Whether it’s a long weekend away, or a day trip to one of the hundreds of destinations on our network, you can sit back and escape with your favourite book to ease the stress of daily life. Our trains cover a beautiful part of the country, including some wonderful cities that have inspired many famous authors.
From London to Cardiff, if you’re looking for travel inspiration, read on to discover some of the best city destinations you can travel to with GWR that influenced great writers.
Take a train to Exeter and trace Dickens’ footsteps in this ancient and beautiful city.
Dickens is Victorian London, but if his life was a tale of two cities, then Exeter would be that other city.
Dickens was close friends with the editor of an Exeter newspaper and spent a lot of time in the city. He even rented a cottage for his parents on the outskirts of Exeter, and often expressed his love of the Devon countryside. His depiction of Victorian unfortunates gripped the imagination of readers. And they had to wait for each chapter, one at a time, as they were published in serial form in popular magazines of the time.
Don’t forget to stop at the Exeter Civic Society where Dickens lived in 1839 with his friend Thomas Latimer.
London is home to some great literary attractions such as the British Library and the Sherlock Holmes museum. But if you’re going to take a train to London it should be for the one of the fathers of science – Herbert George Wells.
Nominated four times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, his visions of the future were pretty fantastic but now look amazingly accurate.
His brilliant storytelling in The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man made predictions about our future. And some of his fiction became fact; world wars, for one, and scientists are now re-writing what time means and looking into ways of making objects invisible.
The musical Half a Sixpence is based on his semi-autobiographical novel Kipps, and is now showing at the Noel Coward Theatre in the heart of the West End.
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! Take a train to Bristol and discover the place that inspired Treasure Island.
Legend has it that Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe, in The Llandoger Trow, a historical Bristol pub, inspired the Admiral Benbow Inn, where Jim first meets Silver.
Treasure Island is, perhaps, Robert Louis Stevenson’s best-known book. And Long John Silver, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is one of his most famous characters. It’s hard to think of pirates without an image of Long John Silver swinging his wooden leg, cutlass in hand and parrot on shoulder, as he chases Jim Hawkins over Treasure Island’s golden sands. And treasure maps with ‘X marking the spot’ are still on every pirate’s checklist today.
Take a train to Bath Spa and visit Austen land. Jane Austen may only have six novels to her name; but all of them have made it to the big and small screen.
She lived in Bath for five years and set two of her novels there, one of which was Northanger Abbey. Her other rightly regarded classics are Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Mansfield Park.
It’s near impossible, if you’ve ever been in a bookshop or a library, or watched Sunday night telly drama, to not know the name Jane Austen . And like Shakespeare, her name is a byword for England’s great literary tradition. Starting with Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and ending with Persuasion in 1818, she painted a vivid and realistic picture of life at the time.
Head to bath and visit The Jane Austen Centre, which is a fifteen-minute walk through the city’s lovely streets from the station.
Ride a train to Oxford and take your own steps around the historic city that inspired John Buchan.
Buchan was a Scot and studied at both Glasgow and Oxford, where he published several books whilst still a student. He was also a successful diplomat and was Governor General of Canada at the time of his death in 1940.
Buchan is most famous for the novel Thirty-Nine Steps which is a classic adventure story of derring-do and dastardly deeds done by amateur sleuths and foreign spies. Which you don’t find very often in these days of wizards, thrones and caped crusaders. And that’s a pity, because this book is a rollicking great read.
Discover the place that helped inspire John Buchan’s literary classics with a tour of the famous Oxford University.
Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket inspired us and children everywhere with its magical promise, and you can discover Roald Dahl’s home city with a train to Cardiff.
Dahl was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents who wanted him to go to a British boarding school. As a pupil at school, he often received parcels of chocolate from Cadbury’s, and a lifelong love of the delicious treat followed.
In his adult years, Roald Dahl wrote for children but never talked down to them, which is why they love his books. But he’s loved by adults, too, and often named the ‘greatest children’s storyteller of modern times’. His darkly funny stories, with adults as baddies and his refusal to sugar coat life, struck a chord with kids and parents alike.
We can’t guarantee a BFG, but there’s definitely lots to see in this capital city such as the Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay.
By entering this competition, each entrant confirms that he/she has read and understood these terms and conditions.
1. The competition
a. The competition promoter is First Greater Western Limited, Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon SN1 1HL. Registered in England and Wales, company number: 05113733 (“GWR”). GWR is a part of the FirstGroup group of companies.
b. The title of the competition is ‘the Immerse Yourself Competition’.
c. The competition will run from 00:01 Tuesday 21 February 2017 (“Opening Date”) until 23:59 14 March 2017 (“Closing Date”). All entries must be submitted before the Closing Date and entries submitted after this time will be automatically disqualified.
d. GWR reserves the right to hold void, suspend, cancel, or amend the competition.
2. Competition entry
a. Entry is free of charge and no payments are required in order to participate.
b. To enter, participants must find one of the GWR train vouchers (“Winning Tickets”) hidden in independent bookshops, in train stations and on trains across the UK. To claim their prize, entrants must submit a photo of their Winning Ticket via Twitter or Instagram using the designated competition hashtag #ImmerseYourself and tagging the GWR Twitter or Instagram handle. Participants may also claim their prize by submitting a photo of their Winning Ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org. between 00:01 (GMT) 21 February 2017 and 23:59 (GMT) 14 March 2017. Entries submitted after this time will be automatically disqualified.
c. In order to be valid, entries must show a clear and legible image of the front of the Winning Ticket including the unique tracking code. Each Winning Ticket may only be used once to claim a prize. GWR will only accept the first valid entry of each Winning Ticket, entries using a Winning Ticket or unique tracking code which have already been entered into the competition will be automatically disqualified.
d. The competition is only open to those who are 18 years or over and who are residents of the UK. Proof of identity, residence status and age as well as a phone number and postal address will be required to claim the prize.
e. GWR’s employees and their immediate families, GWR’s agents and anyone professionally connected with the prize draw are not eligible to take part.
f. GWR has the discretion to dismiss any Winning Tickets that it suspects to be forged, that do not include a valid unique tracking code or that include a valid unique tracking code which has already been entered into the competition.
g. GWR reserves the right to check the validity of any entry. Entries failing to comply with these rules will not be accepted. GWR may request entrants to submit the original Winning Ticket as evidence of their eligibility to claim the prize.
h. No responsibility is accepted for entries that are lost, stolen, damaged or delayed for whatever reason, including without limitation due to technical, computer, network and/or user error. GWR will not accept proof of transmission as proof of a valid entry.
i. Entrants may only submit one entry and no entrant shall win more than one prize.
j. If any of the prizes are not claimed by the Closing Date no replacement winner(s) will be selected.
k. Entries failing to comply with these rules may be disqualified by GWR in their sole discretion.
3. The prize
a. Winning Tickets are not valid for rail travel and must be exchanged for a train ticket before travel.
b. There are two types of Winning Tickets; (i) “Standard” and (ii) “Golden Ticket”. The prize allocated to each type of Winning Ticket are as follows:
Winning Ticket Type
Number of prizes available
One Standard Class return train ticket valid for anytime use on GWR’s services anywhere across the Great Western Railway network. The ticket will remain valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
One Standard Class three-month train ticket valid between two stations of the winner’s choice on GWR services on the Great Western Railway network valid between 1st June 2017 – 31st August 2017.
c. It is the prize winner’s responsibility to ensure that the train tickets are used within the above timeframes.
d. The prize is subject to availability on train services and GWR’s terms and conditions of travel.
e. The prizes are as stated and, subject to paragraph (f) below, no cash or other alternatives will be offered.
f. If, due to circumstances beyond GWR’s control, GWR is unable to provide the stated prize, it reserves the right to award a substitute prize of equal or greater value.
g. Any extra costs incurred, including but not limited to taxes, travel to/from rail stations, overnight accommodation, insurance etc. are not included within the prize and are the sole responsibility of the prize winner.
h. The winners will be notified within 28 days from the end of the competition. The winners will be notified via Twitter, Instagram or email.
i. If you are a winner of the competition, you agree that GWR may use your name, entry, image and town or county of residence to announce the winner of this competition and for any other reasonable and related promotional purposes.
j. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner(s). If the winner(s) cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, GWR reserves the right to offer the prize to any other eligible entrant.
k. To request the name and county of the winners, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to First Greater Western Limited, Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon SN1 1HL within one month of the Closing Date.
4. Exclusion of liability
Insofar as is permitted by law, GWR, its agents or distributors will not in any circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate the winner or accept any liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or death occurring as a result of taking up the prize except where it is caused by the negligence of GWR, its agents or distributors or that of their employees. Your statutory rights are not affected.
a. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and all correspondence in connection with the competition shall be entered into with GWR.
c. These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by the laws of England and Wales, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
d. Savings correct as of February 2017. Average saving calculated by comparing Advance Single Standard Class ticket booked 12 weeks in advance to the equivalent price of a Standard Class Super Off-Peak ticket bought on the day of travel. Advance fares are subject to availability. Selected GWR routes only. View full terms and conditions.