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While London is always worth a visit, winter is a wonderful time of year for exploring the rest of Britain by train, and special incentives for off-season travelers make the treat even sweeter. Effective immediately (through February 28), ACP Rail International is offering discounts on many products in their BritRail pass range.
ACP represent Britain’s myriad rail operators outside the UK, and their BritRail passes are valid on all national rail services. With discounts of up to 20 percent on regular prices, now is a good time to start planning winter explorations of Britain.
How much does it cost?
Pass prices vary according to the purchaser’s country of residence, but here are examples of pass costs, taking advantage of the low-season offer:
For US customers, an eight-day England pass in standard class costs $229.
For European customers, an eight-day pass valid throughout England, Wales and Scotland is available for just €180.
A top-of-the-range, one-month first-class pass valid throughout Great Britain comes with a price tag of €605 in the eurozone market and $959 stateside. (Yep, you’ve guessed it: The greenback doesn’t have the same kudos in Europe as it does back home, and those dollar prices are markedly higher than their euro equivalents.)
Canny travelers who take the first-class option can munch their way round Britain for free by taking advantage of complimentary food and drink on some premium routes.
But surely there’s a limit to the number of English breakfasts you can eat. Travelers of a less gluttonous disposition might wisely stick to standard class for exploring some of Britain’s delightful rural rail routes (where many trains may have no first-class seating anyway).
Our favorite winter journeys
We love the following two journeys for winter rail rambles in England:
1. From Leeds to Newcastle via Carlisle
Beyond Settle, this classic journey takes in fabulous Pennine scenery, with just one train change at Carlisle. East from Carlisle, the line skirts Hadrian’s Wall before dropping down into the Tyne Valley for the final run into Newcastle.
2. From London via Oxford and Hereford to Manchester.
Also done with just one change of train (at Hereford), this route takes in gentle Thames Valley scenery to Oxford, then glimpses a touch of the Cotswolds and Malvern Hills to reach the Welsh borderlands before heading north through Shropshire.
Move to Wales and Scotland and you are spoilt for choice. With scenic routes aplenty, almost any journey plays the landscape card. Our top choice for Wales is the rural Central Wales Line through Llandrindod Wells. And pride of place in Scotland goes to the West Highland Line to Mallaig.