Quick Beer in Hastings

Last year I did very poorly on my quest to explore the UK and complete my Rail Map. The only piece of new milage I managed to complete was from Birmingham New Street to Worcester Shrub Hill. This was unplanned, a last ditch attempt to get home from Birmingham via Oxford during the January snow. My failed attempt left me stranded at Shrub Hill where after hours standing in a freezing cold station I admitted defeat and went back to Birmingham.

This year I am determined to do better with the map and that determination was supported by the long-promised 26-30 Railcard being released on the 2nd of January. The new railcard is pretty much exactly the same as my much-missed 16-25 railcard and allows 1/3rd off all off-peak journeys nationwide. Since there is no better time than the present, @geekyjames and I thought we’d give our shiny new app-only railcards a go and take a 148 mile round trip journey to Eastbourne for a quick beer.

Tunnel between Hastings and St Leonards Warrior Square

Tunnel between Hastings and St Leonards Warrior Square

We had originally planned to go to Hastings but after checking online it turned out that the journey to Eastbourne was actually cheaper, despite being further away and reached via Hastings. Since we had off-peak tickets we could break our journey which meant we could go to Hastings anyway...! So, top tip… If you’re not buying an advance fare, check to see if selecting a further station brings down the price of your ticket.

Here’s a clever link to my twitter thread from the day with some pictures and details of the journey. The beer in Eastbourne was delicious, a pint of English bitter from Nelson Brewery which is brewed less than a mile from home! In all the journey time was around 4Hrs 20mins, excluding time waiting for connections.

The next trip is being planned…! Watch this space.

The Atlantic Coast Line

Clearly not as excited as me to be here...

Clearly not as excited as me to be here...

How best to spend a windy and rainy day in Cornwall? Well, a trip to Newquay on the train of course! This is the penultimate journey of all the Cornish branch lines and one I'd been looking forward to for a while. It's the longest of all the branch lines in Cornwall and during summer special direct services are scheduled using HST sets to/from London. It was the first time I'd ever been to Newquay, famous for the best surfing in Cornwall. 

The branch line runs from Par station and is single track almost all of the way to Newquay. One of the highlights on the 50-minute journey is travelling underneath the Treffry Viaduct, constructed in 1844 to carry both water  and railway tracks. The viaduct allowed transport over the Luxulyan Valley and was an important piece of infrastructure to the Cornish mining industry. It is now disused but can be walked over for some impressive view. 

The Treffry Viaduct, as seen from the train.

The Treffry Viaduct, as seen from the train.

Newquay's vast beach, with surfers in the background

Newquay's vast beach, with surfers in the background

The line continues north past a multitude of small request stops before arriving into Newquay's single platform station. The station in Newquay is very central to the town with a fantastically Victorian feel, there are several grand hotels of old, now refurbished with a new lease of life. Originally railway lines also ran right into to the small harbour to the west of Newquay, the route of which is clearly visible from the curvature of paths and roads which have since been re-purposed. In the middle of the harbour there is a peculiar stone pontoon, currently being used for lobster pot storage. After some research is appears that originally there was a wooden pier built for the railway to allow for multiple ships to load/unload cargo.

Newquay Station

Newquay Station

The small harbour is also the location for the RNLI lifeboat station, where there is currently home to an Atlantic 85 and small D-class launch. The Atlantic 85 is launched with a tractor and trailer down through the harbour. The station has moved and was even closed for a period since it was opened originally in 1860, although is certainly now a key location on the north coast. The RNLI lifeguards are present and also play a key role to the public in the summer months. I may have to work on creating a Wikipedia page for this station as there doesn't appear to be once yet in existence.

Newquay RNLI station

Newquay RNLI station

After exploring the beach and the harbour my brother and I made our way back to the train station, not before stopping at a few pubs and arcades along the way. We had a quik game of pool in the Great Western hotel, of which Owen won rather impressively. We ran across the road to meet the waiting single carriage train, next next of which was in 2 hours' time so didn't want to really miss!

My Updated Rail Travel Map

End of the line at Holyhead, onwards to the ferry!

End of the line at Holyhead, onwards to the ferry!

I'm sure regular followers of my blog are aware of my Rail Map (well, it's National Rail's map really), it shows all of the railway lines in the UK which I have travelled on at some point. Both a record for where I have been in the UK and a challenge to travel the entire network! 

The last update I made to the map was in 2013, which is a shockingly long time ago. I have just invested some time adding journeys made since then. Won't list them all off but some of the highlights are:

  • London to Sheringham (a beautiful seaside town) via Norwich 
  • London to Bristol Temple Meads, past the impressive architecture of Bath Spa
  • St Erth to St Ives, one of the most famous and stunning branch lines in the country
  • Plymouth to Gunnislake, another great scenic branch line 
  • London to Weymouth

I'll do my best to keep up with the updates, the process is much more well rehearsed now. Myself and @geekyjames are also planning a tour of Scotland by rail in the next few weeks, so there will be so blog posts following that journey no doubt! 

Check out the map here: http://www.andrews.io/rail-map/

Stratford to Romford

Today SWMBO was in Romford, London seeing her family; I seized the opportunity to venture further than Stratford on Greater Anglia...

It was busy! But a good, quick trip. I took the Jubilee from Westminster to Stratford then caught the train towards Shenfield. Took around 45mins in total.

StratfordtoRomford
StratfordtoRomford

I'm convinced the Greater Anglia is the most dull operating company in the entire UK, why? Just the colours. I like the red that they are beginning to introduce, but the grey and white mix is just boring and awful! The stock they run doesn't exactly help the case, especially on this route, but the Class 315s are rumoured to be soon replaced.

The cost is something that I can't complain about, £4.00 from Westminster to Romford works out at 0.27p per mile.

Would definitely like to travel further on this line, perhaps up to Harwich International Port.