Great British Railway Journeys

Documentary series in which Michael Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country by train

Click here to find upcoming broadcasts of the series on BBC Channels and here to find upcoming broadcasts of the series on UKTV's Yesterday channel. Click here to see a selection of DVDs of this programme, or to buy your own Bradshaw's Guide.

You too can follow in the footsteps of Michael Portillo. Ffestiniog Travel provides a comprehensive ticketing service for UK rail journeys.

Episode descriptions below are taken directly from the BBC website. Journey details are approximations based on episode titles, and are updated after we have viewed the episode.

In Series 1 Michael Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country by train making four epic journeys from Liverpool to Scarborough, from Preston to Scotland, on one of the first railways to cross the border, then along Brunel's Great Western Railway from Swindon to Penzance and finally from Buxton to London along one of the first railway routes south to the capital.

In Series 2 he travels coast to coast from Brighton to Cromer, follows the route of the Irish mail from Ledbury to Holyhead, follows some of the earliest railways in the country from Newcastle to Melton Mowbray, through Kent, from London Bridge to Hastings around the scenic south coast and finally up the west coast of Scotland from Ayr to Skye.

In Series 3 Michael travels follows the route of the Great Eastern Line, which ventures from the edge of England to London, the centre of the country's financial capital. As he follows from Windsor to Portland in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Michael uses the railways she often rode from Windsor Castle to her country getaway on the Isle of Wight, from which his journey continues west, to Portland. He then travels west, from the heart of England Oxford into Wales through the Malvern Hills and taking in the unique Victorian heritage of the South Wales coastline. Michael next travels through some of northern England's most dramatic scenery, from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to the Isle of Man, crossing the Pennines to the Lake District before completing the journey on the beautiful and unique Island. Finally Michael crosses the Irish sea to discover the rich railway history of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, following the unfurling 19th century expansion of the tracks from Dublin to Londonderry.

In Series 4 Michael travels the length and breadth of the country to see how the railways changed us. The first journey takes him West from High Wycombe to Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast along the tracks that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution by travelling to the manufacturing centres of the Midlands. The next journey is from port to port, from the centuries old naval hub of Portsmouth to the historic Grimsby docks. Michael then explores the stunning scenery of rural and coastal Scotland, travelling from Stirling to John O'Groats, through the industrial east coast and dramatic Highland landscapes, to the beauty of the western lochs. Michael next follows in the footsteps of the master engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, beginning at the line's London gateway, Paddington Station and ending in Newton Abbot, Devon , the scene of one of Brunel's heroic failures. Finally Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry to the city of Galway across the rural Irish Midlands to end on the Atlantic coast.

In Series 5 Michael Portillo finds out how railways have impacted on the places they link. The first new journey in this series takes him from Manchester, birthplace of George Bradshaw, the publisher of his trusted guide, to Chesterfield, burial place of George Stephenson, the father of the railway. Next Michael Portillo embarks on a journey guided by his Bradshaw's Handbook from London's Euston station to Leeds. For his third journey in this series, assisted by his Bradshaw's guide, Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton. Finally, Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from Norwich to Chichester.

Series 1

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with a copy of George Bradshaw's Victorian Railway Guidebook. In a series of four epic journeys, Portillo travels the length and breadth of the country to see how the railways changed the public, and what of Bradshaw's Britain remains.

His first journey takes him coast to coast, from Liverpool to Scarborough.

Episode 1 - Liverpool to Eccles

Michael Portillo's journey begins on the world's first passenger railway line. On the first leg, Michael learns to speak Scouse in Liverpool, finds out about the first railway fatality and explores the origins of the Eccles cake.
From Liverpool Lime Street to Eccles takes 50 minutes on board a Northern Rail Service. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £11.00 for a single journey..

Episode 2 - Manchester to Bury

Michael visits Manchester to find out more about George Bradshaw himself. He also gets fitted for a trilby in Denton and learns how the railways helped to create a national institution - fish and chips.
From Manchester to York takes just over 1 hour and the journey ends with a Metrolink tram journey into Bury. Standard Off Peak tickets cost from £4.90 for a single journey..

Episode 3 - Todmorden to York

Michael travels back in time on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, finds out about the latest Roman discoveries in York and takes to the air in the Network Rail helicopter.
From Todmorden to York takes about 1 hour 45 minutes and requires a change of trains, usually in Hebden Bridge or Leeds. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £16.70 for a single journey..

Episode 4 - Pontefract to Bridlington

Michael searches for the last liquorice grower in Pontefract, discovers how the railways turned Hull into one of the largest white fish ports in the world and goes fishing for sea bass in Bridlington.
From Pontefract to Bridlington takes about 3 hour 15 minutes and requires two changes of trains, usually in Leeds and Hull. Standard Day tickets cost £29.30 for a single journey..

Episode 5 - Filey to Scarborough

Michael goes bird-watching on the wild cliffs of Flamborough Head, learns to decipher traditional knitting patterns in Filey and meets one of the oldest residents of the Victorian seaside resort of Scarborough - a 4,000-year-old skeleton called Gristhorpe Man.
From Filey to Scarborough takes about 20 minutes on a direct Northern Line train. Standard Day tickets cost £3.20 for a single journey..

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Michael's second epic journey takes him north, from Preston to Scotland, on one of the first railways to cross the border.

Episode 6 - Preston to Morecambe

On this first leg, he explores the origins of the temperance movement in Preston, samples the attractions of Blackpool, a resort made by the railways, and takes a walk across Morecambe Bay with the official Keeper of the Sands.
From Preston to Morecambe takes about 40 minutes with a change of trains required onto the Morecambe branch line in Lancaster. Standard Day tickets cost £8.60 for a single journey..

Episode 7 - Settle to Garsdale

On this second leg, he returns to the historic Settle-Carlisle line to find out what has happened to it since he helped save it in the 1980s. Along the way, he explores the magnificent Ribblehead viaduct, finds out about the navvies who helped to build it and catches a steam train along the line.
From Settle to Garsdale takes about 30 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £6.90 for a single journey..

Episode 8 - Windermere to Kendal

On this third leg, he takes a steamboat tour of Lake Windermere, visits Wordsworth's home village of Grasmere and makes sausages with a local Herdwick sheep farmer.
From Windermere to Kendal takes about 14 minutes on a direct Transpennine train. Standard Day tickets cost £4.20 for a single journey..

Episode 9 - Carlisle to Glasgow

On this fourth leg, he meets the wild clansmen of Carlisle, the Border Reivers, witnesses a wedding in Gretna Green and visits a secret World War I munitions factory.
Michael travelled from Carlisle to Gretna Green, an 11 minute journey. He then went on to Lockerbie, which would involve travelling back down the Glasgow and South Western line to Carlisle before travelling north again on the West Coast Main Line to Lockerbie. This would take around 40 minutes. He then continued along the West Coast Main Line for an hour to Glasgow. The cheapest ticket option would be a return ticket from Carlisle to Gretna Green, and an Anytime single ticket from Carlisle to Glasgow to allow break of journey in Lockerbie, this would total £32.10.

Episode 10 - Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy

On this fifth leg, he makes apple juice in the Clyde valley orchards, pays a thrilling visit to the top of the Forth Rail Bridge and relives his childhood memories in his grandparents' home town of Kirkcaldy.
From Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy takes about 45 minutes on a direct First Scotrail train. Standard Day tickets cost £7.10 for a single journey..

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Michael's journey takes him along Brunel's Great Western Railway from Swindon to Penzance.

Episode 11 - Swindon to Bristol

He finds out about free holiday trains for the GWR workers in Swindon, samples the spa in Bath and tries his hand at glass blowing in Bristol.
From Swindon to Bristol takes about 45 minutes if travelling via Bath. Standard Day tickets cost £13.50 for a single journey. A break of journey in Bath is not usually allowed unless purchasing separate tickets..

Episode 12 - Yatton to Weston-Super-Mare

This time, Michael samples local Cheddar strawberries, explores Cheddar Gorge and the famous caves, and visits one of the oldest piers in the country at Weston Super Mare.
From Yatton to Weston-Super-Mare takes about 15 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £13.70 for a single journey..

Episode 13 - Torquay to Totnes

This time, Michael finds out about Torquay's microclimate, goes salmon fishing on the Dart estuary and spends some of Totnes's new local currency.
From Torquay to Totnes takes up to 1 hour, with a change of trains required in Newton Abbot. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £4.30 for a single journey..

Episode 14 - Bugle to Mevagissey

This time, Michael visits the largest clay mine in the world near St Austell, goes pilchard fishing in Mevagissey and finds out how the estate of Heligan shaped British gardens.
Mevagissey does not have a railway station, the closest is St Austell, 4.8 miles away. From Bugle to St Austell takes about 1 hour with a change of trains required in Par. Standard Day tickets cost £3.80 for a single journey..

Episode 15 - Truro to Penzance

This time, Michael searches for the lost church of St Piran, explores the last working tin mine in Cornwall and harvests oysters on the Helford River.
From Truro to Penzance takes about 45 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £6 for a single journey..

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His journey takes him from Buxton along one of the first railway routes south to the capital, London.

Episode 16 - Buxton to Matlock

This time, Michael visits an architectural wonder, the Duke of Devonshire's stables in Buxton, helps to repair the ancient peat landscape of the Peak District and travels on the historic steam railway to Rowsley.
This journey is one of the less practical that Michael undertakes as the two stations are not connected. One can either take the North Easterly route changing in Sheffield and Derby taking about 5 hours, or the South Westerley route via Stockport and Nottingham taking about 4 hours. Both routes begin with the Buxton Line and end on the Derwent Valley line. Standard tickets cost £34.50 for a single journey..

Episode 17 - Cromford to Burton-on-Trent

This time, Michael visits the oldest working factory in the world at Cromford, explores the country's first public park in Derby and finds out why Burton's beer is said to be the best.
From Cromford to Burton-on-Trent takes about 1 hour with a change of trains in Derby. Standard tickets cost £6.80 for a single journey..

Episode 18 - Walsall to Bournville

This time, Michael meets the queen's saddler in Walsall, learns how to cook an authentic Indian curry in Birmingham and visits Bournville, rumoured to be the best place to live in Britain.
From Walsall to Bournville takes about 50 minutes with a change of trains, usually in Birmingham New Street. Standard tickets cost £3.30 for a single journey.

Episode 19 - Coventry to Watford

This time, Michael relives the Coventry Blitz, meets the last pure-breed Aylesbury duck farmer in Buckinghamshire and finds out how the trains helped to evacuate millions of children during World War II.
From Coventry to Watford takes about 45 minutes with Virgin Trains and standard tickets cost £40.80 for a standard class Off Peak single journey. Alternatively London Midland Trains trains take 1 hour 30 minutes and cost £26.50 for a single Standard Off Peak ticket..

Episode 20 - St Pancras to Westminster

This time, Michael explores one of the grandest railway stations and hotels in the country: St Pancras. He rides the world's first tube line to Smithfield market and climbs up the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament to hear Big Ben chime.
This journey is entirely on the London Underground. Tickets start from £4.30 but you may prefer a one day Travelcard which costs £7 or a Visitor Oystercard which can reduce the price..

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Series 2

Michael travels coast to coast from Brighton to Cromer

Episode 1 - Brighton to Crystal Palace

Michael finds out about Brighton's Victorian aquarium, the largest in the world at the time, explores the underground quarries of Godstone and discovers the wonders of the Crystal Palace in suburban south London.
From Brighton to Crystal Palace takes just over an hour with changes in East Croydon and Norwood Junction. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £15.90 for a single journey..

Episode 2 - Waterloo to Canary Wharf

Michael finds out about the Stiffs' Express, a funeral service running coffins from Waterloo to Brookwood Cemetery. He discovers how London's West End became a great 19th-century shopping destination and explores the changing fortunes of London's docks.
Waterloo to Canary Wharf takes just ten minutes on the Jubilee line of the London Underground. Tickets start from £4.30 but you may prefer a one day Travelcard which costs £7 or a Visitor Oystercard which can reduce the price..

Episode 3 - Enfield to Cambridge

Michael visits the government arms factory at Enfield (the largest machine shop in Europe in Bradshaw's day), discovers how the trains transformed Newmarket's races and finds out why Cambridge could be considered the birthplace of modern football.
From Enfield to Cambridge takes just over an hour with a change in Cheshunt. Standard Day tickets cost £19.00 for a single journey..

Episode 4 - Ely to King's Lynn

Michael goes fishing with the last eel trapper on the Fens at Ely and visits one of the great triumphs of 19th century engineering, the Denver Sluice. He ends his journey in King's Lynn, where he uncovers an ambitious plan to reclaim the Wash in Bradshaw's day.
From Ely to King's Lynn takes 30 minutes on a direct First Capital Connect train. Standard Day tickets cost £6.30 for a single journey..

Episode 5 - Dereham to Cromer

Michael gets the rare chance to drive a heritage diesel train, finds out why Norfolk black turkeys appeared on the Christmas menu in Bradshaw's day and samples some classic Cromer crab.
Michael travels from Dereham to Wymondham on the private Mid Norfolk railway. From there is takes just over an hour to reach Cromer with a further change of trains in Norwich. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £80 for a single journey..

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His second journey follows the route of the Irish mail from Ledbury to Holyhead.

Episode 6 - Ledbury to Shrewsbury

Michael tastes the Victorian drink perry, a kind of pear cider, gets up close and personal with a pedigree Hereford bull and visits the grandfather of all skyscrapers, the world's first iron-framed building in Shrewsbury.
From Ledbury to Shrewsbury takes about 1 hour 20 minutes with a change of trains in Hereford. Standard Day tickets cost £24.50 for a single journey..

Episode 7 - Telford to Wrexham

Michael visits the world's first iron bridge at Coalbrookdale, explores the historic Chirk Castle and has a go at making traditional Cheshire cheese.
From Telford to Wrexham takes about 1 hour on a direct Arriva Trains Wales service. Standard Day tickets cost £11.30 for a single journey..

Episode 8 - Chester to Conwy

Michael takes a tour of Chester's Roman remains and discovers a secret World War II chemical weapons plant at Rhydmwyn. After spending the night in Llandudno, he goes mussel fishing on the beautiful Conwy estuary.
From Chester to Conwy takes just under 1 hour on a direct Arriva Trains Wales service. Standard Day tickets cost £16.70 for a single journey..

Episode 9 - Llanwrst to Porthmadog

Michael Portillo explores the Conwy valley, stopping at Britain's first artists' colony at Betws-y-Coed, visiting the Victorian slate capital of Blaenau Ffestiniog and taking a steam train down to the harbour at Porthmadog.
From Llanwrst to Blaenau Ffestiniog takes an 1 hour and 20 minutes on a direct Arriva Trains Wales service. Standard Day tickets cost £7.70 for a single journey. The Ffestiniog Railway then takes just over an hour to reach Porthmadog..

Episode 10 - Llanberis to Holyhead

Michael Portillo takes the train to the top of Wales's highest peak, Mount Snowdon, witnesses the revival of Anglesey's sea salt industry and discovers how the railways transformed the tiny port of Holyhead.
The first part of the journey is on the Snowdon Mountain Railway at Llanberis. There is no longer a rail link from Llanberis to the North Wales Coast, the closest station is Bangor. Standard Day tickets from Bangor to Holyhead cost £8.30 for a single journey taking around 30 minutes..

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Michael follows some of the earliest railways in the country from Newcastle to Melton Mowbray

Episode 11 - Newcastle to Chester-le-Street

In this episode, Michael visits the first locomotive factory in the world opened by George Stephenson, searches for the lost pit village of Marsden in South Shields, and is entertained by a comic troupe of rapper sword dancers in Chester-le-Street.
From Newcastle to Chester-le-Street takes just 9 minutes on a direct Transpennine Express. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £3.10 for a single journey..

Episode 12 - Durham to Grosmont

Michael visits the historic Durham Cathedral, sees one of the first locomotives in Darlington and takes a Dracula tour in Whitby, before ending his journey on a steam train across the North Yorkshire Moors.
From Durham to Grosmont takes about 2 hours 30 minutes with changes in Darlington and Middlesborough. Standard Day tickets cost £15.80 for a single journey..

Episode 13 - York to Saltaire

Michael takes a Turkish bath in the famous spa town of Harrogate, explores the exemplary Victorian village of Saltaire, and rubs noses with some friendly alpacas, whose fleeces made fortunes in Bradshaw's day.
From York to Saltaire takes just under 1 hour with a change Leeds. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £13.60 for a single journey..

Episode 14 - Batley to Sheffield

Michael finds out about shoddy, a successful 19th-century recycling industry in the textile town of Batley, discovers how the railways boosted Yorkshire's forced rhubarb trade, and meets the great-great-granddaughter of George Bradshaw himself.
From Batley to Sheffield takes about 1 hour 30 minutes with a change Leeds. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £10.10 for a single journey..

Episode 15 - Langley Mill to Melton Mowbray

Michael learns the secrets of stilton cheese, finds out how trains transformed the traditional British sport of fox hunting and attempts to make an authentic Melton Mowbray pork pie.
From Langley Mill to Melton Mowbray takes just under 2 hours with changes in Nottingham and Leicester. Standard Day tickets cost £16.50 for a single journey..

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Michael travels through Kent, from London Bridge around the scenic south coast to Hastings

Episode 16 - London Bridge to Chatham

Michael visits the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to see how the railways standardised time, takes a walk through the world's first underwater tunnel at Rotherhithe and explores the historic dockyards at Chatham.
From London Bridge to Chatham takes just under 1 hour on direct SouthEastern train. Standard Day tickets cost £16.20 for a single journey..

Episode 17 - Aylesford to Tunbridge Wells

Michael explores the life of Victorian hop pickers, finds out about Maidstone's revolutionary paper industry and discovers how the railways turned cricket into a national sport.
From Aylesford to Tunbridge Wells takes just under 1 hour on SouthEastern trains with a change in Tonbridge. Standard Day tickets cost £11.10 for a single journey..

Episode 18 - Canterbury to Margate

Michael finds out how Canterbury Cathedral was saved during the Baedeker raids of World War II, goes whelk fishing in Whitstable and explores the origins of a seaside swim in Margate
From Canterbury to Margate takes 30 minutes on a direct SouthEastern train. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £4.90 for a single journey..

Episode 19 - Sandwich to Folkestone

Michael explores a secret port that ran the first train ferries to France carrying vital supplies during World War I, visits Walmer Castle, the home of the Duke of Wellington, and discovers how the Victorians initiated the building of the Channel tunnel.
From Sandwich to Folkestone takes just under 40 minutes on a direct SouthEastern train. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £9.60 for a single journey..

Episode 20 - Hythe to Hastings

Michael explores a secret port that ran the first train ferries to France carrying vital supplies during World War I, visits Walmer Castle, the home of the Duke of Wellington, and discovers how the Victorians initiated the building of the Channel tunnel.
Hythe's only railway connection is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. The closest National Rail station is Folkestone Central from where it takes about an hour 20 minutes to Hastings with a change in Ashford. Standard Day tickets cost £16.10 for a single journey..

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His final journey in the series is up the west coast of Scotland from Ayr to Skye.

Episode 21 - Ayr to Paisley

Michael visits the hometown of Robbie Burns and finds out how to make haggis, discovers how the railways transformed the game of golf in Prestwick, and uncovers the story of the great Victorian tartan hoax in Paisley.
From Ayr to Paisley takes just under 40 minutes on a direct train. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £7.00 for a single journey..

Episode 22 - Dumbarton to Tyndrum

Michael explores the historic Dumbarton shipyards that built the Cutty Sark, visits one of Queen Victoria's favourite haunts, Loch Lomond, and goes hunting for gold in Scotland's mountains.
From Dumbarton to Tyndrum takes one hour 35 minutes on a direct train. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £8.30 for a single journey..

Episode 23 - Oban to Corrour

Michael discovers how trains spread the word about Oban whisky, hears about the heroic struggle to build a railway across the desolate Rannoch Moor, and visits Corrour, one of the favourite shooting estates of the Victorian political elite.
From Oban to Corrour takes three hours with a change in Crianlarich. Standard Day tickets cost £17.50 for a single journey..

Episode 24 - Roybridge to Glenfinnan

Michael investigates one of the great geological mysteries of the 19th century - the parallel roads of Glenroy. Plus, he finds out how the Victorians put a weather observatory on the top of Ben Nevis and takes a steam train across one of the most spectacular viaducts in Britain at Glenfinnan.
From Roybridge to Glenfinnan takes 1 hour on a direct ScotRail service. Standard Day tickets cost £7.80 for a single journey..

Episode 25 - Lochailort to Skye

As he journeys up the west coast of Scotland from Ayr to Skye, Michael discovers how the railways helped train the first generation of commandos at Lochailort in World War II, finds out why langoustines have replaced herrings as the top catch in the fishing port of Mallaig, and sails across the sea to Skye to explore the history of the highland crofters.
From Lochailort to Mallaig takes just over 30 minutes, from there the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry takes another 30 minutes to reach Armadale. Standard Day tickets cost £5.40 for a single journey to Mallaig..

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Series 3

Following the route of the Great Eastern Line, which ventures from the edge of England to the centre of the country's financial capital, London.

Episode 1 - Great Yarmouth to Beccles

Michael discovers the grave robbing history of Great Yarmouth, tries his hand at working a Victorian swing bridge in Reedham, and takes to the air to discover how a Victorian rail guidebook helped aviators in the Second World War.
From Great Yarmouth to Beccles takes about 2 hours and requires changes of trains in Reedham and Lowestoft. Standard Day tickets cost £8.80 for a single journey..

Episode 2 - Darsham to Felixstowe

Michael follows the Victorians' fascination with Britain's own Atlantis to the lost city of Dunwich, meets some gentle giants who were crucial to the smooth running of the railways, and discovers how the Port of Felixstowe grew into the biggest container port in the land.
From Darsham to Felixstowe takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and requires a change of trains in Ipswich. Standard Day tickets cost £8.80 for a single journey..

Episode 3 - Sudbury to Southend

Michael comes face-to-face with a medieval politician, takes a rail tour of Victorian freak show hot spots, and visits Southend to ride one of the world's first electric railways.
This journey is one of the less practical that Michael undertakes as the two stations are not connected. To travel from Sudbury to Southend one has to travel into London and back out again. Standard Day tickets cost £17.40 for a single journey..

Episode 4 - Epping to Hackney

Michael visits Essex to discover why dairy herds travelled there by rail from all over the country in the nineteenth century. He also visits Waltham Cross to see how the gunpowder made there fuelled the building of an empire, and heads to Hackney to uncover the gruesome details of the first murder on a train.
This journey begins on the Central line of the London Underground, and with a change to the London Overground in Stratford takes about 45 minutes to reach Hackney. Standard Day tickets cost £5.30 for a single journey..

Episode 5 - Fenchurch to Embankment

Michael takes a ride on a secret miniature railway hidden beneath London's streets, rings the bells of the famous church of Bow, and tries his hand at station announcing at Fenchurch Street station.
This journey is entirely on the London Underground. Tickets start from £4.30 but you may prefer a one day Travelcard which costs £7 or a Visitor Oystercard which can reduce the price..

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Following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Michael uses the railways she often rode from Windsor Castle to her country getaway on the Isle of Wight, from which his journey continues west, to Portland.

Episode 6 - Windsor to Didcot

Michael visits a station fit for royalty in Windsor, views an engineering triumph built by Brunel to span the Thames at Maidenhead, and tries his hand at collecting the mail 'Victorian style' on a steam-powered travelling post office.
From Windsor to Didcot takes about 1 hour and requires a change of trains in Slough. Standard Day tickets cost £14.40 for a single journey..

Episode 7 - Reading to Alton

Michael tastes a Victorian superfood in Alton, explores the fascinating Whitchurch Silk Mill, untouched for over 150 years, and tries his hand at driving a steam train on the challenging Watercress Line.
From Reading to Alton takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and requires a change of trains in North Camp and Ash Vale. Standard Day tickets cost £12.80 for a single journey..

Episode 8 - Winchester to Isle of Wight

Michael experiences the magnificent Victorian organ at Winchester Cathedral, goes behind the scenes at a 19th-century rail works still running in Eastleigh today, and travels to Queen Victoria's favourite holiday destination, the Isle of Wight.
From Winchester to West Cowes takes about 1 hour including a bus transfer from Southampton and the Red Jet ferry crossing. Standard Day tickets cost £19.70 for a single journey..

Episode 9 - Brockenhurst to Poole

On the trail of a Victorian snake catcher, Michael visits the New Forest seeking out venomous adders, uncovers a secret library in Wimborne containing some very rare books, and visits the Poole potteries founded in the 19th century, which are still working today.
From Brockenhurst to Poole takes just over 30 minutes on a direct train. Standard Day tickets cost £7.90 for a single journey..

Episode 10 - Wareham to Portland

Michael uncovers the amazing oil fields hidden underneath England's quiet seaside resorts, discovers the crucial role Weymouth played in the D-day landings, and heads to the cradle of Victorian Britain's most prestigious building rock, Portland.
From Wareham to Weymouth takes about 30 minutes on a direct train and Standard Day tickets cost £9.00 for a single journey. Portland is 3.5 miles from Weymouth..

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He is travelling west, from Oxford in the heart of England, through the Malvern Hills and into Wales, taking in the unique Victorian heritage of the South Wales coastline.

Episode 11 - Oxford to Pershore

Michael is lead to a special view of the city of Oxford by his 19th century guidebook, samples a Victorian navvies' brew made by steam power, and discovers a unique and colourful crop in the heart of the Cotswolds.
From Oxford to Pershore takes about one hour on a direct train and Standard Day tickets cost £14.90 for a single journey..

Episode 12 - Hartlebury to Great Malvern

Michael visits the home of Queen Victoria's favourite bishop in Hartlebury, sniffs out the secrets of a famous 19th-century sauce in Worcester, and follows in the footsteps of Victorian health fanatics to the Malvern Hills.
From Oxford to Pershore takes just under an hour with a change required at Droitwich Spa. Standard Day tickets cost £7.20 for a single journey..

Episode 13 - Lydney to Newport

Michael discovers Britain's hidden micro-mines within the Forest of Dean, sees why the Victorians fell for the romantic ruins of Tintern Abbey and uncovers the railway engineering behind the industrial icon that is Newport Transporter Bridge.
From Lydney to Newport takes about 30 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £6.80 for a single journey..

Episode 14 - Cardiff to Brecon

Michael discovers the Victorian coal heritage that turned Cardiff into the city it is today, explores the 19th-century reason why Barry Island isn't an island, and takes a steam ride through the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park
From Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £5.00 for a single journey. From there it is possible to reach the Brecon Mountain Railway by taking a bus..

Episode 15 - Port Talbot to Milford Haven

Michael explores the Victorian railway legacy behind the steel works of Port Talbot, follows the trail of 19th-century waterfall hunters in Neath, and uncovers the fascinating whaling past of Milford Haven.
From Port Talbot to Milford Haven takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £18.10 for a single journey..

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He is travelling through some of northern England's most dramatic scenery, from Berwick-Upon-Tweed, crossing the Pennines to the Lake District before completing the journey on the beautiful and unique Isle of Man.

Episode 16 - Berwick-upon-Tweed to Morpeth

Michael discovers the unique cross-border history of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, hears the unique story of the Pitman Painters of Ashington and sees first-hand the perils of working on the rails in Victorian times.
From Berwick-upon-Tweed to Morpeth takes about 30 minutes. Standard Day tickets cost £10.10 for a single journey..

Episode 17 - Bardon Mill to Wigton

Michael gets his hands dirty following the example of Victorian archaeologists at Hadrian's Wall, discovers how the invention of the ticket machine made a big difference to 19th century rail users, and sees how the Victorian railways first fuelled invention in Wigton.
From Bardon Mill to Wigton takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes with a change required in Carlisle. Standard Day tickets cost £13.50 for a single journey..

Episode 18 - Cockermouth to Eskdale

Michael drinks a Victorian brew drawn from the pure waters of Cockermouth, steps inside the hidden world of nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield, and travels into the wonders of a Japanese inspired, 19th century garden.
The railway from Cockermouth closed in 1972, the nearest station is now Mary Port. Michael also rides on the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway..

Episode 19 - Kirkby-in-Furness to Lancaster

Michael finds out the secrets behind Kirkby's famous blue slate, submerges himself into a secret world of nuclear submarines in Barrow, and sees why the executions at Lancaster Castle drew the Victorians in their droves.
From Kirkby-in-Furness to Lancaster takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes on a direct train. Standard Day tickets cost £13.10 for a single journey..

Episode 20 - Heysham to Snaefell

Michael sets sail from Heysham to the Isle of Man, where he discovers the horse trams of Douglas, the 19th-century secrets of the giant Laxey Wheel, and the Victorian history of the delightful Snaefell mountain railway.
We can issue through rail tickets from UK stations to Douglas including the ferry from Heysham, please ask for prices. We can also issue passes valid on most of the Island's railways.

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Michael crosses the Irish sea to discover the rich railway history of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, following the unfurling 19th century expansion of the tracks from Dublin to Londonderry.

For customers wishing to recreate these journeys a one country InterRail pass would be valid for the three journeys in the Republic of Ireland, or all five journeys if you are resident outside of the UK.

Episode 21 - Goes to Ireland - Bray to Dublin

Michael observes the amazing engineering feat involved in building the railway along Dublin's treacherous East coast, explores 19th century crime and punishment in a Victorian jail, and finds out how the lions of Dublin Zoo changed the fortunes of the railways.
Michael travelled south from Bray to Greystones taking about 10 minutes, and then back north for about 55 minutes to Dublin through the spectacular tunnels. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey.

Episode 22 - Goes to Ireland - Enfield to Drogheda

Michael explores the extensive railway network within the Bog of Allen, discovers the Victorian secrets behind the amazing Boyne Viaduct, and travels underground, into the vast Irish Zinc mines.
From Enfield to Drogheda takes about 2 hours and requires a change of trains in Dublin. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

Episode 23 - Goes to Ireland - Dundalk to Portadown

Michael explores the Victorians' fascination with antiquity, by visiting the amazing Cromlech stones of Dundalk. He reaches for the stars at the Armagh Observatory and travels in style along the steam railway of Downpatrick.
From Dundalk to Portadown takes about 40 minutes on a direct train. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

Episode 24 - Goes to Ireland - Belfast to Whitehead

Michael explores the fascinating history of Belfast's Victorian docks, discovers the Irish spade making traditions untouched for over 150 years and takes a walk on the wild side with Whitehead's Victorian coastal paths.
From Belfast to Whitehead takes about 30 minutes on a direct train.
We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

Episode 25 - Goes to Ireland - Ballymoney to Londonderry

Michael takes a white knuckle walk over the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, follows in the footsteps of the Victorians to experience the delights of the Giant's Causeway and explores the rich history of Londonderry.
From Ballymoney to Londonderry takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, at present a bus replacement service is running between Coleraine and Londonderry. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

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Series 4

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with his copy of Bradshaw's Victorian railway guidebook, travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to see what of Bradshaw's World remains. The first of a series of journeys along the tracks that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution begins in the rolling Chiltern Hills.

Episode 1 - High Wycombe to Stratford-Upon-Avon

The first of a series of journeys along the tracks that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution begins in the rolling Chiltern Hills. Michael meets the remarkable craftsmen behind the Victorian furniture trade, discovers how George Bradshaw helped save Britain's canal heritage and sees Shakespeare through the eyes of a 19th century railway tourist.
From High Wycombe to Stratford-Upon-Avon takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes on a Chiltern Trains service. Standard Day tickets cost £20.20 for a single journey..

Episode 2 - Birmingham to Stafford

Michael learns how the railways helped to make Birmingham the pen-making capital of the world, hears the chilling tale of one of 19th century Britain's most notorious murderers and samples the delicacies concocted in a Victorian kitchen at Shugborough Hall.
From Birmingham to Stafford via Tamworth takes about 1 hour. Standard Day tickets cost £9.80 for a single journey..

Episode 3 - Stoke-on-Trent to Winsford

Michael explores one of the greatest locomotive factories in railway history, discovers the dark side of the industrial revolution and learns how, in Victorian times, the potteries brought their products to the masses.
From Stoke-on-Trent to Winsford requires a change of trains in Crewe, and takes about 1 hour. Standard Day tickets cost £7.40 for a single journey..

Episode 4 - Dudley to Bridgnorth

Michael elearns how Victorian blacksmithing was not for the faint-hearted, rides one of Britain's most modern trains and traverses the remarkable Victoria Bridge.
From Dudley to Kidderminster trains run half-hourly, and take approximately 45 minutes. Tickets for this journey start at £7.50 for an adult return. The heritage line can be picked up in Kidderminster to travel to Bridgnorth. The timetable for this service varies seasonally, and can be found here. Journey duration is approximately one hour, and adult return tickets can be purchased for £17.00..

Episode 5 - Welshpool to Aberystwyth

Michael experiences Victorian entertainment, hears how the railways took Welsh textiles into even the most exclusive households and unleashes the power of a 19th century engineering triumph
Services depart twice daily in each direction, with journeys taking approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. Return tickets are available for £13.70..

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Michael is travelling port to port, from the centuries old naval hub of Portsmouth to the historic Grimsby docks.

Episode 6 - Portsmouth to Gomshall

He feeds the crew of Britain's newest warship, discovers how the Victorians planned to repel a possible French invasion and learns that there's well established industry where one might least expect to find it
A change of trains in Guildford is required on this route, with connections available every half hour during the day. Return tickets can be purchased for £23.10..

Episode 7 - Woking to Clapham Junction

He gets close to some precious Victorian botany at Kew Gardens, tries his hand at croquet and discovers a very surprising 19th century place of worship.
Portillo first travels from Woking to Kew Gardens via Clapham Junction, a journey that also requires a change of trains in Richmond. It takes about one hour. He then travels back to Richmond taking around 5 minutes. After a stop he travelled onward to Wimbledon, about 30 minutes and finally another 7 minutes on to Clapham Junction. A Standard Off Peak Day Travelcard from Woking costs £21.90.

Episode 8 - London Victoria to Abbey Wood

He learns how volunteer Victorian fire fighters liked a tipple, discovers how even 19th century sewage pumps were a celebration of design and puts in a shift at the oldest fish market in Britain.
In this programme Portillo starts by travelling from the Tate Modern to the Tate Britain by boat. This is not part of the Transport for London network and tickets will need to be purchased online, by phone or on the boat. Oyster card holders receive a discount on the boat. He then takes a Thames Clipper from Canary Wharf to Woolwich Arsenal, again discounts are available for Oyster Card and Travelcard holders but separate tickets are required. A four minute ride on a Southeastern train completes the journey to Abbey Wood. This last journey costs £3.90 but an Oystercard or London Travelcard would be an easier way to pay for this trip.

Episode 9 - London Kings Cross to Peterborough

He discovers how derelict Victorian London is being rejuvenated, puts in a shift at a Cambridgeshire brick factory and meets the immigrant community built from it.
Half-hourly direct services taking 45 minutes run between Kings Cross and Peterborough. Standard return fares are available from £66.50 - however, booking in advance could bring the cost down. Advance purchase single tickets are available from £11.25 each way..

Episode 10 - Spalding to Grimsby

He sees how Lincolnshire farmers utilised rails to improve their harvests, visits Lincoln's most impressive cathedral and looks to the future of rail freight
This journey requires a change of trains in Lincoln, with total journey time of approximately 2.5 hours - return tickets can be purchased for £40..

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Michael is exploring the stunning scenery of rural and coastal Scotland, travelling from Stirling, through the industrial east coast and dramatic Highland landscapes, to the beauty of the western lochs, finally ending his journey in John O'Groats.

Episode 11 - Stirling to Invergowrie

Michael learns about a Scottish hero, visits a Highland Games and discovers how an impressive piece of Victorian engineering ended in tragedy.
Six direct services run from Sterling to Invergowie on weekdays, and there are five direct returns.Return tickets start from £21.10..

Episode 12 - Dundee to Aberdeen

Michael learns how Queen Victoria used to hide from her subjects, discovers how factory workers went deaf and goes out with a bang in Aberdeenshire.
Direct services run half-hourly between these locations, with the journey duration ranging from 1 hour 10 minutes to an hour and a half. Return tickets can be purchased from £29.80 - though advance purchase single tickets are available from £6.90<..

Episode 13 - Dufftown to Aviemore

Michael learns how Victorian whisky trains were raided by robbers, travels along one of Scotland's most impressive viaducts and discovers that life is not always sweet on a shortbread production line
This journey utilises the Keith & Dufftown herritage line from Dufftown to Keith, where one can catch a national service to Aviemore via Inverness.Return tickets from Dufftown to Keith are £10 for an adults, with the timetable changing seasonally. Return tickets from Keith to Aviemore start from £27.30..

Episode 14 - Inverness to Plockton

In this programme, Michael explores the scenery of rural and coastal Scotland, travelling from Stirling to the beauty of the western lochs, ending his journey in John O'Groats. Michael rides one of Scotland's most picturesque railways, visits Scotland's smallest station and learns what went into a Victorian-style spa break
Four direct services run each way on weekdays, with return tickets starting at £23.40..

Episode 15 - Invergordon to John O'Groats

Michael learns how one man's vision helped bring train travel to the Highlands, discovers how farming has changed since Bradshaw's day and hears the remarkable tale of Scotland's Victorian gold rush.
The nearest railway stations to John O'Groats are either Wick or Thurso - both of which have regular bus services into John O'Groats. Services to Thurso take three hours, with returns starting from £24.90, or advance purchase singles from £9.90. Journeys to Wick take 3.5 hours, and prices start at £26.20 for a return, or advance purchase singles from £9.90..

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Michael follows in the footsteps of the master engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, beginning at the line's London gateway, Paddington Station and ending in Newton Abbot, Devon, the scene of one of Brunel's heroic failures.

Episode 16 - London Paddington to Warminster

MToday, Michael gets to grips with the old grey matter at a Victorian asylum, gives an historic horse a facelift and makes malt the 19th century way.
Travel from Paddington to Bath Spa, then from there to Warminster. Journeys take just over two hours, and return tickets are available from £67.00..

Episode 17 - Salisbury to Castle Cary

Michael visits a world famous tourist hotspot that's been captivating visitors since the Victorian era, takes to the air in Yeovil and tries his hand at cloth making, the 19th century way.
Journeys take approximately 1.5 hours (including a change of trains at Westbury, with return tickets available from £16.00..

Episode 18 - Taunton to Minehead

Michael explores a church that moves in mysterious ways, finds out just what it takes to run a 19th century signal box and summons all his strength, to move a one hundred and ten tonne steam locomotive.
Regular local bus services are available from Taunton to Bishop's Lydeard where the heritage line can be picked up for onward travel to Minehead. Return tickets between Bishop's Lydeard and Minehead cost £17..

Episode 19 - Lynton and Lynmouth to Exeter

Michael gets up close to a piece of natural history, visits a garden used as a viewing platform for public hangings and experiences a timepiece like no other.
Unfortunately this line is currently closed while works are carried out to the track..

Episode 20 - Exmouth to Newton Abbot

Michael takes to sea with the heroes of the RNLI, visits a stormy coastal railway and has a close personal encounter with his boyhood her
Direct services run from Exmouth to Newton Abbot at 23 minutes passed each hour and the journey takes approximately one hour and five minutes. Return tickets can be purchased for £6.30 (off peak)..

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Michael Portillo takes to the tracks once again using his Bradshaw's 'Handbook for Tourists in Great Britain and Ireland' from the Victorian era. Portillo is on a railway journey through the Republic of Ireland travelling from the rugged beauty of County Kerry, across the rural Irish Midlands to end in the city of Galway on the Atlantic coast.

For customers wishing to recreate these journeys a one country InterRail pass would be valid.

Episode 21 - Goes to Ireland - Killarney to Cobh

In this episode Michael samples nineteenth century foodie delicacies, explores a stunning landscape shot to fame by rails and royals and risks life and limb for the gift of the gab.
Direct services run from Killarney to Cork at 23 minutes every couple of hours and the journey takes approximately one hour and twenty five minutes. From there a train leaves on the hour taking 24 minutes to reach Cobh. Single tickets can be purchased for around £32.60 subject to currency fluctuations..

Episode 22 - Goes to Ireland - Charleville to Waterford

In this episode, Michael learns the ancient art of butter making, attempts to learn the basics of Ireland's oldest game, and rides the Duke of Devonshire's Victorian Irish railway.
A change of trains is required at Limerick Junction, the total journey takes about two hours. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

Episode 23 - Goes to Ireland - Kilkenny to Athy

In this episode, Michael tries his hand at cutting marble Victorian style, uncovers 19th century Ireland's surprising industrial heritage and learns how the railways helped bring motorsport to the masses.
Direct trains take about 40 minutes to travel from Kilkenny to Athy. Single tickets can be purchased for around £16.70 subject to currency fluctuations..

Episode 24 - Goes to Ireland - Newbridge to Roscrea

In this episode, Michael visits the Irish National Stud, discovers how harsh life was for the Irish poor and uncovers an astronomical feat of Victorian engineering.
This journey requires two changes of trains, at Portlaoise and Ballybrophy, taking about one hour twenty minutes in total. We are not able to supply tickets for this journey..

Episode 25 - Goes to Ireland - Athlone to Galway

In this episode, Michael is on the final leg of his Irish journey and discovers historic jewellery with royal connections in Galway, meets a people's king and finds his voice with a traditional Irish singing group.
Direct trains take just under an hour. Single tickets can be purchased for around £19.85 subject to currency fluctuations..

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Series 5

Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from Manchester, birthplace of George Bradshaw, the publisher of his trusted guide, to Chesterfield, burial place of George Stephenson, the father of the railway.

Episode 1 - Manchester to Birkenhead

In the first leg of the journey, Michael finds out how the world's first industrialised city also gave birth to a revolutionary political movement and hears how railway workers founded one of the most successful football clubs in the world. Along the way, Michael does the washing in Port Sunlight and discovers the legacy of an American named George Francis Train in Birkenhead.
From Manchester OXford Road to Birkenhead takes just under two hours with changes of trains in Warrington, Chester and Liverpool. Standard Day tickets cost £21.85 for a single journey, with separate tickets required Manchester to Chester and Chester to Birkenhead.

Episode 2 - Southport to Leyland

Michael Portillo continues his journey through the North West of England. He begins in the elegant Lancashire resort of Southport, where the railways brought thousands of visitors to enjoy the pier and all the fun of the fair. Michael discovers Victorian entrepreneurship in Wigan, traces the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in Bolton and drives a hundred-year-old commercial vehicle in Leyland.
From Southport to Leyland, with a change of trains in Bolton takes just over 1 hour. Standard Day tickets cost £14.40, with separate tickets required Southport to Bolton, and Bolton to Leyland.

Episode 3 - Preston to Rochdale

Michael Portillo continues his journey through the North West of England. He celebrates Victorian trade with the Preston Guild then heads to Rochdale where he discovers a pioneering movement that helped improve the lot of working families. Michael follows in the tracks of swathes of nineteenth-century working people who made day trips from the industrial towns to Hebden Bridge to walk in the beautiful Calder Valley.
From Preston to Rochdale takes around 2 hour 30 minutes with a change of trains in Burnley. Standard Day tickets cost £22.50 for a single journey, but these do not allow break of journey, where separate tickets would be required for each leg of the jounrney.

Episode 4 - Haworth to Huddersfield

Michael Portillo begins this leg of his journey from Manchester to Chesterfield at the home of the three Bronte sisters in Worth Valley, Yorkshire. He then moves on to Oakworth where he learns how the station and its heritage railway line secured a starring role in one of the most popular films ever made. In Bradford, Michael finds out how nineteenth-century workers could save to buy a home of their own, and in Halifax discovers how the railway contributed to the town's sweet success.
This journey begins on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to Keighley. From there to Huddersfield takes around 1 hour with a change of trains in Leeds. Standard Day tickets cost £5.50 for a single journey. If you would like an escorted tour of this area then our Railways of the North tour maybe just right.

Episode 5 - Honley to Chesterfield

On the last leg of his journey from a notorious slum in Manchester to the grandeur of a ducal seat in Derbyshire, Michael Portillo tunes in to the music of the mills and collieries of Victorian England, testing his puff with the brass band at Honley. In Holmfirth, Michael finds out about a nineteenth-century tragedy that struck the town and led to a tourist boom on the railways. At Chesterfield, Michael pays homage to the father of the railway, George Stephenson, before finishing his journey in style at one of the first stately homes to welcome visitors by rail - Chatsworth.
From Honley to Chesterfield takes around 1 hour 30 minutes with a change of trains in Sheffield. Standard Day tickets cost £9.80 for a single journey. Peak Rail now run to Rowsley South, a new station close to the old "Rowsley for Chatsworth" station which closed in 1967.

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Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey guided by his Bradshaw's Handbook from London's Euston station to Leeds.

Episode 6 - London Euston to Cheddington

In this first leg, he finds out what happened to the once proud Euston Arch then braves the watery depths under Camden Town to see how goods were transported by rail, road and canal. Clad in his old school blazer, Michael heads north to explore the Harrow of his childhood and remembers the tragic rail disaster of 1952. At the country estate of one of the world's wealthiest banking families in Tring, he discovers an exotic collection in need of special attention before alighting at Cheddington, scene of the Great Train Robbery.
From Euston to Cheddington takes around 40 minutes on a direct London Midland train. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £14.00 for a single journey. To follow Michael we would suggest a Standard Off Peak Day Travelcard valid for Zones 1-6, £8.90 and a ticket from Harrow and Wealdstone to Cheddington £12.60, or a total of £14.90 if you stop in Tring. Alternatively a Visitor Oyster Card does not expire, and then tickets Harrow and Wealdstone to Cheddington as before.

Episode 7 - Bletchley to Newport Pagnell

Michael Portillo continues his journey north on Robert Stephenson's first inter-city railway line from the capital. Along the line at Bletchley he meets one of the Second World War's most secret agents, discovers a poet in Olney whose words are still sung today and explores the first purpose-built railway town at Wolverton. Michael's last stop on this leg is Newport Pagnell, where he learns the ancient craft of vellum making.
The 3 minute journey from Bletchley to Fenny Stratford costs £2.20 for a single journey. From Fenny Stratford to Wolverton takes about 20 minutes including the change of trains at Bletchley, tickets for this are £4.40 for a single journey. The Wolverton to Newport Pagnell railway line closed in 1967, but the route is now used as a cycle path.

Episode 8 - Northampton to Nuneaton

Steered by his Bradshaw's Michael Portillo heads north on his journey from London to Leeds, stopping in Northampton, the land of shoemakers, where Victorian 'clickers' have been making shoes for more than 130 years. In Rugby, Michael discovers the legacy of Dr Thomas Arnold and trains with the school's 1st XV before heading to Coventry, where he finds out how the city's craftsmen learned to adapt to survive. Michael ends this leg of his journey in Nuneaton, birthplace of an author whose identity was once a closely guarded secret.
From Northampton to Coventry takes around 45 minutes on London Midland trains with a change of train at Rugby. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £10.20 for a single journey. Direct London Midland trains from Coventry to Nuneaton take 18 minutes and Standard Off Peak tickets cost £4.70 for a single journey. Admission to Coventry transport muesum is free and it is about a 15 minute walk from the station.

Episode 9 - Leicester to Loughborough

Guided by his Victorian Bradshaw's Michael Portillo continues his journey north along Robert Stephenson's London to Birmingham line. He begins this leg in Leicester, where he picks up the trail of 'the famous crook-backed King Richard III', who Bradshaw's informs him was buried at the Grey Priory. Michael finds out about the hunt for the king's remains and how scientists managed to prove that the skeleton found under a car park was him. From Rothley, Michael works his passage on the Great Central Railway to Loughborough, where the bells have been tolling since 1839.
Michael travelled from Leicester to Sileby which takes 18 minutes on East Midlands Trains services. Standard Off Peak tickets cost £3.90 for a single journey. Breaking the joureny at Syston would require two separate tickets, a total cost of £3.90 for a single journey. Michael then travelled from Rothley to Loughborough on the Great Central Railway.

Episode 10 - Nottingham to Leeds

On the final leg of his journey along the first inter-city line to be built from the capital, Michael Portillo rediscovers a once-famous poet in Nottingham. In Mansfield he travels on a railway line resurrected by popular demand after falling victim to Beeching's cuts, then heads to Worksop, where he learns about the burrowing activities of an eccentric Duke. Michael's next stop is 'railway city' Doncaster, where in the nineteenth century thousands laboured to build trains and where in the twentieth century, rail workers shaped British political history. His last stop on this journey is Leeds, where he auditions at the Venus and Venice of Variety on the stage at Britain's oldest continuously working music hall.
From Nottingham to Mansfield Woodhouse on the Robin Hood line takes approximately 40 minutes on East Midlands Trains, Mansfield Woodhouse onto Worksop takes a further 35 minutes. Next travel on a Northern Rail train to Doncaster, taking about 1 hour and 20 minutes (it is quicker, but more expensive to change trains on route in Retford). Finally board an East Coast train for the final 35 minute journey to Leeds, don't make the same mistake Michael Portillo made - he accidently went to York! Standard class tickets cost a total of £23.50 for a single journey.

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Assisted by his Bradshaw's guide, Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton.

Episode 11 - Southampton to Basingstoke

On this first leg he learns to set table aboard the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth before she sets sail and discovers how Cunard steamers began by transporting post across the Atlantic. He then heads to Netley, where he discovers the remains of an extensive military hospital built by order of Queen Victoria and from there to Basingstoke, where he finds out about a pitched battle between townspeople and the Salvation Army.
After inspecting the old Southampton Terminus station, and the pier railway Michael makes the 5 minute side trip from Southampton Central to Totton and back. He makes another short side trip to Netley, and finally travels from Southampton to Basingstoke. Return tickets from Southampton to Totton and Southampton to Netley, a single ticket to Basingstoke total £22.50.

Episode 12 - Winchfield to Crowthorne

Michael Portillo continues his journey from the Hampshire coast to the West Midlands in a distinctly military vein. At Winchfield, he discovers the vast carriage which carried the Duke of Wellington's coffin to his state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in 1852 and hears how the Duke's chestnut stallion also received full military honours when he was buried at the Duke's seat, Stratfield Saye. Michael then heads for Farnborough and the army camp at Aldershot, where, after the Crimean War, greater physical fitness among rank and file Victorian soldiers became a priority. Private Portillo joins the regulars to be put through his paces under military instruction. Sanctuary is not far away in Farnborough North at the Benedictine Monastery of St Michael, where Michael visits the tomb of the French Emperor Napoleon III and his family. He ends this second leg of his journey in Crowthorne, where in the year his Bradshaw's was published, there opened a notorious new institution: England's first Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Broadmoor.
Travelling from Winchfield to Crowthorne takes just over an hour, including walking from Farnborough to Farnbourgh (North) station. Standard class tickets cost £6.60 for a single journey.

Episode 13 - Wokingham to Bradford-on-Avon

The third leg begins in Wokingham, where Bradshaw's reports the proprietor of The Times newspaper resided and where he was a great benefactor. Michael finds out how demand from a growing number of rail commuters fuelled the development of the modern printing press and learns how to print on an iron press. He then heads to Newbury, where he encounters a Tudor captain of industry, who manufactured cloth in enormous volumes. Michael's next destination is Trowbridge, where Sir Isaac Pitman invented his famous shorthand. He ends this leg of the journey in Bradford on Avon, where he hears from a local manufacturer how his Victorian forebears were the first in Britain to be licensed to vulcanise rubber. They supplied springs, buffers and hoses for the locomotive industry and now make rubber suspensions systems for bicycles.
Michael travelled from Wokingham to Reading, on to Newbury and then to Trowbridge with a change of trains in Westbury, the final leg of the journey took him to Bradford-on-Avon. Standard class tickets cost a total of £22.80 for a single journey.

Episode 14 - Chippenham to Gloucester

Michael Portillo continues his journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton beginning today in Chippenham, where at Lacock Abbey he discovers how the world's first photographic negative was made and learns how to make a print. He travels on to Bristol to visit the Victorian Clifton Zoo, where he finds tigers and polar bears before him also arrived by train. Next stop is Severn Tunnel Junction in Wales, where he explores an extraordinary piece of Victorian engineering with its own pump house pumping out millions of gallons a day to keep it dry. Michael then heads for Gloucester to find out why the station became infamous for lost luggage. At the city's cathedral, Michael meets a stonemason who bravely invites him to chip away.
Chippenham to Clifton Down takes just over an hour, with a change of trains at Bristol Temple Meads. Standard class tickets cost £8.90 for a single journey. Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Tunnel Junction takes about 25 minutes, and costs £7.30 for a single journey. Severn Tunnel Junction to Gloucester takes just over 40 minutes and costs £11.50 for a single journey.

Episode 15 - Cheltenham to Wolverhampton

On the final leg of his journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton, Michael Portillo's first destination is the elegant spa town of Cheltenham, where he discovers a very early locomotive carriage which ran not on rails but on the road and is lucky enough to get behind the wheel. His next stop is the medieval town of Tewkesbury, scene of a grisly battle during the Wars of the Roses. Armour-plated and sword at the ready, Michael joins a group of re-enactors for a taste of the action. Mercifully unscathed, he makes tracks for Droitwich to find out about how a lowly boatman became the King of Salt and lived in a beautiful chateau, an unexpected sight in the Midlands countryside. Michael's journey ends in Wolverhampton, where he hears Queen Victoria made an emotional visit which signalled the end of her exile from public life after mourning her husband, Prince Albert. He learns how the townspeople showed off their talents to the Queen, among them the lost art of Japanning, a speciality of Wolverhampton.
Cheltenham to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury takes about 8 minutes, Ashchurch to Droitwich Spa, with a change of trains at Worcester Shrub Hill takes just over one hour and the final leg from Droitwich Spa to Wolverhampton, changing trains at Smethwick Galton Bridge takes another hour. Tickets for the entire journey will cost a total of £23.80.

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Guided by his 19th century Bradshaw's guide, Michael Portillo embarks on a new journey from Norwich to Chichester.

Episode 16 - Norwich to Brandon

On this first leg he explores Norwich's medieval heart. In the city's Norman castle he uncovers the Victorian public's gory fascination with crime and punishment and finds out how campaigners such as Elizabeth Fry, who was born in Norwich, worked to improve conditions for prisoners. At the city's livestock market, Michael learns how to buy a calf at auction with a subtle twitch of his guidebook. He then heads west to Thetford to explore the rabbit warrens of the Brecks. He discovers how the Victorian appetite for rabbits and their fur led to special train services to London, known as Bunny Trains. After a painful encounter with a polecat, Michael heads northwest to Brandon, home of some of the best quality flint in Britain and tries his hand at flint-knapping.
Norwich to Brandon takes about 1 hour 25 minutes, with a change of trains in Thetford. Tickets cost £11.80.

Episode 17 - Ipswich to Chelmsford

Michael Portillo continues his journey from the east coast to the south coast beginning in the port of Ipswich, capital of the farming county of Suffolk. His first port of call is an agricultural implement works with its own railway sidings. Michael investigates what could have earned the Victorian manufacturer a special mention in his Bradshaw's. Continuing his journey south west into Essex Michael dredges oysters off Mersea Island before taking the train to Witham, where he discovers a model farming establishment at Tiptree. His final destination is Chelmsford and the world's first purpose-built radio equipment factory, established by Guglielmo Marconi.
Ipswich to Colchester takes about 20 minutes, and tickets cost £7.30. Colchester to Witham (Essex) takes 12 to 25 minutes depending on the train, and costs £7. Witham (Essex) to Chelmsford takes just 8 minutes and costs £5.90.

Episode 18 - Ilford to Rochester

Steered by his Bradshaw's, Michael Portillo heads along the Essex bank of the Thames before crossing the river into the Garden of England, Kent. He begins this leg at Barkingside, where a Victorian philanthropist called Dr Thomas Barnardo made it his life's work to transform the lives of destitute children. From Upminster Michael takes the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway to Tilbury and finds out how the line and the old station transformed the town into one of the country's most important ports. At the docks, Michael tries his hand at loading a container on to a pocket wagon. Over the river at Gravesend Michael discovers how one of Queen Victoria's favourite army officers, General Gordon, left his mark on the town. Michael's last destination on this leg is Rochester, where he encounters a host of familiar characters and explores the city which was home to one of the Victorian era's greatest writers, Charles Dickens.
Despite the title of the episode Michael's first journey is from Upminster to Tilbury Town, from where a bus runs to Tilbury Riverside station. The rail journey takes about 15 minutes, with a further 2 minute bus journey, and tickets cost £3.60. The ferry from Tilbury to Gravesend ferry is operated by Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company and tickets cost £3. The journey continues from Gravesend by SouthEastern train to Rochester, taking 15 minutes and costing £5.

Episode 19 - Faversham to Dorking

Michael Portillo continues his journey from Norwich to Chichester beginning in Faversham in Kent, at one of the country's oldest surviving breweries, Shepherd Neame. Michael discovers how the brewery invested heavily in the railways and even ran rolling stock with its own smart livery taking beer to London. After making his own delivery to the Railway Tavern in one of the brewery's oldest vehicles, Michael heads for the south coast to the defensive town of Dover, little more than 25 miles from the historic enemy, the French. Here he uncovers one of Dover's best kept secrets, the sunken fortress known as the Western Heights. In the Weald of Kent, Michael finds out how the railways helped to put Tonbridge School on track for cricketing glory before heading into Surrey where he blow-dries a hen in Dorking!
Michael travelled from Faversham to Dover Priory, a journey taking just over half an hour, from Dover Priory to Staplehurst took just under one hour. Staplehurst onto Tonbridge takes about 20 minutes and Tonbridge to Dorking (Deepdene) via Redhill takes just over an hour. The tickets for the entire journey cost a total of £43.90.

Episode 20 - Brighton to Chichester

On the final leg of his journey between the cathedral cities of Norwich and Chichester, Michael Portillo discovers the history behind the extraordinary Pavilion at Brighton and learns that Queen Victoria was not an admirer of the Prince Regent's flamboyant taste. Michael finds that while above ground the railways brought day trippers to frolic in fashionable Brighton, underground, Victorian engineers built a magnificent network of sewers more than 40 miles in length, which are still functioning today. At Bramber, he discovers at the time of his guide tourists flocked to the town in huge numbers due to a Victorian museum of taxidermy. Michael's next stop is the impressive castle at Arundel and he's pleased to find that the Duke of Norfolk was a great supporter of the railways. His rail journey ends in Chichester from where he heads up into the South Downs for a taste of life in the fast lane at Goodwood.
A direct train from Brighton to Shoreham-by-Sea takes about 13 minutes. From there to Arundel requires a change of trains at Ford, and takes one hour. To travel on to Chichester requires another change of trains in Ford and takes about 20 minutes. Tickets for the entire journey cost a total £14.60.

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We make a cover charge of £2.50 per ticket, not included in the prices quoted above, which are also subject to change. Cheaper Advance tickets are available on some routes. Reductions for Railcard holders on many journeys, please ask if you have or are entitled to a railcard.
If you would like an itinerary combining more than one of these journeys please do contact us and we can work out a personalised trip for you.
To find out more about UK rail travel or to book a ticket please don't hesitate to contact us direct on 01766 772040 or email manon.davies@ffestiniogtravel.co.uk.