Top Ten Tips for a Rail Tour of England

Since its Victorian era heyday, rail travel has been a major means of transport for us Brits and a popular way for overseas visitors to explore Britain. With a far-reaching network, quality service providers and frequent connections coupled with the range of flexible passes and superb value offered by the Britrail scheme, Britain, and England in particular, is an excellent destination to explore by rail. So if you don’t fancy joining a large coach group and want to ditch the rental vehicle, why not hop aboard a train to traverse Britain.  Here’s our top-ten tips and practical advice for your independent rail tour:

  1. Pack light

This may seem obvious but pack as light as possible – there is no porterage service or luggage assistance at the train stations so you’ll need to be able to manage your own bags.  For this reason, we recommend you travel with minimal luggage, ideally no more than a mid-size bag or suitcase with wheels and one item of hand luggage such as a small rucksack. Most stations will have elevator access to the platforms but it is easier if you’re able to carry your case up or down a short flight of stairs, at the very least you would need to be capable of lifting your bags up two or three steps to board the train.

  1. Avoid the rush hour

You’re on holiday so have a lie in or enjoy a leisurely breakfast! It may be tempting to get your journey underway early but by waiting until after 9am to board the train you’ll avoid the local commuters which means less crowded platforms and quieter carriages meaning more space and a more enjoyable journey!

  1. Download an app

All adeo Travel rail tours include full printed service and departure information in your travel pack, but if you’re travelling with a smart-phone or tablet, we recommend that you download a rail app too. Most are easy to use and offer up-to-the-minute schedule information so that you can check your journeys and keep on top of any local service changes or potential delays. Ask your adeo Travel advisor for the best rail apps to download.

  1. Give yourself time

Britrail passes off amazing flexibility allowing you to choose any departure time for your journey without pre-booking times and seats, however if you’re aiming for a particular service ensure you give yourself plenty of time to catch it. If you plan to get to the station on foot, check how long the walk will take you before you set off. Or if you plan to take a cab, you can ask your concierge or hotel receptionist to pre-book one for your planned departure the night before.  Bear in mind that it can take time within the station to pass through ticket barriers and reach the correct platform, especially in larger stations.

  1. Stay central

It may be tempting to book low-cost hotels away from the town-centre or guest house accommodation located in the residential suburbs, however we would generally recommend centrally located hotels and all adeo Travel rail tours include central accommodation as standard. Even if you choose to take a taxi to/from the station when you are transferring your luggage, you still want to be in a downtown location to ensure you can easily explore the destination on foot; extra time and money spent in cabs could be better spent on enjoying your trip!

  1. Ask for help

Generally, the staff on the railways are extremely knowledgeable and very friendly; if you need help to figure out a timetable, check a platform or clarify a connection, simply ask someone – there are ample staff and ticket conductors, platform staff and barrier attendants will all be more than willing to help.

  1. Do day tours in rural areas

Many British cities are compact and easily explored on foot; rural areas on the other hand can be difficult to explore by rail as many smaller towns and villages no longer have operational railway stations. Our recommended solution is to combine your rail tour with pre-booked day-tours in selected destinations.  Small-group operators offer excellent insight in to countryside regions such as the Lake District, Yorkshire and South Wales but don’t forget to pre-book as they prove popular in the Summer months! If you want recommendations on such tours, simply ask your adeo Travel expert.

  1. Check seat reservations

Many train carriages will have reserved seating denoted by a ticket or digital panel – it may seem that many seats are reserved but always check the tickets; seat reservations are often only in place between selected destinations on the route – if you check the tickets you’ll find that the traveller may not be boarding the train until later on the journey or indeed may already have alighted at a previous stop. If a seat is left free, just use it.  If the owner of the seat reservation comes along, they’ll just politely ask you to move.

  1. Use your passes to their full potential

One of the real benefits of the Britrail scheme is the value the passes offer.  They are specifically designed and valid only for overseas visitors. They provide completely unlimited travel on each day of use, so don’t just set aside your ticket once you’ve arrived in your overnight destination – drop off your luggage at the hotel and get back on the rails to explore the surrounding towns and villages accessible by train.

  1. Enjoy the views

It can be tempting to bury your head in the newspaper or become glued to your phone as you travel between destinations, but don’t forget to look up occasionally; Britain is home to some of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys, and you can enjoy stunning vistas of coast and countryside on your travels by rail. The beauty of a rail tour is that you can sit back and lose yourself in England’s landscapes. Just ask your adeo Travel advisor if you want to include any particularly picturesque or famous routes.

We hope our tips have been helpful – when booking a rail tours with adeo Travel you’ll benefit from our local expertise every step of the way.  We are official Britrail agents and we regularly ride the rails of Britain in our daily lives.  For a full selection of our rail tours please click here.  Alternatively, for a fully customized rail tours simply enquire here.

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Adeo on the Road – Small-Group Familiarisation Tour

One of our packages we offer here at Adeo are small-group tours, so you can imagine my excitement and expectation when I learned that this month I would have the opportunity to go on a small-group tour myself! When enquiring, guests sometimes ask us what makes our small-group tours unique. Hopefully my personal experiences can help you out if you are stuck on deciding which type of Britain vacation is for you.

Upon my arrival in London, I looked forward to a chance to broaden my knowledge of our products (along with a chance to get out of the office!). My suitcase was then taken off my hands and loaded into the coach, as was a theme for the rest of the trip. Porterage is one of the main focal points in small-group tours; your suitcases will be handled from the moment you start the tour to the moment you leave. Please note that there are luggage restrictions, but I found these were comfortable; typically you will be allowed one suitcase and one bit of hand luggage.

Once the luggage was loaded, we made our way to into the coach wMini-Bushere I sat down in my comfortable leather seat with ample legroom – each with its own air conditioning system above keeping the coach feeling fresh at all times. There were four single seats and four double seats on each side of the bus, with seats across the back of the coach as standard – the coach seated a maximum of 18 people.

The tour driver then introduced himself formally using his microphone where his voice was projected around the coach – the speaker system loud enough so that all passengers could hear. Looking around me I noticed the general demographic of the people on the tour were those over the age of 50. Small-group tours tend to be fairly laid back, with the group rejecting the opportunity to go around one-by-one introducing themselves and choosing to get to know each other naturally as the tour progressed – a fine choice I might say! Before I knew it, conversation in the group started to flow as we all started to get to know each other. Every single passenger on the tour was a delight and an asset to the experience of the tour itself.

All of the small-group tours we offer have breakfast included and our premium tours will have three-course evening meals, both are a great chance to bond further with your fellow passengers while stuffing yourself full – it’s safe to say I may have to diet for a bit after my time on this trip!

While socialising with the other passengers, I got the feeling that many of them chose a small-group tour as their mode of travel in Britain as they found it more relaxing than driving themselves and allowed more opportunity for socialising with others that have similar interests. Small-group tours are also less regimented and offer regular comfort stops; the small size of the group meant that the itinerary was not so rigid and could be personalised slightly with de-tours if enough of the group agreed.

When it was time to depart the tour, it was fairly sad as the group went their separate ways. However, the driver guide asked for our email addresses and soon after sent a group email where people could keep in touch with each other if they hadn’t already exchanged contact details.Inside

Overall, the tour itself was a fantastic and invaluable opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge of what we are selling to our guests and I would like to thank everyone involved for the experience.

In conclusion, the expectation I had before this tour was not in vain. If you are a sociable person wanting to visit Britain without the hassle of driving, I would recommend checking out the many small-group tours we have to offer – enquire today!

There is no better time to book a small-group tour with us here at Adeo Travel – availability is high as our 2017 dates have recently been released, with some of our small-group tours offering an early-bird discount for those that pay in full before the end of November. We look forward to working with you in booking your Britain vacation!

adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 1, London

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

Kevin and wife Glenys spent the first week of their trip in London. In this first installment they explore every corner of the capital as well as finding time to spend a day in the coastal town of Brighton.

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After spending a total of 22 hours on a plane, an overnight in hot and hazy Dubai and half a lifetime standing in airport queues, we finally arrived in London. We really lucked out with the hotel in Bayswater and quickly learnt how to successfully navigate the fabulous London Tube. Apart from just wandering around absorbing the myriad sights and sounds of London, we did a hop-on-hop-off boat trip on the Thames, climbed the hill to the historic Greenwich Observatory, toured the insides of the majestic Westminster Abbey and spent a whole day exploring the grounds of the fabulous Kew Gardens. Unexpectedly, all of this activity was completed beneath blue and sunny, albeit still somewhat chilly, skies… with not a drop of rain in sight for two whole days – oddly, we felt slightly “dudded”!

London - Tower Bridge (2)I spoke a little too soon about the rain, but at least it only fell overnight, leaving our third day fine for a little more sightseeing. This time to the iconic Tower of London and the adjacent Tower Bridge – “the most famous bridge in the World”, according to the Brits – with its imposing views of the impressive London cityscape…

Our fourth day in London was also surprisingly rain-free, allowing us to walk through Kensington Gardens, past Kensington Palace and the extravagant Prince Albert memorial, and to spend the rest of the day attempting to absorb the wealth of information contained within London’s superb Science Museum.

Brighton - Brighton PavilionThis has to be some sort of record… our fifth day in London and our umbrellas are yet to be used! We took advantage of the fine day and caught the train to Brighton where we visited the unbelievably opulent Royal Pavilion – marveling at the unflinching narcissism of King George IV in conceiving of and building such a monument to one man’s vision of unreality.

We knew it couldn’t last. Our sixth day in London and we finally had to deploy the brollies against the chilly drizzle. Just the type of day to spend in another museum, this time the fabulous Museum of London. We circled the ginormous St Paul’s cathedral on our way there and visited Selfridge’s department store on our way home. But the Museum itself was totally engrossing. We spent over 5 hours wandering its chronologically organized galleries but barely scratched the surface of the thousands of years of history upon which this incredible city is built.

London - St Pauls…And so we end our first week of travels. Boy, has that time flown. In a couple of days we hire a car and venture beyond London. Stay tuned…

Inspired by Kevin and Glenys? How about spending a week in London on our London and Beyond tour?

A Royal tour of Britain

On Saturday we’ll be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday here in Britain! But we know that it’s not just us Brits who love Queen Liz – The British Royal family have plenty of fans all over the world.

We’d all like to catch a glimpse into the lives of one of the world’s most historic families and luckily the British Royal Family are happy to share and have opened the doors to many of their official residences to the public.

So how about a right royal tour of Britain!

  1. Buckingham palace, The Royal Mews & The Queen’s Gallery

London - Buckingham Palace (2)Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the UK sovereigns since 1837 is a must-see on any visit to the capital. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace annually as guests at State banquets, receptions and Garden Parties. Although you probably won’t manage to score a ticket to one of these, the State Rooms are open to the public when they are not being used for official functions and you can also visit The Queens Gallery and The Royal Mews.

Don’t miss: The Changing of the Guard ceremony at 11:30 every day from April – July and on alternate days for the rest of the year.

  1. Westminster Abbey 

Just around the corner from Buckingham Palace is another famous royal site. When Prince William and Kate Middleton exchanged their vows at Westminster Abbey in 2011 they became part of a centuries old tradition of royals being married, crowned and buried at the famous Abbey. Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church for the British Monarchy since 1066 when William the Conqueror became the first royal to be crowned there.

Don’t miss: A verger-led tour including the Royal tombs!

  1. Windsor Castle

Windsor - Windsor Castle (2)Just outside of London you will find Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle has been the family home of British monarchs for almost 1,000 years and is an official residence or HM Queen Elizabeth II who spends most of her private weekends here. Visit the state rooms, semi state rooms and St George’s chapel which contains the tombs of ten sovereigns including Henry VIII and Charles I.

Don’t miss: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls’ house in the world.

  1. Sandringham Estate

Sandringham is Her Majesty the Queen’s much-loved country retreat in Norfolk and has been the private home of British monarchs since 1862. The Gardens were opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908 and the Museum by King George V in 1930; Sandringham House was opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

Don’t miss: Sampling some delicious estate produce in the Visitor Centre Restaurant

  1. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

HolyroodhouseStanding at the end of Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Mile, this fine palace is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign. Visitors can explore 14 magnificent State Apartments as well as the beautiful royal gardens.

Don’t miss: Mary Queen of Scots’ Bedchamber, described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland.’

  1. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch between 1954 and 1997, steaming over 1,000,000 nautical miles in this time. Now berthed in Leith, Edinburgh, you can step aboard this most special of Royal residences. Starting at the bridge visitors can discover the Royal Apartments, explore the Crew’s Quart

THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA, MOORED AT OCEAN TERMINAL, LEITH, EDINBURGH PIC - ADAM ELDER/VISITSCOTLAND/SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. YOU MUST NOT REPRODUCE THIS PHOTOGRAPH WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION. CONTACT SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. TEL:0044 131 622 7174. FAX:0044 131 622 7175. E-MAIL: info@scottishviewpoint.com

ers and finish at the Engine Room.

Don’t miss: home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop!

  1. Balmoral Castle

In the heart of the magnificent scenery of the Cairngorms National Park lies the Balmoral Estate. Purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 for Queen Victoria, the Estate has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family ever since and continues to be where the Queen likes to spend her summers and where, it is rumoured, she plans to retire. Although the majority of the private residence is not open to the public, visitors can see the grounds, gardens, exhibitions and a gift shop.

Don’t miss:  a guided safari tour through the manicured parkland and gardens as well as the ancient Caledonian Pine forest, moors and mountains beyond.

 

Why not visit some of the royal residences on a bespoke self-drive tour! Or travel from London to Scotland by rail – just like HRH!

International Museum Day Special: Britain’s Best Museums

A visit to Britain would not be complete without a visit to some of our world class museums. These include vast collections of ancient artefacts, wonderfully preserved historical sites, natural history exhibits and an infinite array of institutions dedicated to everything from football to lawnmowers, garden gnomes to witchcraft.

To celebrate International Museum Day, here’s a rundown of our top ten museums in Britain:

  1. British Museum, London
British museum
British museum

This is one of the world’s most famous and controversial museums. Dedicated to human history, art and culture the British Museum has a permanent collection of some 8 million works – you can get lost for days in here! From Egyptian Mummies to Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens and Easter Island statues, you can travel around the globe as you explore this enormous museum.

  1. Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular in London. Probably most famous for the iconic diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall, you will also find animatronic dinosaurs, birds, creepy crawlies, gems and meteorites.

  1. The Roman Baths, Bath

Bath - Roman BathsThe Roman Baths at Bath is one of Britain’s best preserved Roman sites one of the most visited with around one million visitors each year. As well as the beautifully preserved ruins of the Great Bath, changing rooms and plunge pools, there is also an interactive museum which will transport you back in time to Roman Britain.

  1. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland boasts a weird and wonderful array of exotic artefacts including a hippopotamus suspended from the rafters, a colour television dating from 1937 and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin. The wide ranging collection represents the diversity of thought and activity that came out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  1. Churchill War Rooms, London

Hidden in the basement of a building in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster you will find Winston Churchill’s WW2 bunker and museum. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Churchill and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of WW2. This bunker has been perfectly preserved exactly as it was left on the day the lights were switched off in 1945.

  1. Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

This Glasgow art gallery and museum is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features 22 themed galleries which include natural history, arms and armour, art, history and more. The most famous painting on display is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ and other popular attractions include Sir Roger the Asian elephant and a real life Spitfire!

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  1. Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

This is a living, working museum set in 300 acres of picturesque Durham countryside where you can experience the Industrial Revolution first hand. The museum also plays hosts to a vast program of events throughout the year including the Georgian Fair, Classic Car Day, Harvest Festival and much, much more!

  1. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Wales

Okay, so a coal museum probably doesn’t really sound that exciting but the Big Pit is much more stimulating than it sounds. The former coal mine has been operating as a museum where you will descend into the earth for an underground tour and a walk through the mine’s tunnels.

  1. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford

The world’s first university museum, The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and now houses a world famous and extraordinarily diverse collection that ranges from Egyption mummies to contemporary art. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, incredible Anglo-Saxon treasures and a collection of modern Chinese painting that is unrivalled throughout the Western world.

  1. National Football Museum, Manchester

National Football Museum, ManchesterAnd now for something completely different, the world’s largest museum dedicated purely to football (or soccer, if you prefer). The museum contains a fantastic mixture of stats, memorabilia and fun stuff including a radio commentary collection, the chance to lift a (virtual) trophy and plenty of interactive games!

 

Why not visit some of these fantastic museums on a road trip with adeo Travel. Try our Great Britain self-drive tour or even Great Britain by Rail.