Spectacular Views by Rail

2 August 2021

Have a day out by rail and marvel at picture-perfect views right from your train window!

Discover unparalleled, impressive views that can often only be experienced when you go by train. We've put suggestions below of some lesser-known routes and hidden gems along the railway network that boast spectacular views from the window. These routes may be less-crowded than the well-known scenic lines you've heard of.

Just one thing to remember... don't forget the camera!

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Train times are subject to change. Please check your route before you set off and allow extra travel time. We strongly suggest you travel outside of busy periods and book in advance where possible. Many train operators have capacity checkers or provide advice on when services may be quieter, check their websites for details.

Scotland

Days out by rail along the Borders Railway, Scotland
Borders Railway

Borders Railway

Edinburgh – Tweedbank

Route highlights:

Look out for Edinburgh's Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat, towering over the east side of the capital

Don't miss the incredible sunsets on the long stretch from Gorebridge to Stow

South West Scotland

Gretna Green to Stranraer via Dumfries, Kilmarnock & Ayr

Route highlights:
Look out for Loudoun Hill just south of Kilmarnock, the scene of one of Robert the Bruce's great victories in battle against the English army.

You may see the Portrack House and the Garden of Cosmic Speculation as you cross the River Nith on the Portrack Viaduct. This unusual garden only opens to visitors one day a year.

Midlands

Days out by rail along the Shakespeare Express
Shakespeare Express, Vintage Trains

Shakespeare Line

Birmingham Snow Hill to Stratford-upon-Avon

Route highlights:

Take a ride on the Shakespeare Express Vintage Trains with single or return tickets available between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Start your day off with a lovely breakfast, coffee and tea on board and enjoy the scenic view of going through Tyseley Locomotive Works, then on passing The Olton Golf Club and it's lake, going through National Trust lands, passing the Fulford Heath Golf Club and the Umberslade Estate.

Look out for Henley-in-Arden and Wilmcote before you reach Stratford-upon-Avon.

Days out by rail in the Chiltern Hills
Chiltern Hills AONB

London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon via Leamington Spa and Warwick

Route highlights:

Travel direct from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, and Leamington Spa with Chiltern Rail. Leaving London you'll pass the iconic arches of Wembley, soon after by Colne Valley Regional Park, look out for Chiltern Hills AONB.

Stop at Bicester Village for shopping and to stretch your legs with a coffee break, then back on the train passing Banbury and look out for more rural villages on the way to Warwick via Leamington Spa.

North West

Days out by rail at Delemere
Delemere Station, Mid Cheshire Line

Mid Cheshire Line

Manchester Piccadilly to Chester

Route highlights:

Travel along the Grade II listed Northwich Viaduct which spans the two waterways of the River Weaver and Weaver Navigation.

On the same route you'll also travel across the incredible 111 foot Grade II* listed Stockport Viaduct providing panoramic views of Stockport and onwards to Manchester.

With lots more picturesque views including the majestic Delamere Forest, historic Hale Village and charming Knutsford, you'll need to grab yourself a Cheshire Day Ranger ticket for unlimited off-peak travel across the region to explore it all.

Days out by rail along the Cumbrian Coast Line
Cumbrian Coast Line

Cumbrian Coast

Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle

Route highlights:

Journey past the spectacular Lake District fells and stunning coastline of the Irish Sea.

Leave the train at St Bees for the start of Alfred Wainwright's famous coast-to-coast walk.

East

Days out by rail along the Bittern Line
Bittern Line

Bittern Line

Norwich to Sheringham

Route highlights:

Journey through the Broads National Park and the scenic beauty of North Norfolk throughout the route.

Views out to the North Sea as you approach West Runton, Sherringham and Cromer.

South west

Days out by rail along the East Devon line. Photo: Antony Christie
East Devon Line. Photo: Antony Christie

East Devon Line

Exeter St Davids to Axminster

Route highlights:

Journey through the beautiful Devon countryside, leaving Exeter through Cranbrook and Honiton to Axminster.

Explore traditional market towns of, off the beaten track at Honiton, famous for its lace-making and antique shops and Axminster internationally renowned for its carpets.

Onward bus connections provide easy access to the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

Blackmore Vale Line

Tisbury to Crewkerne

Route highlights:

See if you can catch sight of an unexpected surprise in the form of an underground carriage. Sit in the top spotting position on the left side of the train after Tisbury station travelling towards Gillingham.

Look out for a glimpse of the romantic ruins of the 12th century Sherborne Castle. The finest views are from the left side window of the train after Templecombe towards Sherborne.

Sutton Bingham Reservoir can also be seen by the train. For the best views, sit on the left side of the train, after leaving Yeovil Junction towards Crewkerne. You may even spot sailing yachts, Canadian Geese and Great Crested Grebes.

Days out by rail along the TransWilts Line
TransWilts Line

Transwilts

Swindon to Salisbury

Route highlights:

Meandering along the route of the Wilts & Berks canal, journey through lush countryside in the valley of the Bristol Avon.

Travel through the beautiful Wylye Valley down to the historic city of Salisbury.

Look out for a glimpse of the iconic White Horse on the hillside as you approach Westbury.

South east

Days out by rail along the Medway Valley Line, Kent
Medway Valley Line

Medway Valley Line

Strood – Maidstone - Tonbridge

Route highlights:

The beautiful Medway Valley Line offers tranquil views of the riverbank and small boats as you travel from Maidstone West to Tonbridge.

Yorkshire & North East

Days out along the Hope Valley Line. Photo: High Peak & Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership
Chinley along the Hope Valley Line. Photo: High Peak & Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership

Hope Valley Line

Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield

Route highlights:

As the train emerges from the darkness of either Totley or Cowburn tunnel, you'll suddenly find yourself surrounded by the stunning landscapes of Edale and Hope Valleys.

Stretch your legs with a short circular walk from Edale Station taking in the Vale of Edale, the Penny Pot Café and the Pennine Way.

While you're in Edale, take time to explore this tiny village and support the local businesses by visiting the cafes, pubs or shops. It's always difficult to park in Edale so take the train to remove the strain, plus it's one of the greenest ways to travel.

Days out by rail along the Penistone Line
Penistone Line. Photo: Anders Hanson

Penistone Line

Sheffield to Huddersfield

Route highlights:

Travel along four Victorian viaducts each showcasing superb views of the South Pennines.

Days out along the Glossop Line. Photo: Neil Watkinson from Pixabay
Win Hill, along the Glossop Line

Glossop Line

Manchester Piccadilly to Glossop

Route highlights:

Take the train from Manchester to Glossop and cut out all those queues on the M67.

From Glossop station you can hop on the Snake X57 bus which will take you along the spectacular Snake Pass, over Snake Summit and across the Pennine Way for panoramic heather moorland views.

Leave the bus at the Ladybower Inn and explore the famous reservoirs and Dambuster's dam and you won't have to worry about finding a parking space.

Days out along the Calder Valley line
Calder Valley

Calder Valley

Leeds to Manchester Victoria

Route highlights:

Look out for the superb urban panorama from the train as you travel past Todmorden town centre.

Above Todmorden you'll see Stoodley Pike monument, perched on the hilltop, viewable from the train at various points between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.

Often referred to as Little Switzerland, Hebden Bridge, and it's narrow confluence of two valleys packed with houses and mills can be seen from the train.

The sweet smell of chocolate may be in the air as you leave the train in Halifax, with the home of Quality Street visible from platform 1.

Keep an eye out as you leave Halifax Station towards Bradford to see the gothic Halifax Minster, you may also spot Calderdale Industrial Museum and Piece Hall too.

 

Don't forget to follow us on social media to get a daily boost of inspiration on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

We encourage you to explore these journeys safely by adhering to the latest government advice. Before planning any journey, please check the government guidance on travelling on public transport, relevant to where you are: England, Scotland, Wales. Please research your journey in advance as timetables can change and check for disruptions before you set off.

These scenic railway routes are supported by community rail partnerships, you can find out more about each partnership on the individual line pages linked above. Community rail is a growing grassroots movement made up of community rail partnerships and groups across Britain. They engage communities and help people get the most from their railways, promoting social inclusion and sustainable travel while working alongside train operators to bring about improvements. Learn more about community rail across Britain and how you can get involved through the Community Rail Network website.

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