Green, Cheap, And Scenic by Gemma Chandler

The railway has a special place in British culture. It’s not only the fiendish plot which attracts readers to Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ – it’s the train itself, and there’s a very good cultural reason behind J.K. Rowling’s decision to transport Harry Potter to Hogwarts on the enthralling ‘Hogwarts Express’. Despite our tenderness and sentimentality towards railways, however, Britain’s railways are under threat. Partly this may be because the modern locomotives lack the ‘nostalgic appeal’ of steam locomotives, but mostly due to some spectacular failures in government policy. This is a great shame, as railway travel remains one of the best ways in which one can see the country and get around – lines like the Barton Line carry passengers with speed and ease through some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside. If you’re dubious about using the railways, here are a few great reasons to travel by train.

It’s Green

More and more of us these days are concerned about our ecological footprint – and rightly so. The damage we’re doing to the planet is absolutely devastating, and will end up making life extremely hard for us as a species. To make ecologically sound choices is not only good for our consciences, it’s good for the species as a whole. Per person, travel by train produces far, far less pollution than travel by car. In 1998, rail travel contributed to a meagre 1% of total British greenhouse gas production. Road travel, by contrast, accounted for 23%. Railways are energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. From a more human point of view, they are also much less visually intrusive than roads, and contribute far less to noise and light pollution. All in all, if you want to save the planet and your conscience, rail travel is clearly the way forward!

It’s Cheap And Healthy

Of course, cost-efficiency arguments always have to take into account a number of factors, and it’s certainly true that train travel is not cheaper than car travel in every circumstance. However, if you’re on holiday, it’s almost certainly the case that getting around by train is going to save you money on fuel, insurance and so on, leaving you with more to spend on the delights of your holiday! This lack of financial concern, coupled with the relatively stress-free nature of train travel when compared to that of personally navigating alien roads, means that train travel is a lot less stressful for the holidaymaker. Partly because of the reduction in stress, and partly because of other factors, train travel is also a lot healthier. Those who travel by road are inevitably exposed to a lot of harmful traffic fumes, for example. The air around a railway is a lot purer, cleaner, and better for your health in general. Not to mention that cruising easily through the countryside is a lot better for your blood pressure than inching through a traffic jam!

It’s Beautiful

When travelling by car, the main thing you tend to see is other cars. When travelling by train, you get to see the British countryside roll out before you in all its glory. The Barton Line runs through some of the most attractive land in all of Britain – and the opportunity afforded by the train to sit back, relax, and drink it all in is unparalleled. The only ways in which you’d get a better and more immersive view would be to walk or ride a horse – and that would severely limit your time and baggage options! If you want to get from A to B speedily, yet take in the glories of the British countryside at the same time, you really can’t beat the train!

It’s Convenient

No sitting in traffic, no searching for parking spaces, no struggling with road maps, no driving – you really cannot beat the train for hassle-free travel! The Barton Line is also noted for its proximity to a great many brilliant attractions, which the eager explorer can reach with ease from the train stations. And you don’t have to worry about the time on the car, either – all you need is a train timetable and the location of the station! Finally, at the end of the day, you simply hop back on the train, nice and tired out and without having to worry about driving home when you’re a bit sleepy! Perfect!


Further Reasons To Take The Train by Gemma Chandler

There has been a renewed interest in rail travel in recent years, with several high profile stories drawing attention to the state of the nation’s railways, and to planned investments in rail infrastructure. No publicity, as they say, is bad publicity, and rail travel has increased over the last few years. However, many people are still choosing to travel by car when their journey could be much quicker, easier, cheaper, and generally more enjoyable by rail. If you’re a habitual car user, and don’t tend to consider taking the train, take a peep at our top reasons for using the railways:

It’s Cheap

OK, so there’s been a lot of talk recently about the expense of rail fares and so on. When looked into in more detail, however, using the trains can still be a lot, lot cheaper on average than car ownership. For a start, you don’t have to take out insurance on the trains you use. However good your car insurance premiums are, you can’t beat a price of £0! Then there’s road user tax. As everyone should know, the ‘road tax’ car owners pay is actually a pollution charge, to which public transport users are not privy (more on the environmental implications of train travel later!). Nor do you have to pay to get the trains you use MOTed, or, indeed, any basic maintenance on them! So already we’ve eliminated all the overheads you have to pay just to keep your car sitting on the drive. And, obviously, train users are similarly exempt from fuel costs and parking charges. So, however expensive your train ticket is, you can bet that adding up the annual costs of taking the train and using your car would reveal the train to be by far the cheaper option! Particularly when one considers that small branch lines like ours are usually pretty inexpensive, and that good deals can be procured on railcards for many lines, which bring down the cost of tickets.

It’s Environmentally Friendly

If everybody used public transport rather than individual vehicles, you can pretty much guarantee that an enormous amount of pollution and greenhouse gases would be eliminated at a single stroke. While trains do emit greenhouse gases, comparable to the number of people using said trains, the amount is pretty minimal. In a world increasingly struggling with anthropocentric environmental issues, anything we can do to reduce our impact upon the planet has to be worth it. Per passenger, trains emit far, far fewer pollutants and use far, far less energy than personal vehicles do. So, if you’re interested in minimizing your carbon footprint, or encouraging others to do so by leading by example, it’s a very good idea indeed to start by taking the train!

It’s Stress-Free

Car travel may be convenient, but it’s rarely relaxing. Drivers have to concentrate hard on what they’re doing, and the frustrations of congestion, parking, and the vagaries of other road users can all raise the blood pressure significantly! This just isn’t the case with train travel. Train passengers simply take their seat, sit back, and relax until they reach their destination (which, it is worth noting, will probably be reached much faster than it would have been via road!). You can dreamily watch the scenery pass by, read a book, or close your eyes and zone out for the duration of your journey. Compared to the myriad responsibilities and stressors acting on the car driver, the rail traveller has nothing to worry about other than buying their ticket and making sure that they alight at the right station!

It’s Worth Supporting

Britain’s railways form a huge part of our history and our culture. The railways and the locomotives which run along them have become a part of our shared mythos - not for nothing does Harry Potter travel to Hogwarts in a steam train! However, a changing world is putting smaller lines at risk. Running costs combined with public disinterest has made smaller routes unviable before - a great tragedy! Cheap, environmentally friendly, stress-free, and an important part of our history, railways are more than worth supporting. And one of the best ways you can support Britain’s railways is, very simply, to leave the car at home and take the train!


The Barton Line Rail AleTrail   by Christine Andrew

Who needs the crowded Transpennine Rail Ale Trail when we have the Barton to Cleethorpes Line on our doorstep? With five 2018 Good Beer Guide ( GBG) pubs – including the two local branches’ Pubs of the Year – either on the station platform or a short hop away it has lots to offer real ale drinkers in northern Lincolnshire. There are Northern Rail train services timetabled approximately every two hours Monday to Saturday with a (less frequent) Sunday service operating from mid-May to early September. In addition, hourly Transpennine Express services depart Cleethorpes and, along with an occasional Cleethorpes to Lincoln / Newark East Midlands service and the Saturday only Cleethorpes to Sheffield Northern service, add to the ‘break of journey’ possibilities at Grimsby and Habrough. A cheap day return from Barton - Cleethorpes costs £8.00, valid at any time at weekends and after 08:59 during the week.

For this virtual crawl we have travelled out from Barton on Humber to the Cleethorpes end of the line so will start with a visit to the two GBG entries found at Cleethorpes station itself:

No. 1 Pub: "We're a train pub not a chain pub" proclaims the slogan of Grimsby CAMRA branch’s ‘Town Pub of the Year’ 2018 which is located in original railway buildings with a view of the beach. A large bar with a raised area offers some seclusion from the busy floor area which has a pool table close to the platform. A tiny passage leads to a much quieter room decorated with railway memorabilia. Six changing beers sourced regionally are offered along with two regular beers.

No. 2 Refreshment room: a multiple award-winning, small and cosy local with a reputation for quality ale (five nationally sourced beers including Hancocks HB as a regular) and conversation. The GBG describes is at ‘A little Gem’.

Just seven minutes down the line is Grimsby Town and, immediately opposite the station entrance, J.D. Wetherspoon’s Yaborough Hotel, the Grimsby CAMRA branch PotY on several occasions since it reopened in 1997. Over £3million was spent refurbishing this fine example of Victorian architecture which had been closed for some time and had suffered significant internal deterioration. Typically open-plan with pictures of local history adorning the walls, the large front bar hosts twelve real ales and the smaller rear bar a further six.

Having resisted the temptation to spend more time sampling the delights of Grimsby, we’re back on the train for another short journey to Habrough. On alighting, the first building to be seen is the Station Inn – recently announced as Grimsby CAMRA branch’s overall winner of Pub of the Year 2018. Originally a hotel, it was built in 1848 as part of the Great Grimsby and Sheffield Junction Railway and is now a welcoming local pub which is slowly being transformed into a country hostelry not to be missed. It comprises a single, large room with an open fire and an adjoining pool room and serves three changing beers (sourced regionally, often Caledonian).

One more train journey takes us back to Barton on Humber and, opposite us as we leave the platform, the splendidly imposing White Swan – Scunthorpe and District CAMRA branch Pub of the Year 2017 & 2018. This renovated 17th century coaching inn with a spacious rear courtyard, charming converted farrier shed and Curiosity Shop offers a warm welcome to all. Three ever-changing cask ales from near and far are complemented by a rotating craft keg beer and Weston’s, Lilley’s and guest real ciders.

So that’s five fine GBG pubs visited and plenty of excellent ale consumed - and we’ve probably walked less than a quarter of a mile since setting out! If you were to fancy other stops along the line with a short stretch of legs at each there are also previous GBG entries at Stallingborough (The Green Man) and Barrow Haven (The Haven Inn) – both in fine form on recent visits.
Northern Rail timetables are to be found at , Transpennine Express timetables at: and East Midlands Trains at:

Further useful information can be found at The Friends of the Barton Line website at:
Transpennine Rail Ale Trail:


Small privately-run accommodation close to King's Cross station in London

The following establishments are located in the quiet streets on the other side of the main road at King's Cross and St Pancras stations.  The list (in no particular order) is offered as an alternative to the busier, and perhaps more expensive, hotels in the area.  However, please note that FBL does not endorse any of them and cannot accept responsibility for problems which may arise from patronising them.

King's (Argyle Square)

Melville (Argyle Square)

Excelsior (Argyle Square)

Meridiana (Argyle Square)

Macdonald (Argyle Square)

European (Argyle Square) - Secretary's choice.

Elmwood (Argyle Square)

Angus (Argyle Square)

Apollo (Argyle Street)

Princess (Argyle Street)

Jesmond Dene (Argyle Street)

Wardonia (Argyle Street)

Globe (Argyle Street)

Central (Argyle Street)

King's Cross (Argyle Street)

Alhambra (Argyle Street)

Fairway (Argyle Street)

Florence (Argyle Street)

Belgrove (Belgrove Street)

Megaro (Belgrove Street)

Carlton (Birkenhead Street)

Rough Luxe (Birkenhead Street)

Crestfield (Crestfield Street)

King's Cross Inn (Crestfield Street)