We plan to travel through England, Ireland and Wales starting in London and making our way southwest to Cornwall and Devon, then up to Bath and the Cotswolds, over to south and north Wales and Ireland then back to London via York, Lincoln and Cambridge. Hiring a car for the whole six weeks might be prohibitive so we're wondering if it would be best to travel between main centres by train and then pick up a car for a few days. From what cities would you recommend we use train links? Do you think this trip is do-able in six weeks?
- Louise Nicholson
Lonely Planet's Shawn Low writes:
Yes, your itinerary is certainly do-able. You can indeed take a train between cities. I'd suggest that you identify cities where you will be basing yourself for at least a few days, places you can train to and explore on foot or using local transport. For example, if you're in London, you're best off travelling around via the Tube.
With this list you can plan your rail connections between cities.
If you're going to take a fair amount of train journeys, pay for a railcard. For £26 ($57), you get a card which gives you a third off rail fares. If you want to check routes, times and fares, go to nationalrail.co.uk.
With a car out of London, you can drive towards Devon and Cornwall via Exeter. Along the way, you'll see Stonehenge and Salisbury.
Otherwise, just train straight from London to Exeter from where you can pick up your car. The train journey is close to 3 hours. If you keep the car, you can get up to Bristol and Bath before driving through the Cotswolds.
The distances are manageable via driving. A car is handy in the area as there are plenty of charming little towns to stop at. Depending on how far north you go, you could consider training towards Cardiff.
A car is also handy to explore Wales. Hug the coastline and drive through Cardiff towards Swansea and Pembrokeshire. Consider taking a ferry across to Ireland from Wales (there are departure points from Pembroke to Rosslare and Holyhead to Dublin. You can take your car across or hire a car in Ireland). If you want to just explore big cities such as Dublin and Belfast, you can train; otherwise keep the car.
* The winning question this week is from Louise Nicholson, who receives a copy of Lonely Planet's Discover Great Britain ($55).
South African odyssey
I am planning to travel to South Africa next year. I want to visit the Drakensberg mountain area, combining hiking with the opportunity for hubby to play golf. How safe is it to travel in this part of the country and can you recommend a guide? We want to continue to the Cape taking in the garden route. Can you recommend guides specialising in local flora?
- Barbara McGillivray
Lonely Planet's Shawn Low writes:
There has been much publicity over safety in South Africa. Whatever the case, the usual precautions apply when travelling, no matter which destination. Johannesburg gets the most flak for its tourism security (or lack thereof). You can get some local travel warnings, advice and precautions here.
While we don't list any specific guides to the region in our books, you might consider joining local tours and get recommendations from local tourism bodies.
The KwaZulu-Natal website allows travellers to book tours, accommodation and also guides.
Out of the Drakensberg area, you can get information on the Garden Route via gardenroute.co.za. If you visit time2tour.com/africa/sa/gardenroute/gardenroute.htm, there's a great list of tour and accommodation providers.
From the list above, you could consider safari stays and tours, organise a self-drive holiday and so on. It boils down to what you want to do. Safe travels.
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