Subject: Re: England by rail
Hi Linda,

(My comments relate to a trip I made back in 1996 just so you know how old the data is.)

I bought a BritRail pass - 15 days in 2 months - and I spent 6 weeks in England. I was staying with friends near Guildford (1hr to London). It was incredibly economical and my English friends were amazed at the significant cost savings it represented. The freedom of just showign up without havgin to buy a ticket was great. That said, for a couple of my longer trips I went in a couple of days in advance to confirm train times and to make seat reservations which was great to ensure a window seat facing in the direction of travel :) Each of the train stations I visited had a very helpful counter or office staff member to help you plan your journey and connections.

I made many week-day trips (spending weekends with the friends I stayed with): Bath - which was an absolute delight as the connections were well timed (and I used the hop-on hop-off bus tour there) Stratford upon Avon - where the train times were such that I had very little time to spend which was disappointing and the hop-on hop-off bus tour drop off times were painful York - wonderful day out with good connections also

Trains weren't very helpful for my trip to Stonehenge which I made by car with friends. And I tried to plan a trip to the Isle of Wight but public transport timetables made getting around diabolical so I cancelled that.

Train commuters paid more for travelling in peak times and that may affect your chance of getting a seat in case that factors into your plans - it would also factor into costings if you planned to buy individual tickets.

I also had 2 x 1 week long trips: A trip to Hadrian's Wall just as another poster mentioned - I trained to Carlisle, took a bus to the wall and then a local (school!) bus back into town, then bus to Keswick which I thoroughly enjoyed also for two nights stay (cruise the lake, stroll the cobbled main street). Bused on to for a couple of nights then another bus to Windermere before back to train travel.

The other week long trip was to Scotland - train to Edinburgh for 3 nights, day trip to Stirling and Bannockburn, on to Fort William and Mallaig (alas no trip to Skye as the ferries ceased at October end). The train trip to Fort William/Mallaig is supposed to be fantastic - I was certainly impressed with some of the amazing bridges and scenery I saw but the weather made visiblity poor.

I believe the train network has since changed (privatised?) but I was incredibly impressed with how fast and reliably it got me around the country (except for the snap strike in Scotland :) ). And I occasionally used a pass-day just to get into London for a day's sight seeing.

Some of the trains were smoking although most certainly weren't - it just meant I stood near a window and at the next station hopped out and moved up a carriage in search of non-smoking. :) Megan Brisbane, Australia