September 11 – 20, 2015
Join the Friends of the 261 as we head back to England for a once in lifetime British Steam and countryside tour. This unique 10 day / 9 night tour will feature a four day mainline steam excursion to one Britain’s loveliest scenic locations the “Lake District”. Featuring three different mainline steam locomotives this late summer excursion will head 280 miles Northwest of London to the Cumbrian Coast. The “Lake District” is located along the Irish Sea very close to Scotland and has plenty to offer both the steam enthusiast and those seeking a memorable British vacation. Our second mainline steam tour will be powered by two steam locomotives and travel southeast of London through beautiful scenery to the Bristol Channel Coast and the seaside town of Minehead in the West Somerset region. Our tour will offer plenty of time to see the sights in London and visit the Roman City of Bath just 90 miles west of London.
Day 1: Friday 11 September
Late afternoon departure from the United States for London’s Heathrow Airport.
Day 2: Saturday 12 September
As most flights generally arrive from the US overnight to England we will land at London’s Heathrow Airport Saturday morning. Upon arrival we will board the Heathrow Express Train which which will take us directly to Central London’s Paddington Station. For those arriving from other departure points in the US, our central gathering point will be the Hilton London Paddington Station. This recently refurbished Hilton hotel is located directly within the Railway Station and close to many major London attractions. After checking in you will have the afternoon to relax and visit some of the historic sights of London.
Hotel: Hilton Paddington Station is one of London’s grandest Victorian hotels built by the Great Western Railway. It offers a full range of modern facilities and is in a fantastic location. Opened in 1854, this art deco hotel is the world first palatial railway terminus hotel. The hotel was the vision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a 19th century versatile, audacious engineer whose designs revolutionized the railroad industry, public transportation and modern engineering. The hotel is only 15 minutes from Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow high speed express train. With four major underground lines at its door step – Circle, Hammersmith & City, District and Bakerloo – this is one of London’s best connected hotels.
Our Hotel provides the ideal base from which to explore Europe’s largest city. Oxford and Regent Street offer unrivalled shopping experiences, visiting the Portobello Market will feature antiques and fashion or get your Royal on with a stop at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. Our hotel is close to major London attractions such as Westminster Abby, Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar square. After exploring the city you can relax and enjoy the Brasserie Restaurant or the vibrant “Steam” pub
Day 3: Sunday 13 September
Today you have two options- If you choose, spend a relaxing day in London taking in the sights and sounds of the city. You can also choose to join us as we travel west of London on the original route of the Great Western Railway to the Ancient City of Bath. After enjoying a full English breakfast at our hotel we will board one of England’s many high speed trains and travel west to Didcot England, home of the Great Western Society & Didcot Heritage Railway. The museum is located directly next to the Railway station and is accessible with an easy walk across the platform. On this day the Didcot Heritage Railway will be hosting one of its gala steam events and many museum activities will be happening during our visit. After spending a few hours at the museum we will make a quick stop at the “Black Python Real Ale Railway Pub” before we board a westbound train for the City of Bath.
Bath is located just 97 miles west of London and is well known for its Roman ruins and spa. Bath originated around the time of 863 BC and developed around its natural hot springs. It is a city with a remarkable variety of Roman, Medieval and Georgian architecture. While in Bath enjoy a stroll through the open air markets or visit the Abbey built in 760 AD by King Offa and dedicated to St Peter. You are free to spend as much time as you like enjoying the sights of Bath. With frequent high speed train service back to London, you have many options for your return. You can return with our crew or feel free to stay as long as you wish. This evening Diner will be taken on your own.
Day 4: Monday 14 September
Today we begin one of our featured mainline steam excursions. We will depart from London’s Euston Station aboard the “Lakes Express” headed for the Lakes District of the U.K. We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the last London to Windermere Lakes Express; this unique four day tour takes us to England’s beautiful Lakes District at the foot of the Cumbrian Mountains. Windermere Lake, the largest natural lake in England, is located 280 miles North West of London not far from Scotland and along the Irish Sea. We plan to leave London just after the morning rush hour and our train will be powered by one of the LMS Express locomotives from the Duchess, Royal Scot or Coronation Class, it is planned to be headed by former LMS Locomotive “Duchess of Sutherland” # 6233. Traveling up the former West Coast Main Line we are scheduled for photo stops at Milton Keynes and Northampton. Our train will make the challenging climb of the famous Shap bank before arriving in Penrith where our fleet of coaches will be waiting to take us to our hotels before night fall.
Day 5: Tuesday 15 September
Today you can relax and enjoy the English country side on your own or join us for one of our optional excursions. Offered tours in the Lakes District include the Lakeside & Haverwaite Railway and the narrow gauge Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. You can also visit some of the major other attractions such as the Beatrix Potter House, Holker Hall, Brantwood House or Wordsworth House.
Day 6: Wednesday 16 September
Cumbrian Coast and Settle & Carlisle excursion with the Royal Scots Class 46110 “Scots Guardsman”. Today we board the Cathedrals Express for a journey along two of England’s most beautiful railway lines in one day. We start at the world famous Carnforth Station and will head out on the scenic seaside route along the Cumbrian Coast where mile after mile of the railway runs close to the shoreline. After a two hour break in Carlisle we will travel on one of the great train journeys of Britain, the Settle & Carlisle Railway. This route is extremely rare and considered to be on the “Bucket List” for many rail enthusiasts. Eventually we retrace our steps to Carnforth and our hotels.
Day 7: Thursday 17 September
Lake District to London with Coronation Class #6201 “Princess Elizabeth”. After breakfast passengers will have the choice of boarding the train at either Penrith or Oxenholme. The return Lakes Express is scheduled to be in the capable hands of the newly refurbished Coronation Class “Princess Elizabeth”. This fine locomotive has had a wonderful second career in preservation and passengers will enjoy being whisked back to Northhampton, Milton Keynes and London’s Euston behind a classic locomotive on a classic route. Upon arrival we will again be staying at the Hilton Paddington station.
Hotels in the Lake District: The Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa. The old England is one of the finest four star hotels in the Lake District. Set in the Centre of Bowness on the shores of Lake Windermere, it offers the best of breath taking scenery and exceptional facilities. There are Stunning views of the lake from the restaurant and many of the bedrooms in the hotel. The Salutation Inn, This 17th century hotel with Swimming pool is set in the centre of the market town of Ambleside. It has been recently modernized and offers comfortable accommodation in this very attractive, bustling town.
Day 8: Friday 18 September
Dig into London, This is your day to explore London! There is no shortage of places to visit while in London, a short walk or a short ride on the London Underground will bring you to the city’s highlights within minutes. If you’re on a self guided tour or one of our organized city tours we will help to make the most of your visit to London, we will provide a list of all the best attractions and time savings tips. Maybe start out your day with a short walk to Kensington Palace and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain or head a little further east to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Westminster Abby. Other Highlights include the London Eye, the Churchill War rooms, National Gallery and Tate Modern Museum. After lunch we would recommend a short ride on the “Tube” to the Tower of London, home of the Crown Jewels and the famous Beef Eater Royal Guards. Just next door you will see the Famous Tower Bridge and the HMS “Belfast” a WWII Royal Navy light cruiser.
A short walk brings you to one of our hidden London secrets, St. Katharine’s Dock. The Docks were officially opened on October 25, 1828 and is now home to a yachting marina as well as several shops and restaurants. A 261 crew favorite is the “Dickens Inn”, a former brewery dating back to the 18th century with great fish and chips. This evening would also be a great time to take in one of London’s famous theater shows.
Day 9: Saturday 19 September
Mainline steam on the West Somerset Express. Departing from London Paddington station at 8:30 to Minehead featuring two steam locomotives in one day. Heading straight west of London, we join the Berks and Hants line which runs through picturesque rural English countryside. At Newbury station we continue westwards, traveling beside the scenic Kennet & Avon Canal, and will climb steadily to Savernake Summit. We will view one of the famous Wiltshire White Horses as we approach Westbury, and continue through undulating agricultural countryside to Taunton.
Just after Taunton, we transfer to the West Somerset Railway, the longest Heritage Railway in England. After a steam locomotive change we will take our train the remainder of the journey to Minehead. Upon arrival at Minehead there will be more than two hours to explore this delightful Bristol Channel seaside resort where the beach is just a short walk from the station. We are expecting one of the following express high speed locomotives to handle our train departing London. #34067 “Tangmere” Battle of Britain Class, #60017 A-4 class “Bittern” or the #70000 “Britannia” 4-6-2.
Day 10: Sunday 20 September
Maybe do a little last minute shopping at Harrods or check out Buckingham Palace one last time. This morning you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy a full traditional English breakfast before we board the Heathrow Express at Paddington Station for Heathrow Airport and our early afternoon flight back to the United States.
Your 10 day/ 9 night tour includes:
Tour includes five nights at the Historic Hilton Paddington Station, including full English breakfast each morning. Premier Class accommodations aboard the West Somerset Steam Express from London to Minehead and return on Sept 19th. (Meal included) Premium Dining Class accommodations of the Sept 14-17 “Lakes Express” from London to Bowness England and return, meals included on train & three nights hotel at the four star MacDonald Old England & Spa hotel, transportation to and from the train while in the Lakes District. Airfare not included.
(Ground only packages Contact 651-688-7320)
Base Price: Single Occupancy/ Double occupancy (per person)
10 Day / 9 night, hotel with Premium Standard Train Fare
Book before August 3rd, 2015
$4995.00 single occupancy & $7995.00 Double Occupancy ($3998.00 pp)
After August 3rd, 2015
$5299.00 / $8499.00 ($4250.00 pp) (catalog price)
Hotel Deadline August 5th, 2015
|London Calling Tour Add-ons|
|Sunday, September 13th: Great Western Railway tour to Didcot Heritage Railway and the City of Bath||$109.00 per person|
|Wednesday, September 16th: Cumbrian Coast and Settle & Carlisle trip with the Scots Guardsman locomotive||Pullman Dining Class $359 per person|
|Premium Dining class $299 per person|
To reserve your tickets today call 651-688-7320 between 9am to 4pm
Cuisine on train options:
On our tours of Great Britain, our passengers looking for on-board dining will incude Premium Dining. You will be served delicious food cooked by our on-board chefs and served at your table. You will be offered drinks from the on-board wine list and our well-trained staff takes pride in getting to know passengers and ensuring they are well looked after. Premium Dining is our luxury dining option with delicious multi-course meals, canapés and complimentary wine served at your table. You will also be able to purchase additional food and drinks from the delicious menu in the dining car.
**All times are subject to that day’s train status and are not controlled by the Friends of the 261
Friends of the 261 has the right to cancel the above trip without any detail or advance notice. If the trips are canceled tickets purchased for said trip will be refunded in their entirety, minus any online fees occurred. Friends of the 261 is not responsible for equipment substitution and assumes no liability for inconvenience caused by delays. Trains will run rain or shine. Call (651) 688-7320 for additional information between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central Time. If you have special physical needs, please give us advance notice.
Tickets are non-refundable – this includes travel disruption, illness, and family emergencies. It is at the discretion of the passenger to purchase travel insurance from a private broker. Notified at least 30 days prior to departure date, 50% refund of full payment will be returned. Notified 0-30 days prior to departure date, no refund will be returned. Online purchasing fees are non-refundable. Hotel rooms are non-refundable, no exceptions. If you purchased a ticket with a hotel room you will be refunded 50% of an equal ticket without a hotel. Overseas trips are non-refundable 90 days prior to departure date