The British invented the steam locomotive, constructed the first subway system in London and just recently we announced plans for a massive new high-speed line connecting the North and South of England. Due to this long railing history, it’s little wonder that train-spotting is a popular past time and that we have a wealth of picturesque rail routes around our little island, not least in Scotland where the journeys have been rated amongst the most scenic in the world!
The West Highland Line
Awarded “World’s Best Rail Journey” by the Wanderlust Travel Awards in 2009, the West Highland Railway Line in Scotland is undoubtedly one of the most scenic railway journeys in Britain. Running from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, to Fort William and then to harbour town Mallaig the train ride takes you from a cosmopolitan cityscape to the stark contrast of some of Britain’s most remote and untamed landscapes in the Scottish Highlands. With work commencing on the line almost 125 years ago and with little money behind the project to build expensive bridges and tunnels, the line winds its way around sharp turns and along steep gradients as it navigates the dramatic Highland terrain. The result today is a relaxing ride of awe-inspiring vistas.
The North Highland Line
Another of Scotland’s stunning rail journeys is the North Highland line between Inverness, capital of the Highlands, and the coastal port of the Kyle of Lochalsh. This line passes even further north through Scotland’s Highland wilderness and has been likened to a three part orchestra passing firstly through gentle, pastoral hills near Inverness, then through the mountain scenery of Achnasheen with views of the Torridon Peaks before dropping to the seascapes of Lochcarron and its coastal villages and ports. Whilst taking in the scenery keep an eye out for the array of birdlife circling overhead and herds of wild deer which can often be seen from the train.
Fortunately, enjoying rail travel in Britain and these scenic rail routes of Scotland couldn’t be easier for overseas visitors who have access to a range of inclusive rail passes via the excellent Britrail system. The Explore Scotland by Rail itinerary also takes you along both of the majestic rail journeys mentioned above. The new high-speed line through England will reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour but is not predicted to be ready to open for another 20 years so in the meantime why not sit back and enjoy the scenery at a more leisurely pace on one these scenic rail journeys!