How many times have you sat down to do a bit of route planning and ended up with a pleasant but circular route so that you can return to your car? How many times, like me have you fancied doing a long-distance footpath or part thereof but can’t because of transport logistics?
For some time, I had wanted to explore some of the long-distance footpaths around the part of the South Downs National Park where I live. However, my problem has always been, as a solo walker, the inability to leave a prepositioned car at the end of the days walk to facilitate the return home. This, for me, is made worse in that my wife does not drive and I have no one to call on for a lift.
I found that I was doing these long-distance paths as a series of loops to allow return to my car, thereby making the time to complete the whole trail double what it should have been. Then one day, walking into the village, the solution came to me whilst I was waiting at the level crossing for the train to pull into our local station!
I can remember many years ago a contraption called the omnibus that used to pick you up and drop you off somewhere else. What if these things still existed, wouldn’t that be an amazing way to move around the countryside to the start or from the finish of my walks? Then there were these noisy things near where I lived. No longer belching smoke and steam but still pulling carriages along two pieces of steel!
It was at this point, with the aid of Google (other search engines are available – I think!) that I rediscovered the wonder of bus and train timetables. Suddenly, route planning took on a whole new dimension. I could juggle bus and train times with walking times to try a link the three things up and make for the perfect micro adventure.
I knew it could be done, because a fellow blogger, walker and friend, Stephie Boon www.10milehike.com who is a carless walker, manages to travel all over Cornwall and the West Country in her pursuit of long-distance footpaths. I must reiterate – she is carless, not careless!
The first time I looked at the use of public transport, was when undertaking the ShipWrights Way. For most of its 68 miles it follows the London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour railway line, with conveniently placed stations every 12 – 14 miles. I later used it on the Serpents Trail where I used buses and trains on 5 of the 6 stages.
My latest trail on the planning board is the New Lipchis Way from Liphook to West Wittering via Midhurst and Chichester. Now Liphook, Midhurst and Chichester all have linked railway stations and there is a good bus service from West Wittering back to Chichester to catch the train home. The whole trail in three days via three railway stations and one bus stop.
Wherever you live in the country, there will always be some bus or rail transport links available. It may require some slight deviations from the main route but that is a minor detail. I have even found that some of the major long-distance footpaths publish public transport details on their websites.
To help you with your planning, here are a few websites well worth bookmarking for future route planning sessions.
Good luck with your future route planning and have fun.