Seamless rail and bus transportation makes UK travel a breeze
Last October, I rented a car when visiting Sussex. Ad I blogged then, I hated almost every moment of driving on the “wrong” side of the road, shifting with the “wrong” hand and attempting to be both navigator and driver. And filling up the tank, even of a small, economical car, was painful. My husband and I took advantage of United’s introductory Denver-London fare to come to the UK. We are current in the Lake District in Cumbria (northwestern England), and we decided to rely on public transportation. We traveled from there to here with a seamless chain of intermodel transportation (plane, train, bus, trains and then a taxi). This is how we got here:
1) Boulder to Denver International Airport by car.
2) DIA to London’s Heathrow Airport via United (nonstop). This flight operates on a wonderful schedule, departing from Denver at 8:30 p.m. and arriving the next day at 1:00 p.m. +/-, the variable being how many times the plane is ordered to circle Heathrow (we went around the air loop twice). In any case, early afternoon is a good time to arrive at LHR’s Terminal 3, because few international flights get in then, meaning there are no lines.
3) Heathrow to Paddington Station by Paddington Express train.
4) Paddington Station to Euston Station via #205 bus. The bus stop is a couple of minutes’ walk from Paddington at one end and directly in front of Euston on the other. The fare is £2.
5) Euston Station to Lancaster by on the West Coast line, operated Virgin Trains, a sister company to Virgin Airlines. Our first-class BritRail passes (good four days out of 60) are good on this train service — and it is the only splurge we are planning for this trip. Complimentary coffee and tea are served (there I am, at right, bleary-eyed but happy with a comfortable seat and a cuppa). Food is available. And passengers are offered a free newspaper.
6) Lancaster to Windermere in the Lake District via Transpennine Express. We had 40 minutes between trains, so my husband stayed with our luggage and I took a quick walk around Lancaster Castle and the priory next door. They were just a few minutes from the Lancaster railroad station.
7) Windermere rail station to our hotel via taxi.
I can’t compliment the train service enough. Not only are the trains punctual but they are clean, the staff is accommodating and the cars well designed. The train even has lavatories spacious enough to accommodate wheelchair users and operated by push button. One button opens the door; two others close and then lock it. The flushing mechanism works, and the sink is equipped with automatic water tap, soap dispenser and hand dryer. How I wish Amtrak could be turned over to Sir Richard Branson or his American counterpart.