Bargain of the week: bus to Bournemouth
Today Bournemouth becomes the latest destination on the Greyhound bus network from London Victoria. Services will initially run twice daily, with a journey time of two hours 23 minutes. The company (09000 96000; greyhounduk.com) offers fares starting at £1 each way, with a 50p booking fee. On-board benefits include extra legroom, free newspapers and Wi-Fi. Greyhound UK’s managing director, Alex Warner, said: “Demand for holidays, weekends away and day trips at home are on the increase. Bournemouth epitomises a lot of what is great about British life: good nightlife, cosmopolitan, great heritage, good tourist attractions, high-quality retail and of course, the seaside”.
The predictable response from National Express (08717 81 81 78; nationalexpress.com) has been to release thousands of £1 “funfares” on its hourly services between London and Bournemouth. And South West Trains (0845 6000 650; southwesttrains.co.uk) has £10 one-way Advance fares on many of its off-peak service, with a £17 fare in first class. Through Megatrain (megatrain.com) you can buy off-peak trains typically for £5 each way, with a 50p booking fee.
Warning of the week: how to walk
“Part of Scotland's attraction is the wilderness of its countryside,” says the Galloway Mountain Rescue Team. “Mountain paths are not signposted and even those marked on maps may sometimes be difficult to trace. It's very easy to follow a sheep or deer track that leads to nowhere. Use your map and check your location at all times.” The organisation’s excellent website, gallowaymrt.org.uk, points out that varied terrain, from heather and peat bog to rocky paths can make walking slow and exhausting. In addition, “Do not assume you will find emergency shelter on the Scottish hills as even those marked on maps may not be suitable. Ensure that you are properly equipped.” Finally, you may find patches of snow even in summer. “Avoid these areas unless you have the skills to cope with the extra hazard. Remember, many mountain accidents result from a simple slip.”
Tip of the week: new rail line in London
Some of the capital’s most intriguing attractions are now accessible by the East London Line, which re-opened this week after two years of refurbishment. Previously, it was an outpost of the Tube network, but it is now part of the London Overground (even though significant stretches are underground).
The core line runs between Dalston Junction, north of the Thames, and New Cross Gate/New Cross south of the river – the latter offering easy bus links to Greenwich and Blackheath. There are new stations in trendy Shoreditch and Hoxton. By the end of May, the southward extension will open, offering easy access at Forest Hill to the excellent Horniman Museum.
As with any Underground or Overground train, the best way to pay is with a pre-paid Oyster card, obtainable in advance from visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk.
Destination of the week: North Wales’ penultimate link
The completion of the Welsh Highland Railway (01766 516000; welshhighlandrailway.net) moves a stage closer this month. On 27 May the link from Beddgelert to Pont Croesor will be opened. The journey to and from Caernarfon is scheduled to take two hours, for a return third-class fare of £28. A child travels free with every adult. First class is available for £7 more.
Pont Croesor is on the outskirts of Porthmadog, which the line is scheduled finally to reach next year. Once that stretch is completed, it will be feasible to make a circular journey from Porthmadog to Caernarfon on the Welsh Highland Railway, continue via Network Rail lines via Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog, continuing to Porthmadog on the Ffestiniog Railway. Porthmadog is on the Cambrian Coast line from Birmingham.