UK-Scotland-Ireland Expedition

Traveling the "Old Country" by Planes, Trains and Automobiles


  Final update: 20150522 from Dublin, Republic of Ireland

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 London Tower Bridge at Sundown.

Canon 1DsM2 1/6 sec, ISO 100, 28mm at f/2.8
All photos copyright, Bill Caid 2015. All rights reserved.

The Trip

We had been to London some years back but it was a "piggy-back" trip on work travel so we did not get much of a chance to see the city or the country.  We always planned to return, but never had a definitive date set.  My long-time friend Steve wanted to see Ireland, so we collectively decided to combine the trips into one all-encompassing UK road trip.  The plan was to stay in London about 10 days, then do a week in Scotland and a week in Ireland.  In London, we planned to use public transit to get around including a train ride to Scotland.  Once in Scotland, we would get a rental car and tour the highlands and then fly to Ireland.  In Ireland, we would use both public transit and another rental car to see the sights before returning home via London.

Tracking Our Location Via The SPOT

Some years ago, after a scary mechanical failure in the canyons and mesas of southern Utah, we decided that we need a better way to advertise our position and call for assistance if needed.  Kathleen found out about the SPOT which is a GPS locator that transmits your coordinates via satellite so that others can see your location.  The location is plotted on Google maps and a "bread crumb" feature is available for an additional fee.  We have the enhanced service, so you can see our historical path back 50 updates or so.  See our current location plotted on Google Maps in Real-Time via SPOT satellite geo-locator device.  This page is "book-markable" and is updated approximately every 15 minutes, but may miss updates due to inability of our transmitter to reach the satellite.  The communication is "open loop" so the device never knows if it's messages are actually going anywhere, it just keeps trying until the next update is available.  If we are in a congested urban area with high buildings (like Manhattan) or in deep canyons, the position may not update.  We try to send an "OK" message once a day just to let everyone know that we are, in fact, OK.  Given that London has many buildings, it is not clear how well this capability will perform.

Connecting and Contacting Us While on the Trip

Because of internet connectivity issues on a previous trip, we purchased a MiFi cell phone modem that allows us to connect nearly anywhere there is 3G service via cell phone (which is most of the cell phone service area available today).  But, as we all know, cell phones are useful many places, but not everywhere has coverage, particularly in the remote areas of the western U.S.  Our phones and the modem are enabled daily so you may contact us, although it may take a few days for us to respond.  But, we will respond.  My email, spelled out, is "bcaid at yahoo dot com".

Trip Details

The link table below contains links to the photos and dialog for each of the days of the expedition.  This table will be updated as the trip progresses.

Links to Daily Adventures
Part Dates Adventure Locations
San Diego, CA to London, UK and London First Look
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
The British Museum
The London Transportation Museum
Westminster Abbey and the London Eye
War Room, Buckingham and Kensington Palaces
Thames Boat Cruise
Greenwich and the Royal Observatory
St. Paul's
HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge
Windsor Castle
Science Museum
Bletchley Park
London to Edinburgh, Scotland
Exploring Edinburgh
Inverness to Glenfinnan
Glenfinnan to Tobermory
Tobermory to Belfast & Belfast First Look
Belfast Walkabout and Travel to Dublin
Exploring Dublin
Dublin to Glasha Farmhouse
Ring of Kerry
Jameson Distillery
Rock of Cashel


Conclusions and Advice to Travelers

The weather in London can be dicey.  Bring temperature appropriate outerwear, rain gear and comfortable walking shoes.  Scotland will be much colder and can be very windy.  Ireland gets plenty of rain, so be prepared.  Overall, we were blessed with reasonable weather.  It was frequently windy and given the cooler temperatures it did get uncomfortable.

If you are planning to travel to these areas, be aware of the local high seasons for tourists.  Your prices can easily double if you let your calendar slip by a few weeks.  Check the prices and dates carefully before you book.  Some of the tourist-related services can become oversubscribed during these times.  Availability of hotels, tours and rental cars can be limited, so check before you travel.

ATMs are everywhere and you can use your teller card to get cash in the local currency.  The UK uses pounds sterling as does Northern Ireland.  But, the Republic of Ireland uses Euros.  Unlike using dollars in Mexico, the locals here will not take sterling when they expect Euros, and vice versa.  Regular banks can change your currency if needed.

Visas are not required for travel to these countries, but a passport is required, particularly to get back into the U.S. Oh, and by the way, you should check the expiration date on your passport before you leave the country.

The UK and Ireland share deep common histories with the U.S. The good news is that these countries speak English, although due to their accents you may have to listen carefully to understand what they are saying.  Or, as we discovered, we could decode the individual words but had not a clue as to their meaning.  For instance, "Do you want the haggis, neeps and tatties?".

Heathrow airport is a big, big place and because it is a major hub, it can get very busy.  Queues for customs and passport checks can be long.  Security will take much longer than you think.  Make sure you have allowed sufficient time to make your connections if your plans call for travel to or via Heathrow.


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Copyright Bill Caid 2015