Guest blog: Walking by Train
Good Journey, who promote car-free leisure travel, have chosen their favourite waterside walks by rail so you can step off the train and be striding by the sea or rambling by a river within minutes.
Guest blog by Phoebe Taplin
Getting to the start of a walk by train has lots of advantages: on the way, you can read a book or look out of the window, use the wi-fi or have a coffee. Once you get there, you don't need to get back to a parked car so can follow a linear route, rather than a circular one, maybe part of a long-distance trail. And, on the walk, you could have a pint in a country pub (and a cheeky snooze on the way home). Going by train means the sense of adventure begins with the journey there and not just once you finally get out of the car.
Here are just five of our favourite station to station routes, from the hundreds all over the UK. Some of these, like the seafront between Hastings and Bexhill, are great for cycling too.
1. Barmouth to Fairbourne, Gwynedd (4 miles)
The Wales Coast Path is one of the best long-distance routes for tackling by train. This printable booklet gives a nice taster, including this walk from Barmouth to Fairbourne. From Barmouth northwards to Pwllheli and south to Aberdyfi, there are stations all the way along, meaning you can walk as much or as little as you want. This section crosses the 700m wooden Barmouth Bridge, a pedestrian and railway viaduct across the Mawddach estuary.
Between mountains and ocean, the bridge has crossed the Mawddach since 1867. Before you cross, you could stop off for a harbourside pint at The Last Inn in Barmouth. On the far side, a raised path leads through marshes back to the sea and along the beach to the station. For a shorter walk, you can start or end at Morfa Mawddach station, after two miles. For a longer walk, carry on for five more miles along a lovely, hill section of coast path to Llwyngwril. Find more car-free adventures around this area in this Barmouth feature.
2. Hertford East to St Margarets, Hertfordshire (5 miles)
The wide River Lea is just a couple of minutes from Hertford East railway station. Turn right along it and navigating is fairly easy – just keep the water on your left. You will pass the Gauge House at the start of the New River (with another great waterside walk) and, on the far bank, the Waterside Inn at Ware. End here or keep going to St Margarets, passing the nature reserve at Amwell Lakes. For more car-free ideas near Hertford, see this feature.
3. Hastings to Bexhill, East Sussex (6 miles)
Start by strolling down to the seafront and left for half a mile or so to visit the Hastings Contemporary art gallery and the neighbouring old town. Then head back along the beach or promenade with the sea on your left until you reach the De La Ware Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea. With free art exhibitions and a fabulous café, it makes an ideal end to your walk and the station is close by. Here are some more ideas for visiting the Hastings area without a car.
4. North Queensferry to Aberdour, Fife (8 miles)
The coast of sunny Fife in Scotland has some fabulous station-to-station routes like this energetic hike from the end of the iconic Forth Bridges to the town of Aberdour with its atmospheric castle. Fife's coastal path is a gem of a long-distance route and very well served by public transport.
This section, passes waterside towns and villages, combining nature, industry and history. There are great views Inchcolm Island and Edinburgh, as well as a medieval harbour, a ruined kirk, and plenty of wildlife. The official route is mostly designed to be cycle-friendly and it's often possible for walkers to detour slightly along grassy paths nearby. Hourly trains connect both ends with Edinburgh and beyond. More ideas for Fife-based car-free adventures.
5. Whitby to Scarborough (20 miles)
Yorkshire is full of great walks, of course, but for a beautiful long walk, the classic twenty mile stretch of the Cleveland Way between Whitby and Scarborough is one of the best weekend walks in the UK. If you're hoping for something shorter, you can catch bus X93 back to Whitby or on to Scarborough from steep-laned Robin Hood's Bay.
Otherwise, stop off there for lunch and keep walking. Raven Hall Hotel, four miles further, has a castle-walled garden, long views back up the coast and a resident seal colony on the rocks below. Next day, press on to Scarborough, via Hayburn Wyke, where a little waterfall cascades down mossy cliffs onto the beach. Check out this feature on Car-free Scarborough for further adventures in the area.
The great thing about walking is that you can do it anytime, anywhere and over any distance you like. Find car-free walks near you at carfreewalks.org and get inspiration for car-free adventures all over the country at goodjourney.org.uk and, of course, scenicrailbritain.com.
Good Journey has guides to visiting attractions by public transport and the best places for car-free staycations around the UK. To sign up to Good Journey's newsletter and get a free eBook of Scenic Rail and Bus Journeys of Britain, head to goodjourney.org.uk.
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