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Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Old Sep 9th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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Note that the 20% off applies to all BritRail Passes - even the Party Pass - and also Youthpasses - so folks under 26 or those traveling in say parties of four can really get ridiculously cheap prices and then for fully flexible tickets - really a real deal. I'll give some examples next.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Well i guess i'll turn attention to itineraries by rail in Britain - some typical itineraries for folks not having been to Britain before - such as variations on the basic London - York - Scotland - Lake District - Bath - London trip. Concrete examples that i've done next.

Questions on British trains and passes from a tourist's point of view always welcomed!
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Old Sep 24th, 2009, 12:31 PM
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A BRIT RAIL ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIMERS
If you have never been to the U.K. and don't care about driving on the 'wrong side' of the road or coping with the incredibly difficult city driving, etc. then consider this itinerary as encompassing many of IMO the highlights of the UK for a first time visitor:

LONDON - Of course, for however many days

1- Train to YORK - 1 or more days

2- From YORK train to EDINBURGH - for at least a few days

3- Train to the LAKE DISTRICT, railhead WINDERMERE for at least a few days

4- Train to BATH

5- Train to STRATFORD-UPON AVON

6- Return to LONDON

7- From LONDON do a day trip by train to SALISBURY and nearby STONEHENGE

8 - Day Trip to either CAMBRIDGE OR OXFORD

The above comports to an 8-day BritRail Flexipass.

Will expand on this itinerary next, including other possible add-ons like NORTH WALES. Comments always welcomed.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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Tweaking the Above British Rail Itinerary

York to Edinburgh - for something off the beaten path stop overnight at Berwick-on-Tweed, a unique fortified seaside town with lots of Victorian military barracks, etc. but a great place from which to take a bus into the Scottish Border Abbeys country - like to Melrose, a sweet regional town with its famous Melrose Abbey and also to nearby Jedburgh Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey - all ruined abbeys in the Scottish Borders area along the English-Scottish frontier. Melrose itself makes a swell place to stay if you want to leisurely visit these three great abbeys (and other neat sights in the area) - you can easily hop a bus to Edinburgh from Melrose so you need not backtrack to Berwick-on-Tweed - though for a day trip on the above rail itinerary seeing a few abbeys is easily possible in one day (indeed i visited all three and had time to spare).

Border Abbeys Tour Page on Undiscovered Scotland
Border Abbeys Tour Page on Undiscovered Scotland: The Ultimate Online Guide. ... In a reversal of what has happened in other abbeys like Melrose and ...
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...eys/index.html
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Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 11:32 AM
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YORK AS A FEW-HOUR STOP EN ROUTE TO EDINBURGH

Tweaking possiblities for the above itinerary if you don't have time to spend in York, IMO one of the very finest English towns, known especially for its awesome Minster (cathedral), then you can still see the town's main sites by getting off the train to Edinburgh in York for a few hours or so.
York is one of the few train stations outside of London that has luggage lockers so you can stash our bags in one and stroll the 1/2 mile or so to the town centre and fabulous York Minster - stop by the York Tourist Information Centre in the train station for maps, etc. or hop on the double-decker buses for tourists that serve the train station and do a loop around York's many sites - you can hop on and off all day.

So staying a day or two is great but sandwiching York into a London to Edinburgh rail journey is possible as well.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 08:41 PM
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Ditto Palenque regarding York. I recommend a couple of nights. The Minster is awesome inside and stunning at night.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Spaarne - ah yeh taking in Even Song in the Minster was so so sweet. And i have based in York and done day trips to nearby gems like Haworth (Bronte family home, museum, moor walks, etc.), Whitby for its abbey, Harrowgate (primo spa town) and Scarborough.
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Old Oct 27th, 2009, 09:38 AM
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Before moving north from fab York i might add that even if not de-training at York you will at least be able to see the fantastic curving Victorian train shed that is the York Station - one of the nicest i've seen in a Britain not known for graceful train-station architecture.

And moving north from York the East Coast Main Line, as the London-Edinburgh train line is known passes thru Newcastle-on-Tyne, which has little to offer for the average tourist but the approach to the Newcastle train station is awesome as the train tracks across a high viaduct bridging the River Tyne gorge that bisects this famous beer and industrial port city. the train seems oft to grind to a halt on top of the trestle and one can view all the industrial detritus of the port area, etc. that hints at how important Newcastle once was as well as Britain's maritime heydey.

After Newcastle the scenery dramatically improves and stays so all the way to Edinburgh, at points tracking right along a pristine rugged coast.

Next up is Durham and its fantastic cathedral, another possible stop on the route to Edinburgh for folks who have time.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle_upon_Tyne
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 10:10 AM
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Another neat stop between London and Edinburgh is Durham, a lovely regional town whose landmark feature is its imnposing cathedral and even if not getting off here keep eyes peeled on the right side of the train when going north for an awesome glimpse of the monumental church perched on a hill right opposite the Durham train station environs. Note that few British train stations have left luggage anymore - like York does - so i think it is not convenient for a few-hour stop - not sure but doubt if there is any left luggage, at least in the station.


City of Durham Tourism
The largest open-air museum in England is to be found at Beamish where you can see ... Contact Durham Tourist Information Centre for more information about ...

Attractions - Accommodation - Travel & Maps - Diary of Events
www.durhamtourism.co.uk/home.html
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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What if I wanted a Train pass for a family of 6? Mom, Dad, and 4 children (16, 15, 12, and 6)? What would be the best option for us? I'm thinking we'd only have 1 week. Looking at either November, March, or summer.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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If you travel on any British railpass between Nov 1 and Feb 28 then all passes are Off-Peak or 20% off - you must finish using the pass by the end of February.
You'd have to give me more info - such as just travel in England - then i'd look at the Britrail England pass or if going to Scotland then the classic Britrail, covering England, Scotland and Wales (but not Northern Ireland)

Consecutive day passes are cheaper per day but they come only in 4- and 8-day lengths and these can be good if traveling every other day or so - otherwise i'd look at the Flexipasses, starting at 3-days of unlimited travel stretched out over a longer period (2 months in this case)

But with your family kids 15 and under get a free Family Pass to match whatever pass the two adults buy and under the Party Pass your 16 yr old would pay 50% of what the two adults pay per person

So with the Off-Peak deal and Family Pass your family can travel really cheaply and still have complete flexibility like full fare tickets which can be really expensive.
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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OK Back to the London to Edinburgh rail itinerary possibilities...

Once in Edinburgh you arrive at one of Britain's most unique if not gorgeous train stations - Edinburgh Waverly - the main station plopped right on the main drag - with Edinburgh Castle brooding over the area from its ridge-top perch.

Waverly is hectic, disjointed and IMO fantastic - built underground, on top of it is the Edinburgh Tourist Office, a repository of reams (literally) info on Edinburgh and Scotland - a neat resource when getting off the train. And Waverly is one of the few stations in Britain with left-luggage (last i knew - these things come and go as to terrorism alert levels)

Anyway with the train you arrive in the heart of tourist Edinburgh = just walk up the steep ramps to the surface level and one of the world's most exquisitely gorgeous cities unfolds.
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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Thank you Paenque for bumping this up for me
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Old Nov 18th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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EDINBURGH DAY TRIPS by Rail

Though Edinburgh is IMO one of Europe's most fantastically gorgeous cities it is rather compact from a tourist's point of view and presents some really sweet day trips by train to mix in with the city itself - getting out into the Scottish countryside like doing the short train trip to Sterling, a nice vibrant regional town surrounded by lush countryside - Sterling is at the epicenter of Scottish history - a la Braveheart stories that i guess were set in the town's really imposing castle and environs that have served as battlefields.

Another neat day trip from Edinburgh by train goes to St Andrews, across the Forth of Firth (sp/) to Leuchars, from whose train station buses goe the few miles to the center of this really historic town = home to a great university - Prince William went here - and a nice old town with a fine sea front.

Glasgow, the historic rival of Edinburgh, is also a short train ride away and though it is often maligned for its soaring crime rate (not against tourists but strictly a local gang thing i think) but it does have some real gems - Victorian buildings in a parklike setting and a nice enough town centre.

And if you did not care to do the Scottish Borders Abbeys from Berwick-on-Tweed as discussed previously they are about an hour bus ride or so south of Edinburg as well.

NEXT GOING NORTH INTO THE HIGHLANDS FROM EDINBURG by Rail
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Old Nov 19th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Caledonian Sleeper Train | About the sleeper | ScotRail
Caledonian sleeper facilities include single and twin berth cabins with comfortable beds, blankets and fresh cotton sheets as well as air-conditioning and ...
http://www.scotrail.co.uk/caledonian...e-sleeper.html

Well before heading north of the Firth of Forth let's mention another way of taking a train from London to Scotland - the fabled Caledonian Sleepers, overnight trains that roll between London's Euston station and Edinburgh/Glasgow and to places north, like Inverness, way up in the Highlands area.

I've ridden them a couple of times and as overnight trains go in Europe they are tops IMO - esp first class compartments. More next time.
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 10:14 AM
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A first-hand report on riding the Caledonian Sleepers - i have done the London to Inverness route once with a railpass, a first-class pass and also have done Glasgow to London in a 'reclining seat' (2nd class) and the first example was one of the very finest overnight trains i've ever taken out of literally hundreds all over Europe and the second - the so-called 'reclining seat' was one of the very worst and most horrible overnight train journeys i've ever taken - not only in Europe but even worse than in places like India and Burma (Myamar)

OK for the first example - London to Inverness - i opted for a first-class single and i got a private compartment with a bed with sheets - some bottled water and an attendant who would sell me snacks and drinks if i wanted. The compartment was roomy - a window at bed level and in the morning a nice Continental breakfast served in the compartment.

This could not be a nicer overnight train - comfy, clean, etc.

Now next time i will describe the train ride to Hell that i foolishly experienced when taking the Caledonian Sleeper from Glasgow back to London that very same trip.
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 12:18 PM
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THE TRAIN TRIP FROM HELL - GLASGOW TO LONDON VIA CALEDONIAN SLEEPERLESS

For some stupid reason i had not planned well when wanting to return to London from Scotland and just turned up at the Maillag train station and asked for a reclining seat on that night's Caledonian Sleeper from Glasgow to London - figuring a reclining seat could not be too bad and i would save 40 pounds or so.

Well what a huge blunder - i got no sleep in this very crowded second-class regular car with 'reclining' seats that barely reclined an inch - and all the seats will full and like on usual standard (2nd) class train cars in Britain the seats are very tiny with very little leg room - i felt like i was going steerage on the old boats from Liverpool to the New World - i could barely move and the heating system barely heated the car. So i 'woke' up in London-Eustona after a sleepeless night - NEVER ever take a seat in a regular car on the Caledonian Sleepers - NEVER.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 12:13 PM
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HOLIDAY AND BANK HOLIDAY TRAVEL WARNINGS

A current posting on another thread lists this year's Christmas Holiday closures of whole rail lines, bus substitutions, etc. - Dozens and dozens all over the country and this is typical of any holiday period IME - especially Bank Holidays in spring and summer - so if traveling at these times pay heed to the laundry lists of closings, etc. that are posted often in stations. You will get where you want to go but in many cases longer and having to change say from train to bus to train, etc.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2009, 11:34 AM
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For more details on the sleeping options on the Caldeonian Sleepers (London-Euston to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, etc) - http://www.scotrail.co.uk/caledonian...e-sleeper.html

And note if you hit the link 'Seated Sleeping' you get a picture that in no way jives with the 'reclining seat' i ended up in on the Train Ride in Hell - that picture is for a first-class seated carriage - when i did this a few years ago there were no first-class seated carriages so if going seated pay extra for 1st class i guess.

OK MOVING NORTH - CROSSING THE FIRTH OF FORTH TO THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS BY RAIL - INCLUDING SOME OF EUROPE'S MOST SCENIC RAILWAYS - THE HIGHLANDS LINES
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Old Dec 7th, 2009, 12:41 PM
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OK Before moving on north i forgeot to mention possible day trips from Edinburgh by train that you could incorporate into a British rail oddysey:

Sterling is just a few minutes away and this town has a castle of huge fame and national patrimony - Braveheart associations, etc. It's also a bustlin regional town set in a verdant area of forests and farms.

St Andrews - on the seaside north of the Firth of Forth - take a train to Leuchards - about 45 mins i think then buses meet the train to take you into this gem of an old town - home to a famous university - Prince William attended and a sweet seafront on the rugged North Sea. a nice pedestrian shopping zone area - neat restaurants, etc.

Glasgow - less than an hour by train - Edinburgh's huge rival city - don't be deterred by crime stats for Glasgow that put it as one of the western world's most dangerous cities - the violence is mainly between suburban young thugs and the average tourist would never occur.

The Scottish Border Abbeys - these - the same as outlined under Berwick far above here can also be reached by bus from Edinburgh in about an hour - talk of reopening a train line seems to have stalled but bus service is frequent and cheap.

NEXT CROSSING THE FIRST OF FORTH ON THE FIRST OF FORTH BRIDGE - one of the world's most unique and famous bridges.
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