Purse-friendly days out
Travelling by train for leisure doesn't have to be expensive. Taking advantage of annual railcards can save you money on frequent journeys and advance ticket fares are a good idea if you're taking a longer journey. Many train operators have seasonal sales which is a great way to grab a bargain. The best way to hear about these sales is to sign up to their newsletters from their websites.
Combine cheap train fares with some of our suggested places to visit below, and you'll have lots of inspiration for days out by rail. Not only will your purse thank you, but you'll also be helping the environment too.
Train times are subject to change. Please check your route before you set off and allow extra travel time. We strongly suggest you travel outside of busy periods and book in advance where possible. Many train operators have capacity checkers or provide advice on when services may be quieter, check their websites for details. We can't guarantee low prices on your particular route so please check with the train operator. The advice on our website is given in good faith.
From heritage to the outdoors along the Blackmore Vale Line
Take a trip along this scenic railway following the route of the largely undiscovered Nadder Valley and the rolling hills and beautiful Vales of Blackmore and Wardour.
Leave the train at Gillingham Station and walk 5 minutes to the town's museum. Uncover the story of the town, its nearby parishes and its people, including the town's unique links with renowned fine artist John Constable. Hear how this corner of the Blackmore Vale grew from a Neolithic settlement to the bustling Gillingham of today. Price: Free
Further down the line you'll reach Sherbourne, leave the train here and take a stroll through the beautiful Pageant Garden opposite the station. As you walk closer to town you will catch your first glimpse of Sherborne Abbey. The Abbey is one of only eighteen churches awarded 5 stars in Simon Jenkins' 'England's Thousand Best Churches', a visit inside and you're sure to see why. Before heading back to the train visit the Sherborne Mural, an installation of 18 large, full colour panels, charting the fascinating history of the town. Price: Free
Next along the line you'll reach Crewkerne. From here enjoy a leisurely stroll into the heart of one of Somerset's most charming market towns, pausing to view the stunning Georgian architecture and Blue Plaques along the way. A bus service is also available from the main road opposite the station entrance. Pay a visit to Crewkerne Museum & Heritage Centre to discover the area's interesting history from Saxon heritage to textile industry roots. Price: Free
Take a bus from Yeovil Junction railway station and from the bus station it's only a 5-minute walk to the edge of Yeovil Country Park, an award-winning 127 acre family-friendly countryside oasis. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the town as you stroll through woodlands and paths meandering the River Yeo. The park also boasts a children's play area, picturesque lake with waterfowl and winding pathways that lead into the magical woods of Ninesprings. For a bite to eat and well-needed refreshments, head to the Ninesprings Café, here you can also pick up free leaflets to help you navigate and explore the park, including the popular children's activity trail. Price: Free entry to country park
Scenic rail route: Tisbury to Crewkerne
Get your tickets: South Western Railway
Enjoy the freedom of nature as you journey along Swale Rail
Take the train to Kemsley and walk to Milton Creek Country Park, less than 20 minutes' walk from the station. The country park is a tranquil oasis for wildlife, hidden from the world by a screen of industrial and residential development that hems it in on three sides. The park is open at its northern end to Milton Creek, a shallow tidal inlet running north-east from Sittingbourne to join the Swale at Elmley Reach. Price: Free
Further along the line you'll arrive at Sheerness-on-Sea where a short 15 minutes walk will bring you to Sheerness Beach. This beautiful shingle Blue Flag beach, is great for spotting an array of sea life in the exposed pools during low tide and includes panoramic views out towards the Essex coast. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Sittingbourne to Sheerness
Get your tickets: Southeastern
From Locks to Romans in the Heart of England
Explore Hatton Locks, a peaceful setting to watch colourful narrowboats navigate their way through this flight on the Gran Union Canal, 30 minutes walk from Hatton railway station. Download your free local map from the Canal and River Trust here. Price: Free
Back on the train, head to Coventry Station where you can jump on a short bus ride to Lunt Roman Fort. Step back in time and uncover the hidden history of this 2000-year-old fortress. Play Roman ball games, speak to Roman Soldiers and discover fascinating facts. Open seasonally, please check website for details. Price: Adult £3.75, Concessions: £3, children under 4 go free.
Get tickets: West Midlands Railway
Discover free things to do along the North Staffordshire Line
Longton Park, also known as Queen's Park, is a 25 minute walk from Longton station and is famous for its tree, horticulture and lakes. This Grade II listed heritage park has a range of facilities for all the family to enjoy and is perfect to take a leisurely stroll around the well-kept grounds. Price: Free
Over in Derby, a 25 minute walk along the charming canal towpath will lead you to the Museum of Making. This contemporary space tells the story of Derby's 300-year history of making with the aim of inspiring new creativity. Designed and made by the people and industries of Derby the museum has exhibits, workshops, activities and events throughout the year. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Derby to Crewe via Stoke
Get tickets: East Midlands Railway
Uncover rich & diverse heritage on the Poacher Line
Travel to the heart of Lincolnshire countryside on the picturesque Poacher Line and visit the world's only 8 sailed windmill, next door to Heckington Station. This Grade I listed windmill has been fully restored and the site is also home to an award-winning visitor centre, tea room and brewery, plus gardens, an onsite bakehouse and museum, making it a great day out by rail. Price: Adults £5, Children £3.
Venturing further along the line you'll arrive in historic Boston. A 10 minute walk from the station, is Boston Guildhall. Uncover the fascinating story of the Pilgrim Fathers that were imprisoned and tried here. Built in the 1390's the Guildhall is also home to the town's tourist information centre. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Nottingham to Skegness via Grantham
Get tickets: East Midlands Railway
13th century churches in the picturesque Rhee Valley
Less than 10 minutes from Cambridge is the charming village of Foxton. Leave the train here and head towards the village centre to marvel at the Grade I listed Church of St Laurence dating back to the 13th century. Now you're at the start of the Rhee Valley Listed Church Trail. This fascinating self-led trail takes you to five impressive and historic churches across the Rhee Valley, explore them by foot or bike. Look out for two other trails along the Rhee Valley, Pub Trail that features quaint traditional pubs with thatched roofs and Nature Trail that includes quiet nature spaces. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Cambridge to Royston
Get tickets: Thameslink
Reveal hidden history along the Mid Cheshire Line
Delve into the past as you discover Stockport's oldest town house at Staircase House. The unusual name comes from the home's rarest feature, a Jacobean cage-newel staircase, one of only three surviving staircases in the country. Price: Adult £5, Concessions £3.75, Children under 16 go free with a paying adult.
Pack a picnic and head to nearby Woodbank Park to enjoy time in the outdoors. The park is ideal for a leisurely stroll and connects with the River Goyt and the Goyt Way. Take the nature trail to see many of the heritage features of the park, that many people don't know exist. Price: Free
The picturesque Mid Cheshire Line starts in the vibrant city of Manchester with plenty of museums and galleries to explore. However, one of the best ways to see the city and discover its hidden history is to join Free Manchester Walking Tour. Every day at 11am a tour starts from the Alan Turing Memorial Statue in Sackville Gardens, 5 minutes walk from Manchester Piccadilly railway station. On this 3 ½ hour tour you can expect to visit Manchester Town Hall, National Football Museum, China Town, Rochdale Canal, Manchester Central Library and many more places of interest. The knowledgeable and friendly guides will highlight hidden games, put a spotlight on Manchester's rich history and share the story of the city from the people who know it best. Price: Free, tips are welcomed
Scenic rail route: Manchester to Chester
Get tickets: Northern
Yorkshire & North East
Visit one of England's first country parks near Romiley Station
Take a trip along the scenic Hope Valley Line and stop off at Romiley. While you're at the station, take time to admire the work of the Friends of Romiley Station and pick up a walking booklet, full of routes to help you explore the area on foot. From here take a 30 minute walk to Etherow Country Park, located in the charming village of Compstall. The park is one of England's first country parks where visitors can discover ancient woodland along the river valley, nestled in the foothills of the Peak District National Park. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Manchester to Sheffield
Get tickets: Northern
Explore railway heritage in Perth
Visit the beautiful city of Perth, along the scenic Highland Main Line, and discover the fascinating story of the railways at Perth Museum & Art Gallery. All Aboard, a family-friendly exhibition, explores the heyday of rail travel and features original objects together with photographs and videos to tell the tale of an important period in our transport history. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Glasgow/Edinburgh to Inverness via Perth
Get tickets: ScotRail
Let's go to the beach
Take a short trip on the picturesque Borders Line and less than 10 minutes from Edinburgh you'll arrive at Brunstane Station. From the station you can walk to Portobello Beach within 20 minutes, admiring the quaint stone built residential houses and elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture as you go. The beach is ideal for swimming and relaxing boasting over two miles of sandy coastline with views out across the Firth of Forth and Kirkcaldy. Price: Free
Scenic rail route: Edinburgh to Tweedbank
Get tickets: ScotRail
Check out our other #DaysOutByRail blogs:
We encourage you to explore these journeys safely by adhering to the latest government advice. Before planning any journey, please check the government guidance on travelling on public transport, relevant to where you are: England, Scotland, Wales. Please research your journey in advance as timetables can change and check for disruptions before you set off.
These scenic railway routes are supported by community rail partnerships, you can find out more about each partnership on the individual line pages linked above. Community rail is a growing grassroots movement made up of community rail partnerships and groups across Britain. They engage communities and help people get the most from their railways, promoting social inclusion and sustainable travel while working alongside train operators to bring about improvements. Learn more about community rail across Britain and how you can get involved through the Community Rail Network website.
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