Deals of the Week: Train deals in the Midlands, Hop it to Holland, Road to Timbuktu

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The Independent Travel

Brighton to Barnsley or Sheffield; York or Leeds to Gatwick; Leicester or Loughborough to Redhill – all for under £13 return per person. That is the "4-sight" deal from the train operator Midland Mainline (0845 712 5678, www.midlandmainline.com), in association with Thameslink. The two train operators have combined to offer a flat fare of £49 for two, three or four people travelling together, for through journeys between Midland Mainline stations in Yorkshire or the East Midlands and anywhere south of London served by Thameslink trains.

A TRAIN

Brighton to Barnsley or Sheffield; York or Leeds to Gatwick; Leicester or Loughborough to Redhill – all for under £13 return per person. That is the "4-sight" deal from the train operator Midland Mainline (0845 712 5678, www.midlandmainline.com), in association with Thameslink. The two train operators have combined to offer a flat fare of £49 for two, three or four people travelling together, for through journeys between Midland Mainline stations in Yorkshire or the East Midlands and anywhere south of London served by Thameslink trains.

Connections are made at Luton or Bedford. For tennis fans heading for Wimbledon, the bargain is even better: £44 return for up to four people, working out at £11 each.

For these deals, you must book at least three days in advance, and may use only off-peak trains. One frill unique to Midland Mainline: free tea and coffee for Standard Class travellers.

A BOAT

The Amsterdam tells the story of the world's first big multinational corporation. She is a handsome tall ship, a full-sized replica of a vessel that belonged to the Dutch East India Company – the VOC. Handily, she is moored in the Dutch capital, which is the easiest-to-reach continental city from many parts of the UK.

Her home is the Netherlands Maritime Museum (00 31 20 523 2222, www.scheepvaart-museum.nl). Until 27 October, it celebrates four centuries since the Dutch East India Company was founded with an exhibition called "The Colourful World of the VOC".

You can sail to Amsterdam via the high-speed link between Harwich and Hook of Holland. Book a week in advance through Stena Line (0870 545 5455, www.stenaline.co.uk) and you pay £50 return for the whole trip from London Liverpool Street to Amsterdam Centraal, which is a 15-minute walk from the Amsterdam.

A PLANE

This summer, Buzz is serving 15 French destinations non-stop from Stansted. But the no-frills airline appears to be experiencing problems filling the twice-daily flight from the Essex airport to Rouen in Normandy. A search on a sequence of dates through the summer on the Buzz website ( www.buzzaway.com) reveals plenty of seats at £58 return, even booking only a week ahead. The airline's other Norman destination, Caen, is also available at bargain rates – as low as £41. Phone bookings made on 0870 240 7070 cost £5 more.

A ROAD

"The road to Timbuktu" is the title of a fortnight's jaunt to Mali organised by the British Museum Traveller (020-7436 7575, www.britishmuseumtraveller.co.uk) in January next year. The expedition goes from Bamako, north to Timbuktu – and gives you three days to explore the Bandiagara Escarpment, living with the Dogon people. The price is £2,942 including flights via Paris on Air France, but does not include the cost of the visa. "Please note that this trip is an expedition, and delays and possible lack of comfort have all to be considered with a flexible spirit," warns the company.

A gentler alternative is to spend Christmas Day in Sabratha. Another British Museum trip plans to be at this ancient Phoenician and Roman site on the Mediterranean coast of Libya on 25 December. The six-day trip costs £1,557 including flights from Gatwick on BA.

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