spending at least half of the remaining time getting to the places you want to go to. We haven't yet established where you need to be at the end - one of the things you could do to make this more workable is to ensure that your flight routing home is booked from an airport near where you want to end up (eg. somewhere in Scotland). If you need to be back at a London airport at the end, then you leave yourself nearly no time to actually see or do anything.

Wales, United...
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for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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6. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

To complicate things further, are you including your arrival and departure days in that 10 day total? That would mean 5 days in reality to see Scotland and the Lake District, and that's allocating the arrival day as one of the Henley days. As below:

Days 1-4 Arrive, go to Henley and stay there.

Day 5 Travel to the Lake District by train

Day 6 In the Lake District

Day 7 Travel to Fort William

As you can see, you will be hikling Ben Nevis on Day 8 at the earliest. If you are flying out again on Day 10, and do so form London, thne Day 9 will be given over to travelling all the way back to the south of England again. Plus, there's no Glasgow in that plan, and only one full day in Windermere (or wherever).

That's why details like trip duration are actually pretty important!

London
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70 reviews
7. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Weather on Ben Nevis can best be described as unpredictable. It's unrealistic to say that you're going to drive to Fort William on a particular date (booked months ahead) and scale the mountain that day. if it's covered in cloud (and it often is) then going up is both pointless (no view) and foolhardy (steep deep crevasses, all to easy to drop into if it's foggy).

If outdoor activity is part of the trip, you need to build in flexibility then you can adapt to weather - heading to a totally different area if need be. Even from one valley to the next, the weather in Scotland can be very different.

Both the lake district and the Highlands of Scotland offer beautiful scenery - pick one and maximise your time there. With the existing plan, you're using too much of your limited time traveling between places.

Whitefish, Montana
Level Contributor
1,121 posts
144 reviews
8. Re: Driving tour- London to Inverness- rail or car hire

Thanks for all of the great advice. We decided to extend our trip by two days and fly back home out of Inverness. Pricey, but probably well worth it so we can enjoy more of the beautiful Scottish countryside.

We are going to take everyone’s advice and have back up plans if Ben Nevis is under cloud cover.

Thank you!

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