As the summer holidays approach, rail travel provides a great opportunity to take a weekend vacation in Britain. While most people nowadays drive or fly, taking the train provides passengers with beautiful views and a relaxing break from reality. Here are some of the best journeys in Britain:
Scotland: Inverness – Thurso – Wick
The route from Inverness to Wick is the most northerly line in the UK and contains some of the most rugged landscapes in the country. Upon leaving Inverness, the train proceeds over the Caledonian canal into the remote landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Throughout this journey passengers see remote cottages and flowing rivers full of salmon. At Thurso, riders can disembark and take a ferry to Stromness on the Orkney Islands or continue onboard to Wick. Wick at the north end of the Scottish east coast is believed to have been founded by Vikings about 800 years ago. The entire journey will take four hours and fifteen minutes and costs £13.
The North: Newcastle – Carlisle
This trip from coast to coast is an opportunity to travel back in time and experience Britain’s rich history. The train takes you along Hadrian’s wall traversing the 60-mile neck of Northern England along the border with Scotland. Built in 122AD, this monumental wall served as a military fortification to mark the norther frontier of the Roman Empire and defend the Romans against northern invaders. At the end of the journey is Carlisle in northwest England, also founded by Roman conquerors approximately 1,900 years ago. This journey will take two hours and cost £15.
The South and the Midlands: Oxford – Hereford
This beautiful journey includes views of quaint English cottages for as far as the eye can see. The Cotswolds line service carries you through the hills of Oxfordshire pass idyllic villages built into the countryside of Gloucestershire. The line continues over the Ledbury viaduct which was built using 5 million bricks, enough to build 300 homes, and then continues on to Hereford.
Before you begin your journey in Oxford you may want to visit the villages of Arlington and Bibury. William Morris described the latter as the “most beautiful village in England.” The whole trip from Oxford to Hereford takes two hours and costs about £20 to £25.
The South: St Erth – St Ives
The line between St Erth and St Ives in Cornwall, in the far South of England, is a short railway trip of about four miles. Built in 1877 to serve the fishing village of St Ives, it is now predominantly used by the many international tourists that visit the town each year. The line runs directly alongside the coast. The train passes the town of Lelant, known for its golf course and the medieval Church of St Uny on the left-hand side. After the train passes Hawkes Point, about 30 meters above sea level, you will cross two ancient viaducts before reaching St Ives railway station. The journey takes 15 minutes and costs £3.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons