UK Self Drive Tour
You’re Australian so you are indebted to Captain Cook for discovering your home. Hence a visit to Whitby should be on your tour itinerary. Your own history and knowledge of the UK will determine where else you want to visit. This is where Google will help you find details of what to see and Booking.com will help you find hotels to stay in. You will discover Britain your way with an independent self-drive vacation taking in exactly what you want to see. Obviously unless you have years to indulge yourself you will need to make many choices. Pre-booking your hotels will no doubt be cheaper but it defeats the purpose of being independent as some items on your itinerary will warrant longer stays than anticipated while others will be satisfied with a brief look around. With your phone you can get online and book a hotel before you arrive to get a better rate. Book your hotels on the internet.
Suggested itineraries for self drive tour of UK
There are a number of suggested itineraries here which you can use as a springboard for your imagination.
The itinerary shown below is similar to one I followed twenty years ago while organising a tour for an English Language School in Thailand. Hence there are places related to English authors and poets I am familiar with and depending on your vintage you will be too.
Some of the places to see in London before venturing into the countryside are described in this item.
Great British Heritage Pass
Before you begin you could purchase a pass offering entry and queue-skip to a number of sights you would want to include on your itinerary. Purchase the Great British Heritage Pass.
City Sightseeing Tour
Enjoy a tour of any of the cities on your itinerary to get a quick look of where the places are that you want to see and perhaps find some that you want to investigate. Book a City Sightseeing Tour.
Day 1 – Dickens, Canterbury and Dover
Begin your tour by driving to Rochester because you read Dickens at school. Visit the Dickens Centre. This will take at least an hour. You can also visit the Castle and the Cathedral.
Drive through the Kent Downs AONB, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent, England, to get to Canterbury Cathedral which will be a must for all Anglicans. Parking probably means you have a bit of a walk to get to it.
Drive to Dover where you could spend the night. Walk along the cliffs to see all the flint in them. If you have kids get them to produce some spear or axe heads by hammering the rocks. You can also see the ferries to Calais, in France and medieval Dover Castle, built to repel invasions from across the English Channel. It overlooks the town and houses the extensive Secret Wartime Tunnels. The iconic White Cliffs of Dover are symbolic safeguards at Britain’s closest point to continental Europe.
Day 2 - Hastings, Naval city Portsmouth and Stonehenge
If you are of UK descent 1066 is in your bones. Hence follow the A 259 and get to Battle Abbey, a partially ruined Benedictine Abbey in Battle, East Sussex, England. The abbey was built on the site of the Battle of Hastings and dedicated to St Martin of Tours.
And then on to Brighton.
Use Google maps to find The Royal Pavilion.
Then 1805 with Nelson at Trafalgar calls so follow the A27 to Portsmouth where at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard you can board Nelson's HMS Victory and see where he got shot and where he died. If you want more there is HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum, with simulators and harbour tours.
And then on to Stonehenge with the help of your phone or Google maps.
Book your hotel on Booking.com in Bath if you intend touring it next day.
Day 3 - Bath, Brecon Beacons, Hay on Wye, Hereford, Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon
Day 3 - Bath, Oxford, Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon
After looking at the Roman history in Bath then if you are into books you will want to head into Wales and Hay on Wye, otherwise you may prefer taking a look at Oxford. Either way you could end up at Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands, the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. Possibly the most famous writer in the English language, Shakespeare is known for his sonnets and plays such as 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Hamlet'. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs his plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjacent Swan Theatre on the banks of the River Avon.
Book your hotel on Booking.com for Stratford-on-Avon
Day 4 - Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, Ironbridge, Chester
After Shakespeare places if you want another Castle then Warwick Castle is just up the road. It is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068.
You may want to include Ironbridge on your itinerary if you want to see The Iron Bridge and what is regarded as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
If you are a motorbike fan you will want to go via The National Motorcycle Museum, a large exhibition hall filled with hundreds of fully restored British motorcycles, plus a restaurant.
You will want to take an endless array of photos of Chester. It's known for its extensive, well-preserved Roman walls made of local red sandstone. In the old city, the Rows is a shopping district distinguished by 2-level covered arcades and Tudor-style half-timbre buildings. A Roman amphitheatre, with ongoing excavations, lies just outside the old city's walls.
Book your hotel on Booking.com.
Day 5 – Liverpool, Blackpool, Lakes District
As you were brought up on the Beatles you will want to have a look at Liverpool and then on to Blackpool which will take you a very long time to pass if you have kids.
Then on to Lake District National Park. This beautiful region inspired artists, poets and authors alike including Turner, Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. You no doubt had some of Wordsworth’s poems during your schooling and mum read you Beatrix Potter. A collection of Beatrix Potter stories is here.
Lake District National Park
Book your hotel for the Lake District.
Day 6 – More Lake District, then The Yorkshire Dales, Whitby
After you have had your fill of the Lakes District head south through Herriott country, the beautifully rugged Yorkshire Dales, before arriving in Whitby.
A reminder that the Yorkshire Dales are the setting of James Herriot's books and the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small". If you have kids get them to read James Herriot's books and see some of the episodes from the TV series. This will enable them to identify places from the TV when they come to them. You will want to regularly stop for photographs.
Whitby is relevant for our gratitude to Captain Cook. The ruined Gothic Whitby Abbey was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for “Dracula”. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, in the house where Cook once lived, displays paintings and maps.
Day 7 – York, Sherwood Forest
In York you could see its Viking heritage at the Jorvik Centre. As you can see from the photo you definitely need your ticket bought beforehand.
Shop in the famous Shambles, Britain's oldest shopping street where timber fronted shops tilt and lean over the narrow cobbled lane. You can't miss the "must-see" York Minster which dominates the city.
Further south visit Sherwood Forest where the legendary Robin Hood once roamed and then stay overnight in Nottingham.
Overnight: Book your Nottingham hotel.
Day 8 – Cambridge, Duxford Imperial War Museum
Make your way to one of England's famous university cities at Cambridge , home to uniquely eccentric, laid-back academic ambience.
You are near Newmarket, holy ground for horse racing fans. It is generally considered the birthplace and global centre of thoroughbred horse racing and a potential World Heritage Site.
After Cambridge, if you want to see a Lancaster bomber, a Flying Fortress plus many other instruments of war visit the Duxford Imperial War Museum. A WWI airfield displaying hundreds of military and civilian vehicles, plus exhibits on warfare.
Return to London.