Train Travel in UK
A Quintessential Odyssey | Best 8 UK Scenic Train Journeys
Alongside one of the oldest rail network in the world, UK boasts some modern networks as well that will have you enjoy very comfortable journeys. The rail network covers the whole country, serving more than 2,500 stations and the system is efficient and reliable. You are never too far away from a station dotted along the lines criss-crossing the country. You can leave London and be in Edinburgh in as little as 4 hours. From the mountains of Wales, the romantic coastlines of England to the dramatic and jagged coastline of Scotland, train travel takes you through unforgettable scenery. Add a touch of adventure to your relaxing, comfortable and scenic journey, making train travel in UK a quintessential odyssey. Here is a selection of the best 8 scenic train travel in UK that you would absolutely enjoy when travelling by train.
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1 | Scotland’s West Highland Line – Jacobite Steam train in Scotland | Train Travel in UK
The Scottish Highlands boasts some of UK’s most scenic and dramatic views, and one of the best train journeys is onboard the Jacobite steam train.
A touch of adventure & what to experience with the Jacobite
The Jacobite departs just a short distance away from Ben Nevis, UK’s highest mountain. The steam train gently chugs along a 67 kilometres (42 miles) track to reach Mallaig, an established fishing village, the final destination.
The journey through majestic mountains, tranquil lochs, silvery beaches and mystical beauty enchants a train traveller in what is often described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world. Perhaps the most recognisable part of this journey is when the Jacobite crosses the iconic arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct, a scene made popular by the Harry Potter movies. This beautifully curved 21-arched viaduct has become a major tourist attraction since.
Beyond this, the journey takes you through the beautiful villages of Lochailort, stops at the most westerly mainland railway station at Arisaig, passing the deepest freshwater lock in Britain, Loch Morar and finally arriving near the deepest seawater lock in Europe, Loch Nevis.
Places to Stay:
Activities and Related Tours:
Route: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland
Journey time: 1 hour 23 minutes
If you are travelling to Edinburgh or Inverness from London, you can easily purchase your tickets via Trainline for a comfortable and seamless journey. Book in advance and take advantage of offers on cheap tickets. Learn more about Trainline and the various ticket types from this article.
View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline: Link to Trainline services at the end of this article.
2 | Bluebell Railway – An experience not to be missed! | Train Travel in UK
Britain’s oldest preserved standard-gauge passenger railway, Bluebell takes you on a 11-mile scenic ride across one of England’s most beautiful countryside in Sussex.
A touch of adventure & what to experience at the Bluebell Railways
Go back in time
The steam locomotive runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, There are a number of vintage carriages that offer a quintessential experience and each of the railway stations are restored to a different period. Sheffield Park transports you back in time to the 1880s, while the refreshment room at Horsted Keynes takes you to the 1920s. A visit to Kingscote and you will experience rail travel in the 1950s. Railway staff are dressed in period clothing and you get to see the original working signal box as well. There’s a shop and a museum where you can spend some time learning more of the Bluebell Railway.
Sit back and enjoy a quintessential odyssey as you ride in the comfort and luxury of a bygone era. The journey takes you through an area adorned with a sea of beautiful bluebells as they come into bloom in Spring. Picturesque and postcard perfect scene.
A thorough English experience
While soaking in the beautiful Sussex countryside on this iconic ride, you may want to enjoy a thorough English experience as well. Book a seat on the Afternoon Tea Train where you will be served with a full afternoon tea which includes delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes.
Golden Arrow Dining
By far the most beautiful experience of all, is a ride on the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train. Recreating the once glamorous and famous Golden Arrow that linked London and Paris , the Pullman Dining Train is perfect for special occasions as it offers luxurious dining with style served to the standards of yesteryear.
Practical information on Bluebell Railways
Bluebell Railways is managed entirely by volunteers. It is open on specific days of the week, mainly on weekends.
An All Day Rover Ticket allows for as many train rides as you like.
Address: Park Station, Sheffield, Uckfield TN22 3QL | Tel: +44 1825 720800
Due to Covid-19 safety measures, the Golden Arrow Dining experience is currently unavailable.
How to get to Bluebell Railway:
Sheffield Park Station (TN22 3QL)
Sheffield Park Station is the best point to join the Bluebell Railway. This is situated on the A275 East Grinstead – Lewes main road, about two miles north of its junction with the A272. The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park is well signposted with brown tourist direction signs from the A22 and A23 trunk roads. .
By Train: From Victoria Station (London) to Cooksbridge (Southern towards Eastbourne). From Cooksbridge, take a bus, 121 towards Sheffield Park. Alight at Bluebell Railway.
View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – Link at the end of this article.
3 | Snowdon Mountain Railway | Train Travel in UK
A unique mountain journey awaits any train traveller in UK when visiting Snowdonia, northwestern Wales. Marvel at the extraordinary and breathtaking landscape of Snowdonia National Park while onboard the Snowdon Mountain Railway as it ascends to the highest peak in Wales, Mount Snowdon.
The railway begins its 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) track in Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon, at 1085 metres above sea level. Jump aboard one of the Railway’s oldest carriages, the Snowdon Lily or one of the contemporary ones for a modern feel.
A touch of adventure and what to experience at the Snowdon Mountain Railway
A place of legends and unparalleled scenic beauty
A place of legend, these ancient Snowdonian mountains were the result of volcanic forces 450 million years ago and once, stood at 10,000 metres above sea level.
Your odyssey begins just as soon as you leave Llanberis. The Snowdon Mountain Railway crosses over one of the two viaducts, offering you views of the the majestic waterfall, Ceunant Mawr that plunges into the gorge. The journey continues into the open countryside, dotted with abandoned dwellings. Passing Hebron Station, climbing higher, the Hill of the Falcon can be seen in the distant, home of the Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest animal. To the north of the Hill of the Falcon is a cave. Legend has it that Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the last Welsh rebellion lies in wait to rise and lead his people once more against the English.
Your adventure gets even better as the carriages climb ever higher giving you overwhelming views of the landscape from the very top. On a clear day you may spot Ireland, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Georgina suggests: When at the Visitor Centre, try the Oggie, a Welsh type of pasty filled with local lamb and leeks.
Practical information on Snowdon Mountain Railway
Address: Llanberis, Caernarfon LL55 4TU | Tel: +44 1286 870223
Open from 08:30am daily throughout the season (July-Oct 2020)
Note 2020 season: Due to Covid-19 safety measures, the summit building ‘Hafod Eryri’ is not open for 2020. As well, the Heritage Steam Service is not in operation for 2020.
The destination is Clogwyn Station, which is ¾ distance to the summit of Snowdon. The journey time to Clogwyn is approximately 45 minutes and passengers have a 30-minute stop-over at this unsheltered station. Please be aware that there are no facilities at Clogwyn, or on-board the trains. The service represents approximately 2-hour experience overall.Snowdon Mountain Railway
Places to Stay near Snowdonia:
Stay at the very pretty town of Betws-y-Coed, right in the heart of Snowdonia. Select your accommodation here.
Activities to do in and around Snowdonia
How to get to Snowdonia by train
You can easily get the train to Snowdonia no matter which part of UK you are at. There are direct services from London to Bangor that will take you to the popular North Wales coastal destinations. Make local connections via the Conwy Valley Line which runs through the Snowdonia National Park to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
You could also take the North Wales Coast Line from Crewe to Holyhead which connects you to Bangor at the north-western edge of the park and Llandudno, where you can get the Conwy Valley Line down through the park as far as Blaenau Ffestiniog.
View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – link at end of this article.
4 | Settle to Carlisle Railway | Train Travel in UK
The Settle to Carlisle Railway in northern England was completed in 1876 and is arguably the most impressive of Victorian engineering. The track is approximately 115 kilometres (72 mile) and offers magnificent views of the North Pennines, Eden Valley and Yorkshire Dales. A thrilling experience for train travel in UK, the journey takes you through remote and scenic regions, crossing 21 viaducts and 14 tunnels.
A touch of adventure and what to experience at the Settle to Carlisle Railway
One of the most scenic journeys in UK
The most impressive of the 1 hour 40 minutes track is, without a doubt, the spectacular Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 arches. The track takes you through the beautiful landscape of Cumbria. The Blea Moor Tunnel is one to look out for, built 5,000 feet beneath the Moor! It is a 2.4 kilometre railway tunnel and is the longest tunnel on the Settle-Carlisle Line. It’s located between Ribblehead Viaduct and Dent Railway. Also, don’t miss the Ais Gill. Ais Gill summit is the highest point in the Settle-Carlisle Railway at the Mallerstang Valley, at 356 m (1,169 ft) above sea level. The journey terminates at Carlisle. The historic city offers plenty to see and do, especially its 900 year old castle and cathedral.
Practical information on Settle – Carlisle Railway
Places to Stay:
From Settle Junction on the Leeds to Morecambe line, and Carlisle, near the English-Scottish borders.
Route: Settle to Carlisle
Journey time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Journey track: 115.47 kilometres | 71.75 miles
View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – link at the end of this article.
5 | Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed | Train Travel in UK
Another spectacular scenery awaits train travellers in UK when they embark on a journey in the northeast coast of England. Previously voted as the most scenic route in Britain, the Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed journey offers idyllic views, much unknown and unspoilt of the Northumbrian countryside.
A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed
The journey begins in the historic city of Durham, a cobbled university city with a Romanesque cathedral, taking you through Newcastle-upon-Tyne and picturesque rugged countryside of Northumbria. Heading north to the northernmost in England, the pretty coastal border town of Berwick. The coastal scenery does take your breath away! It is an area in northern England that is home to magnificent and stunning landscapes just waiting to be explored. For history buffs, look out for Alnwick Castle and Banburgh Castle along the way – both dating back to the Norman Conquest. The track ends at Berwick-upon-Tweed. You could spend a relaxing day at this coastal town and/or visit Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Holy Island is a tidal island, cutting off from the rest of the world twice daily when the tides rise. An island as well as a picturesque village, Holy Island of Lindisfarne carries a wealth of history and remains a place of pilgrimage. (Lindisfarne Priory, the birthplace of Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books). The island is also the final destination of one of Scotland’s Great Trails.
Practical information on Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed line
Places to Stay:
Activities to do in and around Durham
Route: Durham to Berwicj-upon-Tweed
Journey track: 114 kilometres ( 71 miles)
Journey time: 1 hour 4 minutes
View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline – link at the end of this article
6 | The Cumbrian Coast Line | Train Travel in UK
The Cumbrian Coast Line runs an impressive scenic route keeping you close to the shoreline, making its way between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness.
The scenic journey of 137 kilometres (85 miles), was chosen by Michael Portillo for the BBC Series, Great British Railways Journeys in 2010. The track offers train travel in UK one of the best scenic views, passing the fells of Lake District, quaint villages, rural countryside as well as the mountains on one side and the stunning views of the Irish Sea on the other. Much of the line dates back to 1800s and is punctuated by 26 stations, ordinarily giving a journey time of 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours.
A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Cumbrian Coast Line
An adventure awaits…
The Cumbrian Coast Line is perfect for when exploring the outdoors in and around the Lake District National Park. Add a touch of adventure to your scenic journey and explore the legacy of the line at Millom Discovery Centre and enjoy a trip on the Ravenglass and Eskdale heritage railway. The town of Marypot that’s steeped in Roman history makes a perfect destination for history lovers.
Practical information on the Cumbrian Coast Line
Places to Stay:
Activities in and around Cumbria
Route: From Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness
Journey track: 137 km (85 miles)
Journey time: 3 hours
Costs: from £17.70 (depending on your time of travel)
View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: Link at the end of this article.
7 | The Riviera Line | Train Travel in UK
The Riviera Line is one of England’s best stretches of coastal railways, along the South Devon coast between Exeter and Paignton. The journey offers amazing views of spectacular beaches, green countryside and river crossings.
A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Riviera Line
The Riviera Line is a local line that departs from Exeter city centre, following the Exe Estuary and the coast. The journey includes nine stops in between, including at the seaside town of Dawlish and Teignmouth before heading onwards to the English Riviera. The train stops at Torre, closest for Torquay and Paignton, allowing you to step onto the beach in no time! The journey takes you through several picturesque villages, famous river crossings and beautiful countryside – sights which you may miss when driving.
Practical information on the Riviera Line
Places to Stay:
Activities & Tours
Route: Exeter to Paignton
Journey track: 46 km (28 miles)
Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Costs: from £8.20 (depending on time of day and type of tickets
View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: Link to Trainline at the end of this article.
8 | St Ives Bay Line | St Erth to St Ives | Train Travel in UK
This is one of the shortest rail journeys, less than 15 minutes but one of the best loved scenic train travel in UK – between St Erth and St Ives.
A touch of adventure and what to experience with the St Ives Bay Line
The train chugs along a pretty stretch of Cornish coastline, including the golden sands of Hayle Towans and Carbis Bay before terminating at St Ives. Short, swift and arguably one of the most enjoyable scenic rides one would experience. Head to the beach, explore the harbour, visit the Tate St Ives art gallery and wander the shops. The St Ives Bay Line also connects with services to Penzance in the south, making a coast to coast train travel in UK a splendid and viable option.
Practical information on the St Ives Bay Line
Places to Stay:
Activities & Tours
Route: St Erth to St Ives
Journey track: 7 km (4 miles)
Journey time: 12 minutes
Costs: £4.00 (depending on time of day and type of ticket)
View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: For all options, the link to Trainline is at the end of this article.
My thoughts on Train Travel in UK
Wherever you choose to go, experience the hidden gems right across the UK, onboard steam locomotives, across jaw-dropping viaducts, and through rugged terrains – it takes train travel in UK to a whole new level. A quintessential odyssey awaits.
Related articles on train travel to support your travel plans:
Is this post valuable to you in planning your scenic train travel in UK? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.
Have a splendid time exploring UK by train.
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