Red Cross Garden. Image: Timeout

7 London Parks to Discover on your Lunch Break

The sun is out, the sky is blue, and we’ve found 7 public spaces in Central London where you can enjoy your weekday lunch in the sun.

1. Gray’s Inn Gardens, Farringdon/Holborn

Gray's Inn Gardens. Image: JD Mack, Flickr

Gray’s Inn Gardens. Image: JD Mack, Flickr

This privately owned park is open to the public between 12:30 and 14:00 on weekdays, so make sure you head to lunch between those times. The nearest stations to Gray’s Inn Gardens are Holborn and Farringdon.

Best for: Lying on the grass

2. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden

St Pauls Church Garden, Covent Garden. Image: Harry Rawford, Flickr

St Pauls Church Garden, Covent Garden. Image: Harry Rawford, Flickr

This little park in London’s Covent Garden sits behind St Paul’s Church, commonly known as the Actor’s Church , due to it’s long association with the surrounding theatre community. he nearest station to St Paul’s Church Garden is St Paul’s Covent Garden

3. Drury Lane Gardens, Covent Garden

Drury Lane Gardens. Image: arielsgrandlondonadventure

Drury Lane Gardens. Image: arielsgrandlondonadventure

Nestled in London’s Theatreland, Drury Lane Gardens is zoned into different areas, including a play area if you’re taking lunch with the kids. The nearest station to Drury Lane Gardens is Covent Garden.

Best for: Lunch with the Kids

4. Red Cross Garden, Southwark

Red Cross Garden. Image: Timeout

Red Cross Garden. Image: Timeout

This community-managed city park aims to “bring nature to overcrowded city people”. With it’s ponds, trees and shrubs, it certainly does. The nearest station to Red Cross Garden is Borough.

Best for: A Sense of Space

5. Postman’s Park, St Pauls

Postman's Park. Image: butterbrotmann, Flickr.

Postman’s Park. Image: butterbrotmann, Flickr.

Postman’s Park is a green space tucked away on the firmer site of the General Post Office HQ, just north of St Paul’s Cathedral. It was prominently featured in the 200 movie Closer, starring Julia Roberts snd Jude Law. The park also has lots of shady areas to cool off. The nearest stations to Postman’s Park are Barbican and Moorgate.

Best for: The Shade

6. The Phoenix Garden, Tottenham Court Road

Phoenix Garden. Image: Uri Baruchin, Flickr

Phoenix Garden. Image: Uri Baruchin, Flickr

The Phoenix Garden doesn’t show up as green on the average map, so it’s only really known to locals and nearby workers. This community managed garden is “Created to provide a green retreat from the stresses of London’s West End and a vital habitat for urban wildlife”. The nearest station to the Phoenix Garden is Tottenham Court Road.

Best for: Wild Cats

7. Grosvenor Square Garden

Grosvenor Square Garden. Image: panoramicearth.blogspot

Grosvenor Square Garden. Image: panoramicearth.blogspot

The only green space in our list that’s managed by Royal Parks, Grosvenor Square Gardens features a memorial to Franklin Roosevelt and some stunning surrounding buildings. The nearest station to Grosvenor Square Gardens is Bond Street.

destinations ideas london on the train summer
A view of Windsor Castle from Windsor. Image: Telegraph

10 Best Castles in Great Britain

The British landscape is liberally sprinkled with exquisite castles, each of them revelling in their reproduction of a bygone glory. But these castles were built to repel invading armies, meaning they were deliberately difficult to access. While they’re open to the public, fighting for a car parking space is the modern equivalent of falling in the moat. And trying to avoid the watchful traffic wardens must be a little like attempting to sidestep the archers that once patrolled the towers. Visiting Britain’s castles by train is far more relaxing. Here are ten of the best.

1. Windsor Castle

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Home to the royal family for over 1,000 years, Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world. It’s a treasure trove of libraries, state rooms, towering stone walls, and galleries full of Michaelangelos and Da Vincis. Fancy some exercise? Take the Long Walk all the way to the Castle. Windsor Castle by train is easy. Windsor & Eton Riverside is the terminus for half hourly direct trains from London Waterloo, a journey that takes less than an hour. Alternatively, change at Slough for trains to Windsor & Eton Central. Slough is on the First Great Western line between London Paddington and Reading. Both Windsor stations are within short walking distance of the castle.

Trainline Tip: During summer, the Changing of the Guard takes place at 11am from Monday to Saturday.

2. Dover Castle

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Nestled amongst white cliffs, the medieval fortress of Dover Castle is one of Britain’s most impenetrable. Its underground tunnels were still being used in WWII yet the royal courts effortlessly take you back to the time of Henry II. The castle is a 25 minute walk or short taxi ride from Dover Priory Railway Station, making visiting Dover Castle by train the quickest way to travel from London. There are direct hourly connections to and from London St Pancras, London Victoria, and London Charing Cross. Trainline Tip: Dover is Britain’s largest castle complex so allow a full day to see it all.

3. Castle Howard

Castle Howard. Image: Nick Garrod, Flickr

Castle Howard. Image: Nick Garrod, Flickr

Castle Howard delights in its impressions of regal pomp and razzmatazz, the stately grounds and gardens a great getaway from the city. It’s set in the rolling green landscape of Yorkshire, around 20 miles outside York. There are no direct trains to Castle Howard but the public transport journey is relatively straightforward. First travel to York Railway Station which is on the East Coast Mainline. From here, a visitor’s bus runs three times a day to the castle. Alternatively, take a train to Malton Station then a £13 – 15 taxi ride. Trainline Tip: Going to Castle Howard with the visitor’s bus gets you a discount on the entrance ticket.

4. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle is unmissable, perched on a hill above the Scottish capital and dominating the skyline from all angles. Exit Edinburgh Waverley Station and you’ll see the castle peering down from above. Just walk uphill towards the iconic fortress walls. You really can’t miss it and taking the train to Edinburgh Castle is far quicker than circling Edinburgh city centre looking for a parking space. Trainline Tip: Edinburgh Castle gets very busy during summer and booking tickets online in advance saves a frustrated 30 minutes in the queue.

5. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle. Image: Giborn_134, Flickr

Caernarfon Castle. Image: Giborn_134, Flickr

Striking polygonal towers are just the start of Caernarfon Castle’s originality. Towering above the river, this Welsh castle is a real ode to intimidating medieval fortresses. It’s a World Heritage Site and one that would have scared any invading army into submission. The closest train station to Caernarfon Castle is Caernarfon Station on the Welsh Highland narrow gorge railway. A more realistic journey by train is to alight in Bangor and take bus number 5a or 9 direct to the castle. Trainline Tip: The recently completed Welsh Highland Railway is the longest heritage railway line in the UK.

6. Warwick Castle

Sunglasses required. Warwick Castle in the sunshine. Image: Lisa West, Flickr

Sunglasses required. Warwick Castle in the sunshine. Image: Lisa West, Flickr

Warwick Castle is a place of myth and legend, a place where jousting displays and tea with scones go hand in hand. It’s great for taking the whole family by train as it’s just a 20 minute walk from Warwick Station. From here there are direct trains to London Marylebone, Birmingham Snow Hill, and Stratford-Upon-Avon. Trainline Tip: The direct train connections to Stratford-upon-Avon mean you can visit Shakespeare country and the home of William the Conqueror in one day.

7. Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle on a Summer day. Image: Nathan Reading, Flickr

Kenilworth Castle on a Summer day. Image: Nathan Reading, Flickr

Kenilworth has always played a role in British history and its majestic towers were constructed to woo Queen Elizabeth I. Relax in the Elizabethan Garden, check out the views from the tower, and relive history in the Castle Keep. To reach Kenilworth Castle by train, head to either Warwick Railway Station or Coventry Station. A taxi from either station will cost around £12. Trainline Tip: If you’re visiting Warwick and Kenilworth in one day, Kenilworth Castle’s gardens make it a good place to rest the feet after touring the fortresses.

8. Stirling Castle

“Tis bit a flesh wound”. Stirling Castle. Image: Martin Grossniklaus, Flickr

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s finest attractions and an easy day trip by train from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The timeless design inspired many of Scotland’s castles and the grounds evoke narratives of medieval battles. There are three direct trains per hour to Stirling Railway Station from Glasgow Queen Street as well as two per hour from Edinburgh Waverley. From the station it’s a 15 minute walk to the castle. Trainline Tip: Stirling also has regular trains to other historic destinations in the north of Scotland.

9. Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle. Image: Lincoln Castle With its history linking Roman conquests to William the Conquerer, the huge complex of Lincoln Castle is one of Britain’s most underrated. Take a walk along the medieval walls and admire an original version of the Magna Carta, before marvelling at the huge collection of canons. Finding a parking space in Lincoln city centre is challenging but the castle is just 15 minute walk from Lincoln Central Railway Station. There are direct trains to Lincoln Central from London Kings Cross, Sheffield, and Nottingham. Trainline Tip: While you’re in Lincoln, try to also visit Lincoln Cathedral. It was the world’s tallest building for 250 years until the spire collapsed in 1549.

10. Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle. Image: Angus Kirk

Portchester Castle. Image: Angus Kirk

Gazing across the waters to France, Portchester Castle’s Saxon history makes it architecturally different from the other castles in this list. In particular, the spiral staircase and crumbling interior walls make for timeless photos of British heritage. To visit Portchester by train, there are one to two direct trains per hour from London Waterloo to Portchester Station. There are also regular connections from Portchester to Havant and Basingstoke. Trainline Tip: Take your own lunch and enjoy it on one of the picnic benches inside the castle grounds.

castles destinations ideas on the train summer
Bottoms up! Treat Dad to some craft beer this Father's day.

7 Dad-Friendly Days out in the UK

What type of dad do you have? Do ties, socks, and coffee mugs excite him? Does he have aftershave to last a lifetime? Its time to put on the thinking cap, and we’re here to help. Here are seven great ideas for your dad this Father’s Day.

1: The ‘Start Your Engines’ Dad

Bedford Autodrome trac day. Image: msvtrackdays.com

If your dad is one of those guys who have secretly always wanted to be a racing driver, why not plan a visit to one of the UK’s racing tracks? You might investigate a visit to Abingdon. It’s a top quality airfield tarmac. Or you might like to take dad to four-hundred-acre Bedford Autodrome. Designed on a former airfield by ex-Formula One racer Jonathan Palmer, Bedford Autodrome had four separate circuits, over five miles of track. The track claims to be the best place on earth for fast cars. There are numerous other motor racing venues and museums across the country. Some other great examples include Beaulieu Motor Museum, Brooklands Museum and Mercedes Benz World.

2: The “There’s something fishy going on here” Dad

Father and son fishing on the coast.

Does dad like to fish? (Or perhaps the idea of fishing as a manly pursuit?) Either way, a father-son or father-daughter fishing outing could hit the spot. With its extensive coastline, the UK is home to a number of fantastic fishing spots. Why not try out Whitby, Northumberland, or Llangammarch Wells in Wales?

3: The Artsy Dad

Exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary Art  Gallery, Margate

If you don’t have an outdoorsy or sports dad, then there are other equally appealing alternatives. If your dad is a budding Picasso, take him to Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in Margate. It is the perfect day outing for a dad who loves art. You can make a package of it by adding lunch or dinner at one of Margate’s seafront restaurants. Or pick up some fish and chips and eat at one of the spots along the promenade overlooking the lighthouse.

Trainline Tip: ’99’ Ice creams are no longer 99p, we recommend you budget at least £1.50.

4: The Outdoors Dad

Caping in the Bracelands Site, Forest of Dean. Image: campingintheforest.co.uk

Do you have the kind of dad who enjoys a weekend of roughing it in the great outdoors? Open skies, fresh air and Baked Beans. What’s not to love? There are many awesome camping spots throughout the UK. Try out the New Forest, Forest of Dean and Loch Lomond.

5. The Bookworm Dad

One of the biggest second-hand book stores in the UK. Barter books. Image: arewenearlythereyetmummy.com

Is your dad a bookworm? Would he fancy a trip to ‘Ye Olde Booke Shoppe’? Combine this with a gift certificate for books and lunch at a cozy pub and you’ve got the perfect Father’s Day outing. One of the world’s twenty most beautiful books stores is Barter Books, located in Alnwick. If you’re based in the South of England, this list of Top 10 London Antiquities is worth checking out too.

6. The ‘Tiger Woods’ Dad

Par! Hit the course with Dad.

A round of golf and dinner at one of UK’s premier golf courses is just the ticket for the wannabe Tiger in your life. Check out the list of UK’s top 100 rated golf courses, including Royal St George Golf Course beautifully positioned in historic Sandwich or Old Sunningdale, one of Britain’s prettiest courses. Another excellent choice is Royal Birkdale, host of the British Open. Want to go even bigger? Premier Holidays offers a weekend golfing on the Isle of Man. The trip includes three nights at Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club and ferry service from Liverpool to Isle of Man.

7. The Pub Crawl Dad

Bottoms up! Treat Dad to some craft beer this Father's day.

If an outing to several of UK’s finest pubs to sample some of Great Britain’s finest ales would be dad’s idea of heaven, why not set up your own brewery tour. Don’t forget that pub food is also part of a British pub crawl, and that with a little research, you could create your own customised pub crawl for dad. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, treat dad to some international pints with a brewery tour in Prague, where beer making is seen as an art. Sample some brews in season and watch centuries-old beer making techniques in process. You don’t even have to take the time to research and arrange it, there’s already a tour created. Bottoms up!

destinations father's day ideas on the train sports summer
Detail of a tennis net and post on a grass court

Getting to Wimbledon 2015: How to ace it

As the crowd roars on a Murray serve or a Sharapova smash you could be at Centre Court immersed in the action. You could also be waiting outside, stuck in traffic or lost in Wimbledon’s infamous crowds. For every backhand passing winner there’s a Wimbledon visitor getting off at the wrong station. The world’s greatest tennis tournament requires a bit of forward planning, especially when it comes to getting to Wimbledon.

Best Ways to Travel to Wimbledon

The suburb of Wimbledon isn’t well suited for the large crowds. Confusing one way systems and non-existent parking means driving isn’t really an option, and the All England Tennis Club strongly advises spectators to go by public transport. So, how do you get to the Wimbledon tennis tournament?

Up to 16 direct trains per hour run between London Waterloo and WimbledonWimbledon Station is the closest station on the National Rail network. 16 trains an hour go direct from London Waterloo to Wimbledon, taking less than 20 minutes. This is the quickest connection from central London. If you’re coming from the south, there are two direct trains per hour from Woking.

If you’re traveling from further afield and arriving in London at Kings Cross, Victoria, or Euston stations, the quickest way to get to the Wimbledon is via the London Underground.

Southfields Station (District Line) is the closest tube station to the Wimbledon tennis championships. Image: Mooretrveltips.comThe closest underground station to the All England Tennis Club is Southfields Tube Station, on the District Line. It’s a 24 minute direct journey from Victoria. When arriving at London Euston, first take the Victoria line and change at Victoria. From Kings Cross, take the Piccadilly line to Earl’s Court and change onto the District line.

Getting to Wimbledon by Road From Nearby Stations

It’s a 15 minute walk to the Wimbledon tennis tournament from Southfields Tube Station. From Wimbledon Station, this is more like 20 minutes. Taxis are in high demand and it may be quicker to walk than to take one from outside the station. There’s a gregarious atmosphere on the road, thousands of spectators grasping their picnic hampers and filling the atmosphere with chatter and excitement. Routes from both stations are well signposted and there are many stewards providing assistance on route.

For those without tickets, the Queue is situated just five minutes’ walk from Southfields Tube Station, before the Wimbledon Grounds. It’s strictly one ticket per person so everyone in your group must queue.

A dedicated Wimbledon bus service leaves from outside Wimbledon Station and Southfields Tube Station. This is not free and spectators must have a valid oyster card or ticket to travel. No cash payments are allowed. Buses run continually throughout the day with the journey taking five to ten minutes.

The bus from Southfields is a mobility service, however, the one from Wimbledon Station is not.

What Else Should I Know About Getting to Wimbledon

There’s not much more to say about how to get to Wimbledon, so here’s a few quick tips to make the most of your day.

Anyone who’s watched Wimbledon will know the familiar sight of sunburnt faces on Centre court or thousands of spectators unfurling their umbrellas. Memories of the three-day Henman Ivanisevic semi-final say enough about the weather’s unpredictability. So pack the sun cream, sunhat, raincoat, and umbrella.

All spectators can bring in one bag measuring no more than 40cm x 30cm x 30cm. You can pack all your own food and drinks in this bag, but note that thermos flasks, sharp knives, and large corkscrews are prohibited. Camping chairs and selfie sticks are also banned and must be left at the left luggage facilities.

Thermos flasks, sharp knives, and large corkscrews are prohibited. Camping chairs and selfie sticks are also banned and must be left at the left luggage facilities.

destinations ideas on the train sports summer travel wimbledon
Audience At Glastonbury Festival

Getting to Glastonbury Festival 2015

Glastonbury fields an impressive line up of world-class acts. Friday night kicks off Florence + the Machine. The following night their place on the iconic Pyramid stage will be taken by Kanye West and the ever-smiling Pharell, as well as the cutesie but immensely talented Paloma Faith. On Sunday it’s the turn of the greats with The Who, Patti Smith, Lionel Ritchie and Paul Weller sure to delight the crowd. To make sure you don’t miss out on the action, here’s how to get to Glastonbury.

1. Nearest train station to Glastonbury

A train from London Paddington arrives at Castle Cary station. Image: Curly42, Flickr First Great Western trains heading for Glastonbury depart from London’s Paddington Station. The nearest station for festival-goers is Castle Cary, a short distance from Yeovil. Extra departures are added to the already frequent timetable making finding a London to Glastonbury train easy. Taking the train means that the party can start as soon as you begin your journey.

Castle Cary is the nearest railway station to GlastonburyThere’s even a free shuttle bus for Festival ticket-holders meaning you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get from the station to the Glasto gates. Shuttle Buses run throughout the Festival period from Wednesday to Monday. When you’re ready to head back to the station, this quarter-hourly bus leaves from Pedestrian gate A.

Save your pennies for the beer tent!

Travel smart and book your train tickets to Glastonbury in advance with trainline. Got a Railcard? Use it when you purchase to save another 1/3 on your fare.

2. Bus to Glastonbury

National Express coaches also serve Glastonbury FestivalNational Express coaches operate services from certain destinations across the United Kingdom (including London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow). Local buses include the 376 from Bristol which connects to the special Festival bus services, GF1 from Glastonbury (Wednesday to Monday) and GF6 (Friday to Monday). Shuttle GF2 runs from Shepton Mallet and GF4/5 for guests staying at Worthy View campsite.

3. Drive to Glastonbury Festival

Driving to Glastonbury is perhaps the most unpredictable method of getting to the Festival. If you’re coming from London you’ll need to take the M3, A303 and then A37; from the west, the M4 or M5 followed by the A39.

Try these postcodes in your SatNav: TA11 7DP, BA6 9XE or BA4 4LY. (Note that SatNav directions won’t get you all the way so look out for Festival signs to follow as soon as you get closer to the site).

If you drive, expect long queues to get in, especially if you time your arrival for Wednesday morning or depart on the Monday. It’s an unfortunate reality that you could be stuck in traffic for several hours so be prepared. You don’t get to choose exactly where you park as the marshals try to keep the traffic moving. In addition, parking is expensive at £25 per vehicle for a pass. You can buy it here.

destinations festival festivals ideas on the train summer travel
Film in the City Edinburgh 2015

3 things to do in the UK this weekend

1. London – Star Wars at Madame Tussauds

Star Wars Special Exhibition at Madame Tussauds London

The force has truly awakened at Madame Tussauds in London, with endless photo opportunities with your favourite characters from the Star Wars Saga. Book in advance and find the best fares for trains to London.

2. Manchester – Cosmic Con at the Hilton, Manchester Airport

Cosmic Con, Space Exhibition Manchester

Manchester’s Cosmic Con is one of the UK’s premier space events. Guests have the opportunity to meet and chat to astronauts from the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, as well as leading astronomers and meteorite hunters. If you don’t happen to have a jetpack to hand, fear not! The event is easily accessible by trains to Manchester Airport.

3. Edinburgh – Film in the City Outdoor Cinema

Film in the City Edinburgh 2015

See classic movies including West Side Story and Grease in the fresh air at Film in the City, in Edinburgh’s beautiful Grassmarket area. Check the best fares for trains to Edinburgh.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.13.58

6 Ways to Spring into action

Rejoice! The sun has started to come out! The flip-flops and pasty legs are already appearing, and we haven’t even hit 20 degrees yet! Here at trainline towers, we thought we would give you the low down on some of the coolest things to do this spring time. You can thank us later.

1. Boating or Goating?

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.13.58

Timeout

Yes, it’s that time again for the Boat Race! Head down to Putney and watch the Oxford and Cambridge teams row for glory. Alternatively, goats running for glory in East London will also suffice. Bring on the Prosecco! 

Trains to London

The Boat Race: The Thames, Apr 11 http://theboatraces.org
The Goat Race: Spitalfields City Farm, Buxton Street, E1 5AR, Apr 11

2. Udderly Brilliant

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.19.58

 South Bank Centre

The big purple cow is back for its 6th year at London’s South Bank Centre. Watch your favourite comedians, some new faces and loads of other awesome performances. Moooooo-arvellous!

Trains to London

Udderbelly: Thursday 10 April 2014 – Sunday 13 July 2014: South Bank Centre

3. Medieval Mayhem

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.23.29

Warwick Castle

Got little ones to entertain this spring? Nothing keeps kids interested like a court jester and some good old historical gore! Popular series ‘Horrible Histories’ is pitching up at Warwick Castle throughout the spring. Something brilliant for the kids (and the big kids). 

Trains to Warwick

Medieval Mayhem: Warwick Castle, Warwick
28th March – 12th April
2nd May – 4th May
23rd May – 31st May
18th July – 6th September

4. Meat and musical madness in Manchester

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Grillstock

Europe’s largest BBQ and music festival returns to Manchester next month! Expect mouth-watering meat, two music stages with bands and DJ’s and competitive eating competitions! Hot Wing Challenge, anyone?

Trains to Manchester

Grillstock Festival: Albert Square, Manchester 30th-31st of May

5. Deep Sea Diving

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 10.32.35

Natural History Museum

Head down to London’s Natural History Museum and discover ‘Secret Cities of the Sea’. An awe-inspiring exhibition on coral reefs. A great day out for all ages! (Snorkel and flippers not required) 

Trains to London

Coral Reefs, Secret Cities of the Sea: Natural History Museum, until Sunday 13th September

6. Big Bugs!

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Visit Bristol

Perhaps this isn’t one for the Entomophobes out there. 

For the next 6 months, 13 huge animatronic bugs are making Bristol Zoo Gardens their home. It’s great fun for all the family, but don’t get too close. They move, hiss and even spray water.

Trains to Bristol

Big Bugs at Bristol Zoo: Bristol Zoo Gardens Until 6th September

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