Stuart Boyd started his epic rail adventure in 2018 – four years (and one pandemic) 後で, he’s finally completed it. He tells Helen Coffey what he learned from visiting every station in England, スコットランドとウェールズ
私f you expected the man who’s just completed an epic four-year challenge to visit every railway station in Great Britain to be some kind of train nut, you’d be mistaken.
“I’d describe myself as a travel enthusiast rather than a train enthusiast – I’ll use any transport to get somewhere nice and somewhere new,」と彼は言います 独立者.
The man in question is 36-year-old Stuart Boyd from Ulverston in Cumbria, but followers of his mission might better know him as Every Last Station – or @every_station, his social media handle. Since first having the idea for the project in 2017, Stuart’s Twitter following has grown from nothing to more than 7,000, capturing the imaginations of fellow rail travellers across the UK.
“I started with Twitter as somewhere to log my travels and store my pictures,」と彼は言います. “I wasn’t aware it was growing until it got to 700 または 800 people – and then it built by around 100 followers every trip.”
The reaction from people when they hear about his journeys is uniformly wistful – “I wish I could do that” being the most popular response.
But how did he end up doing it?
“I was watching a YouTube series called All the Stations – I quite enjoyed it but was disappointed that they didn’t visit every station. It went from there, with me wondering how difficult it would be to do it properly and visit every single station. That’s what kickstarted it all.”
For many of us, the thought would likely end there – as an idle musing, before all the busyness of life shunted it to one side again. だが, for Stuart, it provided the perfect template for his future trips.
“I always liked travelling, but the biggest headache was figuring out どこ to travel to – and this meant I already knew,」と彼は言います.
He got going properly in mid-2018 and didn’t take it too seriously to begin with, simply using his days off to get exploring by train locally. But he did always have one golden rule, right from the off: he had to board or alight at every station, rather than simply hopping off and on again. Every train service has its own unique code, so when Stuart planned his journeys, he made sure every train used had a different number. “Because the whole point was to explore new places – just jumping on and off wouldn’t allow for that,」と彼は言います.
It distinguished the project from a soulless tick-box exercise and made it about the experience, about really getting to know destinations all across Britain he’d never visited before. Down south, 例えば.
“South of London was a bit of an eye opener,” says Stuart. “Sussex and Kent… As a Northerner, my vision of ‘down south’ was London then Brighton. To find countryside and lots of rural lines was really memorable – there were all these places I never knew existed. Doleham, near Hastings, 例えば: I never knew it was there, this little rural country station with a tiny platform that you walk out from to see rolling countryside.”
There were many highlights among his hundreds of journeys: the Great Western Railway from London to Cornwall, the Heart of Wales line, the Cumbria line, the Looe Valley Line in Cornwall. On the latter, 彼は言います, “every station had a uniqueness and beauty about it. It was absolutely stunning with all these little stations.”
Stuart’s travels have taught him that he prefers a rural stop over a big city station; だが, despite tough competition, he’s managed to pick his top station per country. “In Wales it’s Llanaber, on the coast – the platform is right next to the beach. イギリスの, Nethertown: there are fields and cliffs behind it, then the platform, and the track’s next to the sea. In Scotland I’d pick Duncraig – it’s on the edge of a loch.”
Given that his favourites all feature water, it’s somewhat ironic that the trip that almost broke him was surrounded by the stuff. When asked if he ever came close to quitting the project, Stuart cites an excursion to the Isle of Wight: “I’d booked a two-day trip there – which had already been rearranged once because of Covid. I did half of the island’s stations before all the trains broke down and got cancelled. It was a proper killer, that trip – the one that made me think, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore!’ It’s a long way to travel to from Cumbria.”
But somehow he found the discipline to carry on, returning three months later to visit the stations he’d missed. “It actually completed England in the end – Shanklin was the final stop, a nice resort on the island, so it turned out to be a good ending for England,」と彼は言います.
It wasn’t the only time he considered throwing in the towel, when what was meant to be a fun travel project started to feel like work. Bad weather or cancelled trains or illness would take the shine off the whole thing, and make Stuart wonder why he’d ever started. “But then you’d have a really good trip and feel wonderful at the end,」と彼は言います. “There were definitely more good experiences than bad.”
The pandemic obviously presented its own challenges, with domestic lockdowns bringing journeys to a clunking halt for months at a time. Stuart finished a year later than planned as a result – in May 2022 rather than May 2021. But he maintained an impressively philosophical outlook: “I saw it as a challenge within the challenge.”
This determination saw Stuart complete his mission on 30 五月, in a last journey through Scotland finishing at the village of Garve in the Highlands, just northwest of Inverness.
“It was quite emotional,」と彼は言います. “That last trip was also a big headache because Scotrail introduced an emergency timetable the week before I left. I’d done all my planning, so there was a lot of stress in rebooking all my hotels at different locations. だが, once that was done, it was good. It just added to the emotion at the end, to get over that final hurdle. Friends and family came and joined me at the final station – there was this immense feeling of relief, but I was also very happy that I’d finished it.”
そうすることで, Stuart joined a rather elite club – he only knows of one other person who’s visited every station using similar rules to those he adopted. A couple of others have done it by just calling at each station, hopping off and on – still impressive, but not quite the same.
But the challenge doesn’t end there if he wants to keep his perfect record: “Whenever a new station opens, I’ll have to go,” says Stuart. 例えば, London’s Heathrow Airport T4 station was closed during the pandemic. As soon as it reopened, Stuart was there like a shot. “That’s the plan going forward,」と彼は言います, “whenever a new station opens, I’ll be there opening day.”
Future projects include visiting every station in Northern Ireland to complete the UK, plus a sponsored challenge on 30 June in Manchester, for which he’ll visit all 99 Metrolink stops in one day to raise money for the Samaritans.
It’s a charity that’s close to his heart; during his project, he became acutely aware of the high number of passenger fatalities that happen every day on Britain’s railways. “There was one incident at Exeter where someone I’d spoken to at the station stepped in front of a train later that same day,」と彼は言います. “It turned out I was one of the last people to speak to him.”
In trying to process his own trauma, Stuart rang the Samaritans himself – he now wants to repay them for the help and support that was offered. It’s been a bumpy ride, but Stuart would still recommend getting out and about by train to anyone.
“I’d really encourage people – on the way home, break the journey up, visit somewhere new.
“Get a map of the UK, point to an area you’ve never been to, and go and visit – because until you go, you don’t know what’s there.”