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Canterbury Tales

UK rail trip – 2022

Day 25 – 27th April, 2022

Today I’m off to Canterbury for the day – for the afternoon, at least! It will take me a few hours to get there. Armed with a month long BritRail Pass, allowing me unlimited travel, this was not a problem. I checked out of the hostel and walked up to the station. My first train of the day would be a Gatwtick Express class 387 to London Victoria.

Brighton (10:09)
Gatwick Express
1:03 (96:25)
London Victoria (11:12)
81.7 km (8566.9 km)

The Gatwick Express was originally a standalone service, with its own franchise conditions, operating only between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport. From 2008 onwards, after being absorbed into another franchise, peak services were extended to Brighton. In later years, this became an all-day service.

A quick change of platforms for a class 375 Southeastern service to Canterbury West. Services to Canterbury operate from three London termini – Victoria, Waterloo and St. Pancras International. When I travel somewhere, knowing that I’m going to be returning, I usually prefer to leave from one station and return to another – just for a different route.

Onboard for Canterbury West.
London Victoria (11:25)
2:03 (98:28)
Canterbury West (13:28)
118 km (8684.9 km)

It’s been a number of years since I’ve caught a train from London Victoria. But apart from new ticket barriers, and new trains now using the station, nothing much had changed. It was a two hour trip to Canterbury West station on an overcast afternoon.

High Street, Canterbury.

It was only a ten minute walk into the centre of town. I didn’t really have any set agenda. Only to just wander around a little, as I’d last visited at the beginning of 2007. First things first, I wanted to find something to eat. I decided upon Pizza Hut all you can eat pizza. And did I get my money’s worth. 🙂 After lunch, I walked around.

Looking along Burgate.
Butter Market.

It was time to get again. So, I walked back to Canterbury West station. This time, I’d be returning to London St. Pancras International on one of Southeastern‘s class 395 high speed trains. The class 395 Javelins were introduced just in time for the 2012 London Olympics. Before going into revenue service, they were used to transport games officials, athletes and so on between central London and the Olympic site near Stratford.

Canterbury West (15:26)
0:56 (99:24)
London St. Pancras International (16:22)
112.7 km (8797.6 km)

My train travelled along regular lines to Ashford International. However, from there, it entered HS1 (previously called the Channel Tunnel Rail Link). Even though I doubted I’d get the chance to travel on a Eurostar service during my current rail travels, at least I had the opportunity to travel along this new high speed line. So, another new line checked off! Travelling at 225 km/h, it didn’t take too long to reach London St. Pancras International after leaving Ashford.

London St. Pancras International.

I hopped onto the London Underground and travelled the short distance to Angel station. From there, it was a five minute talk to Prime Backpackers Angel. I checked in, found my dorm and then went out again. I decided to go down to Westminster Bridge and watch the river traffic on the River Thames.

The River Thames and the London Eye.

On the way back to the hostel, I passed by the Battle of Britain war memorial.

The Battle of Britain war memorial.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Tomorrow, I’m back on the Doctor Who trail. I’ll be heading to Cambridge for the day!

London (Angel)
Prime Backpackers Angel

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