Britain from the Rails

by Benedict le Vay 


Britain from the Rails Guide – discover Britain from the rails, travel tips on British train travel and what to see from the comfort of your carriage. Covering England, Wales and Scotland, including the new Borders Railway, plus local history, practical advice, top ten railways, secret railways, branch lines, food and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs.

Published :  4th Oct 2019
Size :  135 x 216 Edition :  3
Format Available Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781784771416
ISBN : 9781784777036

About this book

Expert railway enthusiast Ben le Vay returns with a new edition of his much-acclaimed guide to discovering Britain from the rails. This latest edition adds new lines and destinations in Britain’s fast-changing railway, while updating the guide to the classic greats. Thoroughly updated, it includes a full, fascinating guide to the new Borders Railway in Scotland, plus details of the new route from London to Oxford and expanded coverage of the eccentric Jolly Fisherman line in Lincolnshire and the charming Cotswold line from Oxford to Hereford. Also included are more details of the Far North line from Inverness to Wick and Thurso.
‘Now, finally, the network has a book to be proud of!’ So said one reviewer of the first edition. Branch lines and ‘secret railways’ are covered, and so too are the popular routes such as the glorious East Coast main line to Scotland and the Great Western to Penzance. Regional treats include the famed West Highland Line in Scotland, the Settle and Carlisle railway in the north of England, and entire chapters dedicated to ‘Wales Rails’ and ‘East Anglia: A Circular Tour’.
Additional information ranges from the practical – such as a guide to the layout of some of the country’s main termini – to the ‘Inside Track: a window-gazer’s guide to stuff to look out for on your journey’ and intriguing train trivia. The best historic and preserved railways are also included, as are Ben’s Top Ten Rail Journeys.
Ben le Vay says: ‘There are endless books about trains, about the history of the railways, about stations, signal boxes, carriages, wagons. as specialist as you like. There are also myriad books about British cities and countryside, about what is wonderful and fascinating about different patches of our unique island. But there were none that successfully combined the one type of book with the other (after all, you look at the country while sitting on trains) until now. And this is I do with deep knowledge, love and enthusiasm for both parts.’

About the author

Benedict le Vay says he loves train travel because it’s romantic, fun, comfortable, civilised, sociable, fascinating and doesn’t damage the wonderful places you go to. To date, he has written five books for Bradt (many on the ‘Eccentric Britain’ theme) as well as holding down a full-time job as a Fleet Street newspaper sub-editor. He ascribes his early interest in railways to the fact that his mother grew up on his grandfather’s private train, as the chief inspector of Indian railways. Later, as a London schoolboy, he played cricket next to the tracks where the luxury Golden Arrow train to Paris steamed past. Needless to say, he dropped a few catches .


Rail Britannia!

Who is
this book for? A lot of people…, How to use this book, Ben’s top ten rail


Chapter 1          The Glorious East Coast Main Line to

Cross to York: record breakers, York to Edinburgh: to the world’s first
railway, Edinburgh to Aberdeen: Firth to last

Chapter 2          Scotland: Rails to Romance and Beauty

The basic
layout, Glasgow and Edinburgh termini, Planning ahead in Scotland, The West Highland
Line: Glasgow-Crianlarich-Fort William-Mallaig and the Oban branch: the iron
road to the isles, The Highland Main Line: Inverness to Glasgow (and
Edinburgh), Britain’s first new domestic line for many decades, the fascinating
Borders Railway, Seaside excursions: two great days out from Scotland’s two big
cities, The Great North of Scotland Railway: Inverness to Aberdeen, The Skye
Railway: the very strange story of ‘the most beautiful line in Europe’, The
intriguing Far North Line: from Inverness to Wick and Thurso put into sharp

Chapter 3          The North of England: Chuffing ‘eck,
That’s Grand!

mentions, The North of England: overview and recommended lines, The wonderful
Settle & Carlisle Railway: don’t Settle for anything less! Leeds to Lancaster
and Morecambe: a useful connector, brief encounters and a great comedian, The
Cumbrian Coast Line: right round the Lake District, The Lake District by train?
What are those words worth?! No missing Lincs in Lincolnshire: Nottingham to
Skegness – the Jolly Fisherman Line seen in a fresh perspective

Chapter 4          Great Western: God’s Wonderful Railway

The GWR:
trunk, branches and twigs, Keeping great company: the GWR’s great history,
London to Penzance: best of the West, The Berks & Hants route: Kennet
Valley and Vale of Pewsey, The GWR strikes north: expanded detail on the lovely
Cotswolds, Golden Valley and Banbury, West Country branches: Devon and
Cornwall’s cream, Wessex lines: undiluted Old England at her best, The GWR
route into South Wales: branch lines to Dai for. New ways to Oxford – the first
new route linking London to a major British city for almost 100 years

Chapter 5          Wales Rails

dragons: & going for a spin with the best connected, Welsh rare bits and
best bits, North Wales and the Marches: a fantastic circular route or splendid
separate days out, The Heart of Wales Line: Shrewsbury to Swansea, a real rural
rail survivor

Chapter 6          East Anglia: A Circular Tour to See
the Best of This Unique Region

Anglia, Hitchin to Cambridge: teetotal recall, dozy crossing keepers and snooty
dons, The Breckland Line: Cambridge to Norwich – islands in the Fen to blasted
heath, Really recommended for the ride, Norwich-Lowestoft: Queen of the Lot,
The lovely East Suffolk Line: Lowestoft to Ipswich (for London): swinging
stuff, London Liverpool Street to Norwich via the Great Eastern Main Line (plus
fabulous branches)

Chapter 7          South Western from Waterloo: Take Me
to the Sunshine

welcome to Britain’s biggest and busiest station, Waterloo to Woking: another
Britain’s busiest, Woking to Southampton: Martians to maritime, Southampton to
Weymouth: the New Forest and two Hardys’ Wessex, The Portsmouth Direct Line:
Woking to Pompey, ups and Downs, Waterloo to Exeter: the West of England Main

Chapter 8          South and Southeast: From Dirty
Weekends to Bo Peep

Brighton Line: premier holiday route, London Victoria to Brighton: what to look
out for from Thames to Channel, Brighton Line Branches,
Brighton-Hastings-Ashford: towns, gowns and Downs, Hastings Direct and the Kent
Coast: catch the 1066

Chapter 9          Britain’s ‘Secret Railways’

to Glossop and Hadfield, The Welsh Valleys: Merthyr and branches, The Ebbw Vale
line: Film stars and a phoenix, Vale of Glamorgan: Where you can find coastal
beauty, a TV hit, a vital scrap of history and forgotten disaster, London’s new
Orbital Railway: Outer Circle Line or rail M25?


Appendix 1        The Inside Track

window-gazer’s guide to ‘rail things’: stuff to look out for on your journey,
Train trivia.

Appendix 2        Useful Information

Books on
railways: read between the lines, Steamy affairs: best historic and preserved






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