diamond geezer

 Monday, April 30, 2018

If you ever need inspiration for a day trip from London, try this. It's my Day Out Stimulus Matrix.

It's a bit like the Random Tourist Inspiration Generator I showed you last month, except outside the capital.

Also, it's not meant to be random, this time you simply scan the grid and see if anywhere takes your fancy.

If you require a genuinely random nudge, roll a 6-sided dice and restrict yourself to that column.

But really it's meant as more of a stimulus to make you go "oh yeah, that'd be a good day out".

Birmingham
Stratford
Warwick
Northampton
Milton Keynes
Tring
Leicester
Kettering
Bedford
Peterborough
Huntingdon
St Neots
Kings Lynn
Ely
Cambridge
Norwich
Lowestoft
Ipswich
Bicester
Oxford
Swindon
Wendover
Beaconsfield
Amersham
Luton
St Albans
Watford
Letchworth
Stevenage
Hatfield
Duxford
Harlow
Epping
Clacton
Sudbury
Colchester
Reading
Henley
Marlow
Windsor
Virginia Water
Ascot
DAYS OUT FROM LONDONTilbury
Canvey
Southend
Rochester
Chatham
Whitstable
Newbury
Salisbury
Winchester
Woking
Guildford
Farnham
Epsom
Box Hill
Dorking
Reigate
Hever
East Grinstead
Sevenoaks
Tunbridge Wells
Maidstone
Margate
Broadstairs
Ramsgate
Portsmouth
Southampton
IoW
Arundel
Bognor Regis
Chichester
Brighton
Hove
Worthing
Lewes
Seaford
Eastbourne
Battle
Hastings
Rye
Deal
Dover
Folkestone

All 84 of these locations are accessible by train from London. The seaside's along the bottom and up the right-hand edge.

Obviously not all these places are tip-top options (I mean, Luton?), but hey, it's your choice.

Also, yes, I know I've missed tons of places out, but if you want to go to the Isle of Sheppey, just go.

If now is not the time to go, maybe bookmark this page for a nice day in the summer (or click back to April 2018 at a later date).




And then, because all these locations are accessible by train, I wondered how much it'd cost to get there.

So what follows is the price of an off-peak return, travelling next Saturday.

Birmingham £29
Stratford £31
Warwick £31
Northampton £29
Milton Keynes £16
Tring £16
Leicester £63
Kettering £29
Bedford £15
Peterborough £20
Huntingdon £19
St Neots £18
Kings Lynn £25
Ely £21
Cambridge £17
Norwich £55
Lowestoft £56
Ipswich £42
Bicester £26
Oxford £27
Swindon £48
Wendover £18
Beaconsfield £17
Amersham £8
Luton £11
St Albans £9
Watford £8
Letchworth £13
Stevenage £12
Hatfield £9
Stansted £21
Harlow £13
Epping £6
Clacton £31
Sudbury £28
Colchester £26
Reading £20
Henley £18
Marlow £17
Windsor £12
Virginia Water £13
Ascot £15
DAYS OUT FROM LONDONTilbury £10
Canvey £13
Southend £13
Rochester £17
Chatham £17
Whitstable £24
Newbury £25
Salisbury £41
Winchester £36
Woking £15
Guildford £17
Farnham £19
Epsom £8
Box Hill £9
Dorking £9
Reigate £12
Hever £13
East Grinstead £16
Sevenoaks £13
T'bridge Wells £16
Maidstone £19
Margate £25
Broadstairs £27
Ramsgate £27
Portsmouth £31
Southampton £31
IoW £58
Arundel £31
Bognor Regis £31
Chichester £31
Brighton £12
Hove £29
Worthing £31
Lewes £29
Seaford £28
Eastbourne £33
Battle £25
Hastings £30
Rye £35
Deal £27
Dover £27
Folkestone £26

These are all day return fares, costed from a central London terminus. I've picked the cheapest off-peak ticket, departing around 9am and returning later in the afternoon. I've rounded all fares to the nearest pound.

Yes, I know advance tickets can be a lot cheaper, but they're not available for several of these journeys. Also, advance tickets vary wildly in price as the day approaches. I wanted a level playing field - and a bit of freedom - so I've gone with off-peak returns instead. Concessions and railcard discounts could of course knock the prices down further.

In good news, around half of the train fares in this table cost £20 or less, so a day out needn't break the bank. A few particular bargains are Brighton for £12, Southend for £13, Bedford for £15, Milton Keynes for £16 and Cambridge for £17.

A lot of the best fares are on Thameslink, which runs approximately down the centre of the grid. Several of their fares cost less at weekends than off-peak during the week. Brighton is by far the cheapest destination on the south coast, the remainder of which cost more like £30, with Rye the most expensive of the lot.

Greater Anglia trains to Suffolk and Norfolk are shockingly expensive in comparison to similar distances via other operators. For example it costs more than twice as much to take a spur-of-the moment trip to Norwich than to King's Lynn. Prices also shoot up dramatically on the East Midlands line north of Bedford, especially if you compare Leicester to Birmingham or Peterborough, which are a similar-ish distance away.

Indeed Birmingham is pretty good value for money, so long as you're willing to take the slower train (the actual fares are West Midlands Trains £29, Chiltern £30.50, Virgin £55 - the latter an hour quicker than the former). Meanwhile how can Lewes be dearer than Seaford, or Hastings dearer than Dover, or Stansted dearer than Cambridge, other than thanks to the engrained iniquities of the UK rail ticketing system?

You can discuss the engrained iniquities of the UK rail ticketing system in this second comments box. Or you could simply explore the country on a day out by train, which should prove considerably more rewarding.


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