Road Trip: London to Scotland

One of the difficulties when you live overseas is how to pay a visit to your home country to catch up with friends and family, but still have a holiday at the same time. All too often trips home can become stressful, feeling like you’re being pulled from pillar to post to get to see everyone while you’re back only resulting in an exhausting trip and the need for a real holiday once it’s all over! So this year, in order to make the most of our trip and to still see people, we decided to take a road trip from London to Scotland…

Having lived in London for a few years before I left the UK, it’s where most of my friends are, though my parents being in Scotland means the visiting logistics are a bit more complicated – so we decided to fly into London, hire a car, and fly out of Edinburgh, enabling us to have the best of both worlds and some much-needed family holiday time between the two. UK road trip London Arabian Notes 2016 42 UK road trip London Arabian Notes 2016 45 UK road trip London Arabian Notes 2016 43 UK road trip London Arabian Notes 2016 44Starting the trip in London we were able to spend some time with friends which was great… though sadly the weather was mostly pretty awful! After a couple of days relaxing, shopping and managing to squeeze in a garden barbecue on Father’s Day (the one day the sun came out for us!), it was time to pick up our hire car and make off to see more friends outside London in the rather lovely medieval village of Charing.

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Charing Village

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And of course no visit to a quintessential English village is complete without a very British afternoon tea! 😉

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Next, it was time to let the holiday really begin, and we set off for Bath for a few days, with a stop at Stonehenge en route.

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Of course travelling with our 16 month old, we’d planned our trip to make sure that none of our daily drives were longer than four hours, and with a stop off along the route after around a maximum of two hours where possible, so Stonehenge was the perfect place, especially as we’d never been before!

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Thankfully the weather improved in Bath and we were able to get out and do some walking, as well as pay a visit to the Roman Baths.

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After spending three nights in Bath, it was off next to Burford in the Cotswolds.

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The Angel Inn at Burford

We’d booked to stay in a pub, The Angel at Burford, and I’m so glad we did – this place was beautiful, and the pub was just perfect. It was small so it was very comfortable and homely, but the rooms were a good size and the food was great. We loved the warmth and welcome we received at this place and I’d highly recommend it – very family friendly too.

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Burford Village

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We took a few day trips around the area, and as well as a trip into Oxford (and one to Bicester Village for some discount designer shopping to take advantage of the Brexit induced favourable exchange rate!), we spent one afternoon at the Cotswolds Wildlife Park which we loved – getting up close with penguins, giraffes (my favourites!) and more, and who’d have thought you’d see Rhino’s in a field in the Cotswolds?! It’s well worth a trip if you’re in the area with kids.

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Cotswolds Wildlife Park

After three nights we were actually really sad to leave the lovely Angel Inn that we’d made our home, but next stop on the road trip was to Skipton in Yorkshire. This was the longest leg we did on our trip with the drive between Burford and Skipton being about four hours. It was also the most uninspiring route on our trip since the majority of it involved the M6 – and as fellow Brits will know, this road is not known for its beauty… Thankfully though, there are some great places to stop off along the way that offer more interest than the usual bog standard motorway services and without having to deviate from the route very much at all. I was pleased to discover after a quick google search that The Guardian had already done all the research for me in this great article: Alternative motorway breaks on the M6 and we decided to make a short pit-stop for lunch at Northycote Farm and Country Park which, as a bonus, has a reputation for a mean sausage or bacon sarnie and was also completely free to enter.

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Skipton canals

Sadly, the weather in Skipton did not hold out for us and it was absolutely terrible so we really didn’t get to see any of the things we’d planned! We’d booked into a pub in Skipton for two nights and because the weather was so awful, we decided our best bet was to visit a local farm park with an indoor area. Make sure to check out Hesketh Farm Park if you’re in the area.

I’m not going to lie, we were pretty happy to leave Skipton since it literally had been a washout for us, and we could only hope the weather gods might smile on us more in the Lake District (HA).

With three nights planned by Ambleside, thankfully the weather wasn’t too bad. The sun came through most days, though even in July it was still really very cold with the wind coming right off Lake Windermere (especially for us desert dwellers!).

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Lake House, Waterhead Bay, Ambleside

Another place that we’d definitely recommend – we stayed at the gorgeous Lake House at Waterhead Bay, which was spacious, comfortable and a perfect home from home (with an excellent breakfast!).

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Ambleside
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Lake Windermere (it looks good but the wind coming off the lake was icy!)

The final leg on the road trip was to visit family at the seaside town of Seaton Carew in County Durham. A place I’ve been to many times, though not for a number of years, it was lovely to visit again and to have some half-decent weather!

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The Green at Seaton Carew
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View of Old Hartlepool from Seaton front
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Aaah, fond memories of Seaton beach… (note the power station at the end in the distance!)
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It may have been sunny but it was still a bit nippy out!

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From there, it was (finally!) on to Scotland. By this point in the trip, we’d all managed to contract horrible colds and were feeling a bit under the weather so we were ready to get there. We had planned to stop on the way at Housesteads for an afternoon at the Roman Fort remains but that’s one that will remain on the list until next time.

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The Wallace Monument, Stirling
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Stirling Old Bridge

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We made it! The end of a very long, but enjoyable road from London 🙂

All that’s left to say is this – if you’ve ever wondered why the Brits are so famed for talking about the weather, this post should enlighten you… as we saw first hand – the weather is so changeable from one day to the next and from one area to the next, that’s why! There’s just no such thing as appropriate weather planning in the UK as it can all change so quickly, even when you least expect it, as we found in the middle of the supposed summer!

Let me know your thoughts and comments here!