Our 2007 Vacation in Great Britain
After all our trips to exotic locations over the last four years, we finally got around to the trip we had been putting off: the trip to visit all of Paul’s relatives in England!
But we didn’t want to go just to visit the relatives. So we planned an itinerary that took us to some of the better mountains in Britain, the Lake District and North Wales. And since the Tour de France was spending its first few days in and around London, we timed our trip so that we would be in London on those days.
We considered using trains and buses to get around, but that really wasn’t very practical in the rural areas we planned to travel in. So we decided to rent a car for the period when we were travelling about the country, and return it before going to London. We booked our tickets on Air Transat and rented the car, then we were on our way.
We arrived in London (Gatwick) at 7 a.m. and spent the day driving up the motorways to Grasmere in the Lake District, making a diversion to visit Shrewsbury. In the Lake District we met up with a couple we had travelled with on last year’s Explore trip through Lesotho, Neil and Christine, and we stayed in the youth hostel with them for the weekend.
It rained heavily on the day we drove to Grasmere, it was cloudy with showers the next day, and there were heavy rain showers the day after that. This, we later found out, was not just a spot of bad weather. We were lucky to climb Helvellyn via Striding Edge on the relatively dry day.
Chester and Wales
On the way from the Lake District to Wales, we stopped in Chester to meet Heather, who had also travelled around Lesotho with us last year. On this day the rain produced hip-deep floods in Sheffield; in Chester we were not in the area of heaviest precipitation, so the rain was only torrential. We walked around the town for a while and then drip-dried in Marks and Spencer’s tea room.
In Wales we spent four nights at the Snowdon Ranger youth hostel near Caernarfon. We climbed Snowdon, luckily on a day when it rained hardly at all. We visited a lot of castles (Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris, Dolwyddelan, Powis, and Raglan) and we drove and walked around the island of Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula.
Devon and Cornwall
After that we got down to the serious relative-visiting business. We drove across Wales—in the rain—on the way to Exeter, where Paul’s uncle and aunt Chris and Ruth lived. We had a five-day whirlwind tour of the destinations of south-west England, during which we spent a day visiting Paul’s aunt Jean in Falmouth.
During these five days we were joined by our son Matthew (stopping off in England on his way home from a conference in China) and our daughter Caroline and her partner Jason (travelling through England as part of their two-month grand tour of Europe).
Then it was off to London, to visit Paul’s cousin Pip and his family. We discovered that Paul’s Swiss cousin Henry was also living there, so we got together with him as well.
We were only in London for four days, and we spent quite a bit of time at the various Tour de France events, but we did manage to visit many of the major tourist attractions there in the rest of the time.
July 6 London, Tour de France opening
July 7 London, Tour de France prologue
July 8 London, Tour de France start
July 9 London, Clapham
Copyright ©2007 by Rosemary and Paul Clapham