It’s time to show winter who’s boss! So what if we’re all a bit broke and statistically miserable, we’re still here, aren’t we? Days out don’t have to cost a lot – even the most budget-conscious can enjoy a refreshing walk through the countryside. And, depending on your budget, you could enjoy a slap-up pub lunch afterwards, or a lime soda and some pork scratchings.
The UK has so much natural beauty to explore. In fact, over half of England can reach a National Park in just an hour’s travel time. That’s where we come in. We’ve planned some trips to UK National Parks, and to the best places to eat as well. Read on, or plan your own day out.
1. Starting in Cardiff – Visit Brecon Beacons, Wales
The ancient woodland and tumbling waterfalls of the Brecon Beacons are just 40 minutes outside the Welsh capital, Cardiff. Perfect for a last-minute day trip, you’ll need an Anytime Day Return ticket if you want to save money. This ticket type means you can spend the whole day there, getting the most for your money. You can fill your boots with historical factoids at medieval castles, or stretch your legs walking the Agincourt Wales Trail to unravel the history of the famous Battle of Agincourt, 1415.
Top off your day of history with some modern pub grub at the nearby Felin Fach Griffin, which brings you to bang up to date with its 2018 title - Dining Pub of the Year for Wales. Timekeeping isn’t an issue here, as this pub offers a “Not lunch, not supper” menu, meaning no matter the time you can order a selection of local delicacies like Gorwydd Caerphilly, homegrown peas or Welsh lamb (of course). And, if it’s Sunday, you’ll be in fine company with monthly live music and OFM readers nominated “Best Sunday Lunch”.
2. Starting in Manchester – Visit the Lake District, Cumbria
Escaping the grey of the city can be easier than you think. Trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Oxenholme Lake District (Kendal’s quieter cousin) run every 30 minutes and take just an hour and a half. The Lake District has 12 of England’s biggest lakes and over 900 square miles to explore. And, even better, 48 of the trails are accessible for those with reduced mobility*, so there’s something for everyone. Our favourite trail starts from the station and heads over The Helm. It’s as serene as can be, with sweeping panoramas across the valley, and an iron age hill fort at the top.
By the end of the day, you’ll probably have worked up quite an appetite. Luckily, Romneys, Kendal, is just 1.5miles walk from the station and boasts a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. And, if the ham, egg and chips aren’t enough to tempt you, maybe their resident ghost Agnes will pique your interest.
*You can get assistance to make your journey easier if you are, or are travelling with, a person of reduced mobility. And, if you’re eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard, you can get 1/3 off your ticket price at any time.
3. Starting in Newcastle – Visit Northumberland National Park
While there’s plenty to do in the Tyne, you can easily venture further afield to the pretty Northumberland National Park. Trains from Newcastle to Hexham can take just 30 minutes, which is shorter than the average commute to work. Hexham is nestled between Northumberland National Park and the North Pennines AONB – as you can imagine there is a lot to explore. Unusually a night-time visit can be fun because there are several stargazing spots here, as part of Europe’s biggest Dark Sky Park.
For the romantics (and extra-terrestrials) out there, you can arrange to have a Valentine’s dinner under the stars. It is quite a challenging walk of around 4.5miles each way from Hexham station, so although you may have your love to keep you warm, we’d recommend wearing an extra layer as it can get a bit chilly after dark.
4. Starting in Sheffield – Visit the Peak District
Did you know the Peak District was Britain’s first National Park? The 34 miles of trails are great to explore as a group, and if there’s between 3-9 of you, you’ll get 34%* discount, so well worth getting the gang together. The Peak District is within easy reach of Manchester and Sheffield by train. The National Park’s nearest station is Edale.
When it comes to lunch time, The Samuel Fox Country Inn has two AA rosettes to its name, so you’re bound to find something you’ll like on the menu. The braised beef cheeks always get a thumb up from us. It’s around 2 hours walking each way, so it’s worth noting that there is a restricted menu on Mondays and Tuesdays.
*Auto-applied when booking through our app, and available in the Railcards drop down menu on our website.
5. Starting in Leeds – Visit the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales are well connected and train rides to this part of the UK offer great scenery. The train journey from Leeds to Horton-In-Ribblesdale takes just over an hour, making it an easy day trip.
If your New Year’s resolution was to get active, then taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge could be just what you need. Tackle this 24-mile climb then reward yourself with a refreshing hand-pulled ale in The Golden Lion at Horton-in-Ribblesdale. This pub has won a CAMRA Pub of the Season award as well as the Theakson Grand Master Trophy for winning the Award of Excellence, not once, not twice, but three times – they’ve got to be doing something right!
Give your car a rest this weekend and try a new way to do things, book a train ticket and get outside. If you’ve not got it already, download our app to check live train times and use tickets on your phone. Or, if you fancy some next-level gadgetry, tell your Google Assistant to “Talk to Trainline” and we’ll talk you through your trip.