With climate change at the forefront of so many of our minds, we at WalkingWomen want to offer holidays that are accessible by train. We will help plan your train routes, and we ourselves are testing out as many as possible and have done several recently…
Travel from London to Switzerland can be achieved in just over 7 hours – a lovely journey via Paris and on to Zurich or Geneva. Fantastic double-decker trains give such great views as you speed through the countryside. Do book the top deck – usually just a walk along to the cafe where you can get a lovely cuppa!
Our Andorra holiday can be reached by train going via London to Paris and then on to Toulouse or Barcelona before pick-ups to Andorra. Sadly there is no train station in Andorra itself, but we hired a car from Toulouse for a spectacular drive over the Pyrenees.
We have our Cairngorms holidays with the possibility of taking the sleeper train from London Euston all the way to our base in Aviemore. The Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark has sung its praises as her preferred mode of travel back to Scotland after work. To unwind in the bar with a favourite whiskey before settling down for the night and waking up at your destination. We will be trying this at Easter.
And some of our guests are doing some epic journeys that we love to hear about.
“I’ve always felt that a holiday should be as much about the journey as the destination,” says Teresa
I also need my sleep. I, therefore, decided to travel to Slovakia for my WalkingWomen Winter Wonderland holiday by train rather than getting up at some absurd hour to head for Luton airport. Of course, the trip took much longer, but luckily I had the time; in fact, taking the time for me was the whole point.
I bought a discounted 4-day interrail ticket (which is valid to/from your UK starting point – therefore paying for itself pretty swiftly) and used it for the western Europe part of the journey, paying as I went into east Europe where trains are cheap as chips.
On the way, I had stopovers in Cologne (the carnival was an unexpected surprise, especially if you like wearing fancy dress and drinking in the street) and Dresden, with longer breaks in Prague and Bratislava, returning via Vienna and Frankfurt. There are plenty of hostels with private rooms which are more than adequate for single nights, as well as some nice boutique hotels suitable for the older, single traveller like me.
Sitting by the train window for a few hours watching Europe unfold while listening to an audiobook became an intrinsic part of the experience: Patti Smith’s Just Kids will be forever associated with the Elbe valley, which is just spectacular (tip: sit on the left of the train for this bit). As the High Tatras mountains came into view 2 hours outside Bratislava while we headed up the Vla river, I really felt the excitement start to build. To top it all, the little mountain railway that we used every day to get to the walk starts was stunning (also clean, safe, regular and well-used by the locals).
You can’t beat stopping for tea en route!
I’d really recommend taking the train for all or some of the routes. If you don’t fancy the whole route by train, there are plenty of services to (for example) Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna, all of which are reachable to Poprad via a journey you will never forget.”