There are no National Rail stations on or close to the Somerset section of the South West Coast Path. However the main station for access to this part of the coast is Taunton. Taunton is served by trains operated by First Great Western and Cross Country Trains. The station is on the line between Bristol and Exeter and has frequent trains from London Paddington (via Reading) and Birmingham (via Bristol), as well as frequent services from Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance. There are also direct services from the north and Scotland to Taunton as well as local services to towns such as Weston-super-Mare and Bridgwater. From Taunton there is a frequent bus service to Minhead (see below).
The private West Somerset Railway is a heritage railway operating preserved steam and diesel trains from Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) to Minehead via Williton and Watchet and is the longest preserved railway line in the country. Trains run daily from the 1st May through to the end of September as well as most days during April and October and selected days during the rest of the year. Frequency varies between 4 and 8 trains daily.
The following table lists the rail stations and routes that are useful for accessing the Somerset coast. Places on (or near) the coast path are marked in bold. For the timetables, see the links below.
|Station||Coast Path Access||Walk(s)||Line||Operator(s)|
|Minehead||Around half a mile to the east of the start of the South West Coast Path in Minehead||Minehead to Porlock||West Somerset Railway||West Somerset Railway|
Two companies provide National Rail services in Somerset whilst there is also the private line to Minehead.
Pre-Printed timetable booklets are available from most staffed stations in and around Taunton. Most larger stations are staffed. In addition some of the rail operators have provided timetables for downloading on their web sites. See the links below
On-Line Timetables and Ticket Sales
There are several web sites which allow you to search for rail information, some also provide information on fares. If you are booking train tickets in advance, it is advised to book your ticket on the website of the relevant train operator as this will typically offer you the lowest fares, on-line booking of tickets and free delivery. The sites below provide timetable information and some information on fares accross the rail network. Some also sell tickets, but you typically have to pay an additional booking fee where this facility is available.
The National Rail site has lots of information on the rail network, including a journey planner that gives the train times and fares, real time travel information and real time departure information for many stations. For the timetable, follow the link Planning Your Journey near the top left.
The TrainLine.com provides timetable, train fare information and it allows you to book a ticket in advance (which can be picked up at some stations or delivered to your house). It does require you to register first though and does charge a fee.
Duetsche Bahn (the German rail operator) provides (in English) an on-line timetable for all UK rail services. It also offers a list of calling points for all the trains (rather than just where you need to change), a map of the route taken and will produce a personalised PDF (Adobe Acrobat file) of the timetable between any two stations.
Rail Services in the UK sometimes have delays and disruption, so it is useful to check for potential problems before setting out. National Rail Enquiries is a telephone line (open 24-hours a day) which can provide timetable and current train running information. The number is 08457 48 49 50. Calls are charged at the local rate.
There is also a SMS text service to check current train running. To use this service, text the name of the station you wish to travel from to 84950 and you will recieve a message back in response listing the times of the next few departures from that station and whether the trains are delayed. You will be charged for using this service in addition to any charge your mobile provider may levy for sending text messages.
There is also on-line train running information available updated frequently. The main site lists problems and disruption (current and cleared), for the whole UK. In addition current live arrival and departure information is available for most stations in the UK. For South Dorset, the relevant stations are listed below.
If you're travelling regularly by train, it might be worth investing in a Railcard, which offers discounts on most rail services. The following lists details of all the railcards that are available, their cost and validity. For further details and to apply, see the Railcards website.
Bus services operate between many points on the South West coast path and also connect with major towns and cities and the National Rail network. The Somerset section has bus services operating to all coastal towns although west of Minehead services are not very frequent.
The following table shows the bus routes that pass points on the coast path and the walks they are useful for. Points on (or near) the coast path are marked in bold.
Tickets purchased from one bus company are not normally valid on buses run by different companies.
Bus timetable information is available from the Traveline South West site, operators concerned, or from Traveline telephone information on 0870 608 2 608.
Rover Tickets provide a way to travel on bus and train services for several days at a time, without having to purchase seperate tickets. If your in the area for a few days it is worth looking into.
Bus Only Rover Tickets
Most bus companies offer explorer tickets, however within Somerset these tickets are generally only available on buses operated by the same company. These tickets provide best value when you need to change buses.
Rail Only Rover Tickets
Due to the limited rail services to the Somerset section of the coastal path (and neighbouring North Devon) a Rail Rover is unlikely to represent good value, however the following tickets are available.
Freedom of the South West Rover
The Freedom of the South West rail rover provides unlimited use of all National Rail services in Cornwall and Devon (if you travel after 9:00 Monday - Friday), and onto many parts of Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. It is available for use on any 3 days in a 7 day period for £70 or any 8 out of 15 days for £95.
Severn, Avon and Wessex Rover
The Severn, Avon and Wessex rail rover provides unlimied use of rail services after 9:00 in the area around the Severn, Avon and Wessex. It is valid on the Heart of Wessex Line from Bristol to Weymouth, the line between Salisbury and Axminster and between Southampton and Weymouth. It costs £40 for any 3 in 7 days and £60 for any 8 in 15 days.
There are no maps of public transport in Somerset available online to my knowledge.