1998 - The UK Countryside
Leicester and Cambridge, Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Scottish Highlands, Lake District, Cotswold villages.
Timeframe and Weather
May 1998, 14 days total away from home. We had been told this is the best time to visit the UK, so we were looking forward to good weather at least half the time, and we weren't disappointed. It was beautiful and sunny much of the time. We also had five or six days of heavy overcast, but it never really rained on us.
We flew non-stop from San Francisco to London where we rented a car (at Heathrow) for the duration. The flight was late due to a mechanical in San Francisco, but our car was waiting for us at Heathrow and we were out of there in a jiffy.
The best part was flying first class! We had enough frequent flyer miles to "purchase" first class tickets on United and we are now spoiled rotten. We actually were able to sleep horizontally and get a full night's rest. That gave us a whole day extra on our vacation because we didn't have to spend the first day in a daze from no sleep. To reach the seat pocket in front of me, I had to unbuckle my seat belt and lift out of my chair. It was heaven. We could never afford it otherwise, but we will from now on try our best to save our miles for this luxury. We have a Mileage Plus card and put every little purchase we can on it (and pay it off every month of course) in order to rack up the miles.
Even the late departure of our flight was made easier to bear by the amenities in the first class lounge.
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All reservations - air, car, and lodging - were made in advance. We booked and paid in advance for the rental car directly from Hertz. We got a 2-week advanced-pay rate that was quite good. We made the lodging reservations ourselves, completely over the phone (easy as they all speak English over there). Most of our nights were spent at B&B's that we found in the Best B & B book or in the free brochures we received from the British Travel Board. We had to send one place a check in US$ as deposit and another a certified check in British pounds. All other places accepted our letter of confirmation as enough to hold the room for us. Our plane tickets and reservations were courtesy of the United Airlines Frequent Flyer program and Les's frequent business travel. We made the air reservations well in advance (six months) to ensure the travel dates we wanted. (This is especially critical when using frequent flyer miles and even more so with first class, as there are not that many seats allocated for this).
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Day 1 Saturday and Day 2 Sunday - Leicester and Cambridge: Visited with friends in Newton Harcourt (near Leicester). Spent one day in Cambridge. Had some good curry in Leicester and took a couple of wonderful walks in the countryside. Travel Journal: A Walker's Wonderland, A Stroll through Newton Harcourt and Punting on the Cam. Photo album: Cambridge from the Water.
Day 3 Monday and Day 4 Tuesday - Yorkshire: Visited medieval York and the Minster on the way to the Dales. Explored James Herriot country with a long hike to Askrigg from Hawes and back, including a stop at the King's Arms pub where many scenes from "All Creatures Great and Small" were filmed.
Day 5 Wednesday and Day 6 Thursday - Edinburgh: Stopped at Hadrian's Wall (on the way up), then took two days to explore the ancient town, including the great Castle. Holyrood Palace was closed to visitors due to the fact that the Queen was in residence. Bought a lusciously thick wool sweater.
Day 7 Friday and Day 8 Saturday - Scottish Highlands: After a short drive from Edinburgh, had a lovely hike in the hills above Kingussie, then a wonderful dinner in town. Spent the next day exploring and wallowing in the wonders and beauty of the Highlands.
Day 9 Sunday through Day 11 Tuesday - Lake District: Stayed in a pleasant B & B on beautiful lake Grasmere. Explored the village, including Wordsworth's home. Did a lot of car exploring to other lakes in the district where we took small hikes and had great meals and tea.
Day 12 Wednesday and Day 13 Thursday - Cotswold villages: Country farm living and Quaint (with a capital "Q") villages. Took small trips in the area to various attractions, including a Roman villa recently discovered on someone's property, and the lovely village of Stow-on-the-Wold.
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Yorkshire: Brandymires Guesthouse in Hawes
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