UK train question

Aug 25th, 2012, 03:35 PM
  #1  
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UK train question

My husband and I will be in UK in January.
Our itinerary:
3 nights in London Dec30-Jan2
3 nights in lake district- probably Grasmere. Still researching this part.
5 nights in Broadway
Last night in a hotel near the airport.
We are thinking of taking the train London-Windermer. Rent a car and explore the area.
And then train to Cheltenham and rent a car to explore the Cotswolds.
Train to London and spend the last night close to the airport.
Please help me with these questions.
1) Is Cheltenham the right place to rent a car?
2) What car companies do you suggest in either places?
3) Is there any discount train tickets. Is there any train pass for tourists?
4) Is standard class good and comfortable or do we need first class tickets for train?
5) where would you stay in the LD? Is Grasmere a good option?

Thank you.
adeleh is offline  
Aug 25th, 2012, 04:08 PM
  #2  
 
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The Lake District in January? Sooner you than me... What are you thinking of doing there?
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 25th, 2012, 04:20 PM
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Have you looked at the weather in the countryside in January? Are you aware how short the days are and how early it gets dark?
Are you prepared for the cold and possible snow?

This seems like a great trip from April or May through October - but not midwinter.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 25th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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I personally wouldn't go to the Lake District in January. It would be VERY weather dependent and there wouldn't be much to see/do.

The Cotswolds would be better, but still weather is an issue. I lived in the UK for several years and did do country 'stuff' in the dead of winter. But I had the luxury of being able to instead stay home in my jammies if the weather turned vile - which often happened.

Places I would NOT plan for January are the Lakes, northern Scotland, the Peak District, North Wales, or the Yorkshire Dales or Moors.

Other rural areas could be OK - but not if if it turns nasty.
janisj is online now  
Aug 25th, 2012, 10:39 PM
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It's even possible weather will make travel round the Cotswolds tough. My Cotswold town was cut off entirely (including the train service) for ten days in the 2010/11 winter and for four in the 2011/12 winter, and most of us avoided driving for non-urgent reasons for weeks either side.

England's generally benign winters mean we're not geared to deal with quite minor, short snaps of subzero temps or the very rare snow shower that sticks. In my part of the Cotswolds, we've only had any at all in three of the past eleven winters, and they've been predicted only a few days before. If they happen, they can hit any time between early December and the end of Feb.

I'd scrap your plans entirely. If you want to risk the Cotswolds (where the likelihood of chaos is lower than in the Lakes) it's ESSENTIAL to have travel insurance to cover you if you can't get there or get your plane home.

If you want to move your plans outside the winter anti-window, I'd also question your strategy. To my mind it's more of a pain (and takes longer) to get a train from Windermere to Cheltenham than to drive, and getting from Broadway to Heathrow's an even bigger pain. Just book a nonrefundable train ticket on www.nationalrail.co.uk as far ahead (but not more than 12 weeks before) to Windermere, hire a car and dump it at Heathrow. Or dump it at Oxford and get a bus straight into the airport.

No of course we don't subsidise tourists by giving them special deals on trains. Standard class is fine - and first involves absurd premiums (usually several hundred percent) over advance purchase standard tickets
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 03:35 AM
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If you do decide to stay in the Lake District in January, then weather is a large consideration. Grasmere wouldn't be my choice at that time of the year, but maybe consider Bowness. It's a slightly larger place with some good hotels and restaurants.

In the first week of January however, I'd guess quite a few places will be closed, especially in the smaller towns and villages. Your trip isn't best timed for the Lakes or Cotswolds so maybe consider larger towns or cities for your 8 days. How about Manchester, (loads to see and do),York and then Oxford, before flying home.
Rubicund is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 04:17 AM
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) Is there any discount train tickets. Is there any train pass for tourists?>

Well there is a BritRail England Pass valid on all trains in England and in off-season it is 20% off (for travel thru the end of Feb) but with only three train trips you are better doing the online discounted tickets flanneruk so eloquently describes.

However if you wanted total flexibility to board any train anytime then the pass could be economic as full fare at will tickets can cost a fortune - but if you are willing to lock yourself into non-changeable tickets far ahead of time (to secure as they are sold in limited numbers in each tier I believe) then do that - will be cheapest way by far I would think. Great sources of info on British trains - www.seat61.com (if interested in BritRail England pass info click on this site's commercial link to RailEurope US and if buying a pass do so thru this sites link to RailEurope to give Man a much deserved commission on sales thru his site; other nice sites - www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

after riding British trains for years IMO first class is way way superior and more comfy for the needs of the average tourist than standard or second class which IME often resembles a cattle car - well that is just my take others will disagree.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 04:42 AM
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" first class is way way superior and more comfy for the needs of the average tourist than standard or second class "

Standard class London-Windermere (a 3 hour journey), booked 12 weeks out: £92
First class, same train, same time: £226.

Just how much "free" first class coffee can you drink in 3 hours to justify the £134 premium?

Unlike the America-resident BritRail salesman posting before me, I use standard class intercity trains several times a week. I've yet to encounter one resembling a cattle car in any way whatever. But pushing this myth maximises BritRail salesmen's commission.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 05:14 AM
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Seems the OP was already warned about visiting the Lake District in January, but isn't listening:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-cotswolds.cfm
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 06:51 AM
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standard class is perfectly ok and pleasant. If used in the rush hour (which varies by route) then they will be full. If not you can spread out.
bilboburgler is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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Personally, I'd stay in London. There's a lot to occupy you there with possibly a short trip to Bath or Oxford.
I love the Lake District, but would avoid it in January.
If the OP is ignoring everyone's advice, then why bother asking?
I tend to travel first class to London by Virgin train because I have a senior rail-card and if I travel off-peak, I can do it sometimes even more cheaply than by travelling standard. You get the free coffee, free wifi and a meal or snack. There is also a bit more legroom. Apart from that, standard class is perfectly acceptable. Now that Virgin has lost the West Coast franchise, I am hoping that the service will not deteriorate. I'm not holding my breath
MissPrism is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 09:33 AM
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Standard class London-Windermere (a 3 hour journey), booked 12 weeks out: £92
First class, same train, same time: £226.>

flanner points out how really expensive first-class trains are in UK and thus illustrates how a first-class railpass can be a real bargain - nearly as cheap for 3 days of unlimited travel as just one train journey of a few hours.



well with the railpass in first class the difference will not nearly be 134 pounds if you get a longer term pass and use this journey as one of your days - indeed a first class pass, for what it offers - much MUCH bigger seats - and always IME empty seats - lots of them - I always have a first-class pass and just hop on a train and always can put my bags on an adjoining empty seat - vs often now chocked full standard or second class if you have it seats that are not only much MUCH smaller but are these days often very full - not nearly as comfy nor enjoyble - more like IMO a Greyhound bus - so strongly consider a first-class pass whose benefits can quickly be realized in just one train trip as flanner points out above with regular fist-class fares. Again Off-Peak passes are 20% off - even a better deal if you want first class.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 09:38 AM
  #13  
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Thank you all.
I did not ask if I should go to LD or the Cotswolds in January. I have done my research and I know what i am getting into.
We love cold weather, snow and we will be happy to sit by the fireplace in a cozy B&B with a glass of wine at nights and not to receive any text or any phone call.
I had other questions and I received some helpful answers.
Thank you again.
adeleh is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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"we will be happy to sit by the fireplace in a cozy B&B with a glass of wine at nights"

And very likely during the mornings, afternoons and evenings as well.

But you know so good luck . . .
janisj is online now  
Aug 26th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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I have done my research and I know what i am getting into.>>

adeleh - please tell us what the weather at the beginning of January 2013 is going to be like and where you get your information from - it'd be really useful to know whether i'm going to be snow-bound or not.

honestly, 4 years out of 5 you'll be fine - the 5th, better watch out.
annhig is offline  
Aug 26th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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I live in Cumbria - have lived here for over 25 years and holidayed here regularly before that - and feel people are rather sensationalizing the weather here. Sure, we can get snow at that time of year, but I'm not sure that's good reason not to plan a trip at all.

We've only ever experienced one cancellation due to weather with our own holiday accommodation here (and before someone says "you probably don't get visitors in January", that is not the case - our occupancy throughout the year is around 90%), and that one cancellation was because our guests were visiting from Scotland and couldn't get to us because of the weather there, not here.

In answer to the other questions:

Standard train travel is more than adequate IMHO. It's not like you'll be on the train for all that long anyway (less than 3 hours from Euston to Oxenholme).

Re: car hire. Enterprise have a base at Kendal. If you travel up on the train, you could get off at Kendal rather than going the whole way to Windermere, and Enterprise's place is very close to Kendal station.

Grasmere is very central to the Lakes but might not be the best base if weather is a concern or if you need to leave on a certain date (eg. to catch a flight). Basing yourself at more of an outlying location (dare I suggest Kendal) might be wiser, since it'll put you nearer the mainline train station and/or the M6 motorway - both of which might offer a 'get out' in more extreme weather conditions.
kendalcottages is offline  
Aug 27th, 2012, 02:16 AM
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personally, I think I'd do this the other way round if i were going to do it at all, putting the London section at the end so as to give myself the best possible chance of being in the right place to fly home.

Also, New Year's Eve in a nice hotel in the Lakes would be lovely. it also saves a night in a grim airport hotel at the end of the trip.

that would give you this:

Dec30 - arrive london. ? fly to Manchester and hire car or take train to Windermere
Dec 31st.-Jan2 - Lakes
Jan 3rd - Train to Gloucester or Cheltenham. Stay 5 nights
Jan 8th - train to London. stay 4? nights [not quite sure how many you've got]
Jan 12th - fly home.
annhig is offline  
Aug 27th, 2012, 05:57 AM
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First class does not have to be expensive when you book in advance, i.e. can commit yourself on specific trains. And when you refrain from starting during the morning peak times.
For the aforementioned journey from London to Windermere you find many connections for GBP 43-59 in First Class. Some at rather ungodly hours, others at pretty comfortable times. You just have to look them up.

Whether First is necessary depends IMO on the specific service.
I traveled (literally) a few miles on the Virgin West Coast line Pendolino which was very fine and comfortable in Standard.
On the multiple diesel units of Transpennine Express, Standard was 3-2 seats in a row which made it cramped. First was nice with 2-1 spacious seats in a row. Here I was happy that I had secured a cheap First class ticket for the 1.5 hrs journey back to Manchester for GBP 15, one quite affordable luxury, no free coffee, though
Just to mention the two services/ companies, OP may use when travelling.

All things considered, I found train travel in that little part of the UK I visited to be a far cry from the horror stories of endless and frequent delays, overcrowding and such. Though I did not travel in the greater London area, usually after 9am, and against the flow of the commuters. Nevertheless, any time I got to the station, just maybe 1-2 trains on the big displays that show 30+ arrivals and departures had been delayed.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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I did not ask if I should go to LD or the Cotswolds in January. I have done my research and I know what i am getting into.

I had other questions and I received some helpful answers.>

janis was only being helpful not acerbic as you seem to think she were being.

How could we know you had done your research but more typically a novice traveler not realizing perhaps how dreadful the weather could be in a place like the Cotswold Hills in winter - she were only trying to be helpful and if interested in anything about the Cotswold Hills she is one real expert - in fact she IMO is the overall best expert on UK travel on the board! Local input is nice but it often IMO missed what the casual traveler from abroad is really looking for. Janis is a Yank but has spent upteem time in Britain - thus she can put herself into the shoes of a foreign traveler which locals often it seems do not and thus advise esoteric things that are nice but not always what the casual never been there before traveler wants.

I found your retort to janis' genuinely helpful comment a bit acerbic that's all.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 27th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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Standard class London-Windermere (a 3 hour journey), booked 12 weeks out: £92
First class, same train, same time: £226.

Just how much "free" first class coffee can you drink in 3 hours to justify the £134 premium?>

well a first-class BritEngland Railpass for 3 unlimited travel days over a flexible two-month period can be as low as $240 - or $80 a day for fully flexible first class hop on at will travel (off-peak rates, add 20% for travel March thru Sep) - let's see $80 is just about 50 pounds - so flanner quotes a 12 week out price (probably non-refundable nor changeable and train-specific) at 92 pounds or about $150 in itself - I presume this is each way does not say return - so to go return at those '12 week out' fares would be about $300 for second class travel when a 3-day BritEngland Flexipass in First Class would total only cost $240 (off-peak) or $299 full fare on peak - this seems like a no-brainer to me and you can just hop on any train anytime.

This is predicated on flanner's 96 pound discounted fare bought 12 weeks out info. Now if he's talking about retutn then a bit different but still for a very little extra often a first-class British Railpass in first class may not be all that much over discounted 2nd class fares as flanner's pricing would seem to indicate.

Whenever I mention BritRail here flanner often calls me a 'snake oil salesmen' - well in this case and many others the snake oil may be good!

Someone please correct me if my maths are wrong!
PalenQ is offline  

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