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London / Scotland in October
Old 09-22-2014, 09:21 AM   #1
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London / Scotland in October

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to London and Scotland for the middle of next month, October, for a total of 10 days. I have never been to England or Scotland before, but my girlfriend has been to London. We are taking an overnight flight on Virgin Atlantic arriving in London in the morning. We will be staying in London for 3-4 days, and we plan to hit the highlights in London, including the Tower of London, London Bridge, the Eye, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

Then the plan is to take the Caledonian sleeper train from London to Fort William in Scotland. That is a train with sleeper berths that leaves at 7:15 p.m. from London and arrives in Fort William at around 9:30 a.m. the next morning. I like trains, but I've never taken a sleeper train before, so I'm looking forward to that. The tentative plan is to stay in Fort William for a day then take the regular non-sleeper train service through Glasgow then arrive in Edingurgh and stay there for 2 days, then return to London for a day, then return home.

We already bought the plane tickets, but all the other plans are tentative at this point. Are there any suggestions for things to see or do in London or in Scotland? We would like to see a beer brewery or a whisky distillery while in Scotland. Any advice for a first time traveler to England and Scotland? Thanks.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:28 AM   #2
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I really liked the night bus tour of London. There are several of them on the Internet; unfortunately I've forgotten which one we took several years ago, but it was a great way to see the city.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:32 AM   #3
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If the train just kept going, it would be pretty easy to sleep. But my experience was that they're always stopping and starting (pulling onto side tracks to let another train pass, for instance). Every stop and every start wakes you up, so I wouldn't plan on a full day at your destination after a night on the train.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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Edinburgh is beautiful. I'm guessing the days will be getting shorter by then. The castle is a great place to start out. There's several scotch tours. One thing I loved was crispy duck(in either place), enjoy.
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Old 09-22-2014, 10:55 AM   #5
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We will be staying in London for 3-4 days, and we plan to hit the highlights in London, including the Tower of London, London Bridge, the Eye, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
I presume you mean Tower Bridge. London Bridge is rather dull (as the guy in Lake Havasu City found when he took delivery of the original model, having been expecting to get Tower Bridge). Only half a mile or so from there is the start of the Jack the Ripper walking tours of the East End, which I'm told by people who have been on them can be quite fun.

You will probably find London expensive. In fact many American tourists find the whole of the UK expensive; a drink in a pub is quite cheap, but dining and hotels are closer to NYC than Mid-West prices. If you want to cut down on hotel costs, stay in a chain motel on the edge of town and accept an extra 30 minutes each way on the Tube to get into the centre; this will not add very much to your daily Travelcard costs.

Whisky (note the spelling!) distilleries are mostly located in the Highlands of Scotland, some way from Edinburgh. You will need to do some research on the web. You can also visit Fuller's brewery in London.

In terms of the weather, pack as if you were going to Seattle in November.
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Old 09-22-2014, 11:55 AM   #6
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The wait times to get into the Tower, the Palace and the Eye can be very long. Also, in October you may not want to go up the Eye because of weather (fog, low cloud) on any given day.

You can save money by staying on the outskirts (or through Airbnb for that matter) but I would recommend staying more in the inner boroughs. You can waste a lot of valuable time on the Tube, especially on weekdays. We usually stay in the Kensington area because it is handy and also close to most of the museums and Hyde Park.

Prepare to walk. A lot....
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Old 09-22-2014, 01:35 PM   #7
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I went to Edinburgh in the late 90's on a business trip and loved it. Some things I'd definitely recommend:

Edinburgh Castle - Be sure to see this, and reserve time to really walk around and see everything.

St. Giles Cathedral - Beautiful place, and a lot of history there.

Ghost Tour - If you're into "creepy" stuff, take one of the ghost tours, or underground vault tours. The one I went on was very touristy, but I still enjoyed it.

As far as food, I remember three places:

Stac Polly - I remember on the night we went, the entree came with soup, which was a carrot ginger soup. Sounded disgusting to me, but since it came with the meal, I decided to try it. Best soup I ever had! I remember going back on another night they had that soup just so I could have it again before we left. Their site is at: Stac Polly - The Scottish Restaurants, Edinburgh

Dubh Prais - I remember this being a VERY small little restaurant at the bottom of some steps off High St. Ordered some scallops, which came in a bed of mashed potatoes and were fantastic! Their site is at: Welcome

The Witchery - At the time I visited in the late 90's, there was still people talking about "mad cow disease" and all that. But I decided I wasn't going to a fantastic place like Edinburgh without having at least one good steak dinner, so we went here and I had a great meal. This place has a lot of ambiance about it, and was a very cool place to go. Their site is at: Luxury Restaurant Edinburgh | the Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh

There was another we went on the spur of the moment. We had tried to get in some place and they were fully booked, so we went across the street and they recommended the rabbit, which was very good. I can't remember the name of the place, however.

I've wanted to go back to Edinburgh for years, and just never had the chance. Such as cool place. Be sure and leave plenty of time for exploring, there's a lot of history there, and a lot of cool things to see. Enjoy the restaurants, especially the small little out-of-the-way places like Dubh Prais. One of these days, I'll go back.

Oh, I forgot to mention...the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) are at Edinburgh Castle, including the Stone of Scone which was returned from England to Scotland in 1996. I first visited Scotland before the Stone was returned, and again afterwards. It was very cool to me to see it. I've always felt an affinity for the Scots, and I love Scotland, even though I don't think any of my ancestors were from there.

On a separate note, I so wanted Scotland to vote for independence in the recent vote. All the other financial and political issues aside, I think it would have been so cool for Scotland to stand on her own again.
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:37 PM   #8
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If you have time ... and if you would like to see quaint, iconic English towns, then you should visit the Cotswolds area of England for a night. It is about 2 hours away from London and completely different than the big city of London.
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:37 PM   #9
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I loved the Tower, spent most of a day there. Fuller's was a great brewery to tour, and I've toured a lot of breweries. London is expensive.

I recommend the The Scotch Whisky Experience It's cheesy but fun, and great info about whisky.

We did a tour of Whisky Distillery Glasgow - Visit Auchentoshan Distillery Glasgow which I loved. We were with a group that had their own bus, so I don't know about the options for getting over there.
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:53 PM   #10
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Agree on Fuller's as the best brewery to visit in London. Some years ago, I would have said Young's, but alas, that no longer exists.

My personal favorite part of England is the Lake District. Wonderful walks in the field, fantastic scenery, and some incredibly good small microbreweries. We are already planning our next visit in June. There is ample reason why this is the most popular vacation area for Brits.
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:07 PM   #11
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+1 on braumeister's suggestion on the Lake District
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:59 PM   #12
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DH just wound down his latest trip with a week in that area. He stayed with friends in Garstang and then Liverpool, where they took a trip up to Scotland and the Oban distillery.
Pretty scenery in the Lake District for sure, and he really enjoyed Oban and the town sights around it.
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:49 PM   #13
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I recommend the The Scotch Whisky Experience It's cheesy but fun, and great info about whisky.
Very cheesy. We were rolling our eyes at it. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have no chance at all to see a real distillery. The tasting was ok though, and you do get a chance to learn about the differences in the four regions for whisky.
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:48 PM   #14
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It is funny... I worked in London for about 14 months and walked by the Tower of London every day going to work.... but never did go inside to look at it... I do remember seeing the long lines waiting to get in...

You can buy a ticket for the Eye now.... but then you are stuck with that time IIRC... not sure if there are lines, but when it was new there were long lines for it also...

I believe that all (or almost all) museums are now free... make sure you go to the British Museum... a good visit...

You can take a high speed train to Scotland... still take time, but if a sleeper train is not good as someone said it might be a better choice...

A suggestion when you get to Edinburgh is to buy a ticket for the red tourist bus.... it takes you to all the sites and they have people talking about the various sites... you can get on and off all day...


Have fun...
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:52 PM   #15
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Edinburgh is wonderful. We spent a week there in 2004. The castle was great I also enjoyed the bus tout of the countryside. The ghost tour was awesome. I do them everywhere now. I think you geta better understanding of the old times when you understand what was killing them.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:45 PM   #16
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I love overnight sleeper trains. Unless you're someone who, once woken, cannot get back to sleep - you'll be alright. It is a good experience.

In Edinburgh, try to get out of the Royal Mile. An early morning hike to Arthur's seat is great & the view are wonderful. Calton Hill is another place with awesome view. With just two days, you might want to get a ticket on one of those on/off bus tours of the city. Take the bus to Rosslyn Chapel - it is quite amazing. Check out the pictures online.

You have a lot of time in London. Besides the places you mentioned, just walking around in those areas is a treat. Find a pub & do some people watching. Chelsea Farmer's Market, walk around Hyde Park - listen to some of the speeches. There is a lot of great modern architecture including the town hall. Go see a play - much cheaper there & the theaters are smaller and more intimate. Tate Modern & the millenium bridge & then to St. Paul's - climb up the dome. Is it possible to get a tour of parliament? We didn't do that. Take a ride on a double decker bus & the underground. I don't remember much of the Albert & Victoria museum, but the building was beautiful.


Borrow a travel book or two on London & Edinburgh & you may find a lot of interesting things that aren't on the "highlights" tours.

Lucky you. They are both very romantic places. Enjoy!
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:24 PM   #17
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A suggestion upon reading the last post....

When people would come to visit, I would always make sure that we rode at the very front of a double decker bus... it is surprising how much you can see being that high... buy a day pass (or longer) and you can just jump on and off all you want...

The bus is a good way to see things, but they are much slower than the tube....
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Old 12-21-2014, 01:57 PM   #18
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I went to Edinburgh in the late 90's on a business trip and loved it. Some things I'd definitely recommend:

Edinburgh Castle - Be sure to see this, and reserve time to really walk around and see everything.

St. Giles Cathedral - Beautiful place, and a lot of history there.

Ghost Tour - If you're into "creepy" stuff, take one of the ghost tours, or underground vault tours. The one I went on was very touristy, but I still enjoyed it.

As far as food, I remember three places:

Stac Polly - I remember on the night we went, the entree came with soup, which was a carrot ginger soup. Sounded disgusting to me, but since it came with the meal, I decided to try it. Best soup I ever had! I remember going back on another night they had that soup just so I could have it again before we left. Their site is at: Stac Polly - The Scottish Restaurants, Edinburgh

Dubh Prais - I remember this being a VERY small little restaurant at the bottom of some steps off High St. Ordered some scallops, which came in a bed of mashed potatoes and were fantastic! Their site is at: Welcome

The Witchery - At the time I visited in the late 90's, there was still people talking about "mad cow disease" and all that. But I decided I wasn't going to a fantastic place like Edinburgh without having at least one good steak dinner, so we went here and I had a great meal. This place has a lot of ambiance about it, and was a very cool place to go. Their site is at: Luxury Restaurant Edinburgh | the Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh

There was another we went on the spur of the moment. We had tried to get in some place and they were fully booked, so we went across the street and they recommended the rabbit, which was very good. I can't remember the name of the place, however.

I've wanted to go back to Edinburgh for years, and just never had the chance. Such as cool place. Be sure and leave plenty of time for exploring, there's a lot of history there, and a lot of cool things to see. Enjoy the restaurants, especially the small little out-of-the-way places like Dubh Prais. One of these days, I'll go back.

Oh, I forgot to mention...the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) are at Edinburgh Castle, including the Stone of Scone which was returned from England to Scotland in 1996. I first visited Scotland before the Stone was returned, and again afterwards. It was very cool to me to see it. I've always felt an affinity for the Scots, and I love Scotland, even though I don't think any of my ancestors were from there.

On a separate note, I so wanted Scotland to vote for independence in the recent vote. All the other financial and political issues aside, I think it would have been so cool for Scotland to stand on her own again.
i can second this ( and most deff the ref wish... oh if only... we could have done so much ) Edinburgh is a beautiful place, i would also add in Arthurs seat, a wee walk up the hill just outside of Holyrood, which is in itself an interesting if ugly building, There's a great wee Nepalese/ indians called Ghurka's in Cockburn street as well, and like above i would deff recommend Rosslyn chapel, so much history, carlton hill is great also,

If you like castles then i spose it depends on what type of castle you like, i personally love Bothwell castle but a lot of people would prefer Edinburgh or Stirling, if you get a chance head to Stirling and go see Wallace's monument


if your going to Glasgow places i would recommend so many things ... maybe tell me what you enjoy doing in Scotland and i can find out and give wee hints and tips.

Mull has Tobermory whisky distillery then there is Islay for Islay whisky, really there are so many distillers you will fall over them, Glencoe is one of my favourite places and it's just down from Fort William, look up the history of the place tragic and haunting there is also a Jacobite museum in Fort william and Ben Nevis is up there as well


London, well personally speaking i wouldnt waste my time on Buckingham palace but i would spend my time at the Globe theatre, Houses of Parliament and every evening i would be found in the West end watching a theatre performance, you get cheap tickets in Leicester Square, London is one of my favourite cities tbh and i do try and go down every other year for 4/5 days to soak it in before running back home for the peace and quiet i can only get up a hill or in my garden

If i can help anymore let me know
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