The Null Device
The (Melbourne) Age's travel blog lifts the lid off a little-known range of discount British rail passes. The tickets are known as "Ranger" and "Rover" tickets, can go for as little as £10, and generally offer unlimited off-peak travel within various areas:
The Rangers are the most basic deals: they simply offer unlimited travel within a certain area for a day after a certain time (usually 9am or 9.30am). For example, the Cornwall Day Ranger costs £10 and allows holders to go across the whole county, plus parts of neighbouring Devon. In a theoretical day out, it would be possible to take in seafaring heritage in Plymouth, surfing at Newquay, Pendennis Castle in Falmouth and world-class art at Tate St Ives.
Pretty much every area of the country is covered by one Rover or another. For example, there's a Freedom of Scotland Travelpass (four in eight days) that covers the whole of Scotland for £105. The Freedom of Wales Flexi Pass is available on the same terms and allows travel across the whole of Wales plus a few towns over the English border such as Shrewsbury, Hereford and Chester. It costs £74.
The utterly absurd thing about the Ranger and Rover passes is they can often be cheaper than a single ticket between two stations covered in the region. For example, an off-peak single from Portsmouth to Cardiff costs £67, while the Freedom of Severn & Solent Rover allows travel across a much larger area for three days out of seven and costs £40. The craziest example is the train from London to Stratford-upon-Avon. The walk-up single fare can be £67; the one-day Shakespeare Explorer ploughs the route, stopping at the likes of Warwick Castle and Wembley Stadium on the way for £30.These passes, unlike the BritRail passes you can get in travel agencies abroad, don't require you to be outside of Britain at the time of purchase. Of course, Britain's railway companies protect themselves from being taken to the cleaners by customers by the simple expedient of not advertising or publicising these deals very widely; to get one of these magic tickets, one has to go to a ticket office and explain to the clerk what exactly one wants and that, yes, it exists. There is a page listing them here, for those willing to do a bit of potentially profitable digging.