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Opinion: How I’m using my 16-25 railcard to explore Britain

Jacob Allen canoeing on Loch Ness.
Jacob Allen canoeing on Loch Ness.

My name’s Jacob Allen, I’m 22 and born and bred in Scarborough. I’m a freelance photographer and videographer and last year set up my own videography company, Jacob Lucas Film.

I went to Scarborough Sixth Form College, where I studied Law, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology, but my passion has always been in photography and creating videos.

In March I won a competition – a public vote – to become National Rail’s Chief Adventure Officer, and for the next year I’ll be vlogging my way around Britain, on about seven trips, using my 16-25 Railcard to uncover some of the amazing hidden gems Britain has to offer, and show people how they can make the most of each location for less.

I love exploring and bringing things to life for people through video, and now I’m going to get paid to do just that!

I’m a big fan of free diving in the sea off Scarborough, and I’m always up and out for my morning run too, but my main hobby is photography so I’m lucky that I get to do it as a job. I got my first video camera when I was six and have been making videos ever since, so having the chance to vlog and travel at the same time seemed too good an 
opportunity to miss.

It gave me a massive boost to win the competition – you never look at your work and think ‘it’s amazing’ so to have people vote for you after watching the stuff you’ve created is a great feeling.

I’m going to document all my trips and create some really inspirational videos to show others that there are loads of great places to explore (and how to do it at a fraction of the cost!).

My first trip was amazing – no other word for it! I travelled to Inverness, for an action-packed weekend at Loch Ness, and took my brother Jordan along with me.

The places we visited were just breathtaking. We went mountain biking along the Great Glen Way, which was awesome. It was a 10km ride and we witnessed some of the most amazing scenery. We took a drone with us which captured some incredible scenes, giving us some great footage.

We also went canoeing along Loch Ness – it was a struggle to steer and hold a camera at the same time but I didn’t drop it in the water, so I saw that as a huge success! Whilst canoeing we stopped off and explored a hidden waterfall where we got some amazing pics.

Another great way to experience the loch is by a cruise ship. We took one along the loch one morning, checked out the castle and hiked the highlands too.

The highlight of the trip has to be WOW balling – you are put in an inflatable ball and pushed out onto the loch. It was a great experience and so much fun!

My advice to students who are thinking of going travelling – find somebody to go with who enjoys travelling as much as you do. Me and Jordan love a challenge and exploring different places so it made the trip even better.

Also, go and see as much as you can in one day– a weekend is plenty of time to visit lots of new places and experience different things, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.

Inverness savings

By getting a train from my hometown of Scarborough to Inverness, using a 16-25 Railcard, I was able to save 1/3 on the rail fare and I went on to save over £129 on my whole trip.

Travel: Off-Peak Return tickets from Scarborough to Inverness using a 16-25 Railcard – £97.70

Usually: £148

Saving: £50.30

Accommodation: Visit Inverness Loch Ness uncovered a two-night stay, for two people, deal at The Royal Highland Hotel – £144

Usually: £223 (£111.50 per night for a twin room with breakfast)

Saving: £79

Activities: Loch Ness by Jacobite Cruise (£20), WOW Balling (£25) and canoeing (£25) with In Your Element, plus mountain biking the Great Glen Way with Ticket to Ride (£30)

Total Cost: £100

l For more information about Railcards visit www.16-25railcard.co.uk/cao. Jacob’s next trip, to be featured on the website, will be to Nottingham.