We are planning a trip to London next fall and want to visit Stamford (Burghley House) and Lincoln. I've been doing research but there are so many train sites on the Internet and it appears that you can get some tickets with one train company and some with another but so far, I haven't been able to do a complete circle trip on any one site...so I'm totally confused!!! HELP!!!
Start with www.nationalrail.co.uk and work out your journey and all the trains you'll need. They'll then transfer you to the website of a rail company to buy your tickets. You can buy tickets for any UK train journey from any of the UK train operators, so it doesn't matter if there are two or more operators.
In fact you can even buy tickets from an entirely different train operator even if you're not using their trains - I always use the Virgin trains website because I set up an account and it saves my password for me.
But start with www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Don't use the Trainline as they add a pound or two admin fee.
What you are trying to do is a little bit complicated. I think you may find it a bit much to do Burghley House and Lincoln all in the one day. Let us deal with Stamford first:>
You leave from London (Kings Cross) KGX and will travel on the East Coast Mainline - most likely on a Virgin Train heading for Edinburgh or northern England. After about 1 hour, you get off at Peterborough (PBO) and have a little wait for the arrival of a Cross Country train heading west to Birmingham. This is the train that finally takes you to Stamford. Now, you could purchase on the day a return ticket for this trip (not going to Lincoln) and it will cost you about £43 - covering both the Virgin & Cross Country legs. On weekdays, you cannot leave Kings Cross before the 10.30 departure at this price. However, another way of doing this is as follows:>
About 10 weeks out, you go on www.nationalrail.uk and put in for the complete trip = KGX > Stamford (SMD) & note the times that are convenient. Now - click DETAILS and it will tell you the times of arrival/departure at Peterborough - note these as well - both outbound & inbound. Now put in for just the KGX > PBO leg & tick return. Up will come the fares for specific trains. I can see fares as low as £11.50 each way. So, if you were to pre-book these trains, you could get from London to Peterborough & back for £23. Then, all you would need to do is buy a PBO > SMD return - which you could do on the day for £8.20 (valid on any train). So, entire trip now costs £31.20 and hopefully you have found cheap early departures from KGX.
Now for Lincoln. If you wish to do this on the same day, you return to PBO and purchase an off-peak return to Lincoln = £23.50. East Midlands Trains have a service to Lincoln but it can also be reached in other ways. You may find that - especially on the return, you are told to go from Lincoln to some other place on the East Coast Mainline to pick up an express to London. The PBO > Lincoln return would be valid as far as Peterborough. However, if you have pre-booked the Peterborough to KGX leg on a specific train, you would have to make sure that that is indeed the train you are on between PBO & KGX. I think it is far too much to do Burghley House &
Lincoln all in the line day.
Also consider going to York for the day as it is far less complicated. 1 train each way with no changes and travelling at 125mph for most of the way.
When you pre-book - probably on Virgin Trains site, you give your debit card number and you will get a booking number. Be sure to bring the same debit card with you. www.virgintrains.co.uk
This is a bit of a circuitous route via Peterborough but all tickets can be booked on any one train operator's site.
I think www.virgintrainseastcoast.com is easy to use.
Echoing what James said - it may well be better value to pre-purchase an Advance ticket to Peterborough then buy an Off-peak or Anytime ticket to Stamford (either on the day or beforehand).
And you may decide that Burghley House and Lincoln are too much for one day.
The train route has already been described well above. You don't say that you are covering this trip in one day and I echo the previous posters in so much as this is a 2 not a 1 day trip. The town of Stamford itself is worth exploring (where Middlemarch was filmed) in addition to Burghley. If I had to choose between Stamford and Lincoln, I would opt for Stamford as other than the cathedral, Lincoln doesn't have as much to offer and it looks more like every other UK town.
Back in the day the 'East Coast' railway line was equally commonly referred to as the 'Cathedral Line' as you have Peterborough, Lincoln, York, Durham etc situated along it. Still an interesting time though all of these.
Excellent information, thanks so much. We aren't doing this in one day; we plan to stay one night in Stamford and then go on to Lincoln for two nights. I guess I should have made that more clear. :)
Pleased it was helpful. If you are purchasing tickets for Stamford to Lincoln, it might work out cheaper to buy split tickets with the split being at Peterborough. Note also, that 2 routes go between Peterborough & Lincoln. Check on www.nationalrail.co.uk - click DETAILS will tell you which way the trains are going, where to change and which company operates the trains.
James, I just did a quick dummy booking and its not going to be as much of a problem as I thought. I kept trying to do it as a circle rather than in segments, no wonder I was going crazy. The cost is also not as bad as I thought. I'll be sure to book as far out as possible to get the best fares. Thanks again!
We really enjoyed our time in Lincoln. We were also there 2 nights and arrived (and left) by train.
We stopped overnight in Stamford last May on our way between Paris and the Lake District. Train transfer ( one on the way) was very easy. I can look up where we stayed--*it was nice but not as close to the train station as we would have liked ( my bad in looking at maps). There was a country fair on that weekend so theBurghley House grounds were not entirely open. But we did enjoy the walks there and had a very nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. Again, I will have to look it up.
Looks to me like you should do this > Advance book (with Virgin Trains about 11 /10 weeks ahead):>
KGX > PBO one way. www.nationalrail.co.uk is the easiest way to find the cheapest - note time & then go to Virgin site.
Pay on day for a single from PBO > Stamford = £8.10 one way (The return ticket is about the same price but you must return on the same day - hence, you must purchase another single to get back from Stamford to Peterborough as you are staying over in Stamford).
Advance book with Virgin PBO > LCN - which you should be able to do for as low as £6.60. You will need to change at Newark North Gate. Don’t worry, even though you are booking with Virgin, your ticket is still valid on the other companies trains (East Midlands).
On www.nationalrail.co.uk > try and find a cheap fare back from Lincoln to Kings Cross. In mid Feb, I found that you could depart LCN at 10.16 (for Newark North Gate - change to Virgin) to arrive Kings Cross at 12.23 all for £17. If no cheap advance fare available on your day at a convenient time, put in for NNG > KGX to find the cheapest and then just pay on the day for a single from Lincoln to Newark North Gate = £5.20. Note that Newark has 2 stations and trains from Lincoln go to both. Try and get one that goes direct to Newark North Gate.