Getting the most out of a Brit-Rail Pass.
Getting the most out of a Brit-Rail Pass
Christopher Aves – Sir Travel Guru
Generally, we find that books about train journeys get categorized two distinct ways. Firstly, there are books with so much technical and historical train facts that they become tiresome to the layman. Other books tend to go the other direction; plenty of journey description but giving little or no information on the train, history, the route, and additional pertinent facts to enlighten the reader. We like to think that we have included the right mix of description, facts, history, and the like to satisfy most readers.
Vacations by clean, fast, and modern train services in the United Kingdom are particularly interesting and when coupled with the availability of the ‘Brit Rail Pass’, available to all American and Canadian visitors, become economical as compared to other modes of transport. You can appreciate the beauty and culture of Britain from the unique vantage point of a train. Journey past an inspirational backdrop of wonderful scenery – rolling hills, rivers, bleak moors, and roman cities. The poster below dates from 1948.
The rail network in Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) is the oldest in the world. Built primarily during the Victorian era, the network was originally built as a patchwork of local rail links operated by small privately held rail companies during the rail boom during the 1840’s. Amalgamations during the 19th and early 20th centuries resulted in the network being run by just handful of larger companies. World war one saw the entire network under government control but it was not until 1948 that the entire network was nationalized to form British Railways. This long and varied history of rail travel in Britain makes for a wonderful way of having a different independent vacation as opposed to run of the mill bus tours.
I was raised in the Roman City of Chichester, so we made this the starting point for our rail adventure. Chichester is only a short train ride from London Gatwick airport, and slightly longer from Heathrow. This book is written primarily for visitors to Britain from North America. Our goal was to see as much as we could from the train window whilst maxing out our BritRail pass.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – A potted history of railway transportation in Great Britain
Chapter 2 – British Railways Today
Chapter 3 – Recharging our batteries in Chichester
Chapter 4 - Chichester, West Sussex – to – Exeter, Devon
Chapter 5 – Exeter, Devon - to - Penzance, Cornwall
Chapter 6 – Penzance, Cornwall – to – Taunton, Somerset (Taunton – to – Minehead on the West Somerset Heritage Railway)
Chapter 7 – Taunton, Somerset – to – Shrewsbury, Shropshire VIA Llanelli and Llandrindod, Wales
Chapter 8 Shrewsbury, Shropshire - to – Porthmadog, Wales
Chapter 9 Porthmadog, Wales – Caernarfon, Wales Daytrip.
Chapter 10 Porthmadog, Wales – to – Lancaster, Lancashire
Chapter 11 Lancaster, Lancashire – to – Inverness, Scotland
Chapter 12 Inverness – to – Kyle of Lochalsh / Daytrip
Chapter 13 Inverness – to – Wick / Day Trip
Chapter 14 Inverness – to – Edinburgh, via Aberdeen
Chapter 15 Edinburgh, Scotland – to – York
Chapter 16 York, Yorkshire – to – Ely, Cambridgeshire, via Scarborough, and Hull
Chapter 17 Ely, Cambridgeshire – to – Canterbury, Kent
Chapter 18 Canterbury, Kent – to – Chichester, West Sussex
Book: Getting the most out of a Brit-Rail Pass.
British train stations for the most part are in the center of town, or close by on the outskirts. If you enjoy a short walk then may I suggest rail travel as the most relaxing way to visit Britain. No driving or traffic jams, room to spread out, rest rooms on most trains, and often time food and drink is available. Remember that should you require a custom plan complete with train times, hotels, restaurants, etc., please don't hesitate to contact me for more information.