Friday, November 8, 2019

All aboard a British train, with a long, proud history of riding the rails

All aboard! North Yorkshire Moors Railway pulls out of the station with a full complement of passengers. 
York's National Railway Museum has won national awards
for its expansive telling of the country's rail history.



TRAINS ARE as much a part of English life today as ships were centuries ago.
The National Railway Museum in York is the largest and most expansive
in the country, known for its variety, welcoming layout and detailed exhibits. 
We recently explored several rail venues in Northeast England and are anxious to expand our rail travel to other parts of the United Kingdom. Since the country's first steam locomotives chugged out of Stockton and Darlington in 1825, that pastoral corner of England has held rail travel close to its heart. People in all parts of the UK enjoy relaxing, soaking up views. Nowhere is the rail experience more rewarding than in the North York Moors.
With lovely scenery, a beverage and perhaps a pleasant lunch, tea or dinner, train travel here combines three things the British love: countryside, history and sharing a bite, a cuppa or a pint.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway offers splendid scenery
and a chance to relax and visit over a beverage or snack.
QUEENS, SOLDIERS and school children enjoyed rail travel dating back to the golden age of steam. We began our "train fix" with a history lesson at York's fine National Railway Museum, part of the extensive Science Museum Group. Admission is by donation and upon entering the expansive halls, wonders unfold: iconic locomotives, Queen Victoria's plush car, a detailed rail ambulance which saved lives during wartime, a magical mail car with a
Eurail pass beckons
fascinating film of workers tossing and collecting bags of post from moving trains. The Royal Scotsman, Orient Express --  trains, from antique to sleek-contemporary.
BRITISH RAIL travel, much like train travel in the U.S., developed during the railway boom of the 1840s, with dozens of competing companies.  Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, these consolidated or were bought up
Miss Eastwood serves beverages
aboard an old-fashioned steam train.
by competitors until only a few companies remained.
One enterprise that flourishes is the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. We joined 100-plus fellow train lovers for a pleasant journey from Whitby to Pickering.  Our hosts, John and Sue, arranged the trip -- she dropped us off via auto and John joined us in our red velvet car. We traveled through lush woodlands and picturesque villages, much as they were 100 years ago. We visited, relaxed and sipped beverages served by a smiling stewardess then Sue kindly met us to motor us home.
We've trained around the UK through England, Scotland and Wales in past visits, and recommend it for its "no hassle" ease, speed and convenience.
As passengers departed their trains in York, we headed
for ours, in a lovely car taking us to London for six days. 
 "do the driving," rail travel is a stress-free, comfortable way to travel, even on short notice.  A spontaneous trip can easily be arranged. Visiting BritRail's website is a good place to start.  You'll find passes for extended travel, sleeping cars and even package tours.
The expansive BritRail train system offers a variety of
excellent passes to suit every desire for travel in the UK.
This trip, we experienced only a small part of BritRail's destination bonanza. Our York-London trip was a comfy two-hour journey to central London, then just a 10-minute taxi to our hotel.
THOUSANDS MAKE use of BritRail passes for the flexibility in using the UK's expansive national rail network to historic places. All major cities are served, including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham and many more.    Here are a few of the impressive variety of passes BritRail offers:
Cookie and Keller visit York's famous Rail Museum which
features all manner of train-related transportation, antique
to contemporary.  The museum asks only a donation.
BritRail England Pass - travel the whole of England.
BritRail London Plus Pass - travel Southeast England to Stratford Upon Avon, Bristol, Bath and Cambridge.
BritRail Spirit of Scotland Pass- travel all over Scotland including ferry routes to the islands.
BritRail Central Scotland Pass - travel between Glasgow and Edinburgh via historical towns such as Stirling, Linlithgow and Dunblane.
BritRail Scottish Highlands Pass - travel around the Scottish Highlands by rail with some ferry routes.
BritRail Southwest Pass - travel from London (including busy Heathrow Airport) to Southwest England, to visit  the beaches of Cornwall or have a cream tea in Devon.
  TO GET YOU in a train state of mind, the York museum is planning fun holiday displays, including one featuring the original Stephenson's Rocket, which changed rail travel in 1829.  Another exhibit features "The Age of Innovation" when vicars, lace-makers and miners brought their own miniature locomotives to life.
We recommend rail travel over renting a car in Britain, particularly for our fellow Yanks. To avoid driving "the wrong side of the road," why not ride the rails instead?;;

Bruce Keller, aka "Keller" and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
on board the Madaket, on a cruise around Humboldt Bay.

UP NEXT: Did you know that there exists in  northern California, the country's oldest still operational ferry boat.  The Madaket proudly patrols the waters of Humboldt Bay, with a skipper who knows her business and shares information about the wildlife, economy, waterways, history and purpose of the charming ferry, which among other attributes boasts the smallest licensed bar in the state.  More next week.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn, laugh and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, nature, the arts, family and more:  Please share the links and tell your friends. We have a global readership of which we are very proud.


  1. Delightful train tripping with you in the UK. We just returned from a 2-week Eurail Pass adventure, which we did many moons ago as did you. Fun stuff.

  2. Love train travel. Just took the "Coaster" from San Francisco to your town, San Diego -- such fun

  3. Gainsborough GallavantersNovember 9, 2019 at 10:45 AM

    Delightful read, gorgeous photos.....especially the top one with the billowing steam.

  4. Santa Barbara SailorsNovember 12, 2019 at 10:07 AM

    Always take the train when the opportunity affords itself. Would love to read your piece on west coast train travel-- have you done yet?

  5. Edinburgh Train BuffsNovember 12, 2019 at 6:47 PM

    Exciting account of an old-fashioned travel mode, my favorite!

  6. Lovely account of a truly fine way to travel. Enjoyed the photos, too.

  7. How I love to travel by train. Time to relax, slow down, think, enjoy. Well done.

  8. This piece made me yearn to be aboard again....a broad aboard!

  9. Always a pleasure to find what you're up to....and train travel has to be the best way to go.