Slow Travel EuropeMaking conscious choices

Plymouth to Portsmouth by Boat

Devotees of unusual ferry routes will find a few gems tucked away in Brittany Ferries’ winter schedules. From next week until the end of March 2012, there will be a seasonal Plymouth to St Malo service.

The route is not normally part of the company’s offering, but the vessels Bretagne and Armorique will offer occasional sailings on this unusual run. The service kicks off next Monday with a morning sailing at 11.30 from St Malo. The passage time is eight hours. The Bretagne is rostered for the first couple of crossings in each direction, but from 29 November she hands over to the Armorique.

In total there are 17 sailings in each direction in the period to the end of March, but departure days and times vary greatly. For true devotees of slow travel, this seasonal routing will create a very unusual way of travelling from Plymouth to Portsmouth by ship, as in some cases vessels sailing from Plymouth to St Malo are then rostered to continue to Portsmouth — the St Malo to Portsmouth line being a regular Brittany Ferries service.

So here’s a way to kick off 2012. Leave Plymouth at 22.00 on 3 January, travelling via St Malo and arriving in Portsmouth at 20.00 the next evening. With 22 hours on board the splendid Armorique, this could be a whole lot more fun than the train journey which takes a mere five hours.

This article was first published as a hidden europe note. The authors are Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries.