Roots on the Rails Roots on the Rails

Upcoming Trips: 2022 Scouting Wales and Scotland



What is a scouting trip? Well, a scouting trip is a new type of ROTR adventure – one in which you get to be part of the initial foray along a route that we’re considering for a larger group trip at a later date. These trips will be limited to 10-12 people, and will not normally feature guest musicians, except where we stumble into them accidentally en route. The goal is to determine the logistical and experiential structure for a future “full” ROTR trip which would include our signature daily guest artist involvement.

For our scouting trips, we will have done a lot of the initial research, carefully plotted the route, arranged accommodations and ground transport, but the fun part happens when we discover together the hidden gems along the way. The “adventure” part of a scouting trip may be that the highly-reviewed hotel referenced in all the guidebooks turns out to be the creepy hoarder’s lair of a Victorian antiques enthusiast, or the train ride that boasts of spectacular mountain vistas actually consists of three hours of blurry views of impenetrable birch forest six feet from the track. We are equally likely to find the motel that has its own drive in movie theater, or the tiny little brewpub in the middle of the woods with lobster traps as tables.

Being a participant in one of our scouting trips may appeal to those who don’t particularly enjoy traveling in large groups. A scouting trip will inevitably have some rough edges – after all, your trip hosts will be seeing and experiencing many of these places for the first time as well. You’ll get to see the “sausage-making” process of a ROTR trip – how we decide what trains are worth riding, what hotels have the right vibe, which pubs stay open late for post-concert libations. We’ll be taking lots of notes, evaluating all the possibilities, and at the end you can claim partial credit for how the subsequent full ROTR trip turns out.

For 2022 we have planned two trips (which can easily be combined into one): one to Wales and one to Scotland.  Our  itineraries  are still somewhat malleable, as much of the UK transportation and tourism infrastructure is still in Covid recovery mode, but we will keep you updated with any major changes as things progress.

For the foreseeable future, participation in any of our trips will require proof of full Covid- 19 vaccination – that means providing us with documentation that you have received the full schedule of vaccines and boosters that meet the standards for travel in both your country of origin, and the country you’ll be visiting. We will require all of our guests to comply with any local masking, social distancing, testing, and other safety protocols required by any hotels, transportation, restaurants, and venues that we work with, and where trip organizers deem it necessary to protect the health of all participants. Whenever possible we will give you ample advance notice so that we are all fully prepared, but we also ask that everyone maintain flexibility and concern for the welfare of the group whenever we may need to make adjustments while en route. Such is the world we live in now, and we’re all getting pretty good at mid-course correction!

And what happens if global conditions change or a trip begins to look unwise or unsafe? Well, we’ll do what we’ve been doing for the last 2 years – we pivot. If safety becomes a concern with any of our trips, we will change what we have the power to change, and if that’s not possible, we’ll look to re-schedule or offer refunds. Please see our updated cancellation/refund policy  under the "Fine Print" section further down this page.


MAY 2022 with traveling companion JON LANGFORD

DAY 1: London arrival. (For those who might want a day or two to deal with jet lag and do some independent exploring, we can arrange pre-trip hotel nights at our group rate.) We gather for a brief orientation and check-in before heading out to explore dinner options and our local surroundings.

DAY 2: London – Newport, Wales: We board the train at London’s historic Paddington Station, just around the corner from our hotel,  and head west, passing through the beautiful North Wessex Downs, then across the Severn Estuary and into the ancestral lands of our good friend Jon Langford (who will be traveling with us and showing us the ropes): Wales!
 We’ll disembark in Newport – historic site of Wales’ coal exporting – and check into our downtown hotel before heading out for a quick explore. Newport is a city that has re-imagined itself from its days as the center of Wales’ coal exporting industry, and is developing a great downtown scene of independent shops, music venues, pubs – including Le Pub, a community arts and music collective in which Mr. Langford has a stake, so we’ll have a festive evening there. Other possible activities: a ride across the River Usk on the Transporter Bridge (only one of six still in operation worldwide), a visit to the first of many Welsh castles, and a stroll along the Newport Public Art Trail.

DAY 3: Newport – St. Davids: This morning starts with  a look into the mining heritage of Wales and  a visit to the Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum in Pontypool. Then we'll head across the  Brecon Beacons National Park and end up on the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast for a late lunch and wander around the charming seaside town of Tenby, where we’ll have a chance to clamber about the ruins of Tenby Castle. We then head off along the  southern end of the Pembrokeshire National Park, a spectacular landscape of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and wild hills, and home to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail, a walking trail traversing 186 miles of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Britain. We end the day in St. David's -- in a lovely hotel/pub in the shadow of the magnificent 12th century St Davids Cathedral. 

DAY 4: Tenby – Porthmadog: Early risers can do a bit of hiking along the famed coastal path  before we head out for a  beautiful days drive up the Pembrokeshire Coast and into Snowdonia National Park, poking our heads into whatever little fishing villages and scenic overlooks catch our fancy. We'll make a mid-day stop in Aberystwyth to ride the ridiculously charming Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge train. We then head  northward to Porthmadog for the night. 

DAY 5: The Blaenau- Fffestiniog  Railway and Snowdonia: We board  the train just down the street from our hotel and ride what is widely hailed as one of the Uk’s most stunning rail journeys. If the ride is spectacular, we may take it round trip, or we may hop off in Blaenau-Ffestiniog and have our mini bus take us through more of Snowdonia, through the utterly charming Betws-y-Coed before winding our way back to Porthmadog for another night. Time permitting we may squeeze in an afternoon tea at Jon Langford's cousin's stunning B&B on the banks of the Afon Dwyryd River, a quick explore of the oddly Italianate town of Portmeiron, then back to Porthmadog for the night. 

DAY 6: Explore Caernarfon, Conwy and Llandudno : Today we head out on the Welsh Highland Railroad line and travel to Caernarfon, where we’ll visit the glorious Caernarfon Castle  then we’ll head to another fabulous castle in Conwy before ending the day in the seaside resort town of Llandudno for the night. 

DAY 7: Llandudno to Glasgow: Today we get to experience the glory  of a national passenger rail system that operates with efficiency and speed! We head across the border to the English town of Crewe where we’ll board the train for a magnificent ride northward, skirting the edges of both the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the Lake District National Park, then we’ll cross the River Esk into Scotland! Our final destination is our comfy hotel and a few well-deserved pints in the heart of Glasgow.

DAY 8: The trip officially ends. Flights back to the US can be booked from either Glasgow or Edinburgh, which is a short hour and a half train ride from Glasgow. Those continuing on to the Scotland Scouting trip will have a moment to catch their breath, explore this fascinating city on their own, before meeting up with their next round of fellow travelers in Edinburgh.


MAY 2022

DAY 1: Arrival in Edinburgh: We arrive in Edinburgh and check into our downtown hotel. Depending on everyone’s arrival plans, we’ll head out to take in some of the city’s legendary museums and historical sites before heading out for dinner and a wee bit of pub crawling.

DAY 2: Edinburgh to the Cairngorms: We'll take the morning train up to the charming town of Pitlochry for a lunch stopAfter a morning in Perth. we’ll hop on the train for a short ride to the utterly charming town of Pitlochry for a lunch stop – perhaps at the café at the Pitlochry Dam, which is reported to have the best views over the river Tummel and Loch Faskally. Shockingly, there is a distillery in town we may need to visit as well! Our minibus picks us up and takes us to Kinclaven where we spend the night at a lovely country house hotel, on the banks of the River Tay, with "The Best Pub In Scotland 2019" just down the road.

DAY 3: Kinclaven to Inverness to Beauly: A morning drive through the Cairngorms National Park gets us to Inverness in the early afternoon, where we'll have time to tour the castle, wave at any monsters we see in the lake, before making our way to our stop for the night in Beauly -- within sight of the stunning ruins of the Beauly Priory. A whisky-themed tasting dinner may be in the works for this evening.

DAY 4: Beauly to Kyle to Greshornish: We hop the early morning train for an incredibly scenic ride through the Highlands, past one of the most distinctive mountain ranges in Scotland, the Torridon Peaks, looming out of the north. We’ll disembark for a brief stop in Kyle, and time permitting we’ll backtrack a few miles for a visit to the Eilean Donan Castle  before continuing on to Skye  and a drive up the Trotternish Peninsula to the northernmost tip of the island, past the massive pinnacle formation of the Old Man of Storr for a stop at the Skye Museum of Island Life. Our home base for the next two nights is a a remote small hotel in Greshornish, overlooking Loch Snizort (I am not making that up!).

DAY 5: Isle of Skye:
Time to explore! Skye, while not a large island, is jam-packed with history and magnificent scenery, so we’re going to see as much of it as we possibly can. We launch our day of adventure with a ,visit to  Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, and then perhaps a late fireside lunch at the Old Inn in Carbost, and a tasting at the nearby Talisker Distillery (it’s right there, so how could we not?), before heading back for another night in Greshornish.

DAY 6: Greshornish to Mallaig: This morning we pack up and head south, and time permitting a stop at the Armadale Castle and Gardens before hopping the ferry for the short 45 minute ride across Loch Horn to Mallaig. Here we board the legendary Jacobite Steam Train for what has been called the greatest railway journey in the world (we’ll let them know if we think this is true) this forty-mile trip from Loch Nevis to Ben Nevis, takes us past the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, all behind a magnificicent steam locomotive, 'Black 5' No 45407, 'The Lancashire Fusilier'. We cross the twenty-one-arched Glenfinnan viaduct (a location made famous in the Harry Potter films) which overlooks Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument before arriving  in Fort William, at the foot of Ben Nevis, Our minibus picks us up  for the final push to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, where we’ll collapse into our comfy hotel beds.

DAY 7: Explore Glasgow: With a full day to explore this magnificent city, who knows what we'll get up to! From our hotel in George Square we'll have easy access to  museums, galleries, and attractions, so we may need to fan out in order to see and do everything. We'll gather this evening to re-cap our adventures, collect our final thoughts on the entire trip, and get a sense of what we'd recommend (and not!) to others.

DAY 8: Sadly, this is the end of our journey together, although should you wish to extend your stay in Glasgow, we’ll be happy to get you our group rate at our host hotel. For those wishing to fly home out of Edinburgh, it’s a short one hour train ride between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and we can help you make those arrangements.



Two Trip Discount: We've got a special discount for those who want to do both trips, and as always we are happy to take a deposit, then set up an interest free monthly credit card payment schedule for you. Both trips combined: $6750 per person (a savings of $250.00 - more if you pay in full at time of sign-up). Includes 14 nights hotel accommodation (single occupancy for solo travelers), rail and motor coach ground transportation, admission to all scheduled attractions. Please note that the hotel on 7/10 is not included in the two-trip pricing, however we are happy to arrange that night at our group rate at either our Glasgow or Edinburgh hotel -- depending on where you'd like to spend your time.

Wales: Includes 7 nights hotel accommodation (single occupancy for solo travelers), rail and motor coach ground transportation, admission to all scheduled attractions. $3500.00 per person.

Scotland: Includes 7 nights hotel accommodation (single occupancy for solo travelers) rail and motor coach ground transportation, admission to all scheduled attractions. $3500 per person.


We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your trip. By purchasing through this link to Squaremouth (an aggregator where various insurance company policies can be compared at no additional cost to you), we receive a small commission (about five percent). This helps us keep our trips as affordable as possible. On virtually every trip we have someone who needs to cancel at the last minute due to injury or illness, family emergency, or any number of unexpected circumstances. Those who had purchased the trip insurance were disappointed to be missing the trip, but very relieved that they were not losing all the funds they had paid us, the airlines, hotels, and others. Those who did not purchase the trip insurance were really, really sad to lose a train trip and a bunch of money too. We'd hate to see you be one of those people, which is why we stress the importance of trip insurance. Really, truly, we think it is worth it.

Our customers are extremely important to us, and when travel disruptions occur, we are committed to working with you to minimize the financial impact. In the event that you need to cancel a trip for whatever reason, we will work with you to try and find a buyer for the space you are needing to give up. Often this works out well for all: the person needing to cancel recovers most, if not all, of their investment, and a person who might have been on a waiting list gets to go on the trip - however, there are no guarantees.

We understand that the new realities of travel are such that we need to be more flexible than ever before. We are also an extremely small business with many fixed costs that can't always be recovered if a trip needs to be postponed or cancelled due to health and safety concerns. Given that the world continues to be filled with unknowns, we are proceeding ahead with guarded confidence that we can deliver the products promised (with some reasonable degree of change when necessary) and will be completely transparent if a scheduled trip looks like it needs to be adjusted in any way that might impact your enjoyment of the experience. Please read through our cancellation policy carefully and feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

Pandemic-specific cancellation policy: In the event that Covid-19 or other concerns cause Roots on the Rails to postpone or cancel a trip, guests will have 30 days to inform us of their choice of one of these three options:
a) Holding their reservation at the price they paid and therefore gaining priority access to claiming a spot on the re-scheduled trip within 30 days of our announcement of the new trip dates.
b) Transferring any payments to another trip, pending availability.
c) If the re-scheduled trip is not viable for a guest, and they wish to request a refund, such requests must be made within 30 days of the announcement of re-scheduled trip dates.

General (non-pandemic-related) cancellation policy: Deposits, whether paid separately or as part of a full payment up front, are non-refundable, though they can be applied to a future trip with us. Outside of deposit and credit card fees, full refund will be given up until 90 days prior to start of trip. 50% refund 60-90 days. No refund less than 60 days prior to start of trip. Reservations are fully transferable to another person.

The payment of a deposit or any part or full payment for a reservation shall constitute consent to all the provisions contained herein. Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be held responsible for property loss or damage and/or any damages resulting from illness, personal injuries or death which may be sustained by reason of, or while engaged on, any trip or tour whether due to the ownership, maintenance, use, operation or control of any vehicle, hotel, common carrier or any other conveyance used in carrying out these tours. We can assume no liability due to any cause whatsoever whether caused by failure or delay or other irregularity, acts or omissions occurring during a tour under which the means of transportation or other service thereby is offered or supplied by owners, operators or public carriers for whom Flying Under Radar, LLC acts only as agent. Flying Under Radar, LLC reserves the right (at its discretion) to alter or omit any part of the itinerary, or change any reservation, feature and/or means of conveyance without notice or for any reason whatsoever and without allowance or refund and with extra costs, if any, resulting therefrom paid by the passengers. Although all artists are contracted to appear, lineup is potentially subject to change due to illness or force majeure. We reserve the right to cancel any tour prior to departure, in which case payment will be refunded without further obligation on our part. Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be responsible for any injury to person (whether or not resulting in death) or damage to property.

Flying Under Radar, LLC strongly urges individual passengers to obtain appropriate insurance coverage. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely. The transportation companies concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time passengers are not aboard their carriers or conveyances. The passenger contract in use by the carriers concerned (when issued) shall constitute the sole contract between the transportation companies and the purchaser of these tours and/or passage. By accepting the ticket the passenger also agrees to its terms and conditions. By forwarding of deposit, the passenger certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other passengers. Flying Under Radar, LLC reserves the right to cancel or withdraw any person as a member of the tour at any time. Flying Under Radar, LLC and Roots on the Rails management reserve the right to refuse service to anyone whom it considers incompatible with the best interests of its services or its guests.