I’m Going to the UK for Six Weeks!

I'm Going to the UK for Six Weeks!

Well, my friends, the time has finally come. This afternoon, I’m getting on a plane and flying to the UK for six weeks. That’s right: SIX WEEKS!

This trip has been a long time coming. I’ve been wanting to go to the UK since I graduated from high school, but immediately started my post-secondary education, then dropped out, moved out, got my first credit card—and you know the rest of that story. I had debt for most of my twenties, but started travelling (solo) as soon as I finished paying it off. Since 2013, I’ve gone on a lot of small trips. But aside from the road trip I did throughout the US in 2016, I have never gone on any BIG trips. After the girls passed away last May, I did a short 30-day shopping ban that helped me realize I needed something to look forward to. So I decided to save up and go to the UK for 4-8 weeks in 2018—and that’s exactly what I’m doing now.

I arrive in London on May 2nd and fly back to Victoria on June 13th. I don’t have much of an itinerary yet, because I prefer to travel with intentions rather than strict plans. That’s not the cheapest way to travel. Sometimes, it also causes more headaches or stress, because you don’t always know where you’re going to be (or where you’re going to sleep lol). But it gives you the flexibility to travel slow and say yes/no to whatever opportunities come up, and that’s usually my intention for most trips: to move slow and do what feels good. So I don’t know exactly where I’m going or what I’m going to do, but after pushing through the busiest 5-6 months of my life, I’m really looking forward to not knowing what my every move has to be.

Some other things I’m looking forward to:

  • enjoying slow mornings (sip coffee, read, and journal in new cities)
  • exploring bookstores and reading some books written by local authors
  • walking + hiking everywhere my feet can take me
  • but also, driving a car on the other side of the road! I’m determined to do this!
  • taking pictures (and sharing some on Instagram)
  • and making new friends :)

Oddly enough, I’m also looking forward to being outside of my comfort zone. Being able to travel by yourself is an incredible gift, but it also comes with unique challenges. I’m prepared for there to be a few tough days, or at least tough moments. I’ll probably get lost or lose something, crave normalcy/routine, and even get homesick once or twice. And knowing me, I’m sure I’ll cry a few times too. It always happens, so I’ve learned that’s just part of the experience. But if the road trip taught me anything, it’s that I also feel like my best self when I’m travelling. I feel lighter and more open (to new people + opportunities)—and I always come home feeling like a new person. I don’t know what the UK holds for me, but I’m excited to find out.

For those who live there, or who are simply curious, I do have a few plans/ideas:

  • I’m not a huge fan of tourist attractions, but I’m going to the Making of Harry Potter studio tour on May 4th and I am SOOO RIDICULOUSLY excited about it, haha.
  • I’m heading down to Brighton for the long weekend.
  • I have an event in London on May 8th!
  • I don’t really have any plans from May 9th-18th yet, so I think that’s when I’ll map out a road trip (maybe to South West England? or Wales?)
  • After that, I’ll start heading north and visit friends in Manchester, the Peak District, Leeds and York.
  • I think I’ll rent a car and do another road trip to the Lakes!
  • and then I still need to figure out where Scotland and Ireland fit into this. (And yes, I know Ireland isn’t in the UK. I just want to go, while I’m there!)

As per usual, I’m still travelling with just carry-on luggage. In fact, for this trip, I’m somehow packing even lighter than I did for a road trip last year. Everything fits into my Gregory Compass 40L backpack. And that was really important to me for this trip, in particular, because I won’t have regular access to a vehicle and don’t want to be weighed down at all. So it’s just me and my backpack. :)

I still have a few work tasks to complete at the airport today, before I sign off and get on the plane. However, the closer I get to my departure time, the happier (and more emotional) I start to feel. I booked this flight on January 9th and have used it as motivation ever since. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t keep working at the pace I was, I reminded myself that I only had to push through for a few more months or weeks—now hours—until I could go on this trip. It then became the marker for things I could say yes/no to. And it all worked! The Year of Less is out in the world! It was a WSJ bestseller! I have done 101 interviews about it and connected with so many incredible people this year! And now it’s time to take a break.

So I’m signing off, friends! I have a handful of incredible guest posts to share this month. (Think: incredibly honest and vulnerable. I’m so grateful to the writers for wanting to share their stories with us.) I will also pop in when I’m inspired to write. If you don’t hear much from me, though, you can always check my Instagram account and see what I’m up to!

For now, I’m curious: Is there ONE thing you would recommend I do while I’m in the UK? I’d especially love to hear from locals, because I would much rather do something a local would do. Visit a certain coffee shop or bookstore, walk a particular trail, and so on. Just one thing. Thank you, my friends! I appreciate you all. :)

  • I’m not a local, but my friend who is (and lives in Cardiff) took me to a proper Sunday family-style roast, but at a restaurant. Great fun!

  • I know you mentioned doing tourist type things isn’t your favorite but i really enjoyed going to Stonehenge and even seeing the Crown Jewels was fantastic! Enjoy your well deserved rest! Maybe tour a castle? Look forward to hearing about your adventures when you return :) Safe travels!!

  • Hey Cait! I heartily recommend my hometown, Machynlleth in mid-Wales. It’s a colourful little market town (pop 2000) nestled in the hills at the head of the Dyfi estuary. You can visit the Centre for Alternative Technology, catch the train to the seaside and see the ancient submerged forest at Borth, hear Welsh spoken on the streets, have coffee and laptop time at Caffi Alys, enjoy the Wednesday market, come to Open Mic (first Thurs of the month), take mini steam trains to various picturesque locations, and a whole load other lovely things. Mach is just outside the Snowdonia national park so if you’re into mountain walking you can easily get to the bottom of Cadair Idris by bus, or enjoy any number of other walks including the Wales Coastal Path :)

    Mach is on the Birmingham-Aberystwyth train line so super easy (if slow) to get to and beautiful scenery!

    As you’re going to Leeds and Manchester I really recommend Todmorden and Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley (both are small towns on stops on the slow train between the two). Hebden Bridge probs a little better for tourists; it’s bougie and hip with lots of cafes and funky people, a lovely canal boat community, gorgeous scenery and walking, Sylvia Plath’s grave (!) and tons of industrial revolution remnants hidden in the landscape.

    If your’e serious about Scotland and want to get to the Highlands, the train from Glasgow to Mallaig (where you catch the ferry to Skye) is a stunner, crossing among other things the famous Harry Potter viaduct! Skye itself is super touristy at this time of year and not much fun, a nicer area to visit would be the Small Isles – especially Canna, which is quiet and peaceful even in high season, or Eigg, which is entirely owned by the resident community.

    (All this stuff is googlable, or shout me if you want info on any of this!)

    Safe travels! xx

    • I’d definitely agree that Snowdonia is a must if you are visiting Wales. Beautiful.

  • Cornwall is amazing for beaches (SW Eng.), North Cornwall particularly (in my opinion!) – check out the Camel Valley, lovely walks and a vineyard. Brighton is awesome! Try Pascere for food – my new favourite place in the South Laines. Check out the free stuff in London (galleries, sky garden), and food – Borough Market and the Street Feast markets are great too. Watch a sunrise over the River Thames.

  • As you’re going to be in York I would recommend Betty’s Tea Rooms. People queue so later in the day for afternoon may be better. There’s also a Betty’s in Harrogate which is a lovely town not to far from York. Have a great time. x

  • Hi Cait,

    If you can’t make Machynlleth but are heading to Devon/Cornwall rather than Wales then Totnes is quirky. Someone mentioned Stonehenge, we used to sit on the stones and eat our packed lunches when I was young but you can’t do that these days and it’s much more commercialised than it was, still good … but if you want to avoid the crowds look up Avebury instead. Lots of good hikes, almost anywhere in Scotland (particularly enjoy Glen Coe myself); Snowdon or Cader Idris in north wales, Brecon beacons in the south. South Devon coastal towns are great Salcombe, Dartmouth for example. Lands End is over-developed destination IMV. Perhaps a large stately home is of interest, e.g. Chatsworth House, if so Stanage Edge is a great spot for a hike nearby. Talking of edges, the Helvellyn via Striding Edge circuit is a great walk in the Lake District (some nerves required). Be aware the trains can be terribly expensive in this country, worth getting a rail card if you qualify, choosing what time you travel and booking in advance if you can. Should probably mention Bath as that’s where I live and it’s a world heritage site (also gets overwhelmed with tourists).

    Seems I failed with the ‘name 1 place’ bit. Have a great time.

    Geoff
    Wiltshire

    PS. Currently planning a trip to Seattle/Vancouver/Rockies ourselves next year, partly inspired by your descriptions of the area.

    • Geoff! You’re from Wiltshire! I am from there too but now live in Canada. Whereabouts in Wiltshire do you live? I grew up in Salisbury :)

      • Born in Swindon (not the posh end) have lived in Calne, now in Chippenham. Salisbury is great.

        • I’ve been to Swindon a bunch of times! What a small world it is. Yes Salisbury is beautiful. It sure was hard to leave. I’ve been living in Canada now for 12 years but still feel like England is my home. Canada is lovely too though, and of course I pick to live in a city named London with it’s very own Thames. You can take the girl out of England but you can’t take England out of the girl! You’ll love visiting the Rockies/Vancouver. Absolutely beautiful places they are, I had the pleasure of visiting when I was a kid.

  • I’m not a local, but can I still make a few suggestions? When in Ireland visit the Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. All provide amazing views out over the ocean! I know they are all standard tourist places but they will leave you forever changed. I also highly recommend driving out to Galway and taking the ferry out to the Aran Islands. Even if you don’t go to the other islands, Inis Mor is beautiful! For Scotland head north and visit Skye and Sterling. Mind you these are just a few suggestions. I don’t think you can go wrong with any place you visit. Enjoy your trip!

  • Cait, I am so exited for you! I agree completely, when I travel, even if it is only a small trip, I feel like a new person. Or maybe not new, maybe I feel more like the person I always am underneath all the noise and clutter of life, I feel more like me. More open, more happy, more inspired, more awed, more like my childhood self. Somehow traveling takes away a lot of my overthinking, over analyzing, and worrying. I lived in the UK 12 years ago (now I live in Canada too) and I lived in Salisbury. It’s a lovely little city and if you get a chance to stop in, I would. It is also close to Stonehenge which is a bit of a tourist trap but pretty magical at sunrise nonetheless. If you’ve never seen the white cliffs of Dover I would certainly make a trip to see that too. English pasties are England’s version of Tim Horton’s donuts and they are so good. They are often filled with meat, but if you are still eating strictly vegetarian you can always get a cheese and onion pasty. Nothing beats that with a good cuppa tea. Wishing you all the very best on your travels, and hoping this trip is everything you hoped it would be and more.

  • I would highly recommend going to Stonehenge. Although it’s a tourist mecca, there’s an amazing spiritual quality to the place. It helps to go early, before the tour buses arrive. Also, don’t miss Avebury if you go to Stonehenge – it’s close by, and not at all touristy, and represents the same period of time as Stonehenge. Super cool.

  • Well. THIS is exciting! I’m in the UK (Southampton/New Forest) way, and if you’re in the area – and why wouldn’t you be? It’s SO pretty! – let me know. I’d be happy to treat you to a proper cream tea and have a chat. If not, have a fantastic time – hopefully the weather will cooperate for you, it’s not all that great at the moment.

  • I moved to London in September from the US so I am still a bit of a tourist, but one of my favorite things is heading to all of the different markets (Camden, Sunday UpMarket, Portobello Road) but one of my favorites is Borough Market. Great for sampling delicious food from local vendors and eating from great food stands. Be sure to skip it on a Saturday as it can be extremely crowded.

    For your road trip, I recommend going to Cornwall and Bath. Both are absolutely beautiful!

  • I haven’t been back to England in 20 years (I”m so jealous!), but I would try to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe in London. Also, there was an overnight bus from London to Edinburgh which was an affordable way to get to Scotland. Make sure to hike King’s Seat while you are there!

  • I’m from Northern Ireland and always recommend it for visitors to the UK, it’s often overlooked. Check out the Antrim coast- giants causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Gobbins cliff path- none are super touristy as NI is still not a big destination. The coast road is frequently listed as one of the top drives in the world a great opportunity to try driving on the other side of the road!
    Donegal in the south is my favourite part of Ireland, some of the most beautiful beaches!
    I’m going home to visit my family in NI and Scotland in June, can’t wait!

  • Did you know you can do a day-trip to Paris from London? There’s a very fast train taking 2 1/2 hours each way. (Yes, it goes through the Euro Tunnel, and I know some people don’t enjoy tunnels. But that’s only 20 minutes out of the whole trip.) No, I’m not a fan of Paris or France, but if you’ve come that long a way to Europe I just wanted to point out to you how easy it is to see more than the UK because in some (ha, a lot of!) ways Europe is tiny compared to the US and Canada.
    In London, I love going to the British Museum. It’s free and huge and large enough to get lost in. Avoid the “touristy” bits like the Egyptian collection. It’s interesting, yes, but there is so much more to see and experience.

    • Just be ULTRA careful because of train French strikes these days… I’m French and these strikes are getting really heavy, I’d be really sad for you to come and be bloked here. (I feel sorry and extra mad about that!!)

  • Hey, if you are in London then I really recommend going up Primrose hill to watch the sunset. Take a blanket, picnic, some drinks, relax and enjoy the view. I have lived in London for so long and only experienced it recently – it’s a different view of London and so lovely at night (I wish I had got there for sunset!). There are usually a few tourists around (so not scary isolating in the dark) but not too many that it’s crowded. Right near Camden so you can take a nice walk in the market and along the canal to get there.

    If you are up for meeting new friends and also want to experience narrowboat life, then you are very welcome to visit me and my partner on our boat in West London. We can offer vegan food and good company :)

  • Was interested to read all the ideas, i second Stonehenge. It is amazing despite the tourists, just even approaching it by road and seeing it over the brow of the hill. I suspect that its not so busy at the end of the day and will be open till late now its British Summer Time.

    Harry Potter studios are great and it shouldn’t be too crowded when you are going (May half term is later in the month). Allow at least 4 hours there, it is just so interesting.

    I also second Skye and Glen Coe in Scotland, they sometimes have different school holidays so you might find you can be in different countries and miss the price hikes and crowds by checking that out. There are places you can hike in Skye that will be far from anybody and just amazing craggy mountains.

    North Devon is more rugged and Penzance, Cornwell has a place in my heart.

  • I hope you have the best time while on your trip! If you find yourself in Cardiff while in Wales I would highly recommend the Seasons cafe on Castle St in the Castle Arcade. They have the best Welsh cawl (a traditional Welsh soup made with lamb, leeks, carrots, and potatoes). Or, if you are in the mood for a sweet treat the natas at the Portuguese Bakery right down the street from Season’s are so great. There are also a bunch of coffee shops in the area that all serve great cappuccinos. When I was studying abroad in Wales the Castle Arcade in Cardiff was our hangout :) All of the food in the area was great and reasonably priced. As for the rest of Wales if you want to do some hiking Snowdonia National Park in northern Wales is beautiful. I never went there myself but several of my roommates did and they all said it was amazing.

  • As you’re a Harry Potter and coffee shop fan, you should come to Edinburgh and visit The Elephant House Cafe. It is the cafe where JK Rowling wrote most of the early Harry Potter books. You can visit some of the nearby streets that inspired Diagon Alley, Gringotts, etc. Edinburgh is such a gorgeous city for wandering the streets and you can climb a small extinct volcano within walking distance of the city centre for beautiful views over the city / neighbouring hills / sea. As you like hiking I would so recommend ‘bagging’ a Munro while in Scotland as well if your schedule allow!

  • Hi Cait, some UK recommendations for you: Peak District area around Bakewell great for walking/hiking; Stratford upon Avon for Shakespeare; Chatsworth House, a beautiful stately home in Derbyshire with fantastic grounds to explore; the charming towns of the Cotswolds; Bath; St.Ives in Cornwall; Edinburgh, Scotland – to name but a few! Looking forward to following your adventures on Instagram. Enjoy :)

  • One thing?! I can’t limit it to one thing in London (where I am), let alone the UK. Does meeting me for coffee count? 😉
    In London get a boat down the river to Greenwich. Or DLR there and boat back. Not a party boat or commuter boat but they run as public transport and usually have staff who’ll give you a bit of history and you see so many attractions. Also the college, observatory and maritime museum at Greenwich are beautiful and you’ll recognise them from movies.
    If you’re going to Cornwall consider the train as near Teignmouth it runs right on the coast. Tintagel is a bugger to get to but I’ve always found it spiritual sort of. It’s claimed to be where King Arthur (of legend) lived and Merlin below in the cave but the landscape is incredible.
    For something glamorous but expensive try breakfast at The Wolsley next to the Ritz. Or its sister restaurant near Covent Garden if you can’t get in the Wolsley. If you’re going to Brighton try the lifestyle blog The Anna Edit as she lives there. And I would also second the idea of visiting Betty’s as that’s a treat when I go north.
    Honestly, I love your blog and would like to give back so feel free to email if you want more ideas.

  • If you are in the Midlands, then Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birth place is lovely. Also close by is Warwick castle – allegedly Britains finest medieval castle – you could easily spend a day in both. The Cotswolds are your typical idyllic English villages, think thatched cottages, rose gardens, stone walls – look out for Bourton-on-the-water, Stow-on-the-wold and chipping Norton. If you are anywhere near Tamworth, in Staffordshire, I’d gladly give you a local tour.

  • The ruins of Tintern Abbey are spectacular, they’re about an hour from Cardiff and would be a great place to stop if you do a road trip. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

  • Hi Cait,

    Sounds like an exciting trip! I am happy for you!

    When I was in the UK two summers ago, I had no plans either and found that simply strolling down the Thames was relaxing enough. I also took one of the numerous ‘free’ tours (pay by donations) around London and it was a cheap way to spend an interesting morning for a broke college student.

    • Whilst in London, I would recommend just bus hopping around Central London for an afternoon. Check out London Transport for details of routes. Take in the sights on public transport, only £1.50 per bus ride or less if you change buses within an hour, and you can see where you are going and how one area relates to the next (unlike the tube). I used to do this when I was a student and newly arrived in London to help me get my bearings. It gives you a very different perspective.

  • While visiting London for a long weekend, I wanted to get out of the city for a hike. I stumbled upon this great website and did the hike of a lifetime starting in brighton area and across 14 miles of country side including stops at little pubs and tea houses. Explore this site and take some of these walks!! https://www.walkingclub.org.uk

  • Hi Cait! So excited for your trip. I live in south west UK and would definitely recommend you head this way if yoy have time. The Jurassic Coast is beautiful. Few recommendations: Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Lyme Regis (my home), Beer (yes it’s a place name), hike the coast between Beer and Bransome (only 3 miles but so beautiful!). There’s so much more to see but don’t want to overwhelm you with a million suggestions haha! Have a great trip!

  • Exciting. If you’re heading north you should visit Northumberland. There is the most amazing book shop called Barter Books in a town called Alnwick. The shop is an old train station. The Northumbrian landscape and coast is beautiful. At the other end of the scale there’s Birmingham which is not a pretty city, but I love it for being the heart of the industrial Midlands. There is great vegan /vegetarian food to be had at the Warehouse Cafe. Whilst small, I do love to visit the Ikon gallery when I visit Birmingham. Hope you enjoy your stay in the UK!

    • I think northumberland too. Alnwick castle was in the 1st and 2nd Harry Potter films, the coast line is so rugged and not as busy as other places that are warmer and closer to London. Lindisfarne is amazing with the priory and castle, its over a tidal causeway so you have to plan your travel times. Goes back to roman (celtic?) times with a rich and spiritual connection. Loads of villages and cafes etc to explore while you are traveling around.
      PS do watch for the midgys in Scotland and be prepared when hiking, they follow you around like a cartoon with a big load of them buzzing over your head.

    • Don’t forget Alnwick has the real castle featured in the first Harry Potter film (broomstick lesson) is only a few miles from the east coast main line station (alnmouth) which then goes on to Edinburgh through a beautiful stretch of the east coast in just a couple of hours

  • Hi Cait! I hope you have an amazing time in the UK!
    You might like to consider the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Scotland. It’s a great way to travel to Edinburgh, Glasgow or the Highlands overnight so you don’t waste a day on trains or planes. It’s my favourite way to get to London!
    Edinburgh is great for exploring. Glasgow is a nice city too and you can easily get to some of the closer islands in a couple of hours by train and ferry – Arran (Brodick Castle / Goat Fell) or Bute (Mount Stuart / Ettrick Bay) are both lovely.
    Inverness is a nice wee city for a taste of the Highlands and a chance to see some more remote parts.
    Fort William isn’t a great desination in iteslf but a base for serious walking up big beautiful mountains.
    Have an amazing time wherever you end up!

  • When in Ireland, if in the Dublin area, take the time to travel to New Grange. Older than Stonehenge, it is a place of great wonder and now surrounded by a fantastic museum. (We lived in Glengarriff on the sw coast during the 90s.) If time allows get out to the south west coast and explore the smallest peninsulas below the Ring of Kerry, they are all much more scenic, rugged and wild. Loads of walking too.

  • I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years and LOVE how the main part of the city is super compact – so much to see and easily walkable (though lots of hills!). I’d recommend the swan pond at Inverleith Park and the free Botanical Gardens in that same area – it’s also by Scran and Scallie, a restaurant serving locally sourced foods – and all of that is in the Stockbridge neighborhood. Closer to the city center, I love afternoon tea at a girly little place called Eteaket. From Edinburgh it’s a short train ride to loads of castles – Linlithgow being one of my favorites. Have a great trip!

  • If you do come to Scotland try visiting the Ayrshire coast for wonderful beaches Dumfries n Galloway for some amazing hiking/walking with hardly any people. Check out visit Loch Doon on Facebook and let us know if you end up in this vicinity if you like…

  • If you are heading down to the South West, try and take in a journey along the beautiful Jurassic coastline. Stunning scenery, and you can stop off for a lovely cream tea in Lyme Regis.

  • So many choices! I think I most enjoyed the Cotswolds and Roman Baths outside of London, and the London Walks “Jack the Ripper” walk. That isn’t so much a destination as an experience, but so thrilling if you’re a history lover.

  • I hope you have such a great trip, Cait!

    When we visited friends just outside of London, they sent us to Winchester Cathedral and the nearby Abbey Gardens. It was a lovely little day trip if you’re in the mood for something quiet and beautiful.

    • Winchester cathedral is lovely and amazing to see the history of one man who spent six years underwater to shore it up from underneath. Has a good cafe in the grounds too.

  • Have an amazing trip Cait. You will love it. There is so much to do and see in every place but I am sure you will make the most of it and enjoy your slow travel. Heck I went to Edinburgh three times and each time I got to enjoy more and more different aspects of the city. It’s a bank holiday here in Ireland on the 4th of June. I’m biased but if you are coming to Ireland – the west coast is the place to go. It’s so wild and beautiful and plenty of hiking/walking trails. If you were to come to this part of the country your best bet would be either to fly into Cork or Kerry airport (warning it is tiny :D). Also if you know in advance of your travel dates you can book cheaper train tickets online. Even more biased because I am from Kerry :) but the scenery is amazing around here. If you have any questions about traveling to Ireland, etc…. just let me know. And now enjoy all of the tea in England. Also Madame Tussauds is quite amazing in London (but it is touristy!).

  • Visit Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland and Iona in the Outer Hebridies in Scotland. Take the train from Glasgow to Oban. You won’t regret. And Belfast is amazing.

  • Hello! Another UK person here. I live in the South West so I’m biased but… Bath is gorgeous, and they have a literary festival running in May. Walk around the Regency Streets and feel like Elizabeth Bennett. Wells is also beautiful. Read Jane Austen / The Shock of the Fall, great contemp book by local author.

    Beaches in North Devon are great & surfy, as is the Jurassic Coast for walking… have a cup of tea in the Manor Gardens cafe in Sidmouth and enjoy the views. Beware of seagulls who will literally steal your ice cream!

    If you need accommodation, universityrooms.com is worth a look – stay in an Oxford college!

    One last thing – 12th May is the Eurovision Song Contest! Find a party or live screening somewhere and revel in the camp magic of it all!

  • Hi Cait
    Very exciting for you. Would love to see you in London but am working a long day.
    Your trip to Brighton will bring you to the stunning South Downs and if you can, do some walking there. You can bus it from Brighton to Devils Dyke, but more scenic and with potential to walk over the Seven Sisters is the bus trip to Cuckmere Haven. Look them up and see what you think. Another great walk is from Seaford Head towards Cuckmere Haven with the Seven Sisters ahead of you. None are challenging but on a good day are gorgeous. All accessible by bus too.

    Have a great time

    Liz

  • Hey Cait,
    Just finished your book and thought I’d check out your website – what great timing!
    I live in Southwell, a small market town near Nottingham (home of Robin Hood) with my wife, teenage daughter and twin 5 year old boys.
    Anyway, our small town is home to a huge cathedral (don’t tell everyone – it’s a well-kept secret) called Southwell Minster (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwell_Minster).
    I work from home (I too run my own website on astronomy) so, if you end up anywhere nearby, let me know and I’ll show you around the Minster.
    Enjoy Britain, it’s a great place!

  • Be sure to walk at least part of the stunning SW coast path – best bits are just east of PADSTOW on the N coast or the Roseland peninsula (Nr St Mawes) on the S coast. All stunningly beautiful and not busy. Many of the other places suggested in this thread are real tourist honeypots….. have a great time!!!

  • Hi Cait, I lived in the UK until I was 13 and visited once (school trip) when I was 18 – I am much older now…

    If I was there, I would do these things…
    • Get up on top of the Pennines (mountain range/hilly area – you are from BC, after all…) between Derbyshire and Yorkshire – I spent that impressionable 10-13 year old period of my life in that area and loved the isolation at the top.
    • Take a longer trip by train – might work for Scotland or Manchester from London
    • See the Thames in London
    • Spend some time in London – super exhilarating city – never felt anything close, except maybe in New York…

  • Me again. Just seen that Brighton is havi a festival in May. Check out the Visit Brighton website for more info.

  • How exciting for you Cait! I live in Edinburgh (ok, I also work for Marketing Edinburgh so it’s my job to promote the city!) however it is most definitely worth a visit. The city centre is made up of a medieval old town and a Georgian New Town both of which are best explored on foot to discover the hidden lanes, cobbled streets and closes. As you like the outdoors I would recommend an early morning or evening walk up Arthur’s Seat – our city centre dormant volcano – a touch of the highlands in the city. You like Harry Potter, well this is his birthplace and you can visit a couple of the cafes that JK frequented whilst writing the early books… I could go on and on. Drop me an email if you fancy meeting up for a coffee. Ting Thai Caravan has great Thai Street food. Bento Ya is amazing for Japanese. For something more traditionally Scottish you might like to try the Contini Cannonball… or we’d love to host you at home for traditional (veggie) haggis neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). Warm welcome from our two dogs guaranteed!
    Safe travels. Amanda

  • Bookshops – have a browse along all the little shops in Cecil Court. This is a short walk up Charing Cross Road from the National Portrait Gallery and on the right hand side. If you are a Harry Potter fan, then a visit to Leadenhall Market in the City would be fun for lunch. Have a wonderful (full of wonder!) experience.

  • If you make it Ireland go to Glendalough, in county Wicklow. There’s a sixth century cathedral – or its’ remains at least – and lovely walking to be done. The views around the lake there are amazing. Also, though you might not be into touristy things, the grounds of Blarney castle are wonderful to stroll through. I really felt at peace walking around both sites when I visited a few years ago!

  • Enjoy your UK visit Cait!!! Soak in the atmosphere, drink lots of tea or coffee, and meet the locals!!!!
    I have just finished reading “The Year of Less”. I wish I had read your book in the 70’s when I was in my twenties and making all sorts of bad financial and life decisions. My parents never talked about finances or anything of an emotional nature so I have taken much of this lifetime learning my life lessons through trial and error. Definitely the hard way, but the one that seems to stick!
    I am so glad to see that most young people i meet on a daily basis are developing an awareness of themselves and their needs at a much faster pace than our generation.
    I hope you continue to write more books Cait about your growth, struggles and successes. I will continue reading your blog – all the best!!!!

  • Two of our favorite London side-trips from a 2016 trip: 1) Oxford – We toured CS Lewis’ home, sat in the Eagle & Child pub where he the other Inklings met weekly for years, toured the college he taught at, and I found one of my all-time favorite fun and quirky clothing shops, Sahara. Check it out! 2) Bath – Just a very cool city. We loved our time there. We did the double-decker bus-tour thingy for the first time ever and we actually liked it! Great way to roll around a city and get off when you want to explore more.

  • I used to live in London. The ONE thing I suggest is going to the Crypt Cafe at St Martin in the Field church at Trafallgar Square in London. You can have a cheap lunch of soup or tea and scones later in the afternoon. Look at the floor and the “roof”. It’s one of my favorite places in London.

    The 2nd thing I would suggest is to take a free walking tour in Bath. Every one I’ve been on was a little different and all were fabulous. Some of the best walking tours I’ve been on were in Bath, England.

  • How is it that no one has mentioned Isle of Wight? It’s beautiful, serene & the ‘Model Village’ is an awesome experience! on this side of the London, Cambridge & Oxford for sure.. go punting.. learn about the bridges.. There is a little church right across the Cambridge where you can climb your way up to the top & take in entire Cambridge town..

    cheers,
    Himali

  • You must visit Eastbourne while you are there. There is a lovely pub there called The Lamb. Also, a hiking path that will take you over the Seven Sisters to another pub called the Golden Galleon. I am not a local, but my stepfather is. When my mother was fed up with me during my teen years, she would send me to England to stay with him.

  • If you find yourself in the midlands (Leicester or Birmingham or Nottingham really) get in touch with me and I can recommend places to eat etc :) I bought your book and read it in a few days and while I am still not as good as I would like to be with money I am getting there!

  • I have two. 1) If heading to the Lakes district perhaps visit the other Potter … The World of Beatrix Potter attraction. 2) From right in Brighton you can hike the seven sisters … all trailed, super easy. You could walk one way then bus back. Ensure to dress for four seasons in one day.

  • If you are going to the Lakes you should go to Keswick and walk around derwentwater. I have been really inspired by your book and I now have a plan to move to the lakes.

    Your story is mine but I am older and unfortunately have damaged my body. However, I have options and the resources and desire to move forward.

    Welcome to the UK. If you do a talk in Manchester when you are over please let me know.

  • In Scotland, visit the town of Pitlochry! A beautiful old (1700’s) quirky Inn called Moulin that makes an amazing beer (the Braveheart Bitter), and the best Haggis+Neeps+Tatties! Just around the corner is the Edradour Scotch Distillery…Scotlands smallest, and not very peaty, so everyone loves it! The guy who gives a tour has worked there for 30 years.

    My wife and I visited Scotland 8 years ago, and planned our trip when we were both working in Vancouver during the Olympics. In a cafe on W Broadway, a Scottish exchange student apologized for interrupting and told us that we were wasting our time on all these stupid tourist things…and directed us to Pitlochry. He claimed to be a serious beer connoisseur and the Braveheart Bitter was THE best beer in the world. That town became the best stop on our entire trip.

    Side note – if you go to Ireland, don’t forget to visit the Burren perfumery! No cooler place to buy perfume, the scenery is AMAZING and there is a little cafe with outstanding soup and bread!

    Have fun Cait

  • London Tower tour! Touristy but so much fun. And just ride the double decker bus through Picadilly, a wild trip :)

  • I’m in Edinburgh – love it.

    Lots of cool places to climb in the city – Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, Walter Scott Monument.

    However, I prefer Stirling castle to Edinburgh castle!

  • I’m so jealous of your trip! I went there for a long trip to England in 2013. I visited all my friends, ate loads of scones, and avoided almost all tourist traps! The one thing I must recommend is a walk along the Jurassic Coast. If you haven’t been yet, the Southwest corner of England is breathtaking :)

  • I studied abroad in London (almost 20 years ago now!) and loved it – fantastic city. If you get to Wales I recommend visiting Tintern Abbey – you won’t be disappointed. Have a wonderful trip!

  • I live in Bristol, a great city in the South West – you should walk round the harbourside there on a sunny day

  • Hi Cait, Am I too late to the conversation? I noticed that Michelle recommended Betty’s in York – I can recommend the hot chocolate (after about 7.30pm to avoid the queue). For a more relaxed atmosphere, I love Belles Bouffe on Bootham. Carole serves excellent tea, coffee, and food. Hope you are having a great time (and thank you for bringing the good weather with you :) ) Ally

    • Hi Cait

      Highly recommend Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door in Dorset and, Hengistbury Head with all the beach huts is a really great experience.

  • Hope you enjoy Brighton! I work there and there are so many coffee shops to choose from! My fav is the Flour Pot Bakery. Also just opened is The Ivy Brighton which has the most amazing decor! Probably need to book beforehand though. There are also some lovely villages nearby such as Rottingdean, Hurstpierpoint and a lovely town called Lewes (loads of independent shops there). Definitely try an afternoon tea with jam and scones whilst your in the uk! And a Sunday roast! Wishing you the best of times!

  • Probably too late now, but I think you’d love be the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Wales!

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