As a native living up Northern England I often have to travel down south to the capital for meetings and events. It is never a hardship, in fact a very pleasant journey indeed. What many visitors to these fine shores sometimes don’t realise is that outside London there is a really gorgeous Britain to discover, just by taking the reverse journey to mine. Hills, mountains, lakes, pastures, country villages, history, alternative shopping venues and great cities. It is very surprising how quickly you can get to places that seem far away.. and it’s worth the effort. London is a wonderful place to visit and a fantastic experience. If you are staying there for a few days though, why not take the train to a beautiful corner of the Isles for a day or 2?
Photo by Mark Kent
From Euston station in the heart of London you can board a pendolino train from Virgin and be in the gorgeous Lake District, Cumbria…. within 3.5 hours. Not long to be transplanted into paradise. Experience the mountains of England, see the lakes like Windermere above or visit history like Dove Cottage (below), the home that William Wordsworth wrote much of his greatest work in. Once in the Lake district you will always want to stay longer no matter how short the visit, but for sure it is better than never seeing for yourself at all
Photo by Dougie
Of course the West Coast Railway Line doesn’t just stop at the lakes. Manchester and Liverpool for instance are only a couple hours from London. Historical, symbolic and architecturally astounding cities born from the industrial revolution, they thrive proudly in a wonderful diversity of culture and modernisation. Then there is old England, the capital of good ole Lancashire, Lancaster. retaining much of its Georgian architecture you can step back in time. A castle and cathedral dominates over the place and gems like the ancient Lancaster Priory (below).
Photo by Richard West
One of the best sunsets in Britain comes from close by too. There is something special about watching the sun go down over Morecambe Bay, no matter what time of the year.
Photo by Paul Steele
Photo by 70023venus2009
Oxenholme, The Lake District Railway Station (above), less than 3 and half hours from London Euston, sits by Kendal, gateway to the Lakes. It has the honour of also being the only village you can stop at on the West Coast main Line. From here you can get to Windermere and beyond into nature and history.
Of course the train journey does not have to stop there! If you carry on this line can get you up to Carlisle and to Glasgow, Scotland. A very fine place indeed to visit. History of industry, Atlantic trade amongst many things with landmarks galore. The squinty bridge spanning the River Clyde (below), the Mitchell Library, one of the largest in europe with nearly 1.3 million volumes, in fact I could go on and on about so many of the landmarks, hidden treasures and wonderful events in Glasgow, take a look here for more.
Photo by Robbie
Next time you visit Britain and/or want to escape London for a little break then take a look up north and west. This is only a small flavour of what you can see and do. Let the train take you somewhere special, somewhere unique, somewhere beautiful and somewhere historic in its own right. Even when on the train northbound you can view the pastures and rolling hills through to the midlands and beyond. Comfort and speed.
For more on the Virgin West Coast Main Line service look here. If you are planning well ahead and don’t mind travelling off peak there are some real bargain fares to be had. Unbelievably cheap bargains actually.
If You would like to see more of Paul Steele’s ramblings both in Britain and around the world you can follow him on Twitter @paul_steele, his Blog BaldHiker, Huffington Post and more VisitBritain posts