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5 Summer Holidays in England

You don’t need to travel abroad for an enchanting summer holiday. Bathed in sunshine and dancing with natural beauty, England has some great summer holiday spots. What’s more, they’re super accessible by train. Whether it’s a weekend break in the city or two weeks submerged in sublime landscapes, this summer is all about celebrating the best that England has to offer.

1. Go Camping in Cornwall

Tucked away in the southwest England, Cornwall is an ideal spot for a summer camping or caravan holidays. As the train rumbles into the county the landscapes begin to stretch with primitive beauty, the lush green valleys cascading to coastal cliffs and secluded beaches. Surf paradise Newquay and Cornish capital Truro are the biggest towns with the best connections for trains to Cornwall. Then one of the best things to do in Cornwall is to take the St Ives Bay Line, the train skirting along the Cornish coast to the sapphire waters and almost-white sand of St Ives, one of Cornwall’s premier destinations.

A map of Cornwall reveals endless choice for caravan holidays or places to pitch a tent. All along the coast you’ll find relaxed white stone villages that spill onto surfing beaches and towns that revel in their quirky traditions. With so much open space you’re spoilt for a choice of campsites in Cornwall.

Campsites in Cornwall

2. Rent a Cottage in Devon

Devon boasts some of England’s few stretches of real wilderness, the blissfully quiet landscapes full of prehistoric monuments, grazing sheep, and hundreds of intrepid walking trails. Devon holiday cottages immerse you in this diaphanous splendor as this summer holiday offers supreme escapism. Hotels in Devon are usually of the small boutique variety, even if they don’t advertise themselves as such. When taking trains to Devon, the university city of Exeter and coastal city of Plymouth offer the most connections, both to London Paddington and cities in the north. Use Exeter St Davids and Plymouth Station. In Devon, Brixham is one of England’s cutest towns, the fisherman houses standing over a quaint harbour. Dartmouth Steam Railway is also a great way to get around and follow one of England’s most picturesque rail routes.

Salcombe park #Devon

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3. Hit the Beach in Sussex

When the sun comes out there’s probably no better place in England than the beaches of West Sussex. Regular direct trains from London make this southern coastline an easy escape for a short seaside summer holiday. Head straight to Brighton and revel in its beaches and colourful character. Nip across to Hove for secluded beaches and the same impression of charm. How about Hastings, a delightful seaside town with a famous battle history and some evocative castle ruins? Then there’s the vibrant huts on the beach at St Leonards. All these seaside destinations have direct train links to London Victoria. For something more private, change trains at Brighton and head to Winchelsea to discover the dramatic deserted beaches of Camber.

#Hastings 🇬🇧❤️

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4. Walk on the Mountains in the Lake District

England’s largest national park, the Lake District is a treasure trove of serene lakes, alpine hikes, and adventure. These are England’s highest hills (or mountains as we all love to call them) and their peaks reflect gently in a series of quiet lakes. Lake District hotels and Lake District cottages are always great value and surrounded by exquisite panoramas. The Lake District is extremely easy to reach by train with two stations on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Edinburgh Waverely or Glasgow Central.

Alight at Penrith for the northern lakes; including the wonderful scenic Lake Ullswater, the great hikes from Keswick, and Derwentwater, probably the region’s most picturesque lake. Stop at Oxenholme for the more popular Lake Windermere, where an open top bus connects many hiking trails and destinations between Bowness and Ambleside. Check out a more detailed Lake District map to plan your visit.

5. Discover a new City – Liverpool

Gone are the days when Liverpool was merely a humorous stereotype. For decades, the city of the Beatles has hardly made a mark as an English holiday destination. Foreign tourists have always flocked to the city, lured by its Victorian architecture, effervescent locals, and promise of evening fun.

Liverpool was voted European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the easy to walk city centre radiates the city’s personality. Liverpool Lime Street has fast direct connections to London and many other major cities. Step out from the station and you’re outside St George’s Hall, probably the finest neo-classical building in England. Then explore the Tate Liverpool, Slavery Museum, Maritime Museum, and Liverpool Cathedral – all of them completely free to enter. Finish the summer holiday by rocking to Beatles memories in the Cavern Club or at the Beatles Story.

#pub #cavernclub #beatles #beatlesmania #liverpool #england

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attractions beach city cornwall destinations devon ideas liverpool summer
A Royal Air Force Typhoon performs at the Royal International Air Tattoo. Image: Peter Gronemann, Flickr.

UK Airshows 2015 by Train

Those magnificent men (and women) in their flying machines! We have a glorious history of aviation here in the UK, and what better way to take in all of the exciting airshows dotted around the country than by hopping on the train?  Here are some top Britain’s top ‘air-tractions’, and some handy hints on how to make your way there by rail.  It really is the only way to fly…

The Royal International Air Tattoo – RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire – 17-19 July

The world’s largest military airshow, RIAT showcases truly incredible aircraft, including US Air force Black Hawks and Apaches, with pride of place going to those iconic RAF ‘planes flown by the heroic ‘few’ during the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane and Spitfire. Oh,and a little troupe you might be familiar with:The Red Arrows.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon performs at the Royal International Air Tattoo. Image: Peter Gronemann, Flickr.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon performs at the Royal International Air Tattoo. Image: Peter Gronemann, Flickr.

Getting There:  The closest major station to the site is Swindon, which has direct links to stations in London and Wales, plus trains to Swindon come from as far afield as Manchester without having to change more than once.  Once you arrive, a shuttle bus will be waiting to take you direct to RAF Fairford.

Scotland’s National Airshow – National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, East Lothian – 25 July

Wing Walkers wow the crowds at Scotland's East Fortune Airshow. Image: Gareth Edwards, Flickr

Wing Walkers wow the crowds at Scotland’s East Fortune Airshow. Image: Gareth Edwards, Flickr

Scotland’s largest airshow features the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and an aerial display by the awesome RAF Red Arrows, not to mention air acrobats the TRIG team in their biplanes, as well as classic aircraft from Spain, Jordan, the USA and much, much more.

Getting There:  You’re not going to want to miss this, and the best way to ensure that is to travel to Scotland, stopping at Edinburgh where there is a regular rail service to North Berwick, the closest station to the site.  Once at North Berwick, simply take the free shuttle bus straight to the museum.  Easy!

Red Bull Air Race – Royal Ascot 15-16 August

The UK leg of the world’s most adrenaline-fueled motorsport competition comes to Ascot racecourse! Watch Britain’s own Paul Bonhomme and Nigel Lamb take on the world’s best as they negotiate the twists and turns of the unique Red Bull air race course, each one vying to take home the championship crown.  Gripping stuff.

Kirby Chambliss wows the crowds navigating the air race course at the 2014 Red Bull Air Race. Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr.

Kirby Chambliss wows the crowds navigating the air race course at the 2014 Red Bull Air Race. Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr.

Getting There: Reading station runs regular services to Ascot, making the site easily accessible from London. Indeed, trains from Waterloo to Ascot will get you there in under an hour, including the (roughly) 7 minutes it takes to walk to Royal Ascot from Ascot station.  There are also direct trains to Reading from as far away as Manchester and Newcastle.

Bournemouth Air Festival – Bournemouth – 20-23 August

Bournemouth airshow plays host to a jam-packed festival of flying fun, with music, military displays and, of course, the very finest in classic aircraft – you can watch it all, right on the beach.  The Red Arrows will be on display, not to mention the state-of-the-art RAF Typhoon and a rare chance to see the history-making Avro Vulcan, a true marvel of British engineering brilliance in it’s final year of flying.

The last flying Avro Vulcan bomber, XH558, performs a fly by  at Bournemouth Air Festival. Image: let's go out Bournemouth

The last flying Avro Vulcan bomber, XH558, performs a fly by at Bournemouth Air Festival. Image: let’s go out Bournemouth

Getting There: Did you know It’s possible to get from Glasgow to Bournemouth by train, only having to change once?  Yes, Dorset is a well connected part of the world, with services to Bournemouth running from most major cities, with very few changes. Trains from London Waterloo to Bournemouth will get you there in less than two hours, on average.

Battle of Britain Anniversary Show – IWM Duxford – 19-20 September

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.  2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the RAF victory in the Battle of Britain, the desperate struggle for our nation’s very survival.  What better way to pay tribute to sacrifices made by those brave airmen than to witness the magnificent sight of their Spitfires and Hurricanes as they take to the sky at RAF Duxford, home of the first WWII Spitfire squadrons.  Not only that, but just in case you missed them earlier in the year, you’ll have another opportunity to see the Red Arrows in action.

Generations of Spitfires ready to scramble from Duxford's pan. Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr

Generations of Spitfires stand ready to scramble from Duxford’s pan. Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr

Getting There:  The closest station to the site is Cambridge, which will be running a free bus to IWM Duxford on the day of the airshow. Cambridge station is well-connected, and trains from relatively distant UK cities (Cardiff or Leeds, for example) will get you there with no more than two changes required. Chocks away!

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5 Top UK Theme Parks

1. Thorpe Park

thorpe-park-colossus-ride-merlin

image: Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park features a range of thrill rides and roller coasters including Stealth, an 80mph accelerator coaster, and The Swarm, a wing coaster flipping riders upside down five times. Tickets start at £24.99 if bought in advance online and the park is open daily from 10am to 6pm in July, closing an hour later in August. To get there by train, take the South West Trains’ service from Waterloo to Staines. The 950 Thorpe Park Express shuttle bus runs from Staines station to Thorpe Park resort every 15-20 minutes. You can even stay overnight at the new Thorpe Shark Hotel.

#thorpepark #fun #tidalwave #water #wetnwild #mokromi

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2. Chessington World of Adventures

The Scorpion express at Chessington World of Adventures

image: Chessington World of Adventures

A theme park with a zoo attached, Chessington has something for everyone. Brave the Vampire rollercoaster, take a more leisurely ride on the legendary Bubbleworks or take the family on a mini-safari. Advance purchase tickets start from £27.00, or buy a Merlin annual pass for £169pp, which covers other attractions including Alton Towers, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds. The park is open from 10am to 5pm with extended summer holiday opening hours. Take the train from London Waterloo to Chessington South. The park is approximately 10 minutes walk from the station.

Napom #weareunilever

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3. Alton Towers

Nemesis at Alton Towers

image: Alton Towers

The UK’s premier theme park, Alton Towers is crammed full of high octane rides. Although Thrill seekers can get their kicks on Oblivion, Nemesis and Air. Buy a day ticket in advance for £37.80 or for just £7.50 more, a two-day pass. Regular opening times are 10am to 5pm, extended to 6pm in August. There are lots of options for overnight stays both in and near the park. To get the train to Alton Towers, you’ll need to reach either Stoke-on-Trent, Uttoxeter or Derby station and then catch a bus.

Holy…😍😍😍#altontowers #rollercoaster

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4. Legoland Windsor

Paris. Part of Legoland Windsor's Miniland.

image: Legoland

Your kids are going to love Legoland’s interactive rides and live shows. Aimed at kids between 2 and 12, the park is open from 10am to 7pm throughout the school holidays. Legoland Windsor ticket prices vary, with the best deals if you book more than seven days in advance or get a family ticket. If you’re looking to make a trip to Legoland Windsor part of a short break, you can stay at Legoland’s own themed hotel. There are also lots of hotels near Legoland Windsor located closer to Windsor Castle, which is another must-see local attraction. Windsor is super easy to reach by train. Trains to Windsor take less that 1 hour from London Waterloo on South West Trains. Services depart approximately every 30 minutes.

Legoland adventures with @sallyannecook.

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5. Drayton Manor

A sunny day at Drayton Manor theme park.

image: Drayton Manor

Drayton Manor’s top ride is the Ben 10 Ultimate Mission Coaster, but there’s also fun to be had on the old fashioned dodgems, the Wild-West shootout and Splash Canyon. Advance purchase tickets are available from as little as £20. The park opens at 9.30am with the first rides open by 10.30am; it shuts at 5pm. It’s easy to get there by train. Trains to Tamworth station get you to three miles from the park entrance, from where you can catch a station taxi.

: this is so awesome! 😜 #lastride #draytonmanor #gforce #rollercoaster

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5 Museums to visit in the School Summer Holidays

1. Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham

Fancy experiencing a gruesome part of British History? Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the bloody history of British crime and punishment. You can even witness the evil Sheriff of Nottingham sentencing innocent victims to death in a fully immersive Medieval court experience. If you’re really enthusiastic, hang around until after dark, as the museum is supposedly haunted. Galleries of Justice Museum ticket prices start at £7.50 for kids under 16 and £9.50 for adults. What’s more, the museum is super accessible by trains to Nottingham, as the train station and tram stop are within a short walking distance from the museum.

#uk #nottingham #justice 🍯

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2. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth

Though not technically a museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has boat-loads of stuff to see and experience. Climb on board Admiral Nelson’s legendary flagship HMS Victory for a 50-minute tour, visit the National Museum of the Royal Navy, and take a look at the remains of Henry VIII’s pride and joy, the Tudor battleship Mary Rose. You can even take a look at the Royal Navy’s steam ship HMS Warrior, dating back to 1860. Portsmouth is easily accessible by trains from London, Bristol, Cardiff and Brighton.

HMS Warrior sits in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, with the famous Spinnaker tower in the background. Image: Paul Lewin, Flickr.

HMS Warrior sits in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, with the famous Spinnaker tower in the background. Image: Paul Lewin, Flickr.

3. Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford

The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is located in Shropshire, and boasts an awesome collection of over 70 vintage bi-planes, world war two bombers and cold war jets. Discover the history of the Royal Air Force through the ages, and get the younger kids learning with the hands on ‘Fun and Flight’ centre. The RAF Museum, Cosford is a 1/2 mile walk from Cosford Station. If you’re located closer to London, the Royal Air Force Museum London offers an equally impressive selection of aircraft, and is easily accessed by trains to Colindale Underground station.

The Avro Vulcan bomber forms a centrepiece of a hangar at the RAF Museum Cosford. Image: Shropshirelive.

The Avro Vulcan forms a centrepiece of a hangar at the RAF Museum Cosford. Image: Shropshirelive.

4. Dinosaur Isle, Isle of Wight

Dinosaur Isle is Britain’s first purpose built Dinosaur museum, taking advantage of the numerous bones and fossils discovered on the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is internationally famous for its dinosaur remains. Many different types of dinosaurs have been identified already, and more mysterious remains are yet to be determined. It’s the perfect place to discover 120 billion years of history. Dinosaur Isle ticket prices start from £4.00. From trains to Southampton, Red Isle Ferry service operates a car ferry to the Isle of Wight, docking at East Cowes.

Dinosaur Isle. Image: wightpod.co.uk

Dinosaur Isle. Image: wightpod.co.uk

5. The Science Museum, London

The Science Museum offers interactive insights into the history of everything scientific, from Faraday to flushing toilets. South Kensington is a real hive of museums, and the Science Museum is conveniently located next door to the Natural History Museum, and a short walk from the Victoria & Albert Museum. The nearest London Underground Station to the museum is South Kensington. Trains to London run from hundreds of locations across the UK.

The Energy Gallery at the Science Museum, London. Image: Ewen Roberts, Flickr.

The Energy Gallery at the Science Museum, London. Image: Ewen Roberts, Flickr.

attractions destinations ideas museums school holidays
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Top 3 Barbecue Friendly Public Spaces in London

Having a Barbecue in public parks and spaces in London is not as simple as you might imagine. Cooking on barbecues is prohibited in most inner-London parks, and can result in nasty fines, which we are definitely not about. Don’t give up hope! We’ve done our homework and found some great public spaces in London that are barbecue friendly.

1. London Fields, Hackney

A large section of this bustling park near Broadway Market has been designated as a barbecue-friendly area. If you want to grill be sure to arrive early, as on sunny days this area fills up fast.

London Fields, Hackney. Image: Ivy Mei, Flickr

London Fields, Hackney. Image: Ivy Mei, Flickr

While you are at London Fields, be sure to take time to stroll through Broadway Market. It’s full of treasures. Top up your barbecue menu with everything from artisan cakes and roast beef baps to vietnamese iced coffee and Italian cheese. If you fancy a craft beer try one of the quaint, you can take advantage of the area’s excellent watering holes. Check out The Dove or Cat & Mutton for starters. Broadway Market runs from Regent’s Canal to the foot of London Fields. Broadway Market is open every Saturday.

Broadway Market bustles with artisan foods and live music. Image: hdimagegallery.net

Broadway Market bustles with artisan foods and live music. Image: hdimagegallery.net

I 'Herd' London Fields is a great place for a Barbecue. Image: bijoubijoux.co.uk

I ‘Herd’ London Fields is a great place for a Barbecue. Image: bijoubijoux.co.uk

Do you have kids? Do you like Donkeys? If that’s a yes, you should build in time to take the kids to nearby Hackney City Farm in the South east corner of Haggerston Park and get them acquainted with resident Donkeys Larry and Clover. There’s also pigs, calves, goats, fancy fowl, and rodents to see.

The nearest train stations to London Fields are London Fields and Hackney Central. You can also get to London Fields from London Overground trains to Haggerston and Dalston Junction, and trains to Hackney Downs.

2. Highbury Fields, Islington

Islington is the only London borough to allow barbecues in all its public parks and open spaces. This makes the are very popular spot for those with a yen for grilled food. Islington council does not charge for the use of their public spaces. The only stipulation they make is that anyone wishing to have a barbecue bring with them water to pour over the ashes of and make sure the fire is completely extinguished.

Highbury Fields. Image: treetree.co.uk

Highbury Fields. Image: treetree.co.uk

One of Islington’s most best parks is Highbury Fields. 29 acres of green space extends north from Highbury Corner to Highbury Barn. Highbury Fields isn’t just parkland. Its recreational facilities include tennis courts and the indoor Highbury pool, recently renovated and reopened in January 2007.

After your barbecue, throw the football around in the park’s green fields, toss a Frisbee to the kids, go swimming or play a game of tennis. (Or perhaps you’d just like to sit in the shade or find a sunny spot on a blanket and work on your tan)

There’s plenty of cool playground equipment at ‘Parktopia’. The playground contains an apple orchard and a children’s play area complete with sandpits. Don’t forget money for ice cream.

The nearest train stations to Highbury fields are Highbury & Islington and Drayton Park. Highbury Fields is also accessible by London Underground services to Holloway Road and Arsenal, both of which are on the Piccadilly Line.

3. Burgess Park

After a recent £2 million renovation, Burgess Park is one South London’s best kept secrets. The park is surprisingly quiet,  and there are eight custom-built barbecues on the grounds. In addition to Burgess park, Southwark Council has numerous introduced dedicated areas where you can fire up your own portable barbecue.

Burgess Park. Image: RJP, Flickr

Burgess Park. Image: RJP, Flickr

Burgess Park is relatively large. Be sure to see the lake and the nature area on New Church Road. You might want to continue your adventure by booking a voyage of the Thames in one of London’s high speed boats or having coffee at one of the excellent nearby cafés.

The nearest train station to burgess Park is Elephant & Castle.

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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.

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