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9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Brampton, Canada
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9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Good evening, everyone.

I'm in the process of putting together a rail itinerary for 9 days in England, during which I'd like to visit London, Bath, York & Chester, and take trains through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales & the Lake District. We would be travelling in the fall or spring and would have Britrail England passes (so can sort of travel at our leisure, within reason).

We don't mind up to three hours of travel per day - I know this sounds crazy, but I was initially planning to take a series of group tours, and I am sure that would include lots of driving, and would probably be considerably less comfortable (not to mention more expensive). Here's my itinerary - please let me know if we should stop anywhere along the way or make alterations:

Weds: Leave Toronto

Thurs: AM flight into Heathrow, train to Bath, all day Bath (overnight Bath)

Fri: All morning Bath, early afternoon train to Derby via Bristol (overnight Derby)

Sat: Late afternoon train to York via Sheffield & Manchester (this goes through the Peak District via the Hope Valley Line) (overnight York)

Sun: All day York (overnight York)

Mon: Late AM train to Carlisle via Leeds (travelling on the Settle-Carlisle line, which goes through the Yorkshire Dales) (overnight Carlisle)

Tues: Late AM train to Chester via Manchester (this looks like it sort of goes through the Lake District, and I can't find a train trip any closer in to the District) (overnight Chester)

Weds: All day Chester, late afternoon/early evening train to London (overnight London)

Thurs: London (overnight London)

Fri: London (overnight London)

Sat: Fly home in mid-morning

My husband has little interest in 'visiting a city', which explains the lack of time in London. While in London, we will probably be primarily visiting the British Museum and National Gallery, and I plan to take the No. 15 bus to see the sights.

Any ideas of what we should do in our overnight cities, such as Derby and Carlisle? Any other thoughts in general are very much appreciated.

Thanks so much!

Plymouth
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1. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Hello! Do you have any particular reason for wanting to visit Derby? It isn't on the usual tourist route and there may be more interesting alternatives.

Brampton, Canada
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2. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

No particular reason to visit Derby, but I'd like to keep the train trips down below 3 hours, and I want to get as far as I can in the direction I want to go. Bath-Derby via Bristol seems to be approximately 2 and a half hours. If I were to keep going to Sheffield, for example, it would be an over three hour journey. I definitely could do it, if it were worth it to stay in Sheffield instead of Derby. I guess I just looked at pictures of Derby, and it seemed like a nice little town to stay for the night.

Would you recommend another place?

middle england
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for Leicestershire, Norfolk
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3. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Never heard of anyone travelling from Derby to York via Manchester - seems a very long way round. Also very odd to go from Carlisle to Chester via Manchester - are you particularly keen to travel via Manchester? The usual ways are via Warrington or Crewe.

Liverpool, United...
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4. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

I suggest that you also post your question on the Train Travel Forum:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g1-i12483-Train_…

Also, have you had a look at the train time schedules on www.nationalrail.co.uk ?

The www.seat61.com site also gives some excellent advice.

Brampton, Canada
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5. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Aardvark,

My plan is to travel on the Hope Valley Line, which is a railway between Manchester and Sheffield. This, as far as I've read, goes through the Peak District. Now that I think about it, though, it would make more sense for me to go from Bath to Manchester and stop somewhere along the way for an overnight. Manchester to Sheffield to York makes a lot more sense, and saves time. Hopefully what I'm trying to do makes a bit more sense, now.

Regarding Carlisle to Chester via Manchester - I guess what I mean by this is that I will be travelling from Carlisle to Chester, and the train changes in Manchester. I really have no interest in Manchester, except that it's the jump off point for the Hope Valley Line and apparently the change station for my trip from Carlisle to Chester. If the train changes elsewhere, that's completely fine with me.

Hopefully my trip from Leeds-Carlisle makes some sense, though - I won't have time to visit Scotland, and I hear that the Settle-Carlisle line is England's prettiest railway.

Thank you for your input!

Edited: 31 May 2013, 23:11
Brampton, Canada
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6. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Matt,

Will put this on that forum - thank you. I've spent so much time on the National Rail website that I eventually just downloaded the app to my iPad. It's extremely helpful. I'll admit that I've sort of been cheating and using Google Maps and selecting public transit between cities to get an idea of the times. This could be inaccurate, so I'd definitely need to double check on the National Rail site as well. And yes, I've spent some time on Seat 61 - really interesting information. Back when I was planning to include Scotland (and you think this itinerary is busy!), I consulted his site regarding the overnight train from London to Edinburgh. But then I read about York and decided I couldn't miss it.

Thanks!!

Canada
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7. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Are you using a rail pass?

Brampton, Canada
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8. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Absolutely - I can't imagine what the expense would be without one! :) We'll each get a 8-day pass for travel in England only.

Canada
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9. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Phew...! I love rail travel and the pass is very good value and gives great flexibility. !

Brampton, Canada
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10. Re: 9-day rail tour of England - thoughts?

Have you used the railpass before? Where did you go? What was your experience? At first, I thought I might just do some organized tours, because I envisioned myself stressed out at a railway station, not sure what to do if I missed a train (not sure why I was worried - I mean, I do speak English and can read a schedule, and I hear that station attendants are very helpful). Did you get a standard or first class pass? If the former, what were the seats like? Was there a washroom in every car?

Thanks!