For the train or travel geek in your life Bradt travel guides have released a second edition of Benedict Le Vay’s Britain from the Rails – A window gazer’s guide in standard paperback size.
The book is an ideal companion to any of the railway journeys covered in the book and most of the main routes in Britain are included (and smaller lines in England, Scotland and Wales too). We took the book with us when we visited the Taynuilt Hotel on the Oban line and the Carmelite Hotel in Aberdeen.
And what have we learned from reading this book? Well we now know why the Tay bridge collapsed and have discovered grim details about how many people died building the Forth rail bridge.
We know all about trains going backwards at Tyndrum, the difficulties laying the line at swampy Rannoch moor and what became of the Aberdeen to Inverness canal.
We know why the standard railway gauge across the world is 4ft 8 1/2″ but why a narrower gauge is preferred for mountain railways and why “pointless” railway lines were built all across Britain.
We now know of the “atmospheric railway”, how there are possibly rivers called “river” in England and the station in Wales were everyone gets off but no one gets on!
We found out where the only overhead electrified swing bridge in the world is, why US airmen during WWII were disappointed with Norfolk and the incident that made the German navy a laughing stock!
We also read about the original name of the Kink’s “Waterloo sunset”, where to find Britain’s most eccentric & exclusive country cottage and the country’s best buffers (oo-er).
Britain from the rails is a really enjoyable, informative and easy book to read, laid out in short chapters for each line/route with all sorts of interesting bits about the history of Britain’s railways and the areas they served. It’s not just for geeks!
We are planning another rail trip down south soon and will be taking this with us!
Recommended reading and an ideal Christmas gift purchase. Find the book on Amazon.
We reviewed the second edition of Britain from the rails. A review copy was kindly provided by Bradt.