Britain by train: Five great one-week UK rail trip routes
Posted on Last updated: July 11, 2023
Explore Britain by train with five of the best British rail trip itinerary ideas you can do in just one week, covering historic England, scenic Scotland, the Cornish coast, UK cities, and Wales and the Borders.
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I love a good rail trip and have travelled by train across Europe and beyond. But there are plenty of fantastic rail adventures close to home in the UK too – from Cornish coastal trains to the journeys across the wild Scottish highlands. And the country’s relatively small size means you can pack a lot into a short time, with rail passes available to keep costs down.
Whether you’re looking for history and culture, coast and countryside scenery or the UK’s coolest cities, there’s the perfect British rail trip for you. So here are five great itineraries for exploring Britain by train. It’s possible to do each of the routes in a week, but if you’ve got more time you can take it slower and spend more time in each place.
And if you’re ready to go, check out my detailed one-week itinerary posts – linked to after each route description below – for full details of which trains to take, how much they cost, how to book tickets, what to see and where to stay along the way.
5 itineraries for exploring Britain by train
London > Salisbury > Bath Spa > Oxford > Stratford-upon-Avon > York
This rail trip takes you across England and back through time, featuring some of the country’s most impressive castles, cathedrals and colleges. Start with a full day in London , choosing from its selection of historic buildings, museums and monuments, including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, British Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe.
Then catch a morning train to Salisbury (1.5 hours). This riverside city is known for its 13th-century cathedral, where you can see one of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta and take a tour of the tower. Or travel back 2000 years to Roman times at Old Sarum.
Next travel to Bath Spa (1 hour). Bath is known for its Roman history, so don’t miss the Roman Baths – and you can soak yourself in the modern version at the Thermae Spa with its rooftop pool. There’s also the beautiful Georgian architecture of the Royal Crescent and Circle, and whole festival dedicated to Jane Austen who lived in the city in the 1800s.
Then take the train to Oxford (1 hour 20 mins), one of the UK’s most famous university cities. Take a tour of the college quads – Harry Potter filming location Christ Church is the star, but Magdalen, New College, Trinity and All Souls are also well worth visiting.
Call in to the quirky Pitt Rivers Museum to see its anthropology exhibits or explore art and antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum. Then catch a morning train to Stratford-upon-Avon (1.5 hours). Spent the afternoon in Shakespeare’s home town – you can visit his birthplace, school and houses his wife and mother lived in, and see his plays at the RSC theatre.
Then finish your trip by travelling north to York (4 hours), where you’ll have the afternoon and the next morning to walk the Roman city walls, visit the Minster, explore the cobbled lanes and half-timbered buildings of the Shambles and have afternoon tea at Betty’s.
Read the full Historic England by train itinerary
Edinburgh > Glasgow > Fort William > Mallaig > Isle of Skye > Inverness
This Scottish rail itinerary takes you from the lowlands to the highlands via rugged coastlines, lakes, moors and castles. Start in Edinburgh and spend the day discovering the city’s highlights, from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and views from Calton Hill. Or discover hidden gems like underground Mary King’s Close .
Then catch the train on to Glasgow (1 hour), where the focus is on art, design and culture – from street art trails and the eye-catching modern Riverside transport museum along the redeveloped waterside to the Art Nouveau buildings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Next head north to Fort William (3 hours 45 mins), a lochside town that’s a hub for adventure sports in the nearby Nevis Range. The journey takes you into the Scottish Highlands along the West Highland Line, rated as one of the most scenic rail trips in the world. Go hiking or biking, or taste whisky with a view at the Ben Nevis Distillery.
Rejoin the West Highland Line to travel across the Glenfinnan Viaduct to Mallaig (1.5 hours) – or from April to October you could upgrade to a ride on the Jacobite steam train , also known as the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter films. Then leave the train behind and cross over to the Isle of Skye by ferry.
Spend a day exploring the Isle of Skye by bus or tour, with the pretty harbour town of Portree, the waterfalls of the Fairy Pools and the dramatic rock formations of the Quiraing. Then the following morning, cross the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh where you can catch the train to Inverness (2 hours 40 mins), the capital of the highlands.
The Kyle Line is another of the UK’s top scenic train routes, passing lochs, mountains and herds of deer. Spend the evening and next morning in Inverness. Explore the castle and riverside, take a monster-spotting trip on Loch Ness or visit historic Culloden battlefield.
Read the full Scenic Scotland by train itinerary
The Cornish coast
St Ives > Falmouth > St Austell > Newquay > Looe > Plymouth
This UK train trip takes you to the far south-west of England, along some of Cornwall’s most beautiful coastal and countryside railways. Start off in the arty seaside town of St Ives , home to the Tate and Barbara Hepworth galleries along with beaches and coast walks.
If you’re travelling from London you can get reach St Ives on the Night Riviera overnight sleeper train (8 hours), changing at St Erth onto the St Ives Bay Line which runs past the golden sands of Carbis Bay. Then travel east to Falmouth (1.5 hours), changing in Truro onto the Maritime Line which runs through unspoilt countryside to the coast.
Visit Falmouth’s castle and maritime museum, or take a boat ride along the Fal River or across to neighbouring St St Mawes and the Roseland Peninsula. Then take a morning train to St Austell (1.5 hour) where you change onto a bus to reach the Eden Project, whose two giant biomes bring the rainforest and the Mediterranean to Cornwall.
Head back to St Austell to catch the train along the Atlantic Coast Line to Newquay (2 hours). Check out some of Newquay’s 11 beaches and watch the surfers in action on Fistral Beach – or give it a try yourself. Grad a traditional Cornish pasty and watch the fishing boats come into Newquay harbour, or head underwater at Blue Reef Aquarium.
Then travel on to the pretty fishing village of Looe (3 hours). The Looe Valley scenic train line connects Liskeard and Looe, running along an estuary full of birdlife. Walk a stretch of the South West Coast Path to Polperro or visit the marine nature reserve of Looe Island, and make sure to try some local seafood and wine from Looe Valley Vineyard.
Finally travel on to your final stop in Plymouth (1 hour). Take a walk along the city’s waterfront, climb to the top of Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse and follow the journey of the Pilgrims at the Mayflower Museum before heading home – or exploring more of Devon.
Read the full Coastal Cornwall by train itinerary
London > Brighton > Bristol > Manchester > Liverpool > Leeds
This city-centric train route takes you to some of the UK’s coolest cities, with coffee shops, vintage shops, street art and quirky bars along the way. Start off in London and the East End’s most hipster neighbourhood – Shoreditch. Visit Brick Lane market, take a graffiti tour and try food from around the world at the Box Park shipping container pop-up market.
Then catch the train south of London to Brighton (1 hour 15 mins) for a day at the seaside. Visit the Brighton Pavilion, shop the narrow streets of the Lanes and play the slot machines on the pier before tucking into fish and chips on the beach.
The next day travel west to Bristol (1 hour 40 min). This harbourside city is a centre for independent food, art and craft businesses. Try tasty street food at St Nicholas Market or at Cargo in Wapping Wharf, and go Banksy spotting in Stokes Croft. Visit Brunel’s historic steamship the SS Great Britain or walk over Clifton Suspension Bridge at sunset.
Catch the train north to Manchester (4 hours). This north-west city famous for its football music is a great place to catch a gig or shop for vinyl and vintage fashion before a night in the Northern Quarter’s bars. Or visit the museums and media hubs of Salford Quays.
Then from Manchester, it’s only a 45-minute train ride to local rivals Liverpool. Check out the exhibits at the Tate Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum in the Albert Dock, or take a Beatles themed walking tour and catch the ferry across the Mersey.
Then finally travel north-east to the West Yorkshire city of Leeds (1.5 hours). Discover local artworks on the Leeds Welcome Art Trail, visit the Corn Exchange for indie shops in a stunning setting, sunbathe in Roundhay Park and take a tour of Leeds’ craft breweries.
Read the full UK cities by train itinerary
Wales and the Borders
Cardiff > Shrewsbury > Aberystwyth > Harlech > Llandudno > Chester > Cardiff
This final Britain by train itinerary takes you across Wales, travelling from the capital through the unspoilt Welsh Marches to the spectacular coastline and mountains of North Wales. Start in Cardiff and spend the day exploring its historic side at the castle and its modern side among the contemporary buildings of redeveloped Cardiff Bay.
Then catch the train north to Shrewsbury (2 hours), a traditional market town across the border which was home to Charles Darwin. Visit its castle and take a boat trip on the River Severn. Then head back into Wales and the coastal town of Aberystwyth (2 hours) – a seaside holiday favourite with its sandy beach, Victorian promenade and Wales’ oldest pier.
Next catch the scenic Cambrian Coast Line north through Snowdonia National Park to Harlech (3 hours). Enjoy the views as you cross the estuary at Barmouth along the way. Then explore Harlech’s hilltop castle or take an afternoon trip to the nearby quirky, Italian-style village of Portmeirion (the closest station is at Minffordd, 15 mins from Harlech).
Next head to Porthmadog (25 mins) where you can change onto the Ffestiniog Railway’s historic steam trains to travel to Blaenau Ffestionig in vintage style (1 hour 15 mins).
Then head back into the 21st century as you travel on to Llandudno (1 hour 15 mins). Another of Wales’ Victorian seaside resorts, Llandudno has panoramic views from Great Orme, which you can reach on foot or via the historic tramway or Llandudno Cable Car.
Finally travel across the border to Chester (1 hour). Explore the city’s Roman ruins, walk around its city walls, admire the Eastgate Clock and shop the medieval black and white Rows. Then finish off your trip by travelling south back to Cardiff, passing the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Herefordshire countryside and Shropshire Hills along the way.
Read the full Borders and Wales by train itinerary
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Wednesday 31st of May 2023
Hi Lucy This site is great! My husband and I will be arriving at Southampton after a transatlantic cruise on Sat April 20, 2024. We don't have our return flight plans yet as we are hoping to stay in England for at least a week. In 2012 we spent a month (Sept) traveling and sightseeing the UK by rail and had a great time - carrying only backpacks. We had time to visit the popular spots: London, Bath, York, Chester, Edinburgh, Loch Ness, Penzance, Bournemouth, Aberystwyth and much of Wales. This time (we are older!) and we will have luggage (ugh). We are thinking about exploring some less touristy places and poking around smaller villages, etc. Maybe staying at a B&B or somewhere that is centrally located and near a well connected train station where we can take day trips or short rail excursions in and out. Is that possible or even a good idea? Where would you suggest? Do we need a travel agent? I expect we will depart from Heathrow. Any advice will be appreciated!!
Sunday 25th of June 2023
Hi Martha, one area I'd definitely recommend is the Cotswolds. You can stay in Moreton-in-Marsh which is on a mainline train route from London and get from there via train to Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon, and there is a good Cotswold tour from Moreton as well as buses to places like Broadway, Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold. I have a whole website about the Cotswolds with lots of info (https://explorethecotswolds.com) and it's easy to explore without needing a travel agent.
Tuesday 23rd of May 2023
Hi Lucy, We are going to be in UK for 14 total days (not including travel to and from the US). We want to do two of these (exactly what I was thinking and perfectly laid out, thank you!). Wondering if you can help me understand the best way to buy the train tickets. We are family of 4 with an 18 yr old and 16 yr old. Starting and ending in London - want to do this: London > Salisbury > Bath Spa > Oxford > Stratford-upon-Avon > York - then from York do this: Glasgow > Fort William > Mallaig > Isle of Skye > Edinburgh to catch the Tattoo then back down to London. Maybe I need a travel agent to help :-)
Friday 26th of May 2023
You can buy tickets for specific trains in advance from the rail companies but it might be worth looking at getting a railpass – either an InterRail One Country Pass for the UK or a Britrail pass – as that means you can be more flexible. You can buy these in advance online and there are good discounts for under 25s.
Friday 2nd of September 2022
The last itinerary very misleading. You really can’t get from Aberystwyth to Llandudno via the route shown on the map.
Hi, if you see the full itinerary is explains that it involves taking the Ffestiniog Railway rather than a normal train, which is now running through from Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog: https://www.ontheluce.com/wales-by-train-itinerary/ (timings have been tweaked slightly to reflect the new timetable).
Thursday 27th of February 2020
This info is amazing, thank you for posting Lucy! I am researching/looking into traveling to the UK (specifically Scotland) for the first time (coming from Toronto, Canada) this year and wasn't really sure where to start in terms of transportation once I arrived. I have bookmarked your page just for future reference. These routes and links will be so helpful, especially for a newbie to the area.
Also, love your blog & will definitely check out more of your recommendations .
Monday 9th of March 2020
Thanks Amy, great to hear it was useful! And have a wonderful trip.
Friday 31st of January 2020
There are great value Train Rovers available in Britain. I bought the one called Solent and Seven. It was wonderful for days out with my children. We got a discount on it by using my railcard. It is called the Family and Friends Rail Card and it costs around £30 a year. It gives me a third off all train tickets and my children go for a few pounds each. A way to save money in Britain is called split ticketing. You buy two of more tickets. For example Worle to Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Temple Meads to Weymouth. It makes a lower cost for your journey. Sometimes an Advance Single has a low price. So buy two single tickets. The spa in Bath may let you have extra time if your show your train ticket. Always buy food and drinks outside the train stations. On the train they will be expensive. For example a bottle of water for £1.70.
Some great ways to save money on train travel in the UK – I did a round up in this post too https://www.ontheluce.com/budget-train-travel-in-the-uk/
The best short breaks from London are just two hours by train
Sep 15, 2021 • 8 min read
The Unesco World Heritage city of Bath in Somerset is 1 hour and 20 minutes from central London by train © Gary Rayner / 500px
Traveling by train can be the ideal stress-free weekend getaway. With a new London to Edinburgh high-speed train service being launched, Lonely Planet looks at the best short breaks by train from London . Be inspired to take a spa day in Bath, spend time on the river in Cambridge, or hunt out Bristol's best street art. Here are the best weekend breaks that are less than two hours from London by direct train.
Best for a busy weekend by the sea
The seaside city of Brighton is the classic weekend getaway from London and has been since the railway opened in the 1840s.
Do: Head downhill from the station towards the sea via the Lanes, Brighton's premier spot for independent stores. Admire the opulent Royal Pavilion , a Regency-era party palace for the royals, and get on board with the seaside kitsch of Brighton Pier , packed with amusements and arcade games.
Eat: Brighton is one of the top places in the UK for vegan and vegetarian food: try plant-based pizza at Purezza or quality veggie cuisine at Terre à Terre . For classic fish and chips on the seafront visit The Regency .
Stay: Several large chain hotels line the seafront. If you'd prefer a highly-rated independent boutique hotel, stay at Hotel Una near the West Pier. Legends Hotel is one of Brighton's top gay-friendly places to stay in Kemptown, the hub of the city's LGBTQ+ scene.
Best for a peaceful city break
45 minutes to an hour from King’s Cross Station
The university city of Cambridge is full of ancient colleges with striking architecture that are best viewed from the water.
Do: Punting is the ultimate Cambridge experience. Book a spot with one of the many punting companies that ply their trade along the River Cam, and enjoy a tour through the picturesque "Backs" in a flat-bottomed boat piloted by a knowledgeable guide. Once you've got the lay of the land, explore the city's cobbled passages and ancient pubs further on foot.
Eat: If you’ve got cash to flash, pay for the best of British at Midsummer House . If you’re on more of a student budget, fill your boots at Pint Shop .
Stay: Spending a night at immaculately designed Clayton Hotel will make you feel like a Cambridge scholar from yesteryear, one that was bankrolled to stay in the fanciest halls, anyway.
Best for street art
1 hour 40 minutes from Paddington Station to Bristol Temple Meads
Bristol’s cobbled streets are flanked by red-brick buildings often adorned with vibrant art.
Do: Take yourself on a street art walking tour and see how many Banksy works you can spy. In the evening, book a music or comedy gig in Bristol Beacon (formerly called Colston Hall after slave-trader Edward Colston, and renamed in 2020 following the city's Black Lives Matter protests) or get your theater on in Bristol Old Vic , the longest continuously running theater in the English-speaking world.
Eat: Riverstation combines a stunning waterside location with top-notch grub; think pan-fried turbot with squid-ink sauce, or rum and coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet.
Stay: For a bit of luxury, stay at the 18th-century Hotel du Vin . If you're looking for something a bit more budget, the Ibis Temple Meads Quay , near the train station has basic but well-appointed rooms.
Read more: Bristol through the eyes of city poet Vanessa Kisuule
Best for a city spa break
1 hour 20 minutes from Paddington to Bath Spa
Bath is one of Britain's most lovely cities. The huge semicircle terrace of town houses, the Royal Crescent , built between 1767 and 1775, is a dazzling example of the grand Georgian architecture that the city is known for.
Do: Visit No1 Royal Crescent , which has been restored with original materials to give visitors a sense of what life was like in Georgian Bath. One of the city's most popular sights is the Roman Baths , an elaborate spa complex dating from 70 AD surrounded by 18th- and 19th-century buildings. You can't swim in the waters here, but you can (and should) spend a day at Thermae Bath Spa , with gentle whirlpools, various therapy rooms, and best of all, a rooftop pool with views over the city and surrounding countryside.
Eat: Bath has many quality places to eat from delightful historic tea rooms like Sally Lunn's , to gastropubs, such as the Marlborough Tavern .
Stay: There are lots of independent accommodations, as well as a few hostels in the city. Grays boutique B&B is a Victorian building with a blend of modern designs, or stay in the luxurious Three Abbey Green , a spacious family-run Georgian town house.
Best for medieval history
1 hour 50 minutes from London King's Cross
Further from London than Leeds , Liverpool and Manchester , yet served by faster trains, the medieval city of York has a rich heritage to explore.
Do: Follow the city's 13th-century walls, which enclose a spider's web of narrow streets, including the atmospheric Shambles . The city's heart is the huge York Minster , a beautiful Gothic cathedral. The undercroft has displays on the cathedral's history, but to learn about the city itself before the cathedral became its center, go to Jorvik Viking Centre , which takes you on an interactive journey back to when Viking settled in York around 1000 years ago.
Eat: Choose from the myriad restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs throughout the city. There's an eclectic and frequently changing British menu at Skosh , or if you're looking for a lunchtime light bite on the move, all kinds of street food is on offer at Shambles Food Court.
Stay: The central Grade-I-listed Grays Court , with direct access to the city walls, has luxurious rooms each with their own individual design. More budget centrally-located options include St Raphael guesthouse and dorm rooms in Safestay York hostel.
Read more: 48 hours in historic York – 2000 years in two days
Best for live music and nightlife
1 hour 50 minutes from Paddington Station to Cardiff Central
You might be drawn to Wales' capital by an event at the Principality Stadium , but you should stay for its history, thriving nightlife, and the Welsh cakes.
Do: Admire the opulent interiors of the impressive Cardiff Castle . This was once the site of a Roman fort, then a Norman castle, and later became home to the aristocratic Bute family, one of the richest families in the world. Take a walk in the nearby Bute Park and Arboretum , a lovely green space along with Taff River, and stop-off at the tiny Pettigrew Tea Rooms , which serves up some of the city’s best Welsh cakes (a small, circular sweet bread) as well as tea by the pot-load. As the sun goes down, join the crowds funnelling into live-music venues like The Moon or – local nightlife institution – Clwb Ifor Bachin .
Eat: Both herbivores and carnivores will be well served at Indian restaurant Mint & Mustard . Alternatively, Cardiff Bay’s Mermaid Quay has around 30 different waterfront restaurants and bars to choose from.
Stay: Hotel Indigo is a pretty slick, central option which also boasts a rooftop Marco Pierre White restaurant .
Best for wildlife and nature
1 hour 35 minutes from Waterloo Station to Brockenhurst
Visiting a national park without a car isn't usually an easy thing to do, but with good rail connections to the charming village of Brockenhurst in the New Forest, you could be lacing up your hiking boots on the train.
Do: If you’re visiting in autumn you may see roaming pigs released to hoover up the fallen acorns and fatten up, as well as cows and the eponymous ponies. This sprawling national park is pretty flat with a network of smooth roads throughout, so hire a bike or book a horseback tour and see the area from the perspective of its most famous residents.
Eat: Brockenhurst has many cafes, bakeries, restaurants and pubs to choose from. A bike ride away is Burley Manor , with an extensive menu of locally sourced ingredients, making it a lovely pit stop in a day packed with outdoor activities.
Stay: The towns such as Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Beaulieu are good places to base yourself with many B&Bs, boutique hotels and cottages for rent. If you're looking for something a little more special book well in advance for a unique room at The Pig in Brockenhurst.
Best for a family-friendly sandy beach
1 hour 20 minutes from St Pancras International, 1 hour 40 minutes from London Victoria
The charming seaside town of Broadstairs is one of Kent's top beach destinations, perfect for a family weekend away from the city.
Do: If you're traveling with little ones, most of your weekend could be spent on the beach hut-lined sands of Viking Bay. In peak season there are deck chairs for rent, with swings and bouncy castles on the beach. On the clifftop at one end of the beach is Bleak House where Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield . A refreshing walk along the coastal path offers great views out to sea and leads to various nearby coves.
Eat: Take your pick of the cluster of family-friendly pubs along Harbour Street. A stone's throw from the beach, Wyatt & Jones serve the freshest, drool-inducing seafood, including locally-sourced Whitstable Native oysters.
Stay: Dog- and family-friendly Cintra B&B near Viking Bay welcomes children of all ages. Boutique B&B Belvidere Place is ideal for couples, providing stylish, comfy accommodation with a warm welcome. The breakfast is also sublime, and if you end up staying indoors here all weekend, it would still be time well spent.
You might also like: Top 10 day trips from London Sleeper trains are back on track in Europe with exciting new routes to travel Top 9 road trips in England
This article was originally published on November 6, 2019.
This article was first published November 2019 and updated September 2021
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The 13 best train journeys in the UK
By Monisha Rajesh
From the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall ’s sandy beaches — the following 13 trips showcase Britain’s best train journeys, including quick rail rides, overnight sleeper trains and a brand new Edinburgh route that is the most affordable yet.
1. Machynlleth to Pwllheli
Just inside the southernmost rim of Snowdonia National Park , this route is blessed by nature from the moment the train departs. Passengers gaze onto scenes of tall grass smattered with waist-high wildflowers and puffy clouds over peaks fringed with forest. Streams wink and flash in the sunlight, and hikers with sticks wave in the distance. Not long after Dovey Junction station, the ride follows the bends of the River Dyfi until it opens wide onto the Cardigan Bay coast, shaped by fingers of creamy sand and dunes melting into the water. Through the window, glimpse rocky beaches thrashed by teal-green water and campers parked on hills, their tents flapping wildly in the wind. A constant mix of sand and shallow waters overseen by cloud-capped mountains, the journey ends with an urban crawl through the market town of Pwllheli.
2. St Ives Bay Line
Short but so very sweet, this 10-minute ride between the village of St Erth and the seaside town of St Ives gives passengers fabulous views of the Cornish coast. Take a seat on the right-hand side of the train as it clatters along the Hayle estuary where birds pick their way through the pools, then take a deep breath as it climbs the dunes and curls around the crescent of Porth Kidney Sands, where the water is inked with blue and striped with green. From an open window, passengers will smell the saltiness in the air as the train winds above Carbis Bay, where sunbathers are dotted on its golden sands. On arrival at St Ives, head straight to the café at Porthminster beach for the crab, chilli and garlic linguine washed down with a lemon-and-thyme G&T.
3. Settle to Carlisle
Opened in May 1876, this segment is one of England ’s last great Victorian routes, which British Rail wanted to close in the 1980s. But pushback from campaigners, residents and train enthusiasts meant that the 72-mile stretch was saved and continues to seduce both visitors and commuters travelling across the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. Boarding at Settle station, with its burgundy trimming and bright flower baskets, passengers are already surrounded by slanting fields of sheep, penned in by the region’s distinctive dry-stone walls. Plunging into tunnels, whizzing across bridges and squeezing through rock cuttings that rise around the carriage, the train negotiates a landscape that often appears to tilt and slide. Crossing rivers, hamlets and miles of peaceful farmland, the journey peaks as the train negotiates the 104ft-high Ribblehead Viaduct where hikers wave from below. For the last half hour look right for views over the Vale of Eden, its hedgerows and farmland spotlit by the sun breaking through low-hanging clouds, before the train terminates in the historic city of Carlisle.
4. Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
In just under three hours, passengers can treat themselves to almost every element one could want on a railway journey through Scotland. Flanked by hot-pink heather, the train canters out of Inverness along the southern bank of the Beauly Firth and soon draws circles around freshwater lochs, clusters of white houses hidden between trees and mottled moors with plenty of deer. Peering between blocks of thick Scots pine, you'll glimpse silver bodies of water, perhaps a single boat tethered to a pier. It’s worth a stopover at the pretty village of Plockton with its palm trees, pocket-size houses and islets dotted around the bay – along with several silky seals. Pick up the journey once more and continue to the Kyle of Lochalsh as the Isle of Skye looms up ahead.
5. Newcastle to Edinburgh
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a high-speed train between two major cities can’t offer a gorgeous view or two. This route follows England’s north-east coastline into southern Scotland , weaving passengers in and out of the patchworked countryside and misty-blue ocean scenes. Although the first few minutes of the ride include the classic sight of low-hanging wires and warehouses, the train soon shakes off the grime and guts of the city and blares its horn alongside meadows of sheep and picket-fenced farms. Given the journey's speed, flashes of canary-yellow rapeseed fields, the shiny black hides of Aberdeen Angus cows and villages vanish as fast as they rise, so sit on the right and face backwards to draw out the views. As you snake through forest and thunder over bridges , you’ll know when the sea is close as the horizon begins to haze and the edge drops away, revealing a blaze of North Sea blue. Plus, as of late 2021, Lumo launched new service, offering travellers one-way fares starting from just £14.90. Not only will it make the journey more affordable, the train itself — part of Lumo's brand new, 100 per cent electric-powered fleet — is much more carbon-efficient than most other models.
6. Glasgow to Mallaig
Chugging out of Glasgow Queen Street, this train tails the River Clyde for some time before tearing away towards raw Scottish wilderness. Surrounded by glens tinged with the mauve of wild heather, it climbs up and around the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, clinging to hillsides trimmed with birch trees. Not long after Tyndrum, move to the front of the train and look back as it curls around the horseshoe bend at the foot of Beinn Doran before carrying on to Fort William. It’s a jolly summer jaunt – but brave the bite of wind and sleet and a winter journey brings beauty in the form of frozen rivers and daggers of ice dangling from trees. Towards the end of the line, the train runs along the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct at the top of Loch Shiel – a sight commonly known to Harry Potter fans as the route of the Hogwarts Express .
7. The Caledonian Sleeper
One of only two night services left in the UK, the Caledonian Sleeper connects London to Edinburgh and Glasgow on the Lowlander route, and Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness on the Highlander route. A facelift in 2019 means the train now resembles a mobile hotel rather than a mode of transport. With double beds, en-suite bathrooms and dimmable lights, the train provides a fun way to bed down for the night and arrive fresh for the day ahead. Board, stash your bags and hunt down the dining car for smoked salmon followed by a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties served with whisky-cream sauce. Knock back a wee dram, then drift off as London falls away in the dark, raising the blinds at dawn to the morning mist hanging over the moors.
8. Exeter St Davids to Newton Abbot
For unsuspecting travellers, this 18-minute journey might feel like any other urban trip. The rails roll past graffitied walls, the backs of terraced houses and a strip of factories. But look to the left and watch as the green marshland narrows to a point, the trees drop away and the train seems to hug the majestic, mile-wide river Exe. In warmer months passengers will see a flotilla of sailboats, kayaks and rowers, while in winter the wetlands are teeming with birdlife from curlews, dunlins and teals to bar-tailed godwits and avocets. Around Dawlish Warren the river merges with the English Channel and a perfect sliver of foam rims the edge of the water as walkers stroll along the coastal path, watching gentle waves break and fizz on the sand. Curving down the coast, the train swings inland once more and runs along the river Teign before coming to a stop at Newton Abbot.
Jennifer Fernández Solano
9. The Belmond Royal Scotsman
Over seven nights with steward service, four-course suppers – and much whisky – travelling on the Belmond Royal Scotsman is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to soak up Scotland in all its glory. Boarding in Edinburgh , passengers are shown to private compartments in what feels like a long and narrow Edwardian country house decorated with rough tartan cushions, lacquer-polished wood and tufts of fresh heather on the bedside table. As the train sets off for Falkirk, it’s tempting to daydream by the window, but head to the dining car for a lavish afternoon tea of salmon sandwiches and slabs of sticky Dundee cake. Over the next few days, the train passes through Fort William with views of Ben Nevis and the Glenfinnan viaduct, then snakes north towards the Arisaig coastline with day tours to Inverlochy Castle and the Isle of Bute. Expect an excess of everything from windy walks and castles to massages and the heady morning scent of fresh coffee and frying bacon.
10. The Night Riviera
The only other sleeper service in the UK, the night train from London’s Paddington to Penzance is a thrill of a ride from the moment you line up to board in the eerily quiet station. Passengers travelling in a sleeper compartment get priority boarding. Most families pull on pyjamas, clean their teeth and slide under the silky-smooth duvets before the train sets off. But if you do, you’re missing out on the hubbub of the dining car where night owls and regular commuters shout and wave one another over to catch up over palm-sized bottles of wine and a tube or two of Pringles. Light sleepers might find the jolts and bumps a disturbance, and it makes sense to pack earplugs to block out the sounds of fellow passengers fumbling up the corridors looking for cabins, their voices drifting in and out of your dreams. A bleary-eyed wake-up is soon forgotten when you open the blind at dawn to find purple mists draped over moors, apricot light streaking the skies – and a knock at the door bringing coffee and a hot bacon roll.
11. The Dartmoor Line
At the end of 2022, one of the West Country’s most treasured railway lines reopened after 50 years, connecting Exeter with the market town of Okehampton. The line – established 150 years ago – became a victim of the notorious Beeching cuts that saw thousands of stations and branch lines put out of service. However, after two decades of campaigning, the train is now up and running again, much to the delight of hikers, rail enthusiasts and campers who can journey up to the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park. Before the train has even reached its destination, the wildness of the moors makes itself known, wind whipping the windows and branches tickling the sides.
12. Snowdon Mountain Railway
Since the end of the 19th century, a narrow-gauge railway has puffed its way up Mount Snowdon, taking passengers to the top of Wales’s highest peak. Now a favourite of tourists – and hikers looking for a lift halfway – the train departs from jolly Llanberis station at 30-minute intervals, taking around an hour to climb 1,064m to the summit. Within the first few minutes, you’ll be treated to the sight of the Ceunant Mawr waterfall which crashes down over 100 feet into a gorge, along with old farmhouses, crumbling walls and a feral goat or two. As of April 2022, owing to engineering works, the train is running as far as Clogwyn only, from where walkers are welcome to attempt the one-hour walk to the summit. In 2023 the train will resume its usual route to the top of Hafod Eryri where passengers can hop out, stretch their legs and take in the panoramic views that stretch to Ireland. If you’re in luck you might also spot a peregrine falcon or two.
13. Coleraine to Londonderry
A standard commuter line, this route from Coleraine to Londonderry takes just 40 minutes, giving passengers a taster of some of Northern Ireland’s loveliest views. From the moment of departure, fields surround the carriages on one side while the River Bann runs along the other, its body stretching in the sun. On the approach to the seaside village of Castlerock, the train runs along the edge of a caravan site offering passengers a peek into curtained windows with often a wave or two in return, followed by a smattering of churches and houses that close in then swiftly pull back. Plunging into tunnels, the train reappears alongside a blaze of golden sand until the next twist in the track brings the countryside back to heel. Towards the last 10 minutes of the journey, the River Foyle appears and guides the train to its final destination.
Monisha Rajesh is the author of Around the World in 80 Trains (£9.99, Bloomsbury)
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10 of the UK’s most scenic rail journeys
From crossing moors to rattling along the coast, it’s worth taking these train rides for the view from the windows alone
Belfast to Derry
This two-hour train trip gets seriously scenic after Coleraine, when it partly follows the coast and Lough Foyle. As it runs along Downhill Beach, the sands and turbulent ocean are just outside the window, with the domed Mussenden temple perched on the cliffs above. On through farmland and past views of craggy Binevenagh – a towering cliff on the edge of the Antrim plateau – it will offer views of wintering geese, whooper swans and waders on the shores of the lough.
Within Derry’s 400-year-old city walls are excellent cafes such as Soda and Starch and engaging guided city walks (from £6). For rainy days, there is the new Derry Girls experience in the Tower Museum or, over the river, the Walled City Brewery for a taster-filled tour (£15). Next door, the Ebrington is a new hotel and spa in a former army barracks with glowing city views across the Peace Bridge (doubles from about £135 room-only). Singles £14. On Sundays, a Day Tracker ticket gives unlimited rail travel across Northern Ireland for £9 , translink.co.uk
Norwich to Lowestoft
This wild 40-minute railway journey, one of Greater Anglia’s “Wherry Lines” , glides out of Norwich and straight through the Norfolk Broads, past reedbeds, rivers and racing deer. Water birds can be spotted from the train windows across windmill-dotted marshland; one of the walks on the Wherry Line walks website ) offers a closer look. The pink-footed geese that overwinter here fly past in huge V shapes towards dusk.
Near Haddiscoe station is the free-to-enter ruin of St Olave’s priory, and the Bell , the oldest recorded pub in the Broadlands is nearby. A short riverside walk from Norwich station, by the church where Julian of Norwich was an anchorite, the restful All Hallows guesthouse (doubles from £80 B&B) is immaculate, friendly and great value. £10.50 return or £12 for a Wherry Line Ranger ticket
Swansea to Carmarthen
Running beside the Loughor estuary and then the castle-flanked River Towy, this route offers glimpses of oystercatchers on the sandy shore outside the window, and cows grazing on the saltmarshes. In Swansea, the elegant Glynn Vivian art gallery, near the station, hosts the biennial Artes Mundi exhibition until February 2024.
Walkable Carmarthen is a great place for a foodie stroll round imaginative places such as Karm’en Kafe near the ruined castle and the veggie cafe in Waverley Stores with its homity pie and platefuls of salad. Almost next door, the veteran Falcon hotel has smartly renovated bedrooms (doubles from £120 B&B). Day returns £12 , tickets.trc.cymru
Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield
The wooded Hope Valley line runs right through the Peak District past gritstone cliffs, reservoirs and viaducts. The local Community Rail Partnership suggests walks for all seasons from its stations, such as a 4½-mile hike from Grindleford through the ancient ferny woods of Padley Gorge, with beeches framing the waterfalls. After a climb on the glorious moors, the station cafe offers chip butties and tea in halves and pints.
If it’s tipping down, interesting museums in Sheffield include the Millennium Gallery , five minutes from the station, with an easyHotel nearby (doubles from £35 room-only). Advance singles from £4.70 , northernrail.co.uk
London to Margate
High-speed trains run from London St Pancras to Margate in 90 minutes, through wooded downs and sloping vineyards. This route and the slightly slower coastal line from London Victoria via Whitstable both have their scenic charms. The coastal route crosses the Medway at Rochester, with views of the riverside Norman castle. Beyond Herne Bay, the twin towers of St Mary’s church at Reculver can be seen rising from the marshy shoreline.
Margate is an ideal destination for wintry beach walks or sheltering from the elements in galleries and underground attractions such as the eccentric Margate Caves . No 42 is a new boutique hotel (doubles from £155 B&B) on Margate’s seafront near the Turner Contemporary where every detail feels fresh, from Whitstable oysters and local artworks to a spectacular rooftop bar. Advance singles from £11 , 5-15 years £1, southeasternrailway.co.uk
Inverness to Thurso
Another monumental four-hour Scottish railway journey, the Far North line winds slowly past shifting vistas of estuaries, lochs and mountains, miles of deserted beach and rocks covered in cormorants.
The blanket-bogged Flow Country is easily reached on foot from Forsinard, where the old station house is now an RSPB visitor centre , with a surfaced trail through bird-rich lochans to a lookout tower.
In Thurso, the North Coast visitor centre has displays of Pictish stones and Viking shield bosses. Back in Inverness, there are great places to eat, such as the riverside Mustardseed ; the city’s oldest hotel, the Royal Highland , is right next to the railway station (doubles from £76 room-only). Advance singles £14.70 , scotrail.co.uk
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Oxford to Hereford
This two-hour journey through the Cotswolds and Malverns passes meandering willow-bordered rivers, wooded hills and ancient orchards, and crosses four counties. There may be herons by the River Evenlode, swans on the Avon and fork-tailed red kites wheeling overhead.
Ten minutes’ stroll from Worcester Foregate Street station, beside the wide River Severn, is the city’s cathedral, with its Norman crypt, medieval cloisters and carved misericords. Orchard-ringed Ledbury makes a great winter base for exploring: the half-timbered Feathers hotel , one of the town’s oldest inns, has 20 colourfully refurbished bedrooms (doubles from £100 room-only) and is a 10-minute walk from the station. Advance singles from £14 , gwr.com
Lancaster to Carlisle via Penrith
This speedy line, skirting the Lake District, is beautiful as well as fast. There are autumn views across fells and undulating fields with sheep and whitewashed farms. The North Lakes hotel and spa , a 10-minute walk from Penrith station past the rose-walled castle, has a decent-sized pool and cheerful restaurant with an open fire in the middle (doubles from about £140 B&B).
It’s a 15-minute hop to the end of the line, where Carlisle Castle , surrounded by wooded parks, is a 15-minute stroll away through the city from the station and is offering 20% off to people who arrive by train, bus or bike. Advance singles from £7.40 , avantiwestcoast.co.uk , tpexpress.co.uk
Glasgow Queen’s Street to Mallaig
Scotland’s West Highland Line is one of the world’s most spectacular rail trips: an epic five-hour journey along Loch Lomond and over wild Rannoch Moor. The scenery is endlessly engaging, especially in late autumn, when the bracken-bronzed hillsides glow. There are trackside waterfalls and pine-ringed, island-studded lochs all the way to the white sands of the west coast.
From Glenfinnan station, passengers can tackle a rocky hike under the huge curving viaduct that features in the Harry Potter films, or stroll to the National Trust visitor centre , free and open all year, with a winter cafe serving soup and hot drinks.
The rail theme can be continued with a night in a 1950s carriage at Glenfinnan station (twin bunkroom £50). Advance singles from £26.60 . Until March 2024, Scotrail is offering off-peak fares all day
Southampton Central to Bournemouth
Trains between Southampton and Bournemouth take in miles of the New Forest, where ponies wander through gold birches over winter-browned heath. At Brockenhurst, 20 minutes in, there are hire bikes at the station for exploring level trails such as the disused railway line to pub-rich Burley (from £22 a day). Those wanting to see more of Southampton or Bournemouth could add PlusBus to their train ticket and get unlimited bus travel around the area.
Bournemouth is turning the Lower Garden into a free festive light trail again from 17 November, and the Village hotel (doubles from £60 room-only) is offering 10% off with a train ticket as part of Southwestern’s reward scheme. Advance singles from £4.10 , southwesternrailway.com
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6 Fantastic Weekend Train Trips Around the UK Under £200
The perfect way to spend a winter weekend…
- Post author By railwaytraveller123
- Post date 19th October 2020
There is no better way to spend a weekend than enjoying a relaxing train ride, slowly steaming across beautiful countryside and between cities. The UK has plenty of incredible weekend train trips on offer, and since we can’t travel, it’s the perfect time to try some of Great Britain’s best weekend train trips . Here are our favourites, all under £200.
Spirit of the Lakes
For a handful of weekends in December, West Coast Railways is resurrecting its railway tours on Spirit of the Lakes, a beautifully restored land cruise train featuring resorted Pullman coaches. Passengers can embark on Christmas-themed day trips from Cleethorpes or Peterborough to Edinburgh on board the train, passing through the stunning East Coast before spending 3-4 hours in the Scottish capital getting in the festive spirit before enjoying a return train trip.
Tickets start from £85 for standard class, but for under £200 (£155) you can book a Pullman first class ticket with breakfast roll on the outward journey and sandwiches and scone on the return run, accompanied by a service of tea or coffee. On Saturday 5 December 2020 you can travel from Cleethorpes to Edinburgh and from Peterborough on 12 December.
From £85, westcoastrailways.co.uk
The Poppy Line
The Poppy Line, or the North Norfolk Railway as it’s formally known, is one of the most magnificent heritage railways in the UK. This nostalgic and romantic steam train runs from the seaside town of Sheringham in Norfolk through to the Georgian town of Holt surrounded by rural parkland. The line is run entirely by volunteers, and for winter 2020 the train will take on the persona of the Norfolk Lights Express. Departing at 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays passengers can expect festive lights, an atmospheric soundtrack and plenty of mulled wine, hot chocolates and warm chestnuts.
From £16, nnrailway.co.uk
The Night Riviera
Spend your Sunday night travelling in style on the Night Riviera sleeper train , whisking you away safely from London to the sandy shores of Penzance. The train has restarted operations following a suspension due to Covid-19, and is now running on Sunday evenings allowing you to wake up for a new week or ‘working from home’ or enjoying some time off in Cornwall.
While the stylish lounge car is currently out of action, passengers get complimentary snacks and a light breakfast, and can order food to their sleeper compartment. Book in advance and you can get an advanced sleeper ticket for as little as £70.10, or a sleeper twin compartment for £195.
From £70.10, gwr.com
The Caledonian Sleeper
Hop on board the Caledonian Sleeper for a cosy, luxurious and picturesque Friday night trip to the Scottish Highlands. Passengers can board the super premium train at London Euston and arrive in Fort William the next morning, on what is the Caledonian Sleeper’s most popular and picturesque route.
Travelling on the West Highland Line, highlights include Rannoch Moor, where mossy-antlered deer can be spotted from the train and the beautiful Loch Treig. The train finally pulls into Fort William station at around 10am. While there are two cabin grades which are a lot more pricy, travellers can currently get a classic sleeper compartment for £170.
From £170, sleeper.scot
Severn Valley Railway
For the month of November passengers can spend their Saturday evening aboard the Severn Valley Railway, enjoying a five-star dining experience with award-winning Chef Richard Stuart, using local Shropshire and Worcestershire ingredients and paired with delicious wines. The journey kicks off with a champagne reception in Kidderminster before departing at 18:15 along the Severn Valley – arriving at The Engine House restaurant for a lavish dinner before retuning to Kidderminster.
From £70, svr.co.uk
Cambrian Coast Lines
Wales is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK, and is easy to get to from major cities and towns around the country – making a Welsh train trip the perfect weekend excursion. Riding on the Cambrian Coast Lines passengers can embark on a trip from Shrewsbury through the Welsh countryside through the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve and Snowdonia National Park. Once in Wales, discover the rich heritage of the area and explore historic castles and fortresses at Aberystwyth, Harlech and Criccieth, or pack your walking boots for a hike through the national park. The trip takes 3hours 45minutes with an off-peak return just £44.30.
From £44.30, scenicrailbritain.com
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8 Most Scenic Train Rides in the U.K.
From the countryside to charming seaside towns, these U.K. trains offer beautiful views along the way.
From adventurous cross-country journeys to luxurious rides in the world's most beautiful destinations , there's something truly romantic about train travel. It transports passengers to a simpler time, highlighting the joys of slow travel and, of course, showcasing beautiful views along the way.
Luckily, exciting train trips exist around the world, including the U.K., which is home to some of the best, grandest, and most scenic railways. So, if you're seeking a memorable getaway with stunning countryside, seaside town, and city vistas, check out one of these amazing train trips in the U.K.
British Pullman, A Belmond Train, London
Perhaps the most indulgent way to explore England's quaint countryside , Belmond's British Pullman transports passengers back to the Roaring '20s in its storied art deco carriages. A round-trip day trip, the train loops from London Victoria to the historic Chatsworth House , Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame), and Belmond's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons . The food is delicious and includes seasonal meats, vegetables, and indulgent desserts. For design fans, the Wes Anderson carriage blends art nouveau style, symmetrical lines, and pastel and jewel tones.
Coleraine to Londonderry
If you're pressed for time, the route from Coleraine to Londonderry (or vice versa) takes just 40 minutes. A bog-standard commuter line, the train — once dubbed "one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world" by avid train lover Michael Palin — passes through some of Northern Ireland's loveliest spots . On one side, idyllic pastures and the deep blue sea fill nature's canvas, and on the other, the River Bann roars as far as the eye can see alongside emerald mountains. Tunnels are aplenty, as are period homes, churches, and seaside towns . Castlerock is well worth exploring for its pretty village, and if it isn't too windy, a picnic on the beach. As for what to do in Coleraine, the town itself is steeped in history — the Mountsandel Fort is home to Ireland's most ancient human settlement — but we recommend hopping on a bus and continuing on to Causeway Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site with wonders like the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Game of Thrones- famous Giant's Causeway.
Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland
Say hello to Scotland's luxury sleeper train . With space for only 24 passengers, the vibe on board feels intimate and luxurious. En-suite cabins, tasty food (expect lots of Scottish salmon), spa treatments with some of the U.K.'s chicest independent brands, and an observation car with a veranda are just a few standout features. Passengers will see landmarks like the Kyle of Lochalsh and beautiful Cairngorms National Park , a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II. Daydreaming on board once the afternoon tea service hits is mandatory as you snake through Fort William, with spellbinding panoramas of Ben Nevis (the U.K.'s highest mountain) and Arisaig coastline. Luxury amenities aside, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure, too: hiking the gorges of Aviemore, enjoying windy walks on the Isle of Bute, canoeing on the famous Loch Ness; and clay pigeon shooting at the Rothiemurchus estate.
Jacobite Steam Train
It's no surprise that this now-iconic Scottish train is an Instagram favorite — the route from Fort William to Mallaig showcases an otherworldly mix of breathtaking U.K. views (think: craggy mountains, giant lakes, and the photogenic, 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its starring role in the Harry Potter films). What you see depends on the time of year. Come summer, expect fields of green and the most luminous of sunsets, while winter brings frozen rivers and giant trees glistening with dagger-like icicles. Tip: Book a seat in advance as they can sell out fast.
RORY FULLER/TRAVEL + LEISURE
Often overlooked by Brits, the Settle-Carlisle Railway runs through 73 miles of glorious countryside, showcasing ruggedly beautiful and remote spots along the way. The highlights come courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, home to fragrant heather, wildflowers, dry stone walls, and rolling hills. The stations here are just as beautiful (imagine charming pit stops flecked with hanging, posy-stuffed baskets), and the surroundings include green fields dotted with sheep. Another reason to hop aboard? This route, which launched in 1876, is one of England's last great Victorian journeys.
St. Ives Bay Line
Rory Fuller/Travel + Leisure
This one might only last 10 minutes, but it's still worth it, and you can ride it back and forth as many times as you'd like to make a day of it. Opened in 1877, this stretch of track zooms along the beauteous Cornish coast, a treasure trove of coves, azure seas, white-sand beaches, and beautiful coastal towns once adored by the likes of novelist Virginia Woolf, the odd celebrity, and more. Tip: Sit on the right side of the train for the best views, including a glimpse of the wispy sand dunes that eventually blend into the sparkly waters.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Although it's more a tourist attraction and necessity for hikers in need of a little help scaling the beautiful Snowdon mountain, this Victorian narrow-gauge railway is still worth a ride, if just for the breezy views. The train departs every 30 minutes from Llanberis station, and it takes roughly one hour to reach the summit. Along the way, have your cameras ready to capture centuries-old farmhouses, ancient walls, the odd goat, and the towering Ceunant Mawr waterfall, which plunges more than 100 feet into a cavernous gorge. As it's pretty old, part of the way is blocked off, so the train currently only runs as far as Clogwyn. There, you'll be able to jump off and walk the rest of the way to Hafod Eryri (closed until 2023) to take in the panoramic vistas. If you're lucky, a clear day will allow you to see all the way to the coast of Ireland.
Believe it or not, this is one of only two sleeper train services left in the U.K., connecting London to Edinburgh via the scenic Lowlander and Highlander routes that weave through Scotland . But this is no ordinary ride. Thanks to a 2019 makeover, this train is more like a hotel on rails: There are cabins with snuggly double beds, swish en-suite bathrooms, and for a dose of extra atmosphere, dimmable lights. A rather fancy dining cart ensures bellies are fed for the 500-mile, eight-hour journey. Choose from all the usual contenders, plus Scottish delicacies such as haggis and tatties (potatoes) served with a whiskey cream sauce. It's also worth waking up early to catch dawn breaking over the Northumbria countryside.
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Once Upon a Time Aboard
Timeless travel across great britain, expect luxury, glamour and a dash of adventure on an unforgettable trip through the british countryside.
Restored to their former glory, British Pullman's carriages are as famous today as in the heyday of train travel. Whether you prefer afternoon tea or the sparkle of a festive lunch in the most splendid company — there's a journey for everyone. Whichever you choose, we guarantee that you'll be whisked back to a more elegant era.
Exclusive Design Collaboration with Wes Anderson
Take your seat in our exclusive Cygnus carriage, designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson. With a love of train travel and a passion for craftsmanship, Wes Anderson has created a careful balance between the historical preservation of the 1930s carriage, and his signature distinctive style.
Dine in a new level of luxury as you enjoy priority boarding and free flowing drinks throughout your bespoke experience.
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Wining and Dining
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A Twist on the Classic
To create cuisine that is truly unique, we take inspiration from the views outside
On the Menu
Local, seasonal ingredients add an extra touch of luxury to every dish
Explore in Depth
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Reimagining A British Icon with Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson is one of the most pioneering directors working today. Now, fans of the director’s distinctive style can embark on a new cinematic adventure about a vintage train carriage.
Dead on Time: A New Murder Mystery
One train. Five courses. Ten suspects. Dead on Time, a brand new immersive murder mystery experience on board a historic 1920s train, sets off from London for a wildly entertaining, irresistibly vintage whodunnit…
Just The Ticket
Luxury train travel is often wistfully remembered as a bygone era, immortalised on the silver screen. Rediscover some of the most memorable portrayals of train travel in cinema, then get ready to plan your own dream trip to relive the romance of the rails.
Explore Britain by Rail
The romance of rail travel is encapsulated by Belmond British Pullman. Everything comes easily on this luxurious journey, from the beautiful views to the incredible food served onboard. The experience of sipping champagne as you glide through the British countryside in our sumptuous carriages is, quite simply, divine.
Privacy in Motion
Luxury travel by train and boat enjoys a starry legacy—recalling cinematic glamour, overflowing bubbles and peerless hedonism. From elegant private coupés aboard a 1920s carriage to spacious cabins on elegant river barges, which exclusive adventure will you choose?
Stepping aboard Belmond British Pullman offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the golden age of travel. We’re determined to deliver authentic adventures.
The Very Best of British
“It is forever true that the Golden Age is not behind us, but before us." It’s a line that perfectly captures the experience of traveling on Belmond British Pullman
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Rail Holidays UK
2021 & 2022 Train Holidays UK
Beautiful landscapes, VIP access to stately homes & first class service all the way, a rail holiday in the UK is an exceptional experience that everyone really must try. Imagine a luxurious cruise but on land where your every need is met and luxury is everywhere you look, that is exactly what a rail holiday UK is. Taking a train holiday is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that guarantees lasting memories and stories to tell. With beautiful carriages, stewards available 24 hours a day and everything included in he price of your ticket, many are skipping the sea and staying on dry land for their next cruise. If you have ever dreamed of riding the Orient Express , a rail holiday in the UK is the next best thing. It will give you a taste of what life was like on the Golden Age of travel all for a fraction of the cost. However if you really wish to take in the sights of Europe, take a look at our train holidays Europe.
What is a train holiday?
A train holiday is more than just a destination, it’s about the journey. Much like a cruise at sea, a rail holiday takes you across vast distances in unrivalled levels of comfort. Every ticket guarantees you a seat; a big, plush armchair to be more precise. Should you choose a sleeper journey then you’ll be treated to a surprisingly roomy and comfortable cabin. Most cabins even include an en-suite and a generous amount of space. Less cupboard and more like a five star hotel room. All these trains also include a dining car and usually a bar car or some sort of lounge as well. During your journey on board, you are free to roam and explore the train as you wish. If you train offers it, you could always treat yourself to a massage in the spa car. The best thing about a train holiday is the price. Everything in your itinerary is included in the price of your ticket, including the meals that are prepared fresh on board by chefs. Many trips include visits to places of interest such as stately homes, gardens or distilleries, usually with VIP access.
The best way to experience luxury travel at its finest while taking in the glorious British countryside is a rail holiday in the UK. With a generous range of journeys on offer with four exceptional trains to choose from, there’s plenty of choice without travelling too far. A rail holiday in the UK gives you the choice of a day trip or a sleeper holiday. Day trips are perfect for tasting what luxury life is like on the rails and includes everything you would expect just without the cabin and sleeping arrangements. A sleeper train holiday usually lasts between three and seven nights and usually tours vast distances. While you’re enjoying the luxurious on board you’ll be travelling to your next destination and seeing much more of the country than you would by any other means.
UK Rail Tours
All UK train holidays are day trips only, but don’t let that discourage you. With a wide range of journeys on offer running frequently throughout almost every month of the year, there is plenty to choose from and all at a very low price per ticket. Whether you are looking to explore the United Kingdom, visit a place of interest or perhaps wanting to visit a Christmas market in style, a UK train holiday is still a memorable day. You have two choices of train; the Belmond British Pullman , sister train to the famous Venice Simplon Orient Express or the Northern Belle , with beautifully restored 1920’s carriages. Both offer a taste of luxury and no matter what journey you choose, all include a multiple course meal during your trip. Both trains depart and return from the same station and each journey usually lasts a good portion of the day. The Belmond British Pullman only departs from London Victoria where as the Northern Belle departs from stations all over the country. When booking, you have the choice of tables; either sharing or private. A sharing table would mean you potentially would be sharing with another couple, where as a private table guarantees a table to yourself.
Belmond British Pullman UK Train Holidays
Train Holidays Scotland
A train holiday in Scotland is something very special. Riding the Belmond Royal Scotsman , you’ll be treated to one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Boasting luxurious carriages, a choice of cabins, a well-stocked bar car and even its own spa, journeys are nothing short of exceptional. The Royal Scotsman offers rail holidays across Scotland, with the occasional journey heading south into England. With a range of journeys available heading in all directions and visiting a wide number of sights, there is plenty of choice when it comes to finding your perfect train holiday. As a sleeper train, you’ll be given your own private cabin for the duration of the journey. Offering a surprising amount of room, you can use you cabin as you wish or wonder the train and converse with fellow travellers in the lounge. All journeys visit a number of locations, including stately homes, beautiful gardens and even a distillery. During your time, you are often treated to a private tour and usually VIP access to areas most members of the public are unable to see. A Scottish rail holiday is one of relaxation and exceptional views. As you travel through the highlands to your next destination, you are invited to relax and unwind as you wish. Much like a cruise, the time is yours to do whatever you wish. Including in your rail holiday ticket price is everything you could need. Gourmet food for every meal prepared on board by talented chefs. Entry to everything including on your itinerary and of course access to the bar.
Train Holidays Ireland
Choose a train holiday in Ireland and you’ll be treated to a journey aboard the Belmond Grand Hibernian . A modern-take on the luxury Orient Express style train, the Grand Hibernian is equally as luxurious as every other train mentioned, just much newer. Taking you across Ireland in unrivalled levels of comfort, the Grand Hibernian is the ideal method of transport for taking in the beautiful sights of the Emerald Isle. Like the Royal Scotsman, the Grand Hibernian offers a range of rail holiday options that take you across different routes of Ireland. Departing and returning to Dublin, journeys last between three and seven nights and including everything in the ticket price. Three gourmet meals a day served fresh on board by talented chefs, entry to all sights outlined in the itinerary including VIP access and of course a bar on board. The pace of a train holiday in Ireland is very slow and relaxed. Guests take in the beautiful surroundings and relax on the train while you are transported to your next destination. On arrival you spend a morning, afternoon or the day at the place of interest, before boarding the train once more. With beautifully plush cabins, sleeping on board is just like sleeping in a five star hotel. With plenty of space and your own en-suite, you’ll find life on board a luxury train very comfortable indeed. Plus there’s always the 24 hour steward service should you require anything.
Should I go on a rail holiday?
Without hesitation, absolutely. While cruises of the traditional sense are grand and may take you to more countries, you have so little time to really explore that you never see that country in detail. A train holiday even in the UK offers convenience, relaxation and exceptional sights, most you may never have otherwise seen. In the early 1900s, a ride on the Orient Express what a grand occasion with many of those returning with stories to tell. No wonder why it’s the most famous train ever to exist. A train holiday offers the same levels of luxury just more attainable than it was. For something truly unique that requires minimal effort and offers a memorable occasion, a rail holiday is truly unbeatable. Pay the price of the ticket and you’ll enjoy a truly exquisite trip, whether it be just for a day or seven. Here at LuxuryTrainTickets.com, we’re seeing more and more interest in rail holidays, which is why we’ve been adding more and more journeys. Travellers wish to explore countries at a slower pace and really take in the sights that many will never have the opportunity to see.
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3 (More) Best Scenic UK Train Journeys Every Traveler Should Take
- European Rail
- Types of Travel
- United Kingdom
One of the most relaxing and stress-free ways to travel is by rail. Consider that the journey on a train can be as special as the destination, especially when traveling through the United Kingdom. Skip the stress of airports, TSA, and delays. Undoubtedly, sitting comfortably in a cushy chair is a simpler way to travel, forcing you to slow down.
Imagine sipping your favorite hot tea gazing at the UK’s diverse and extraordinary topography. See the low-lying flat countryside that butts up to rolling hills and rugged, harsh, remote mountains. Travel from Britain to Scotland and witness the beautiful windswept seagrass, pastures, hills, castles, and quaint towns that glide by just outside your window.
Travel by train across the rural countryside of Ireland from busy, modern, and trendy Dublin to the quaint Gaelic historic town of Galway. Escape the congestion of London for a simpler, slower pace of life in Edinburgh, Scotland. Explore this noble land while giving a nod to a truly romantic homage by rail travel.
Our favorite scenic train routes offer beautiful unspoiled views along the way. Hop aboard these “no-stress-express” trains and see the UK all from the comfort of your seat.
1. London, Britain
The British Pullman train is by far the most luxurious and iconic train ride in Britain. Catch the Pullman and enjoy day trips from Victoria Station in London. This luxury rail line operates year-round in a variety of destinations. The Pullman is a restored 1920s-era train that has carried royalty and has been on the silver screen. Expect luxury, glamor, and adventure. Each rail car has an iconic history with a name to match. Feel like royalty as you start and end your day in style.
Schedule a themed train ride — such as a murder mystery, special afternoon tea, or a festive Christmas-themed journey — while enjoying a fabulous meal. Enjoy a round-trip scenic ride through the Kentish countryside. Take the historic route to Chatsworth House and Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame, or select a day trip to the seaside town of Hastings. Enjoy a wonderful experience, all with a glass of champagne and a superb meal served by your steward while you depart from the congestion of downtown London and pass by rolling hills, towns, and villages. It’s a true smorgasbord of views!
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Forget about flying from London to Scotland. Hop aboard a train and enjoy the picturesque views on the 4- to 5-hour rail ride to the most prestigious city in Scotland — Edinburgh. For train enthusiasts, there is nothing quite like a train ride between London and Edinburgh. Two trains operate daily and each offers a slightly different experience.
The Avanti West Coast train is a bit slower at 5.5 hours vs. the faster LNER train , which shaves off an hour and can reach speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. Both trains leave Kings Cross station in London and arrive at Waverly , the central station in Edinburgh. The views from the large train windows are memorable. While your train races through the countryside, you pass the boroughs of London, witnessing historic castles, cathedrals, grassy hills, and loads of golf courses.
You won’t forget the views as you enter Scotland with its green rolling hills speckled with grazing sheep! Scotland’s own author, Robert Louis Stevenson, once said, “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek.”
3. Dublin, Galway Ireland
Travelers who are interested in discovering the scenic landscape of Ireland might find that a shorter trip on a train crossing the country from coast to coast is the best option. The journey on the Galway-Dublin train , about 3 hours, is one of the most picturesque routes in the country.
The countryside of Ireland is so different as you cross from coast to coast. Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle” for a reason. The landscape is vast, green, crisp, and clean. To say the hills are rolling and bucolic doesn’t give justice to the true beauty of this place. Enjoy this cross-county train and see the topography of rolling hills with many gradations of green. Farms are separated by volcanic rock walls and sheep wander while they freely graze. Galway is a festive and lively waterfront village with the Cliffs of Moher nearby. Hop on this train, grab a Guiness, and see the best of Ireland — the countryside, cities, towns, and oceans. Dublin offers a vibrant city, culture, history, and great pubs. Whichever city you start or finish in, this train ride is worth it!
One of the most relaxing forms of travel is viewing the world through a carriage window. The UK has hundreds of beautiful railway lines offering a chance to see unspoiled, rugged, and scenic beauty. Whether you travel by train to skip the hustle and bustle of busy airports, or ease your travel stress by not driving in a foreign country, train travel in these beautiful UK cities can be the highlight of your journey. All aboard!
Christy Karsten is an airline pilot who loves to travel and explore the globe. When she's not exploring the world on a jet, she's adventuring the road less traveled, shopping, and enjoying local foods. She has been to five continents; with each trip, her bucket list continues to overflow while her list of destinations continues to expand. At her home in Southern California, she spends her time working out, hiking, and researching her next global journey. Depending on the day, this wife and mother is either an international airline pilot or a travel-hungry globetrotter.
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Book a 2023 / 2024 Luxury Train Journey | Flexible gift vouchers available
The northern belle, belmond british pullman, to the venice simplon orient express - choose uk day trips to european train holidays.
Enjoy a luxury vintage train day trip in the UK from London on the Belmond British Pullman ; sister train to the famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express . Also available are luxury train day trips aboard the infamous Northern Belle, which embarks on journeys from various UK train stations including Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, York, Sheffield, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Gloucester to name just a few.
Golden Moments are pleased to introduce Europe’s latest luxury train, Le Grand Tour. Le Grand Tour is a highly immersive experience, where you will tour France by rail aboard this magnificent luxury sleeper train. There are two tours available, a three day tour and the six day Grand Tour, both tours are intrinsically captivating and include meals, drinks, luxury accommodation and exciting excursions each day.
Nothing quite compares to the magic of touring Scotland by rail, with legends and mystique, Scotland is the perfect land to be explored by train. The Royal Scotsman is an all inclusive luxury train in Scotland that tours the Highlands. You can select tours from 2 nights to 7 nights, with all the tours you will experience luxury accommodation, fine dining, historical excursions as well as local onboard entertainment. If you’ve ever fancied taking a tour of Scotland, there’s no better way.
Vintage carriages, fine dining, elegant service, entertainment, sumptuous cuisine with fine wines await you on board the world-famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express luxury sleeper train. This exclusive train takes passengers on the most luxurious overnight journeys, from and to Europe’s most celebrated destinations, including Paris to Venice, London to Vienna and of course the original luxury train route from the capital of France to the door to the Orient, in a once a year journey from Paris to Istanbul.
For tickets, how to book and open-dated gift voucher options please speak to one of our specialist luxury train travel advisors about these train trips and other luxury train journeys such as The Northern Belle, or a vintage steam train tour with fine dining. Telephone 023 9387 1007 or click here for instant live chat help .
2024 dates now available! Click here for dates in 2024.
Please note the prices listed are from prices, and may change. All dates are subject to availability . Discounts are available for groups of four or more.
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Select a departure station to begin your Luxury Train Journey: Barnsley (1) | Birmingham (9) | Bourg-Saint-Maurice (2) | Brighouse (3) | Bristol (7) | Cardiff (7) | Cheltenham (4) | Chester (3) | Chesterfield (2) | Coventry (6) | Crewe (11) | Darlington (6) | Derby (5) | Doncaster (3) | Durham (6) | Edinburgh (20) | Edinburgh, Waverley (7) | Florence (4) | Gainsborough (1) | Glasgow (2) | Gloucester (4) | Harrogate (1) | Hebden Bridge (3) | Hereford (3) | Huddersfield (3) | Hull (6) | Ipswich (2) | Lancaster (2) | Leeds (12) | Lincoln (1) | Liverpool (5) | London (30) | London Victoria (156) | Lyon (1) | Manchester (10) | Newcastle (6) | Newport (7) | Newton-le-Willows (1) | Norwich (2) | Nottingham (3) | Paris (11) | Preston (3) | Rochdale (3) | Rome (3) | Sheffield (3) | Shrewsbury (1) | Stafford (3) | Swinton (South Yorkshire) (2) | Telford (2) | Venice (28) | Verona (9) | Wakefield (10) | Warrington (4) | Wolverhampton (3) | Wrexham (4) | York (12)
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Find unique gift ideas for Christmas and other special occasions at Golden Moments, choose a flexible open-dated gift experience voucher where the recipient makes their own choice. Golden Moments are collectively known as the Experience Hunters and we've been searching the UK, Europe and beyond for amazing gift experiences since 1999. With thousands of happy customers, we could just sit back, but oh no, once you start seeking experiences you just can’t stop and we’d recommend you try it too!
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UK Day Trips 2023
List of services.
Saturday 11th November 2023
ONE Premier Dining seat available, waiting list also in operation
Can you imagine a more lovely way to take luncheon than aboard a special steam hauled train travelling through the “Garden of England” between London and Canterbury?
Saturday 18th November 2023
Extra seats added to Standard Class, First Class and Premier Dining
Join us for an exhilarating main line steam run from London’s King’s Cross to the historic city of York.
Sunday 19th November 2023
ONE seat available in First Class
This day trip offers an opportunity for passengers from York, Leeds and the Aire Valley to travel over the spectacular Settle & Carlisle Railway on the Flying Scotsman.
Tuesday 21st November 2023
Join us on this scenic rail tour by steam train through the Thames Valley, the beautiful Cotswold Hills and along the river Severn.
Thursday 23rd November 2023
Join us for a main line steam run from west London Ealing Broadway station to Nottingham.
Saturday 25th November 2023
Join us on this interesting trip by vintage steam train to the historic city of Chester, an unusual destination from Bristol.
Join us on this rare opportunity to travel on a steam hauled excursion from the North West and West Midlands to London as we near the festive season
Wednesday 29th November
This tour offers an unusual opportunity to travel by a special charter train to the bustling city of Manchester, especially seasonal as its famous Christmas Market will be in full swing.
Saturday 2nd December 2023
Limited seats available in Premier Dining
Our special Christmas excursion by steam train from the south coast to the magnificent city of Bath follows a particularly scenic route through attractive countryside.
This special steam hauled train using a Carnforth pool locomotive will run at speed both ways from York to Edinburgh and return.
Wednesday 6th December 2023
Join us on a special train to celebrate the Festive Season in style.
Saturday 9th December 2023
The Lincoln Christmas Express is a seasonally operated steam hauled excursion by a private charter train from London to the historic city of Lincoln.
Sunday 10th December 2023
Standard Class seats available
This Christmas special steam hauled train provides an opportunity for passengers from York, Leeds and the Aire Valley to travel over the spectacular Settle & Carlisle Railway, probably the most famous railway route in Britain.
Wednesday 13th December 2023
Fully booked, waiting list in operation
Why not join us for a classic day out by steam train that combines exciting main line running, varied landscapes, and the special atmosphere that the historic city of Worcester can offer.
Saturday 16th December 2023
Premier Dining fully booked, limited seats available in First Class
Why not join us for a classic day out by steam train that combines exciting main line running, varied landscape, and the special atmosphere of York at Christmas time?
The Old Stables, Estuary Road, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 2HL – Phone: 01553 661 500
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© 2023 | The Railway Touring Company Limited | Founded by Nigel Dobbing in 1997 | All rights reserved. This work remains the property of The Railway Touring Company Limited and may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, without permission. Website: LucidSynergy Ltd.
Train strikes November 2023: Full list of tube cancellations this weekend as London's Underground and Overground closures grinds city to a halt
Posted: 9 November 2023 | Last updated: 9 November 2023
- Full list of London Underground and Overground lines affected by closures
Severe disruption is expected across London 's transport network this weekend, due to planned closures on parts of London Underground and Overground networks.
So, when will services be affected? How long will the disruption last? How should you plan your journey during strike action?
Read on below for everything you need to know about this weekend's disruption to services across the capital.
When are tubes cancelled this weekend?
Read more: revealed: tfl's elizabeth line had more cancellations than any other railway line in july and august... just months after sadiq khan opened new line, data shows.
Saturday November 11
On Saturday November 11, severe disruption is expected on both the London Underground and London Overground until at least 3pm due to works being carried out a new signalling system for certain lines.
Sunday November 12
There is also set to be disruption to services on the Elizabeth Line and the London Overground on Sunday November 12.
Full list of London Underground lines affected by cancellations
There will be closures across the London Underground network on Saturday November 11, due to work being required on a new signalling system for some lines on the Tube.
This will see no service at all on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee lines until 3pm on Saturday.
On the Metropolitan line, there will be no trains between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate until the same time, with customers advised to use Chiltern Railway services to London Marylebone instead.
As usual, the Waterloo & City line will not be running this weekend, as the shuttle operates from Monday to Friday, between 06:00 and 00:30 only.
Full list of London Overground lines affected by cancellations
On Saturday November 11, the London Overground will have no service between Highbury & Islington and New Cross, Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace and West Croydon.
A reduced service will operate between Kilburn High Road and Euston for the duration of the weekend.
From 00:20 to 7:40am on Sunday, no service between Paddington and Ealing Broadway. The last service as Saturday night turns into Sunday morning at 00:07 from Heathrow Terminal 5 will run between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Ealing Broadway only.
On the same day, there will also be a reduced service between Paddington and the Heathrow to Reading section of the line.
Two trains per hour will operate between Paddington, Reading and Heathrow Terminals 4 and 5.
This will also see a reduced service in operation at Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Hanwell.
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