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Top 5 Railway Trips in the UK

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Image © Kati Ciesielski via Flickr

Head to the hills for these beautiful rural railway trips

For a unique view of the beautiful British countryside, opt for a trip on one of the UKs most magnificent railway routes.

Image credit: Steve Liptrot via Flickr

The Bluebell Railway

Sheffield Park to East Grinstead

What? One of England’s first preserved heritage lines, with vintage steam locomotives recreating trains from the 1880s to the 1960s.

Where? In beautiful Sussex, heading from the bottom to the top of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!

Why? This 22-mile return trip takes you from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, with stop off points at Horsted Keynes and Kingscote. Grab an All-Day Rover Ticket so you can jump on and off at each stop, leaving you time to explore these lovely Sussex spots. From Sheffield Park to East Grinstead takes 40 minutes and plummeting through the High Weald in a traditional steam train is a wonderful way to view the area. For an extra special trip, check out their luxury dining experiences, which offer you a three-course lunch or dinner with fine wine pairings and the chance to dine in vintage luxury.

Image credit: Ian Kenn via Flickr

The Jacobite

Fort William to Mallaig

What? Stunning railway route that crosses the viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter films.

Where? The vast Scottish Highlands, on the route to Hogwarts.

Why? The journey starts at the base of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and ends in the bustling ferry town of Mallaig. It’s an 84-mile round trip that takes you past Britain’s most westerly mainland train station, via the deepest fresh water loch in Britain and to the deepest seawater loch in all of Europe! The journey also takes you across the magnificent 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct, where Harry Potter and Ron Weasley famously struggled with a suposedly invisible Ford Anglia. Time allowing the train driver will stop on this bridge, giving you time to take in the magnificent views. The trip is a complete return journey with designated stops at certain stations, and when you get to the final destination of Mallaig you can enjoy an hour and a half of exploring the local town.

Image credit: Andrew via Flickr ​​​​​​​

The Settle to Carlisle Railway

Settle to Carlisle

What? Working railway route with both diesel and steam trains zooming past vast viaducts and Victorian architecture.

Where? Through the rugged Yorkshire Dales National Park and past the Lake District’s Fells.

Why? Unlike previous lines, this railway journey isn’t a preserved heritage railway, it’s actually a functional railway line that delivers people to and from these remote northern locations each day. The journey takes you past the Ribblehead viaduct, a 104ft, 24-arched viaduct with a fascinating history. Built by over 2,000 railway builders in the 1870s, workers and their families lived in makeshift shanty towns around the bridge. A fatal combination of dangerous construction conditions, fighting and small-pox outbreaks claimed the lives of over 100 men throughout the building process, and it was one of the last viaducts to be built primarily with manual labour. To embark on this stunning journey, head to any of the stations along the line and wait for one of the regular services. You can also book a less frequent steam train, such as The Dalesman.

Image credit: Mark Lynam via Flickr​​​​​​​

St Ives Bay Line

St Erth to St Ives

What? A stunning coastal railway route that only takes about 15 minutes!

Where? Starting at St Erth which is on the London Paddington-Penzance line, and ending at beautiful seaside town of St Ives.

Why? This short but sweet train line closely hugs the coastline, with the train rushing past Cornwall’s signature golden sandy beaches. Like the Settle to Carlisle line, this railway trip is a fully functional passenger railway that regularly ferries tourists and locals to and from the small towns. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy sea views and watch out for some local birds and wildlife. When you get on a St Erth try your best to bag a seat on the right-hand side of the train, as this will leave you with the best views of the scenery. Best bit of it all? This journey only costs £4 for a day-return!

Image credit: Heart of Wales Line via Facebook​​​​​​​

Heart of Wales Line

Craven Arms to Llanelli

What? Long, scenic railway route that connects walking routes and forgotten stations in the Welsh countryside.

Where? The route crosses Shropshire, Powys, Carmarthenshire and Swansea.

Why? This magnificent journey is a 121-mile trip that takes around 4 hours, crossing the England/Wales border and plummeting through mountains, forests, small towns and wild woodland. The route goes through 30 railway stations, some of which are request stops, and flies over two viaducts and through six tunnels. The line interweaves with the Heart of Wales Line Trail, a long distance (141 mile) walking route that crosses the railway line at various stations and can take as long as 10 days to complete. Whether you explore the area by foot or by track, you’re sure to discover some of Wales’ most glorious scenery.