Posted in Railways on Friday 30th December 2011 at 9:48pm

It's become traditional to try to squeeze some sort of railway value out of the holiday period, but often proves tricky for a number of reasons - confusing timetable changes, later starts to service and generally unpredictable passenger loadings to name but three areas which have scuppered things in the past. So, for this extended break I decided to do things a little differently, and get a Freedom of the South West Rover ticket. By combining this with a Southern Daysave on one of the days, I could get deep into the South East for a bargain fare, and could use the other days to wander aimlessly about fairly locally. Day One started with some local rambling - a spin down to Plymouth from Bristol on a CrossCountry HST, then up to Westbury via First Great Western, missing a connection into the rare Melksham service by literally seconds - seeing the tail-lights heading off as I opened the door of our train. Instead, headed for Bath then back to Swindon on a London service, only to find the next Cheltenham train was the continuation of the service we'd missed! An interesting day, with some surprisingly good weather.

Movebook Entry

An early start for the second day, and happy to find some timely retail outlet opening at Bristol so I could get coffee and breakfast before setting off on the 07:22 to Cosham. A brief wander around this station and it's environs which I'd not used since about 2004 by my reckoning revealed that much was the same - including the takeaway and burger van which provided necessary sustenance on the return from the fateful Southwick failure. before collecting my Southern ticket at Chichester and pressing on to Brighton. Loadings weren't as bad as they were on the Coastway a few weeks back, but there were still a good few on board, as evidenced by the wedged Platform 1 at Brighton on arrival. Here, took a Seaford bound train which headed out to Lewis before turning south onto the coast. Noted the remains of Newhaven Marine, still technically open if not served by trains any more. Some splendid views of crashing waves in the English Channel too. Time to wander around Seaford a little before heading back, feeling it was a bit like Swanage in some respects, if rather smaller and quieter perhaps. I'd last been here in the mid 1990s to deliver Christmas presents for a work colleague to an elderly aunt. In many ways, little had changed - but of course the slam-door stock was now missing! Returned via a change at the curious complicated Lewes station with its mysterious in-filled platforms, then directly into Victoria via an attachement at Haywards Heath to bring us to 12 carriages. Home was a long but fairly relaxing slog down to Portsmouth for the unit home. A very productive and nostalgic day.

Movebook Entry

Finally, today. I woke with an aching right foot much exacerbated by yesterday's exertions, and a developing case of tonsillitis. Medicated myself and set off early, feeling reasonable a little later. Decided not to go for too elaborate a route given my disadvantage, ending up heading up to Cheltenham on the 07:00 then heading down to Swindon on the 08:00. Took a call suggesting I was somehow embroiled in other's business which I simply ignored. A brief early lunch and a read here, before heading into Wales. Could have managed a run out to Salisbury, but that meant more waiting around, and the 11:00 to Taunton beckoned. It had been a much shortened day but given how I felt, I think surviving this long wasn't a bad outcome. I'd still managed well over 1000 miles over the three days, and kept the cost within the magic 7p/mile band. Slunk home early, feeling sorry for myself. It's odd ending the year on a bit of a dull note, but it's back to the rails on Tuesday for my annual winter Merseyside pilgrimage. Taking stock of the last year though, I've had a fair number fine days out, and managed about 35,000 miles by rail. And all this despite a litany of railtour cancellations during the summer. Here's to many more such excursions...

Movebook Link


I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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