One track mind: The most scenic rail journeys in the UK

·4-min read
Glenfinnan Viaduct, The Jacobite steam train, Hogwarts Express, Scotitsh Highlands
Glenfinnan Viaduct, The Jacobite steam train, Hogwarts Express, Scottish Highlands (Getty Creative)

It's full 'stream' ahead for railway buffs this summer, as rail operators Grand Central unveils relaxing train-ride videos from four of itheir most scenic routes - including one which will virtually whisk you from Sunderland to Kings Cross in a 20-minute flurry of stunning views. 

The new videos give a lovely taster of the joys of travelling by rail, and make for truly relaxing viewing. Nevertheless, it's difficult to watch them without wanting to book an epic train ride in real life. 

Watch: Major rail reform in UK

Train travel is not only the green, 'slow travel' choice, it's also the most fun. What can be better than relaxing in a window seat with a book, snacks and music, as an ever-changing landscape slides past? 

Here in the UK we're spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic rail journeys. These are just some of the best...

The West Highland Line

The West Highland Line will take you over the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Getty Images)
The West Highland Line will take you over the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Getty Images)

We know what you're thinking and yes, that is the viaduct from Harry Potter (also known, in real life, as the Glenfinnan Viaduct). In fact, much of the entire journey that the young wizard takes from Platform 9 and ¾ to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films is based on this iconic Scottish train journey. 

Ferrying you from Glasgow to the Highlands port town of Mallaig, the journey takes around 5 hours and 15 minutes. Along the way you'll be treated to gorgeous views of spots such as Loch Shiel and Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. 

The Bittern Line

You'll speed past the peaceful Wroxham Broad on the Bittern Line (Getty Images)
You'll speed past the peaceful Wroxham Broad on the Bittern Line (Getty Images)

Named after the bittern, a rare bird found in the marshes and reedy wetlands of Norfolk, this hour-long train ride will transport you from the medieval city of Norwich to the Victorian seaside town, Sheringham. 

Whizzing through the idyllic Norfolk broads on its way to the north Norfolk coast, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there's an evolving landscape to enjoy. Stop off at Hoveton and Wroxham to visit a waterside pub, or Cromer for a walk on its famous pier.  

The Cambrian Line

The Cambrian Line will take you from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth (Getty Images)
The Cambrian Line will take you from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth (Getty Images)

This Victorian railway line follows beautiful North Welsh coastline for most of its journey, chugging past white beaches and pretty villages on its way between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth, a charming seaside town, and the beachside market town Pwllheli. 

Read more: 11 of the UK's most breathtaking rail journeys

Running through the Cambrian Mountains in central Wales and along the coast of Cardigan Bay, it's a feast for the eyes. Hold onto your hats, however, because it's also a fairly dramatic ride - in parts the track clings to high cliffs and bores through rocky tunnels. 

The Settle-Carlisle Line

Blea Moor signal box on the Settle to Carlisle line (Getty Images)
Blea Moor signal box on the Settle to Carlisle line (Getty Images)

This 73-mile-long route is one for lovers of wild and rugged scenery, crossing some of the remotest regions of the Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennies on its way between Yorkshire's Settle Junction and Carlisle, a Cumbrian city near the Scottish border. 

Built back in the 1870s, this route was nearly closed in the 1980s but was (thankfully) saved by railway fans.

The Cotswolds Line

The Cotswolds Line soars over the Ledbury viaduct (Getty Images)
The Cotswolds Line soars over the Ledbury viaduct (Getty Images)

Travelling between the dreaming spires of Oxford and Hereford, an attractive cathedral city, this railway journey will take you through the gentle hills of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire towards the more rugged landscapes of Herefordshire. 

Watch out for the glorious Ledbury Viaduct, which you will pass over on the way. 

Derry to Coleraine

Feast your eyes on the Foyle Estuary on the Derry to Coleraine train (Getty Images)
Feast your eyes on the Foyle Estuary on the Derry to Coleraine train (Getty Images)

The train between Derry and Coleraine in Northern Ireland is short, at just 45 minutes long, but it punches well above its weight when it comes to beautiful views. 

Departing from the walled city of Derry, the train cruises northwards sticking right next to the coastline, with striking views out over the Foyle Estuary. 

South Devon Railway

Choo-choo-choose steam on the South Devon Railway (Getty Images)
Choo-choo-choose steam on the South Devon Railway (Getty Images)

Enjoy the old-school thrill of a steam train on this idyllic ride through the Devon countryside, which runs for just seven pretty miles between the picturesque market towns of Buckfastleigh and Totnes. 

On the way you will slink through the lovely valley of the River Dart, following the course of the river for much of the journey. 

Watch more: National Geographic says these are the most scenic train trips in the world

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