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Booking train travel for your walking holiday

  1. Find the train times that fit in with your holiday dates
  2. Search for the cheapest / best ticket prices for your journeys
  3. Book tickets online and reserve seats
  4. Collect all your tickets at the station on the day of your first train journey

We advise you use the Great Western Railway website to book tickets. GWR are the actual train operators for the South West and Wales and its far better to be buying tickets directly from the people running the trains. They also provide tickets and options for rail travel throughout the UK with the same price structure as third party agents.

GWR Logo

Get times and prices

 

Thousands of walkers arrive in the South West every year by train and whilst its easy to arrange your travel, some tips and advice will help you get the best and cheapest ticket options.  We have produced a factsheet with the key points and suggest you print it off to refer to when booking but if you prefer to view the information online then you will find it below

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Factsheet:  Booking Train Tickets For Walking Holidays   -  Help and Tips for Walkers 

In this factsheet -

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Why book your tickets in advance?  “Save yourself money and reserve a seat

Try to book in advance for all long distance journeys – for example from London or Bristol to the South West or Wales – you will save a lot of money AND you can reserve your seat.

For short train journeys in the local areas, for example within Cornwall, there is no real saving by buying in advance. Just check when the trains are running (see below) and buy your ticket at the station on the day of travel.

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How to check train times or book tickets – “Use the Website at www.gwr.com

Great Western Railway (GWR) are the train operators for the South West and Wales so it is best to book directly with them rather than using other train ticket agents

GWR Logo

Get times and prices

 

Tip for finding your stations

If you are not sure which station name to use, at the end of this factsheet is a table of the station names for all our walking Holiday destinations

You can ONLY buy tickets 12 weeks before travel – see the next section for more on this. To check train times and options just follow the instructions below and you can view all the services and times – you don’t need to actually BOOK the tickets to see options and prices. To book (or view train times) go to the operator's site at  www.gwr.com  Enter in the journeys you want to make in the box on their home page to see the train times.   

Find the best train time for you and click on it to see ticket prices for that service  The cheapest options will be “advance purchase” - the most expensive will be “Anytime” tickets.  

Tip for cheaper tickets

Look at several train options if you are flexible on time – cheapest tickets may be sold out on one train but on a later train you may find much cheaper options by travelling on the next services.

Work out the best option for travel to your walk and then you can add a return journey if coming back from the same place OR another journey if coming back from a different location. 

Once you have the best prices or options selected for both journeys you can buy the tickets with your credit card online. You will get a reservation number and email print these off to bring with you when collecting your tickets.  

Reserving seats - When you book online you are usually offered the chance to reserve seats – do this, its free if you do it when you book your tickets and it means your seat number is reserved for you. At busy holiday times trains travelling to the coastal regions can be very full and having a reservation means you are guaranteed a seat all the way.

Collecting your tickets from the station -   This works very well -  You MUST take the same credit card you used to pay for the tickets AND the booking reference number to the first station you are going to use.  For most this will be London Paddington. At the station you put your credit card into a fast collection ticket machine and all the tickets ordered will be printed for you. If you prefer you can do this at the ticket office.

All our overseas customers use the station collection system and it works well once you have found and booked the right trains and cheapest tickets

IF you have problems with a booking online then contact Great Western Railway directly – the link below gives phone numbers and email contact details

www.gwr.com/customer-service/contact   

You can also call directly to book tickets and reserve seats at GWR by calling  +44 (0)3457000125

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When to Buy     “Buy 12 weeks before travel for the cheapest tickets

Tip -get the right date to buy

Note in your diary to book online 12 weeks before your journey OR use this free Ticket Alert Service at www.thetrainline.com/ticketalert/ You receive an email as soon as tickets are available to book – The webpage also lists the dates now available for booking tickets

Tickets are ONLY available 12 weeks before the date of travel so you won’t be able to buy before that point. Remember if you are looking to book travel to and from your walk then this will be 12 weeks before the date of your FINAL  train journey. 

The cheapest advance purchase tickets are always available at 12 weeks before travel and it gets more and more expensive the later you leave it after that as the cheap tickets are limited and sell out. Paying on the day for long distance train travel is a very expensive way to travel  -  no one living here does this unless they have to as it can cost twice the price !

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What to Buy     “Advance Purchase Tickets offer the best rates

There is a confusing range of tickets and passes on offer so use the train operators,  website at www.gwr.com . You will be able to access all the options here and you will be offered the cheapest options.  The three main ticket types are -

- Advance Purchase Tickets  -  Must be bought in advance and only valid on the date and train specified.  Cheapest and best option as long as you know which train you will take. Tickets are non refundable but can be changed with a £10 admin fee.

- Off Peak Tickets-   More flexible tickets BUT you are limited to travel at certain off peak times

- Anytime Tickets -    No restriction on travel but the most expensive tickets, still cheaper to buy in advance than on the travel day itself. Only buy if you don’t know what times or services you will use.

- Single or Return Tickets? -   You can buy a ticket to one location and then buy a second ticket at the same time to return from a different location – this works well for walkers who are arriving in one place, walking to a new destination and then leaving from it. If you are going to and from the same place you can buy a straight “return” ticket but buying two single tickets to cover your journeys also works.

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Rail Passes  -  “Don’t normally work for walking holidays

Rail Passes can be used instead of buying single journey train tickets.  Normally they are only worth buying if you are doing a number of different rail journeys around the UK.  If you are just taking the train to your walk and then back again then advance purchase tickets are much better as they are easier to get, you can reserve seats when booking and they are usually cheaper than buying a pass for multiple days travel.

However if you are planning on making lots of train journeys then consider the following.

Brit Rail Pass  - Overseas Walkers Only – allows unlimited travel on a certain number of days across the UK – will usually only be worth considering if you are making 4 or more journeys and some are outside of the SW and Wales.

Brit Rail SW Pass  -  Overseas Walkers Only - Allows 3 days travel in any month across the SW to London – currently costs £135. IF you find your tickets to and from your walk are going to cost more than this it may be worth considering if you are travelling between London and the South West. You have to order the pass from your own country in advance of arrival –full details at http://www.britrail.net

Freedom of the SW and Freedom of Devon and Cornwall Passes  allow you to travel for a certain number of days within Devon and Cornwall  – if you are travelling around to different locations and making 3 or more train journeys within the South West they can be worth considering -  You can buy them online and see what they cover at the Great Western Railway Site  www.gwr.com

Groupsave -  Offers 30% off the cost of travel when there are 3 adults or more travelling together. When you use the Great Western Railway booking site you will be shown these discount tickets as an option for your train journey, marked with a G

Large Group Discounts -  GWR will provide special help for groups of 9 or more travelling together you need to call them to arrange this on +44 (0)3457 000 125.

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Arriving by Air – “Options for international walkers

London Heathrow - Heathrow is only 15 miles outside of London. There are several ways to reach the trains to the South West which run from London Paddington. The Heathrow Express option is usually the best

  • Heathrow Express - From Heathrow Airport to London Paddington in just 15 minutes  See www.heathrowexpress.com  Buy your Heathrow Express ticket online in advance for the best price OR you can buy it on the day of travel when you arrive but it costs more to do this. Then arrange to collect your onward train tickets to the South West from London Paddington.
  • London Underground or the tube - Heathrow Airport is on the Underground's Piccadilly Line and you can reach London Paddington with one change but this will usually take at least 1 hour so is much slower.
  • Taxis – Cost at least £40 to London Paddington BUT can be very very slow in rush hour – the Heathrow Express is a much cheaper and better option
  • Bus link Heathrow to Reading – avoids London Paddington  -  You can take the Rail Air Link coach from Heathrow Terminals to Reading Train Station where you then join the trains to the SW and Wales. You can avoid London Paddington but need to collect train tickets from Reading if you take this option and travel time to Reading is around 45 minutes– See www.railair.com for timetables and ticket info. Most people find it easier and simpler to just take the Heathrow Express to London Paddington (15 minutes) and catch the train there at its starting point.
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London Gatwick -  Take the train via Reading

London Gatwick Airport is located 27 miles south of London and has its own railway station with an hourly service to Reading which connects to the trains for the South West and Wales. There is no need to travel via London Paddington and if you do you will have to cross London by underground or bus as Gatwick trains to London arrive at London Victoria Station

London Stansted - Trains take you directly from the airport to London Liverpool Street Station in 42 minutes. You will then need to take the underground train to London Paddington for trains to the SW and Wales. Stansted Express is the fastest way to and from Stansted Airport, with trains departing on average every 30 minutes. If buying advance train tickets you can choose to include your travel across London in the fare and this is the cheapest way of getting to the South West by train.

London City Airport - Located in London's docklands. The airport operates a regular shuttle bus service to Liverpool St Station in Central London from where Underground connections are available to London Paddington. Buses run every 10 mins.

Bristol Airport - Buses connect to Bristol Temple Meads station every 30 mins, with a journey time of 20-30 minutes. From the station you can take trains to the SW and Wales. You can buy a combined rail and bus ticket from GWR to or from Bristol International Airport

Cardiff Airport - Regular buses will take you to Cardiff Central Train station and the local station,  Barry. Buses run hourly to Cardiff Central station taking 30 mins

Newquay Airport (Cornwall) - There are infrequent buses from the airport to Newquay Train Station so most people will take a taxi from the airport (around £20). You are then able to connect to reach destinations in Cornwall by Train (Falmouth, Penzance, St Ives etc) but note that options will depend on your flight arrival time. We can arrange transfers if there are no suitable onward train options.

Exeter Airport (Devon)- Hourly buses will take you to Exeter St Davids Station (around 20 minutes) or you can take a taxi.  Exeter St Davids Station is the main regional rail hub and provides connections to all of Cornwall's stations as well as the North Devon Coast Path using the Barnstaple line, Ivybridge for the Two Moors Way route, Taunton for Exmoor and Somerset and Exmouth Station for the Jurassic Coast.

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Useful Web sites for Travel

Great Western Railwaywww.gwr.com train times and tickets for all rail travel and the main operator of trains to and around the South West and South Wales

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Britrailwww.britrail.net

For overseas walkers wanting Britrail Passes and info about train travel in other parts of the UK   

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Eurostar logo

Eurostar -  For travel between London and Europe by rail  www.eurostar.com

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Traveline logo

Traveline SW  -   www.travelinesw.com

Very detailed timetables for buses (and trains) across the South West – 

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Traveline Wales logo

Traveline Wales (Cymru)www.traveline.cymru

Very detailed timetables for buses (and trains) across Wales

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Train taxi logo

Traintaxi   www.traintaxi.co.uk   Provides contact numbers for taxis at all stations

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Station Names to use when Searching for Train Options

Use this Station Name

 For this location or walking route

   

London Paddington

For SW and Wales Walking Holidays

London Waterloo

For Dorset and Jurassic Coast Walking Holidays

Gatwick

For Gatwick Airport flights

Heathrow

For Heathrow Airport flights

 

Cornwall  Walking 

Bodmin Parkway

For buses to Padstow (Coast Path and Saints Way)

Par

For buses to Fowey (Coast Path and Saints Way)

St Austell

For buses to Fowey,  Charlestown, Mevagissey

Newquay

Newquay Coast Path

St Ives

St Ives Coast Path

Penzance

Penzance & Marazion Coast Path

Falmouth Town

Falmouth Coast Path

Looe

Looe and Polperro Coast Path

Exeter St Davids (Devon)

For buses to Bude Coast Path

 

Devon Walking 

Exeter St Davids

Buses to Bude

Exmouth

Jurassic Coast Path

Torquay

Buses for Brixham Coast Path

Barnstaple

Barnstaple Coast Path and Buses for Westward Ho!

Ivybridge

Two Moors Way

Totnes

Buses to Buckfastleigh (Dartmoor Way)

 

Dorset Walking 

Axminster

For Lyme Regis Coast Path

Weymouth

Weymouth Coast Path

Poole

Poole Coast Path

Bournemouth

Poole Coast Path Alternative

 

Somerset Walking 

Taunton

For Minehead & Nether Stowey (Coleridge Way)

Bridgwater

For Somerset Coast Path

Barnstaple (Devon)

For Lynmouth (Coast Path, Exmoor, Two Moors Way)

 

Wales Walking -  Pembrokeshire

Tenby

For Amroth & Tenby Coast Path

Pembroke

Pembroke Coast Path

Milford Haven

Milford Haven Coast Path

Haverfordwest

For Buses to St Davids Coast Path

Fishguard

Fishguard and Goodwick Coast Path

Carmarthen

For St Dogmaels & Cardigan Buses

 

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