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Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 12:10 PM
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Pilates - i would just take the train from Edinburgh to Inverness - a nice enough scenic ride that is only about 3.5 hours all told and frequent enough direct trains.

And bat around Inverness area for how ever long - can take tours of Loch Ness, etc. Or spend the night here and then hop one of Britain's great scenic trains - the Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash ('Losh' i think) from where buses go over a bridge to the Isle of Skye - one of the most famous and interesting of Scotland's zillions of islands - you can take a bus anywhere on the island - like to Portree, the island's main town - but i am not familiar much with the Isle of Skye to advice on where to go but i think you cannot go wrong - there are B&Bs everywhere it seemed from the bus i took to Armadale Bay, to hop a ferry to Maillag, from where the really scenic West Higlands railway heads via Ft William to Glasgow.
Armadale and Armadale Bay looked like a neat place to stay and you could easily get there by mid-afternoon. There is a castle there and just a verdant coastal area - i did not stay there but took the ferry to Maillag the same day - just using the Isle of Skye route to connect from one scenic rail line - the Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash line to another - the Maillag to Fort William to Glasgow one.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 12:29 PM
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AND NOW BACK TO A POSSIBLE BRITRAIL PASS TRIP

Continuing from way above - as it ties in with Pilates trip perhaps


To recap the first part that i talked about in some detail went from London
to York
to Edinburgh (with several possible stops and detours en route)
then via Inverness to the scenic Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash line -
then over to the Isle of Skye by bus over the bridge
then down thru Skye by bus to the ferry to Maillag
to catch the awesomely scenic West Highlands train via Fort William and the Rannoch Moor
to Glasgow

OK - Now to Continue going south i will suggest the following main stops on the West Coast Route to London and southern England/Wales (the itinerary comes up the East Coast Route via York and Newcastle to Edinburgh)

The Lake District - the fabled Lake District of writers, artists, speed boat records and Beatrice Potter

to Chester

into North Wales

to Bath

to Shrewsbury

to Salisbury

to London

More on these coming up!

And as always questions are always welcomed - even if not germaine to current topic - really!
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Old Feb 24th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Thank you for the sample itinerary!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 01:00 PM
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thanks to you too!

PICKING UP THE SAMPLE ITINERARY FROM SCOTLAND DOWN THE WEST COAST TO:

THE LAKE DISTRICT - Oh yeh, the fabled Lake District, haunt of poets and artists - Wordsworth's Rydall Mount and Beatrice Potter's Cottage are top attractions but there is so so many varied things to do here - boat rides, hikes of all degrees of difficulty and neat - open-top double-decker buses that circulate constantly to pass by most all major sights - hop on hop off all day long.
Anyway a few days in the Lake District will be a highlight of any British rail trip.
And coming from Scotland the Lake District is an easy stop via the West Coast mainline from Glasgow to London

Coming from the West Highlands rail line you end up in Glasgow - kind of a unique and really neat city with a mixture of great Victorian architecture and vast parks mixed in with industrial detritus - not for everyone i guess but worth a look and IMO a stop over - but you can easily transit Glasgow and in a few hours end up in the Lake District - in Windermere - the railhead for the L District and a great base for rail travelers - the hop on hop off buses will take you from it all over the LDistrict - and Windermere oozes those neat stone cottages that are now cozy B&Bs - several being right by the train station.

NEXT SOUTH TO BLACKPOOL - Britain's primo seaside resort and a totally unique place in all of Europe IMO - not for everyone but something for everyone IMO.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2010, 09:29 AM
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Home page for the Lake District National Park Authority. Read how we keep this corner of England special, planning advice, visitor information and more.
www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/

The English Lake District at a Glance - A Quick Guide to England's ...
A quick guide to England's Lake District National Park, site of England's highest mountain, England's biggest lake and England's deepest lake.
gouk.about.com/od/englandtravel/p/lakedistguide.htm
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Old Mar 3rd, 2010, 12:48 PM
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Before railing south to Blackpool or Bath or North Wales let's look at how you can use the Lake District and Windermere as a base - not only from which to hop to the scintillating sights in the LDistrict itself but to another nearby sight of great renown - Hadrian's Wall - up next - by train from Windermere to the best of Hadrian's Wall - an easy enough day trip.
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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HADRIAN'S WALL
From Windermere you can easily day trip by train to fabled Hadrian's Wall - built at the northernmost part of Roman Britain to help defend Roman Britain from attacks from the north. Though much of the wall has disappeared there are enough restored stretches that makes this an interesting experience - as well as some restored forts.
From Windermere you take the train back to the mainline at Preston, then a train north to Carlisle, from where you can take the sideline to Newcastle, getting off at some small stations en route from which you can walk to some major sections of the wall and forts, etc.
But best of all for most is to hop on the Hadrian's Wall Bus that meanders along the wall and stops at major sights.
But anyway Hadrian's Wall can easily be included on a British Rail trip when going between Scotland and the southwest.
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Old Mar 5th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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Hadrian's Wall Country | Hadrian's Wall Country Bus
The service has now finished for the 2009 season and will start again in 2010 ... 24/02/2010 17:22, Hadrian's Wall Country Bus Timetable 2010.pdf, 1587558 ...
http://www.hadrians-wall.org/page.as...ll-Country-Bus

Wall Bus Timetable 2010 - Hadrian's Wall Path - National ...
The Hadrian's Wall Country Bus AD122 offers a convenient and relaxing seasonal service to explore the World ... Hadrian's Wall Country Bus Timetable 2009 ...
http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/hadri...e.asp?PageId=3
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Old Mar 10th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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FREE DAY WITH BRITRAIL PASSES

Every once in a while BritRail trots out get an extra day free if you buy your pass within a certain time frame - and if you are buying a pass anyway say for the summer why not get the extra day free -if you can use it of course.
So a 3-day flexipass becomes a 4-day for the same price, etc.
I do not as yet have the full details - date by which you have to buy, etc. Check out www.budgeteuropetravel.com as on their home page they usually highlight any such specials - or call Byron there - i've bought passes from him for years and he knows everything IMO
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Old Mar 11th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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This info was great. I was thinking of flying open jaw to London and then make our way up to Scotland by train and fly home to NY from there. On a one way trip ( three weeks ) which train route sites would suggest.My husband and I travel light, love art, like off the beaten path stuff, music, architecture and nature.
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Old Mar 11th, 2010, 02:07 PM
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Please pardon me if my questions have already been asked and answered in this overwhelming thread, but upon cursory glance, I have not been able to find the information that I am seeking.

My family and I (husband, child #1- 16 years old, child #2 - 13 years old, and myself) plan to spend a week in London and 5 days in Moreton-in-Marsh and Bath. We are going to travel by train. I have checked several different sites, including BritRail, Rick Steves, National Railroad, and First Great Western Rail, for information and options. I have concluded it doesn't make sense to buy a Family Pass (discount pass) because it covers only one of my children, and I would have to buy a Youth Pass (discount pass) for my 16 year old daughter. What is confusing to me is when I booked a hotel in Bath, the proprietor told me that I should check the First Great Western site three months to the day I plan on traveling for the best fares. I have not been able to find that in writing anywhere. Is it a two-month advance purchase policy for the best fares? I have noticed the huge differences in fares for the same routes, based on when the tickets are purchased. FYI, the only rail trips we plan on making are as follows: London to Moreton-in-Marsh, Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford and back, Moreton-in-Marsh to Bath and Bath to Heathrow. Except for the Moreton-in-Marsh to Bath trip, all of these trips can take place after 10 a.m. (non peak times).

Do you think it would be better to purchase a Family Pass (discount pass) and a Youth Pass (discount pass)in order to give us more flexibility in our intinerary? Do tickets still need to be purchased way in advance to take advantage of the lower fares if passes are held? Because of the short distances we are traveling, I would think BritRail passes allowing free travel would be a waste of money.

I am still not used to the current rail system in place in Britain. I used to work down the hall from the BritRail offices on Madison Avenue in NY many years ago (and my sister actually was employed by them), so I am living in a time warp and cannot fathom this new decentralized set-up.

Thank you.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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freberta - it is my understanding that it's 3 to the day when those tickets come on - but i have no real experience investigating that - but you will find on your trips various fares - check www.nationalrail.co.uk as it represents all train franchises and there may be competing services sometimes on the same rail line.

Anyway check the various Off-Peak tickets - those bought 7 days in advance, etc and even discounted and slightly restricted ones bought on the day of travel.

As Britain has about 30 separate independent rail franchises (companies) they may have differing time limits, fares, etc.

Off-hand i suspect that even if you do not get the lowest fare that comes on 3-months out on your journeys those fares would not be much lower than ones say that can be bought the day before or 7 days, etc.

No a BritRail Pass or even a BritRail England pass would be too much for what you are doing but you may investigate the Days Out of London Railpass that would cover all your travels and allow you to freely just hop on any train anytime - if desiring flexibility then it can be a great deal - check the full fare for Bath to London and you can see how really pricey fully flexible tickets can be - tickets that let you just hop on any train. The Days Out of London Pass also gives you a return trip on Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted Airport Express trains - outside of the validity of the pass itself.

But you can price out the discounted (and restricted) ticket prices now - they will rarely change much before your travels and see what is best.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 04:30 PM
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Palenque, Thank you. I will start playing around on the various websites, putting in different dates and times to see when I might be able to get the best fares. And I will look into the The Days Out of London Pass. Now that we have finally purchased air tickets (today), I have firm dates and know exactly when we'll be needing those tickets. Again, thanks.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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OK - I just did some comparison shopping, and I'm having a really hard time understanding the system. I first went on the National Rail website and found fares for 3 adults and 1 child from London to Moreton-in-Marsh leaving on a randomly selected day in May during mid-morning. The fare for the four of us was 53.80 pounds. Then I went to the First Great Western website and put in the same exact information (same date, departure time, etc), and the fare was 94.15 pounds. In fact, after getting the fares on the National Rail site, I was directed to the First Great Western site for payment, but, of course, I was not actually buying the tickets. Why the huge difference in fares -- in both cases I asked for the cheapest fares for that particular train.

Thanks.
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Old Mar 13th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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milliebest - i will respond to your post Monday

freberta - ditto to you - i will take a look at fares

gotta run to catch my train!
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Old Mar 13th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Thanks. Have a good time wherever you are off to!
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 11:21 AM
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Evening all.I need your help please because i find the britrail website so confusing.Im from Greece and flying to London next month and i want to travel by train up to Newcastle and Middlesbrough, travel around these areas for 3 days and then come back to London were i indend to stay another 3 days traveling inside London.From what i saw a consecutive 3 day pass for the trains outside London suits me plus a london pass for the London days.I have some questions that need answering please:
1.Do i need to buy the passes 3 months in advance as i saw somewhere?
2.Do they post passes abroad or you pick them up from somewhere inside the UK?
3.Can i use them from Heathrow Airport right after i land?
4. Do you need to book a seat in a train in advance or you just jump on to one?
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 04:45 PM
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Palenque

Any news on extra payment on BritRail pass from Ashford Intl. to St Pancras on fast trains (Southern)? I already have the pass. Have already planned my trip and am well up on the price of the pass, so paying a small supplement wouldn't hurt I suppose.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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Jog - thanks for jogging my mind about that Q re passes and the Kent Sprinters or whatever they call those new high-speed trains running over the line to the Chunnel. You could call Byron at BudgetEurope - 800-441-2387 as that is who i am going to call - IME if he don't know it he will find out.

vas290 - back later with some advice for you as well to millie and freberta
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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1.Do i need to buy the passes 3 months in advance as i saw somewhere?
2.Do they post passes abroad or you pick them up from somewhere inside the UK?
3.Can i use them from Heathrow Airport right after i land?
4. Do you need to book a seat in a train in advance or you just jump on to one?

1- No you should be able to buy them from any travel agent in Australia or RailEurope Australia - not sold at any British train station to my knowledge - but one reason to buy now or before the end of April is that if you buy by then you get an extra day free - thus your 3-cons day pass becomes a 4-consecutive day pass - maybe do a day trip from London to Windsor, etc with the 4th day
IMO The efficacy of the London Pass is hard to judge but that for the typical traveler it includes more than they will ever do thus i would advise against it unless you know you will do all the things it covers. For transport in London the Oyster Card IMO is a brainless choice you should buy as soon as you land in London

2- To my knowledge you pass must be posted to you - you can buy these in Australia from RailEurope, which does have an office in Australia and sells BritRail Passes (you really want a BritEngland Pass since you are traveling only in England.

Back later with 3 and 4 answers - gotta get on my train!
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