Thursday 29 September 2011

Jean's Jolly Journey

Travel on the Cheap? : this is Jean ...
... a good friend of Mrs fbb's since Junior School days (Sshhh! Don't tell anyone but that's about 55 years!). Jean and her husband David own a hill farm with sheep and about 300 highland cattle near Carsphairn ...
... which hasn't changed much, over the years! It is sort of halfway between Dumfries and Ayr. The farm is even more remote than the village!
So Jean decides to spend a few days with Mrs fbb. And she is quite good on the confuser. Some journey!!!
Being a good, canny Scot, Jean is up for a good deal; so here goes with all quoted fares being returns:-

Phase 1 : from the farm to Dalmellington in a neighbour's car.
Fare : a box of half a dozen eggs

Phase 2 : by Stagecoach service 52 to Ayr
Fare : FREE, senior citizen. 
For the purists this is on the Bellsbank Estate; Jean boarded in the town centre.

Phase 3 : by Stagecoach service X77 to Glasgow
Fare : FREE, senior citizen. 
Nice motor. 
The coach arrives at the well-appointed Buchanan bus station.
Phase 4 : by First shuttle direct to Glasgow Airport.
Fare : FREE, senior citizen. 
Phase 5 : by plane to Southampton International Airport.
Fare : FREE with accumulated vouchers from a Flybe credit card.
Taxes etc. : £73.98 (that's the price of  "free" air travel!)
A quick hop and a skip to the adjacent Parkway Station.
Phase 6 : from airport by train to Southampton Central.
Fare : £32.20 (there's not much call for a Senior Railcard at Carsphairn)
Fare includes the ferry.
Phase 7 : Bus from station to ferry terminal
Fare : FREE (that's free for everyone.)
Phase 8 : FastJet from Southampton to Cowes 
Fare : included with train (see above)

Then a short stroll through West Cowes, followed by

Phase 9 : Floating Bridge to East Cowes 
Fare - FREE (that's free for all foot passengers.)
Phase 10 : Lift from the fbb's to their home
Fare : FREE to Jean!

Journey time (with plenty of "slack" to cover possibly untoward happenings), just over 8 hours.

fbb's involvement was to provide detailed instructions for the legs from Southampton Airport onwards and (shame and embarrassment) with a journey via a non-existent ferry for the return. Take a detention; write 100 lines, stand in the corner for a week! Lest our readers should be concerned, there was plenty of "slack" in the return schedule as well, so no harm done.

Oh, yes, and the return X77 broke down (briefly)!

What about the train as an alternative?

Estimated best journey time just over 11 hours via London.
Allowing similar "slack" to the "plane" option. 
Best price on offer : well over £150 but impossible to calculate.
Rail fares are such a minefield. 

Question : Are the train companies missing something, here?

P.S. Herewith : sheep, highland cattle and Jean's husband David, with bucket.

Next blog : Friday September 30th  


  1. Are the fares quoted singles or returns? The Southampton to Cowes fare seems a little high, although I am aware that the ferries to the Isle of Wight are reputedly the most expensive in the world!

    I suppose you could have called the post 'From cows to Cowes'!

  2. RC169, what a good idea for a title : wish I'd thought of it! The blog actually says they are returns (look below the map!) Pay attention or it will be lines next time!
    Jean does not hold an old fogeys rail card, so the train plus ferry is full "period" return of which the ferry is about £18.
    IoW ferries receive no subsidy unlike CalMac in Scotland, so if that is taken into account our fares are often much cheaper!

  3. Oops - sorry! I'll have to read more carefully in future!

    The fares do seem more reasonable for returns - and I would guess the fast ferry is still a little more expensive than the conventional car ferry - it certainly used to be, when I lived in Southampton.