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Five Epic Rail Journeys in the United Kingdom

Traveling by train through the UK can still be an adventure.

Machine Steam Scotland Train Harry Potter

While there are many amazing train journeys in the United Kingdom, it is a small country and many of them are shorter than you think. On any trip to the UK you can take in stunning vistas, quaint towns, and old cities, but there are a few trips that are truly epic.

Since the UK is the birthplace of steam rail travel and the culture that resulted, it best to take a train ride you won’t forget. There are no shortage of options. Take a look at these breathtaking and inspiring rail trips and you will be packing your bags in no time.

The Scottish Highlands

One of the country’s most profound landscapes, the Scottish Highlands have been entrancing locals and foreigners alike for generations. One of the best ways to visit this savage region is to take a train. Not only can you use it to get to one of the most remote parts of the UK, you can take in scenes that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Take the Jacobite on the West Highland Line and you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the landscape on an old steam train. Some say there is nowhere in the UK more beautiful than the Highlands.

London to Edinburgh on the Flying Scotsman

Another fantastic journey is on the Flying Scotsman from London to Edinburgh. This is probably the best way to travel from one capital city to the other, and on the way you have some pretty great views. This is why, according to MoneyPug, a site used to compare cheap holiday deals, it is one of the most popular options for commuting between cities. In under five hours, you get to see beautiful country fields, the lovely Northumberland coast, and cities of all shapes and sizes. It is a great way to see the heart of the country while taking in some sites. The perfect route for backpackers travelling to and from these cities, just about everyone loves the train itself. The Flying Scotsman is an old steam locomotive and it looks the part.

Settle to Carlisle through Yorkshire Dales National Park

A popular train just for the views, over a third of this line weaves its way through Yorkshire Dales National Park. There are green valleys with lush foliage, rolling hills, and stone barns on the moorlands. There are connections in Leeds and Lancaster to make this beautiful trip more accessible. If you are looking for nature out your window, take this train route. With the Ribblehead viaduct the foreground and the Three Yorkshire Peaks in the background, you won’t easily forget the trip.

Glasgow to Mallaig

This route goes through some of the most remote landscapes in the UK. It has top lists of best scenic railway journeys in the world. There’s never a dull moment. The departure from Glasgow provides beautiful views of the River Clyde and provides many different landscapes, including the sea and rolling hills. Take this route if you want to get off the map and enjoy some spectacular surroundings.

Climb Mount Snowdon on the Rails

There is probably no better way to see Wales than from the top of its highest mountain. Leaving from Llanberis station, the train that was built in 1896 chugs along slowly to the summit. There is also a 30 minute stopover to enjoy the views. It is best on a clear day but if the weather does turn, it being Wales after all, there is a cozy café at the top of the mountain.

These are just a few of the amazing journeys you can take on the rails in the United Kingdom. There are many other options, but one thing is for sure. You can find a magnificent trip that provides stunning views, great destinations, and a historical perspective anywhere you go. Riding the rails has been a national pastime in the UK for almost 200 years. By taking a truly epic rail journey, you can experience remote landscapes and the culture that surrounds the journey of getting to them. Wherever you go on your journey, whether it’s to a great city or to a rugged wilderness, you will never forget the time you spent on the British railway system.

Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and traveler. He has been published in Paste Magazine, The Slovenia Times, New Noise Magazine, OC Weekly, and numerous travel sites. He can be reached at ryanrbeitler@gmail.com.

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