Welcome to Peter Caton books
Suffolk Coast Walk continues to sell steadily and can be found in most Suffolk bookshops – or buy post free from Swan Books through the link on my book page. With just a handful of copies left I’m having it reprinted and 1000 more copies will be with Matador very shortly. I’ve made a few minor corrections, so thanks to readers who’ve contacted me to point them out.
Remote Stations – Available Early August
There has been a slight delay in printing but Remote Stations, which describes my visits to 40 of Britain’s loneliest railway stations, will be available early August. Just £9.99 it includes more than 175 colour and black & white photos, both recent and historical.
Pre order now with free delivery from https://www.swanbooks.co.uk/product-page/remote-stations-peter-caton
Or use link on Remote Stations book page.
Remote Stations, my latest book, will be published in July. It is currently with Matador for proof reading, cover design and drawing of the maps covering the forty lonely railway stations I’ve visited across the UK.
Combining a love of remote places and of travelling on our more interesting trains, Peter Caton visits forty of Britain’s most lonely railway stations.
His travels take him to all four corners of the country; to the top of a snowy mountain, to moors, hills and marshes, and even a mile out to sea, as he rides on some of our most scenic railway lines. Along the way he unearths stories of some remarkable accidents, tales of human interest and railway history. He finds a station that closed before it officially existed, wonders why some survived, laments others that should never have been lost and on finding that one of his forty stations is proposed for closure joins to battle to try to save it.
Peter enjoys walks along deserted coast and countryside and discovers five stations that closed long ago. His choice covers a wide variety of stations including a few on resurrected narrow gauge railways. Some are well known, others obscure. He often writes that the train stopped ‘just for me’ and the station ‘serves nowhere at all’.
Illustrated with more than 180 colour and black & white photos, both recent and historical, Remote Stations is written with a railway theme but will also appeal to those who enjoy an easy reading travel book describing journeys to some of the most remote parts of Britain.
With the knowledge of a lifetime walking on Dartmoor, my father has just published a unique walking guide. The book guides walkers into the heart of the moor following paths and tracks, many of which are ancient and have their own interesting stories. It starts with an introduction to the moor and the many antiquities that can be found here, then each walk descibes not only the route but snippets of information on points of interest along the way. Having checked many of the walks I can thoroughly recommend them!
Using over sixty years of knowledge of Dartmoor, Michael Caton leads you on a series of 28 walks based on paths and trackways over the moor. Some of these walks are based on those led by the author for the Dartmoor Preservation Association. Many of the walks have not been described in previous guidebooks or are not shown on the OS 1:25,000 map. The walks are for those who wish to venture well into the open moor without having to negotiate the rough Dartmoor terrain. A section has been included on the origin and history of the tracks including special comment on the route of the well known Abbot’s Way. There is also a section describing briefly what to see on the walks, including prehistoric monuments, medieval and later remains such as mining and granite crosses, as well as flora and fauna. The walks have been arranged in order around the southern and then the northern moor. Each walk starts at a suitable parking place. The routes are described in detail with appropriate grid references and brief information on the scenery and features to be seen. The start of all the walks is shown on an overview map of Dartmoor. About half of the routes are circular whereas others are more suited to a linear course. The walk descriptions are accompanied by maps in which the route has been sketched out on the appropriate section of the 1:25,000 OS map. A separate section gives advice to walkers and explains how to use this guide. It also draws attention to safety issues of walking on Dartmoor, including the dangers of military firing and adverse weather conditions.
The book can be purchased from the publisher, Matador http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=4768 , other online outlets, or traditional bookshops.
Having been to the wilds of England. Scotland and Wales, a trip to Altnabreac on the Far North Line has completed my travels for Remote Stations.
In all I’ve visited 40 stations, most still with a train service, if not always very regular, and a few long closed. I’ve walked across moors, marshes, fens and enjoyed some of the most remote and wonderful scenery in Britain, sometimes on foot and often through the train window.
Both stations and trains have been of varied types and size and as I’ve researched each station many interesting tales have been unearthed.
Remote Stations will be published by Matador in summer 2018.
Altnabreac – Possibly our most remote station
When I wrote Stand Up Sit Down, examining the history and arguments for and against permitting standing at football matches, it was clear that overwhelming evidence backed supporters being allowed the choice to either sit or stand as they watch their teams. It was also clear, that whilst their arguments were weak, there was a reluctance in the various authorities to change the status quo.
Hillsborough was often quoted, but review and inquests have now found as I concluded, that the disaster was not caused by fans or by terraces, but by a failure to plan and manage the crowd. One by one the other arguments have been won, to a point that the media now struggle to find anyone to put the case against standing.
The term ‘safe standing’ is now commonly used but it’s easy to forget that there are still 19 clubs in the Championship, League One & League Two where each week fans stand safely on traditional terraces. Some like Burton & Morecambe (below) are modern terraces in new grounds, others such as Carlisle and Exeter are older stands but with modifications made to meet current safety standards. All are safe but whilst the ideal for many fans, they are not the answer everywhere.
UEFA regulations require all seated stadia for European matches (although of course thousands still stand in front of their seats), so those clubs with realistic ambitions to play in Europe need another solution. Convertible ‘rail seats’, with a seat that can be locked down for ‘all seater’ matches and up for other games, are commonly used in Germany. They meet UEFA regulations and with each row having a rail in front it’s hard to make any reasonable argument that they are not safe. Indeed they are safer than the widespread standing in front of seats that we see at every Premier League match. If we are to see a reintroduction of standing areas in the top leagues it will be with rail seating.
Celtic have lead the way. The Football Spectators Act does not apply in Scotland and last year 3,000 rail seats were installed at Parkhead. They’ve been a huge success – much sought after by fans of all ages, producing a tremendous atmosphere and with no safety related incidents. The Local Authority and Stadium Safety Officer are very happy with them.
The next stage is a trial in England or Wales but options are limited as current regulations forbid clubs who since the 1990s have played for more than three years in the top two divisions, from having any standing areas.
On a very wet day in February 2014 I attended the unveiling of a small block of rail seats at Bristol City, but regulations permitted their use only for rugby matches. Rugby fans can stand but the football fans have to sit.
We have now reached the next important stage. Shrewsbury Town don’t fall under the all seater ruling and have agreed to take out an area of seats and convert them to safe standing. The benefits however will go far beyond Shrewsbury fans. A successful trial at the New Meadow could open the way to standing areas being introduced around the country.
We know many clubs who want to install standing but first the government has to relax the all seater regulations. If enough money can be raised for a successful trial at Shrewsbury it will be a big step towards persuading the government. Fans across the country are contributing to raise £75,000 by crowdfunding. https://www.tifosy.com/en/campaigns/support-the-campaign-to-install-england-s-first-safe-standing-area.
The mood is changing in favour of the choice to stand and all contributions will help achieve the first trial in England and move the campaign forward. Please consider making a donation – it might be your club who is next to offer the choice to stand.
I have almost finished my travels for my next book – Remote Stations. There are just two more trips to complete forty remote stations around England, Wales and Scotland, but by the time the book is published next year one of these may have gone. Network Rail have applied to close Breich on the ‘Shotts Line’ from Glasgow to Edinburgh. If they succeed this will be the first station to close in Scotland since Balloch Pier in 1986. More worryingly, if they succeed in closing Breich will Network Rail seek to shut more of our lesser used stations around the country?
At first sight it seems hard to argue that the £1.3 million Network Rail say it would cost to retain justifies the 150 or so passengers a year, however on closer investigation there is more to it. Their case for closure is that the cost of work on the station and replacement of the footbridge which are required due to electrification, is not justified by the small number of passengers using the station. It’s not surprising that few passengers use Breich – only one train in each direction stops here.
Network Rail have not considered the potential for increased usage if more trains stopped, if parking facilities were provided and if proposed housing developments nearby go ahead. Nor do they appear to have considered building a path from the east-bound platform to the A706, so negating the need for a footbridge. Closure of Breich station was not included in the electrification plan for which the budget would have included funds for the required work. The proposed closure is an opportunistic attempt at cost saving and has not considered all options, so permission should not be granted. Railways should be to provide a service, not for profit.
With the support of Geoff Marshall from ‘All the Stations’ I’ve started a petition to save Breich station. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-breich-station
I’ve also submitted a full ’objection’ to the consultation process. For anyone who may wish to consider doing the same details are here. > https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/scotland/
In 2017 we should not be shutting railway stations – Save Breich!!!!!!
Most of us wouldn’t just drop something on the ground – littering is anti-social and an offence. But how many people let go of a balloon, watch it float away into the sky and not give a second thought as to where it will end up.
It might be on land or it might be in the sea, but either way it will be a hazard to wildlife. It could be eaten and block a creature’s digestive system, causing it to starve. The ribbon might get wrapped around a bird’s neck, trapping or strangling it; a slow and sad death. Turtles are particularly at risk as they mistake them for jelly fish and swallow them, but even whales have been found dead after ingesting balloons.
Someone enjoyed a MacDonald’s Happy Meal. Their balloon ended up by the sea at Lee-over-Sands near Clacton. It wouldn’t have been such a happy meal for any creature that ate it.
This party balloon landed by the River Thames. Had I not taken it home it might have been blown into the water and carried out to sea. A turtle could have thought it was a tasty jelly fish. It could have been the turtle’s final meal.
This one was on the sea wall between Peter-on-the-Wall and Burnham-on-Crouch, possibly the most remote stretch of coastline in England – there are no houses for 14 miles of coast but falling balloons litter our most pristine places.
Some balloons are described as biodegradable latex. Biodegradable is a vague term. Yes natural rubber will break down but it may take many years. Don’t fall for the marketing that suggests these are safe.
I’m all for supporting England but not with a balloon that lands on a nature reserve – here at RSPB Rainham Marshes.
But please don’t use Chinese lanterns instead – not only are they litter – they are fire too. Fires have been started animals burned by falling lanterns.