Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Posted by @ 11:23 pm on Monday 4th January, 2010.

I've been thinking of the impending trip up to the Lakes for me and Ella to do some more winter-walking. In particular, I've been considering the financial costs of the "green option" - leaving the car at home and using public transport instead. There's a bit of maths involved but it's not too arduous...


By car: The "there-and-back" trip is usually 400 miles or thereabouts, depending on exactly where in Cumbria we head for. Suffice to say that I've never failed to get there, get around and get back home on one full tank of petrol, and usually there's some to spare. The cost of this is variable due to fluctuating fuel prices, but right now we're talking £55 tops. Factor in insurance and servicing costs and we'll call it £60. For this princely sum we can leave here after school on a Friday and return at any time on a Sunday, which means that we can fit in another half-day or full-day walk. Oh, and we also get the flexibility of travelling wherever and whenever while we're there. Food-stops, toilet-stops and fag-stops are taken as required, not as scheduled. The main journey time is about 4 hours each way.


By National Express coach: Tickets for the two of us to travel from Coventry to Windermere and back will cost £72.65, not too much more than the car option until other elements are factored in, elements such as 2x transport between home and Coventry, 2x transport between Windermere and destination, and probably transport between destination and walk start/end. Altogether it'll top £100. The main journey times are 6hrs 17mins out, 6 hrs 30 mins back. The outward journey starts at 12:40 on Friday which means a half-day of school must be missed, and the return starts at 08:55 which means no walking on the Sunday. Oh, and I don't get to play The Cure, The Blues Brothers, The Macc Lads, the B52s, The Sex Pistols or Beethoven's Pastoral at window-rattling levels either. Not good.

It doesn't help that I've had bad experiences with National Express, the worst one being on a return journey from Snowdonia. The coach stopped at Oswestry Station to set-down and pick-up. We asked the driver if we had time to nip off and go to the station toilets, he said we had fifteen minutes. We were back in five but he'd pissed off and taken his coach, his passengers and all of our gear with him. We had to pay again to get back to Brum by alternative means and pay some more to get our gear out of the "Lost Property" vault at Digbeth Station. What we didn't get was an apology, and we didn't get a refund. Arseholes.


By Train: Nuneaton to Windermere and back will cost us an incredible £98.55 and there are still the same getting-about costs to be added on as per the coach option, so we're looking at £125 minimum. Times are a bit more flexible and it is possible to do an after-school outward journey, but there's still no realistic chance of getting in a decent walk on the Sunday. Journey-times are just under 4 hours each way, and each trip has at least two changes of train, which means much potential for missed connections. It's hassle we just don't need. There is good news, though - there's no need to get off to use the loo!


So, we're talking more money for more hassle, less pleasure, more time and more chances of it going tits-up. If I'm going to spend that sort of cash on a weekend away, we might as well fly somewhere more, err, um, exotic. I can get two tickets to Zurich and back and a free taxi to and from the airport this end, all for less than £98.55, or there's East Midlands to Cork - two returns for less than £94 with more-or-less guaranteed free pickup, transport and digs over there from my uncle and aunt.

No, I think we'll stick with the car. It's the only working public transport system in this country. It covers almost any route at almost any time, and it'll do detours if necessary. It's made for going where you point it.

We'll point it northwards sometime soon.

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10 Responses to “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”

  1. you like the macc lads! i was there when they recorded their live album in the Duchess of York in Leeds.....memories indeed

  2. I go through this dilema everytime I plan a trip to Scotland and always end up back on the car plan as it just doesn't work out to do the public transport thing! Shame really! Happy new year to you and the family! We've got 7 inches of snow outside on everything!

  3. Andy Gibson says:

    I didn't know you had relatives in Cork. The next time you're over, give me a shout and we could meet up. :mrgreen:

  4. Mike Bell says:

    Macc Lads! Total and utterly glorious filth!
    Was up in Wasdale last week BG and it was very icy, but top trip.

  5. BG! says:

    @Chris - I never got to see them play live, it's one of my great regrets. Consider yourself blessed 😎

  6. BG! says:

    @Jamie Bassnett - We've been practically snowless for a month despite almost constant sub-zero temperatures. Today saw the first prolonged snowfall, but it's only a few inches deep.

  7. BG! says:

    @Andy Gibson - They live at Reenroe, between Skibbereen and Drimoleague. Handy for trips to Baltimore and Bantry Bay, and useful as a stopover on the way to The Dingle and The Ring of Kerry. Next time I'm there I'll let you know. Of course, if the Swansea-Cork ferry company actually had a boat...

  8. Andy Gibson says:

    Originally Posted By BG!@Andy Gibson - They live at Reenroe, between Skibbereen and Drimoleague. Handy for trips to Baltimore and Bantry Bay, and useful as a stopover on the way to The Dingle and The Ring of Kerry. Next time I'm there I'll let you know. Of course, if the Swansea-Cork ferry company actually had a boat...

    Er, the Swansea - Cork ferry company DO have a new boat, it was bought in 2009 and the service is going to restart this year. I have some pics of it somewhere, I'll email a couple of them to you when I find them. 🙂

  9. BG! says:

    Originally Posted By Andy Gibson

    Er, the Swansea - Cork ferry company DO have a new boat...

    Cheers for that, Andy. I'm looking forward to getting inside Julia :mrgreen:

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