In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Grand Tour was a rite of passage for wealthy young British men and latterly, with improving transport links, women. Lasting two years or more, a traveller might have lengthy stays in Paris, Geneva, Florence, Venice, Rome, Vienna and Munich. With sufficient time and money I would find it fascinating to make such a tour myself, but unfortunately I lack both.
I really enjoy travelling by train. I think that stems from my childhood when a train journey signalled something out of the ordinary – the start of a holiday or a visit to grandparents. A few years ago I happened upon the longest scheduled train journey in Britain; one direct service a day from Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland to Penzance in Cornwall, a distance approaching 800 miles (1,300 kilometres).
Over time, the idea grew that it ought to be possible to combine the concept of a Grand Tour with taking that train journey; after all, I have to get to Aberdeen to catch the train. Why not link together some iconic UK train journeys into a Grand Tour, albeit one that takes somewhat less than two years?
Today, the trip starts. In half an hour I leave Coventry for London. From London, I catch the overnight sleeper to Fort William. I then take a bus to Kyle of Lochalsh from where I head by train (travelling over the bit of line shown in the featured image) to Aberdeen, changing at Inverness. The following day is spent on the journey to Penzance, and after an overnight stop there I head back to Coventry. A 72-hour Grand Tour of England and Scotland!
I will of course be taking photographs on the journey. Whilst the editing must wait until I return, I intend to write a daily blog and will attach a featured image to each. I will also be tweeting about my progress (@glynephoto).
The adventure begins!