NORTH OF THE BORDER
Scotland certainly has plenty of dramatic scenery and its wild and wonderful west coast can be discovered on the West Highland Line. There are two directions to take as the line splits north of Glasgow, taking passengers across to the west coast and Oban, or north to Fort William and Mallaig. Both trips see you passing glens, hills and tranquil lochs, by Loch Long and towards Loch Lomond. On the three-hour 20-minute journey to Oban you’ll pass Kilchurn Castle, graze the edge of Loch Awe and steam on towards Loch Etive.
Passing the town of Connel, you’ll see the Falls of Lora and then on to Oban itself, where you can catch a ferry to the various Inner and Outer Hebrides islands. www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk www.scotlandinfo.eu/scotland-islandhopping A journey of five-and-a-half hours to Mallaig will give you a chance to admire the remarkable Horseshoe Curve, Loch Tulla and on to the wild open space of Rannoch Moor, surrounded on either side by hills and mountains. Corrour is the UK’s highest altitude rail station (and featured in the film Trainspotting), then admire the views along the length of Loch Treig before heading towards Fort William and past Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.
Harry Potter fans will be thrilled as the Glenfinnan Viaduct comes into view - famous as part of the route to Harry’s Hogwarts School. Movie fans will also recognise Morar’s shores from Local Hero. At Mallaig you can see the Isle of Skye and hop on the short ferry trip across to the island if you wish. www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/skye/ mallaigferry You can stop off at Ardlui at the top of Loch Lomond to enjoy the spectacular scenery, or at the Falls of Cruachan for Ben Cruachan, the ‘Hollow Mountain’ home to a vast hydro-electric power station, which offers free tours for rail passengers (Oban line). www.visitcruachan.co.uk A two-and-a-half hour train ride from Glasgow takes you to historic Carlisle.
As you leave the city, you’ll pass Pollok Country Park, home to the impressive Burrell Collection of art and antiquities and some Highland cows! It’s worth noting that the Collection is closing shortly, until 2020, for major refurbishment. Winding through miles of farmland, you’ll arrive at Kilmarnock, a great stop off for trips to the seaside in Irvine or Ayr. Or stay on the train and stop at Dumfries, where Robert Burns spent the last five years of his life. Further on past the Solway Firth is Gretna Green, where you can see the famous Blacksmith’s anvil, scene of many a young runaways’ wedding. Cross the border then into England and arrive in Carlisle with its 11th century castle.www.discovercarlisle.co.uk www.scotrail.co.uk www.westhighlandline.org.uk
COTSWOLDS AND CASTLES
The middle of England has some very pretty train rides, such as the Oxford to Hereford route. Hop on the Cotswold Line and take a trip through the beautiful hills of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and on into Herefordshire. The line takes you over the stunning Ledbury Viaduct, which was built using five million bricks. Ledbury is home to Eastnor Castle - a georgian castle surrounded by a deer park, with an arboretum and lake. Decorated in Gothic fashion inside, in the grounds you’ll find a knight’s maze, a treetop walkway, and lakeside and woodland walks. www.eastnorcastle.com
At the centre of Ledbury is the Black and White Grade I listed 17th century Market Hall. One of the finest of its kind in England, it still hosts markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Younger visitors might like to follow the Ledbury Fairy Door Trail around the town - download maps online or pick one up from several of the door hosts. Stop off in Hereford and a must-see is the cathedral with its 13th century Mappa Mundi. The largest medieval map of the world still in existence, it offers a social snapshot of faith and history in the 13th century. www.herefordcathedral.org/visit-us/ mappa-mundi-1 Then pop into the Cider Museum and explore the original cider champagne cellars of the former cider-making factory. www.cidermuseum.co.uk
NORTH YORK MOORS
Whether it’s a trip to the seaside or a spot of Dracula hunting you fancy, the hourand- a-half journey from Middlesbrough to Whitby is sure to please. The train takes you through the Yorkshire Moors, passing picturesque villages and stunning countryside along the Esk Valley Railway. You can visit the ‘Prettiest Village’ in Yorkshire at Lealholm, or start the Esk Valley Walk from Castleton Moor. In Whitby, check out the local shops for a piece of famous Whitby jet, or climb the 199 steps up to the Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey - home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Be prepared to be scared at The Dracula Experience, with spooky effects and live actors, (discounts for group bookings). www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk www.draculaexperience.co.uk
If you want a trip in Wales, hop on the Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury to Swansea, going via Llandrindod Wells, home of the National Cycling Museum, www.llandrindod.co.uk, and Llanelli. Enjoy beautiful countryside along the way and then head to the National