Adventures By Train

When heading off to GetOutside for a day out or an adventure, what’s your default mode of transport? If you’re going camping or even climbing, how would you get there – hop on a bus or walk? Perhaps, although most will load up the car. But could you get to your destination by train?

Camping, by train? What about all the kit?!

For some this simply won’t be an option. But it might work for you. The bags in this photo contain all the kit I recently took when heading off camping. Yep – all my gear. So that includes: tent, sleeping bag, roll mat, stove, cutlery, mess tin, wash kit and towel,  thermals, layers, full waterproofs, hat, buff, gloves, clean tops, etc. As I was going climbing it also included climbing shoes, harness, helmet and chalk bag (but not ropes & gear). As I’m a writer and blogger, it also includes iPad, GoPro, notebook and solar charger. And as, bizarrely, I was going onto a posh do in London, it also includes my version (!) of evening smarts. It seems hard to believe, but it is all in there. So is it worth considering what you need to take, what you want to take and whether you might like to leave the car at home…?

But what about the convenience – with a car I can go where I choose!

It may be driving is the best route to your destination. But it might not be. Britain’s train companies can get you very close to (or into) our wild spaces. Perhaps research ways to get to your favourite slice of the great outdoors by rail. I travelled from Plymouth to Sheffield, courtesy of CrossCountry. From Sheffield, the hills and crags of the Peak District are within easy reach. For example, the market town of Hathersage, is 15 minutes from Sheffield by local train – from there you can walk to campsites and climbing crags. The Lake District, Snowdonia, Northumberland, Brecon Beacons, Yorkshire Dales and Moors, Cairngorms, New Forest, Dartmoor, South Downs – various train firms are lining up to take you there or at least very near.

Overlooking Hope Valley

But driving is quicker and cheaper!

It might be. But not always. My Plymouth to Sheffield leg took 5 hours by rail. Driving would have taken around 5 hours too. If you buy early enough (tip: set a diary reminder for when the really cheap tickets go on sale), a single rail ticket can cost around £60. Depending on petrol consumption, you could pay a similar amount to drive the 300 miles. If there’s a group of you, piling into one car will probably be cheaper. But if you’re driving alone, it may be comparable – especially once you add parking fees. And then there’s your time – as a self-employed writer, time spent driving is dead time, but if I go by rail I can write, communicate, plan. You might like to take environmental factors into consideration too.

The view from the top of Mam Tor

To be clear: I was lucky – this trip was courtesy of CrossCountry. But that’s not why I’m singing the praises of taking the train – normally, if I can walk, get a local bus, or get there by rail I do. I often find leaving the car behind is a bit liberating – it makes me feel like I’m on holiday. So it’s a thought – it may not suit, it may not be your thing, but is it worth considering whether you can GetOutside by train?

Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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