Train travel has often been the most romantic, and the most beautiful form of travel. Particularly in the UK, the extensive and historic rail line network has spots with gorgeous scenery. From the tip of Scotland, to the south of England, many train routes have gained fame and infamy for their landscapes. We have trains crawling through mountain terrain, along with those gliding past coastal coves. These all offer a stunning day-trip. Also, an affordable activity for all ages.
Here are some of the most amazing train travel opportunities you should take advantage of…
Looe Valley Line, Cornwall
An area already known for its abundance in natural wonder, this charming little train line is an ideal start to a Cornish day trip.
Starting from the heavily wooded valley near Liskeard, the half-hour journey is a feast for the eyes. As you trundle through the tall trees and shaded glades, you meet the river. When you begin to near the ocean, the line opens out. This gives you unmatched views of coastal countryside, and quaint Cornish villages.
Once arriving in Looe, there is no shortage of things to do. Coastal walks line the rugged cliffs, perfect for a hiking and picnicking adventure. For a less physically taxing pursuit, a drink and meal at the Jolly Sailor could be the way forward. The pub dates all the way back to 1516! Plus, the seafood and fish here are to-die-for! So for quintessential Cornish train travel, the Looe Valley line should be your first stop.
West Highland Line, Scottish Highlands
This line is often named “the most beautiful train journey in the world”. A title it has thoroughly earned. It is practically unmatched in the world of train travel.
The Scottish Highlands are dense with beauty spots. Taking advantage of these is the West Highland line. Setting off from Glasgow, you’ll quickly leave the city behind and venture into the wild West Coast. All from the comfort of the characterful steam train.
Different route lengths allow you to choose how long you’ll be on your trip for, and where to end your trip. Many go for the full route, all the way to Mallaig. If this is your choice too, then settle in for one of the best rides in the world. You’ll be carried north along the coast, past Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Then, delve further into the wilderness.
The landscapes and areas you will see on this excursion are mind-blowing. First of all, the Glenfinnan viaduct will be a highlight. This huge bridge may seem familiar. Well, it was featured in Harry Potter, so it’s also a magical train journey! Views of the Cobbler Mountain are also sure to amaze, with its rocky outcrop jutting from the emerald sea of grass. Steep-sided gorges, sky-scraping mountains and fast-flowing rivers follow you all the way, making for an overwhelmingly gorgeous train journey.
Cambrian Line, Wales
Wales on rails, what better way to experience the stark Welsh lands. Spanning 120 miles of unspoilt natural beauty, this line is one of the most scenic in the country.
Starting in Shrewsbury, you’ll zoom over the Welsh border, and be plunged into the heart of Welsh countryside. On the way, you’ll view the rugged mountain terrain the area is so famous for. Along with this, quaint market towns, World Heritage sites, castles and much more will be spotted on the way. As you travel further and further west, the coast will come into view. Its a real what’s-what of Welsh landscapes!
Almost every town you pass through here will have strong Welsh routes. From the fledgling origins of the Welsh parliament in Machynlleth. The World Heritage Site at Harlech Castle. To the myths and legends surrounding Borth’s ancient forest.
When you’ve finished your train journey, many coastal walks and activities are on offer too. So there truly is something for everyone. The pinnacle of Welsh train travel!
The previously mentioned routes are daytime, day-trip length adventures. This next line is a holiday in itself!
Lets say you’re wanting to get from London to Edinburgh, but don’t want to waste a day travelling. This line may be just for you. Allowing you to travel overnight while sleeping, the Caledonian Sleeper ensures you arrive in Scotland feeling refreshed and well-rested.
Not only can you stop in Edinburgh though. Choose a highland stop, and you’ll be treated to some amazing views as the sun comes up. On your way to Inverness, as the sun rises, the orange glow reflects from the rough landscape. Can you think of a better way to wake up?
Train travel is often seen as tedious, or unenjoyable. But the Sleeper makes sure that changes. Delicious food and drink, luxurious rooms and beds, and stunning window views mean this journey is one-for-the-books. You’ll have the time of your life, or should I say, the time of your night…
Settle – Carlisle Line, England
Last on the list is the England-based line, traversing the Yorkshire Dales and remote countryside.
This steam train route is a train enthusiasts dream. Viaducts are a plenty while on your journey, with many people waiting outside to capture the classic image. With the rolling grassy hills stretching for as far as the eye can see, the train bustles through this iconic landscape. The vast open expanses are best viewed from these train windows, allowing for an immersive experience from the comfort of your carriage.
On the various viaducts, the vantage points these provide are valuable on your journey. A great photo opportunity, plus you’ll be embracing the heritage of this famous line. Viaducts have been a main-stay for this route, with audio guides available online for a more in-depth tour.
Once you understand the origins of this rail network, you’ll appreciate the time and effort it has taken to bring it to the standard it’s at today. It can’t have been an easy undertaking back then!
UK Train Travel, A Ready-Made Day-Trip
There are countless other train routes which are a feast for the eyes, too many to cover in this article. But take my word for it. If you’re wanting an easy, enjoyable and unique UK day-out, one of these journeys could be perfect. No matter where in the UK you’re from, there will be a scenic train line somewhere near you!
So, hit the tracks, and train your way through the UK!