The Brits really don’t want me behind the wheel on their roads. I don’t want to be driving there, constantly double thinking which side of the road I should be on – and which way the traffic will come from. So, on my solo travel adventure to Britain, I decided to take the train. As a passenger I was safe… and so was everyone else.
The practicalities of Britain by train.
Renting a car may make sense if you are traveling in a group but, for the solo traveler, the train is a good option. It’s less costly, better for the environment and it’s social. You can connect with other people if you wish.
Tourists traveling in Britain save money by buying a BritRail pass before leaving home. Britrail.com offers a wide range of packages. With three legs to my train journey on non-consecutive days, I got a three day flexible pass.
My three travel days involved Cambridge to the Lake District (Windermere); Windermere to Bath; and, Bath to London. There are so many cities and towns to service in Britain that the train system offers more than one way to reach any destination. Fortunately, they have an excellent online system to help. To find your options, go to the National Rail Enquiries site. Plug in your dates, origin and destination and it will give you a variety of choices that show departure times, arrival times, number of train changes and wait times between trains. The choice is then up to you.
This may sound complicated to the uninitiated but the system works very well. There are often transfers to negotiate, sometimes with little time in very busy stations, but there was always extremely knowledgeable staff on the platform. They could tell me the exact time and platform for my connection and, if there was a train delay or cancellation, they knew my best options. They were pleasant, efficient and, in some cases even fun.
The Pleasures of Seeing the Britain by train.
Would I recommend seeing the UK by train? Absolutely! It was a wonderful, comfortable way to see the country and its beauty. Heading north to the Lake District I viewed a spectacular sunset and actually tweeted about it thanks to the free wifi on the Virgin train service. The skies were Turneresque (if I may be permitted to use this word) and the trees, with half their leaves fallen, were backlit by the setting sun to look like lace. It was stunning and a sight I would not have been able to enjoy had I been driving.
And the stations were all bustling with British life. People use their train system extensively for commutes as well as travel. It was great people watching. And in the stations the food was quite good. On the train platform in Oxenholme I was surprised to discover a mobile coffee shop. In a country where people drink instant coffee on a regular basis, this mobile canteen – complete with bean grinder and elaborate espresso machine – was a delight.
The trains presented plenty of time to dream, watch the beautiful British scenery and get to my destination safely. Britain is yet another country I would recommend to travel by train.
This post about the traveling Britain by train first appeared in Solo Traveler, the blog for those who love and those who long to go solo. Why not visit the blog and join the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Photos via Solo Traveler