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Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

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Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Shyrtandros » Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:08 am

In less than 2 weeks I am leaving to visit family that lives in England (this will be my first time to go.) We will be stopping in Dover for a day or two and then we will be staying in Kelhem which is a small village outside of Newark on Trent. Sometime throughout our trip we will be hopping over to Edinburg, Scotland for at least a day maybe more.

Now, the purpose of my post! (Muahahaha)
Does anyone have any recommendations for things to do, places to see, ect..ect..? Oh, there is probably a 95% chance we're skipping London unless someone has an AMAZING reason to go there. All of the family has been there before and they hate big cities and truthfully I don't like big cities unless I have a REALLY good reason to go.

Thanks! :)
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby sahiel » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:34 am

It depends what you're looking to do/see, if you want to see historical stuff/places then you're really losing out by skipping London. The Tower of London is pretty amazing (and has a really great display of armour through the ages), if you like museums then the Natural History museum, the Science museum and the Imperial War museum are some of the very best places to go, specific exhibitions rotate every now and then so check beforehand but i've been to all 3 many times and have never once come away disappointed.

Greenwich is also pretty cool, where they measure that 'Mean Time' thing from, there's the Royal Observatory, the Naval College, the National Maritime museum, the Queens House and the Cutty Sark ('the last of the great Tea Clippers that broke world record journey times between China and Australia in the 1880's'- thanks Wikipedia! Though it was undergoing repairs recently so best to check and see if they're completed before planning to go there if you were interested).

Since it's only the best place ever, I also have to mention Camden Market is awesome for shopping, dozens of small indie stores, amazing restaurants and weird shit (ffs there's a dude who makes belts there... you pick out a strip of leather, bits to go on it, a buckle from hundreds of options, come back in 20 mins and he made a belt... not omg crazy but not exactly something you see often) you'd be hard pressed to find all crammed so close together anywhere else from some crazy antique sellers to the most friendly non creepy fetish clothing shops you'll ever see :P

Outside London, again, it really depends what you want to see but some highlights I always enjoyed visiting was Shakespeares home in Stratford Upon Avon, Stonehenge (though you can't get right up to the top of it anymore these days) and in the same general area of Wiltshire are the ancient village of Avebury and also the Westbury White Horse and the hill fort there.

There are a million castles (almost), but Nottingham Castle (yes, in Sherwood forest) is one of my favourites and they have some amazing caves to explore beneath it as well. Speaking of castles, Edinburgh castle of course once you get to Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery. If you're into music give King Tuts Wah Wah Hut a visit in Glasgow if you can get in, it only has like a 300 capacity but tons of huge bands play there when they're just starting out before they became famous, Radiohead, Oasis, Beck, The Verve, Coldplay, Skunk Anasie and lots more, it's pretty much considered the best live venue in the whole of the UK.

Honestly, there's so much you could do it's hard without knowing what you want but this site might help throw some more ideas, it's a pretty good listing of the top 'attractions' for each area of the UK. Select the area and it breaks it down to a small group and lists the top 10 within each of those, or there's a drop down menu at the top for searching by subject i.e.; castles.

http://www.top10ten.co.uk/
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Meloree » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:48 am

When you're in Edinburgh, drive for an hour up to Pitlochry and visit the Edradour distillery. You can't visit Scotland without seeing a distillery, and that's a really interesting tour. Blair Athol (IIRC, anyway) is right around the corner, and it's a more modern distillery, Edradour is Scotlands smallest distillery, and they still do everything by hand - it's a fascinating tour.

Yes, I like Scotch.

EDIT: Blair Athol Distillery, Blair Atholl is a castle. Mea culpa.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Brekkie » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:13 pm

Nottingham was kind of "meh".

If you want castles, go to the border with Wales. Carnefron and especially Beaumeris are my favorites.
County Cornwall is my absolutely favorite place in the British Isles. Pendennis Castle is a largely intact coastal fort from the age of cannons, and Tintagel is one of the older stone castles and is the supposed birthplace of King Arthur. There are also a large number of celtic standing stone circles on the mystic cornish moor if you're a romantic soul.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Meloree » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:47 pm

I believe you people are missing the important point - forget England, they'll be in Scotland. The real questions for the trip are "what distilleries are worth visiting and within reasonable driving distance of Edinburgh?" and "Can I get a tee time at St. Andrews or Carnustie?"

BTW, if you happen to go far enough north to hit the Speyside region, you will be robbing yourself if you miss the Aberlour or Balvenie tours - they don't have to be your favorite scotches, but they're the best two tours I've been on. Don't drive yourself to them, you won't be able to drive home.

Yes, I like Scotch. I have a ~100 bottle collection of single malts. It's growing, I'm young. My father has a ~2500 bottle collection of single malts in over 400 varieties. I go to Scotland to golf and drink for two weeks at least once a year.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Epimer » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:59 pm

For the love of God, don't call it Scotch when you're over there. It's "whisky", or "single malt" if you must.

And it's just "Cornwall" - not County Cornwall.

And don't wear "I heart England" clothes while wandering around Glasgow town centre.

And don't pronounce "Edinburgh" like "Pittsburgh". Or with anything even approach a "borrow" sound in there.

Actual advice: Edinburgh's nice to visit. Glasgow's more of a "proper city" in terms of shopping, bars, restaurants etc. St Andrews is worth a visit, but unless you're an avid golfer I wouldn't schedule more than a day or two there (this is coming from someone who spent the best part of five years there; it's awesome, but there's not a huge amount to see and do when visiting).

It all depends on what you want, really. There's a lot of very old buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, for example, if that's your kind of thing.

Don't be fooled about scale, either; while Britain is of course much, much smaller than the US, you still have to plan some sort of itinerary if you want to take in a variety of locations.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby inthedrops » Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:13 pm

I'd like to say Meloree and I are virtual Scotch buddies but we at least know we share the interest :)

I've only been to Scotland once but I spent about 5 days there and traveled all around. I don't think there's too much you can do in a single day so the advice to visit a close distillery makes the most sense to me!

I did enjoy spending about two hours in Edinburgh at the Royal Mile. In particular, I *THINK* this is one of the tours I took http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/. Basically, there are tours of the city beneath the city during the plague. I found it really interesting and unique. I'm sure there are multiple tours available, and probably better ones that maybe some locals could recommend. Point is, there's nothing like that in the U.S.

Also in Edinburgh, of you're a fan of literature there's The Writers Museum: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/The-Writers--Museum.aspx. It's a real quick 30 minute stop, maybe you could swing by after a lunch or something?

Finally, I thought the Rosslyn Chapel was a great investment of my time: http://www.rosslynchapel.org.uk/. If you ever got into the Davinci Code or anything of that nature it's a great place to stop. It's just south of Edinburgh in Midlothian. I'm not personally a fan of all that stuff, but I still enjoyed the history behind the church.

That's about all the ideas I have for a one day stop. You could do the tour at the end of the Royal Mile if you want too but I personally found the Rosslyn Chapel and the tour beneath the city to be far more interesting.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby sahiel » Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:19 pm

Epimer wrote:For the love of God, don't call it Scotch when you're over there. It's "whisky", or "single malt" if you must.


Heh this x a lot. We don't appreciate you calling our fine whisky by other names tyvm ;)
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Brekkie » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:15 pm

And it's just "Cornwall" - not County Cornwall.

I know. I lived there for three years. I described it as a county because an outsider wouldn't have any idea what it was otherwise; a town, small locale, state-equivalent, or what.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby masterpoobaa » Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:27 pm

Go visit the Distillery Edradour.
10mins outside of Aberdeen.

Also, the beer. The thick, dark, rich, meal-in-a-pint-glass milds ales and stouts.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Fetzie » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:21 am

The technology museum in Manchester is pretty awesome. The lake district in general is probably the most amazing bit of countryside anywhere in europe. And you have to get fish, chips and mushy peas and eat it on a pier or sea front. Also get some fresh cockles. Other than that most of the museums and art galleries in London are free of charge, must sees are the natural history museum, the british museum and the tate modern, and go to the cabinet war rooms too (haven't been there yet but really want to).
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Discus » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:53 am

Speaking as someone who was born in UK and has lived all over England I think it generally has amazing countryside/small villages and meh towns and cities – but there are a few exceptions. You have a choice – visit where most American tourists visit when they come over here - London, Edinburgh, Ambleside in Lake District – all have much going for them Or if you are a little more adventurous you could venture off the American tourist track.

The Lake District cannot be missed. But avoid the tourist traps – Lake Windermere/Ambleside and south and east Lakes (locals call it The Lakes) generally are very busy at peak season. Head to the north and west lakes for less spoilt beauty – areas around Keswick for example (although Keswick is still a busy tourist town). Most international tourists jump 200+ miles from London to Lake District and miss everything between. The south-west of England is beautiful – Cornwall (can be a bit touristy high season) – Devon is better inho especially Exmoor/Dartmoor and the north coast even has a bit of surfing, cycle the Tarka Trail if you are reasonably fit to see classic English Green rolling hills and villages. Moving north the place where the rich and famous currently live is Gloucester (Cotswolds) – gorgeous honey stone villages and pubs, stop off in the city of Bath on the way – beautiful architecture. In the north of England (where I live so I’m baised) you have beautiful scenery in the Pennines, Yorkshire Dales, Forest of Bowland (even most Brits don’t know that one), North Lancashire/Lancaster/York (the latter 2 being, like Bath rare examples of nice UK cities).

I’ll leave Scotland to the Scottish as they can advise better than I. However, I’d encourage a visit or ten to a real ale pub or even better real ale brewery in England. Most of your real traditional drinking pubs were killed by the smoking ban, but some great country pubs have survived by becoming Gastropubs and serving great home made meals and real ale…ask locals or buy a CAMRA Real Ale Guide Book.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby laterna » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:12 am

Also, if you're taking the paddingdon-bristol train to get out of london, I reckomend a stop at Bath. Its one of unesco's protected cities, and its all build by the same marble etc. Although the areas around the train station are "commercialised" if you take a taxi to the royal crescent or the roman baths, its a nice visit. You can also visit the Bath Spa next to the roman baths if you so wish
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby lythac » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:31 am

Shyrtandros wrote:In less than 2 weeks
<snip>
Oh, there is probably a 95% chance we're skipping London unless someone has an AMAZING reason to go there.


The Royal Wedding is on 29th April, so I would avoid London around that time.

Also it is the Camden Crawl 30th April and 1st May making a Camden Market trip not suitable for those days. Camden Market is great though.
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Re: Visiting England + Scotland..Recommendations?

Postby Passionario » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:36 am

sahiel wrote:Though it was undergoing repairs recently so best to check and see if they're completed before planning to go there if you were interested).


Reopening in 2012, AFAIK.
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