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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Adventure by train

Pete, Nicola, Lola and Nell love to travel but stay off planes to keep their carbon footprint down. Here's how they satisfy their passion for travel

Pete wants to get away for it all for a big birthday and this apparently means visiting Wast Water – the most isolated of all the Lake District's lakes. I'm up for it but looking at the map think maybe we need to rent a car. No insists Pete, we will take a train down the west coast from Carlisle – looking at wind turbines (he knows how to tempt me) – and then the steam train from Ravenglass over to Dalegarth. And then it's a three hour walk over the corpse road.

At 9am when we catch the first train out of Carlisle, it's raining. But Nell occupies herself by hoola hooping in the luggage compartment and the rest of us read so who cares about the lovely view – including the spot at St Bees where Pete and I eons ago started the Coast to Coast walk?

Two hours later (this is not a commuter line) we switch to the pint sized steam train at Ravenglass & Eskdale, http://www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk/, 01229 717171 . The station is packed with visitors – despite needing to pay a £10.80 adult fare and £5.40 child (dogs are £1.50 and cycles £3) but the seven mile open-air chug is fantastic, especially after grabbing a cuppa at Jan's Cafe on platform 1 (the food here is so good this would be enough of a day trip for me as I remember the Lakes when good food wasn't guaranteed anywhere). We find two little carriages, squeeze on our luggage and as the train toots out of the station find we are all grinning wildly. It's amazing how much more you enjoy yourself the slower you go. Each of our train journeys has only got better as the speed stutters to a walking pace. Even the girls are pointing out ash, oak , rowan (trees) and Herdwick (sheep) between sweet swapping and jokes. This s-l-o-w-i-n-g down has to be a good sign for the next phase: crossing that moorland corpse road over to the Wasdale Head Inn, http://www.wasdaleheadinn.co.uk/.

We offload our luggage with a mate of the hotel owner – thank you for this! - who then makes an hour or more drive I reckon to get back there; bypass two lovely looking pubs; pop into Lakeland's oldest working water mill, quickly picnic and then the rain starts up again. But it doesn't matter we're in our walking boots, at the start of our holiday heading towards England's deepest lake, highest mountains and smallest church (admittedly this is less of a draw).

Definitely an adventure for all of us to walk to our hotel. Even when there's a lot of walking ahead...

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