Route: The East Coast Mainline from Newcastle to Edinburgh
Cost: From £10.10 one-way. Visit www.loco2.com
Journey time: One hour 30 minutes
A popular destination for landscape photographers, the Northumberland Coast was declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty thanks to its sculpted sand dunes and magenta sunsets.
This scenic route passes the historic Dunstanburgh and Warkworth castles, and Second World War training ground Brunton Airfield, continuing along cliffs that rise above the shores of Northumbria, with views to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
Gaze out to quaint fishing villages as you approach the walled town of Berwick, crossing the Royal Border Bridge over the River Tweed, and then continue to Scotland.
Top tip: Sit on the right hand side for the best experience and aim to travel at sunset.
Route: A loop of Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh
Cost: £1,065 including accommodation. Visit www.responsibletravel.com
Journey time: Total trip is eight days
Scotland boasts a wealth of beautiful vistas, and the West Highland Line, which runs from Glasgow to Fort William, was once voted ‘Best Rail Journey In The World’ by readers of Wanderlust magazine.
Responsible Travel offer an eight-day holiday incorporating the three-hour and 45-minute journey, where highlights include the vast, mountain-fringed Loch Lomond and the eerily desolate peat bogs of Rannoch Moor.
Passengers then switch to Jacobite steam train, the Hogwarts Express, travelling from Fort William to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan viaduct, which featured in the Harry Potter films. After a stop in the Isle of Skye, the journey continues with a trip on the North Highland Line to Perthshire, and finishes in Edinburgh.
Top tip: For a detailed account of what you’re likely to see on the journey, read Iron Roads To The Isles by Michael Pearson.
London: Belmond British Pullman
Route: A loop from London Victoria and countryside outside London
Cost: From £310pp at Planet Rail. Visit www.planetrail.co.uk
Journey time: Five hours
Featuring original 1920s and 30s Art Deco carriages, decked out with brass table lamps, intricate marquetry and inlaid mosaic floors, the Belmond British Pullman epitomises the glamorous golden age of travel.
The 11-carriage train carries passengers on the UK portion of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, but also operates shorter itineraries through the British countryside. Starting at 11.45am, a five-hour trip around London’s Green Belt includes a champagne lunch, with diners seated in either ‘coupés’ (small compartments seating up to four people) or in the open car.
Top tip: Wear your finest suit or dinner dress.
West Somerset Railway
Route: Minehead to Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton)
Cost: One Day Rover tickets from £15.30. Visit www.westsomersetrailway.vticket.co.uk
Journey time: 75 minutes, although allow a full day to explore stations on the line
Soak up some nostalgia on Britain’s longest standard gauge steam railway, which follows a 20-mile trip along a former branch line of the old Great Western Railway.
Michael Portillo included the route in his Great Railway Journeys TV show, and a section of the line famously featured in Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night. Jump aboard the steam locomotives, coaches and wagons, stopping at ten historic stations, such as the chocolate-box Crowcombe Heathfield station and the museum piece Williton station, built in Brunel’s Italianate architectural style.
Hop on and off as much as you like, or simply sit and enjoy the journey through farmland, meadows and orchards, before reaching the coasts of the Bristol Channel with views to South Wales.
Top tip: For an extra £2, you can take a bike on board and hop off to explore the countryside.
Yorkshire Dales and Pennines
Route: Settle to Carlisle
Cost: From £6.50 one-way. Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk
Journey time: One hour 45 minutes
All eyes will be glued to the windows on this scenic trip through the Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley, with views of windswept uplands and towering limestone crags. Heading north, the route passes through the Wild Boar and High Seat fells, as well as the ruins of 12th century Pendragon Castle.
The line then follows the River Eden as it meanders through farmland and bluebell woods, which are a haze of colour in spring. But it’s not just the scenery that sells this trip; the line is also a fine example of Victorian engineering.
Built entirely by hand in just seven years by 6,000 navvies, the 72-mile stretch features viaducts, tunnels, bridges, an aqueduct and water tower. A highlight is the Ribblehead Viaduct, comprising 24 stone arches that rise 32m above the moor.
Top tip: At Garsdale station, look out for a sculpture of collie dog Ruswarp; his paw print appeared on a petition to save the railway line from closure.
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