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Sheep peeking out from behind a fence
Lumsdale waterfall
Chesil Beach, Dorset
Fossils, Dorset

Get active on a weekend away! We suggest three UK towns you can reach by train

Above: Weymouth

A weekend away is a chance to relax, recharge the batteries and explore new places and experiences.

But taking a short-haul flight for a quick city-break abroad has a negative impact on the environment – it's better to save flights for longer trips away.

Instead, take the train to minimize your weekend carbon footprint. UK residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to attractive towns to visit by public transport – and the bonus for many of these is that they also offer easy access to outdoor adventure.

We've chosen three easy-to-reach eco-friendly destinations that are ideal for an active autumn or winter break.


A train from London Euston to Windermere, in the heart of the Lake District, takes just over three hours. With the largest lake in the National Park just a short stroll away, you can try water sports such as kayaking, sailing or windsurfing. The less energetic can still take to the water – boat trips and lake cruises run regularly from Bowness-on-Windermere, a mile to the south. There are countless circular hiking trails from Windermere – try the short walk up to Orrest Head for great views, or take a boat across the lake from Bowness to Ferry House and explore the quiet western shore. Windermere is also perfect for family activities.


Just two and a half hours from London St Pancras, Matlock is an ideal place to base yourself for an active weekend. There are plenty of accommodation and eating options – the Green Way Café offers superb vegetarian and vegan lunches, or for a treat try the excellent, award-winning Stones Restaurant. From the town centre there are plenty of different circular walks to choose from. Try a stroll or cycle along the Cromford Canal, or explore industrial heritage, a beautiful wooded gorge and a tumbling waterfall in the Lumsdale Valley. Superb climbing opportunities abound at High Tor in Matlock Bath, a mile to the south. From Matlock station you can also take a steam train into the Peak District National Park at Rowsley – and from there you're just a hop, skip and a jump (or an hour's pleasant hike) from the Chatsworth Estate.

Lumsdale Valley path in autumn


In less than three hours after leaving London Waterloo you could be striking out along the South West Coast Path – a 630-mile long distance path that encircles the English counties of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. The coastline either side of the Georgian resort of Weymouth, in Dorset, is known as the Jurassic Coast – a 95-mile stretch of fossil-rich cliffs, rocks and beaches that was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001. Head west from Weymouth to explore Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long pebble strip that protects Fleet Lagoon, where a wealth of wildlife can be spotted. Look out for dunlin, sanderling, ringed plover and brent geese. Or take the spectacular route east of Weymouth to discover the delights of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.

Above: Peak District sheep; Chesil Beach; Lumsdale path

Above: Lumsdale Valley; Dorset fossils

Green Adventures November 2016

Active weekends in the UK