The greatest way to experience Scotland’s untamed and enchanted landscapes is on a memorable train vacation. If you wish to go overnight or on a day excursion with the kids, tour the beaches or the Highlands by steam train or small gauge railway, Scotland is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful rail systems. Continue reading to learn more about Scotland’s most picturesque railways and to begin making travel arrangements.
1. West Highland Line
The Scottish Highlands are a wild and wonderful place, famous for its resident fabled monster “Nessie,” the dramatic, lonely John o’ Groats, and whisky distilleries scattered amid mountains and lochs.
The West Highlands are known for their delectable seafood, warm Highland friendliness, and adored Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom. The West Highland Line is aptly regarded by many as the world’s most beautiful rail ride.
When you travel north through the wilds of the west coast, passing past Loch Lomond and the breathtaking Trossachs National Park, you can see portions of the nation that are only accessible by rail.
In Crianlarich, the route splits, giving you the option of continuing on to Fort William and Mallaig or ascending to Rannoch Moor and passing through a desolate wilderness area before reaching Oban.
2. Fort William to Mallaig on the Jacobite steam train
This branch of the West Highland line, where the Hogwarts Express flies in the Harry Potter movies, is renowned for the breathtaking Glenfinnan Viaduct. Like Harry, the traditional steam train is unquestionably the best way to travel this journey.
The well-known Jacobite railway, also known as the Harry Potter train by many, is the ideal way to experience the Highland landscape. It occasionally stops on the 21-arched bridge so that you can take in breathtaking views of the rugged, mossy countryside and shimmering Lake Shiel in the distance.
3. Belmond Royal Scotsman
The Royal Scotsman, run by Belmond, a provider of luxurious train journeys, takes you into the Scottish wilderness in style, so you may visit well-known sites, including Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis, the Isle of Bute, and Mount Stuart.
But this train is unlike any other. Throughout the ten cars of the Royal Scotsman, Edwardian beauty and country-house comforts coexist. This palace on wheels has a dining room, observation car, and the Bamford Spa in addition to the en suite double cabins.
As you wind over towering hills and breathtaking valleys, you may enjoy fine wines, malt whiskies, entertainment, and first-class cuisine featuring Scottish fare.
4. Kyle Line
The Kyle Line, which also leaves from Inverness, travels through picturesque Highland towns like Achnasheen and Plockton before arriving at Kyle of Lochalsh, a lovely community that serves as the entrance to the Isle of Skye.
The Kyle Line travels through pristine Highland slopes, past picturesque beaches and serene lochs, and via rare bird habitats, including eagle and heron nests, in just two and a half hours.
At the Kyle Line Museum, you can also delve into Scottish history, getting a taste of highland life in Scotland a century ago and learning about the influence the railway had in its early years. Also, there is a possibility of traveling by steam on the Kyle Line if you want to relive the Golden Era of Transportation.
5. Strathspey Railway
These mythical mountains, home to the Cairngorm quartz, are well-liked by climbers, walkers, and even skiers. They are frequently snow-topped and tundra-like. We discover that riding on the Strathspey Steam Railway in the luxury of a plush carriage is the finest way to take in the breathtaking peaks.
The line, which runs along the River Spey and the western boundary of the National Park, connects snowsports base Aviemore with Broomhill in about one and a half hours. The RSPB reserve at Boat of Garten commonly referred to as “Osprey village,” is a popular place for travelers to get off.
With both Sunday lunch and afternoon tea being served on board the train, it makes for the ideal day out. You can also bring your pets along as long as they are well-behaved.
6. The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway
The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway is a short trip that stops at numerous areas of interest, making it ideal for a family day out.
It takes just over an hour and offers unique experiences like a day with Thomas the Tank Engine or a ride on vintage locomotives at the Museum of Scottish Railways, making it a wonderful choice for young travelers.
The line actually passes by the Kinneil Local Natural Reserve, which is great for walking, cycling, and bird watching; the estate, a remarkable Renaissance building with wall murals; the museum, which houses Roman artifacts; and Birkhill’s antique railway station, which children like.
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7. Aberdonian Steam Train
This is a unique one since you can travel back in time on the renowned steam locomotive Tornado while visiting two of Scotland’s most intriguing cities, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Huge windows provide unmatched views of the surroundings, and the cuisine features delectable Scottish cooking.
Crossing the amazing Forth Bridge will surely be a highlight of the trip. This bridge, which connects Edinburgh with Fife, is the second-longest single cantilever span of any bridge in the world, earning it the title of UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Aberdonian then travels along the coastline as you wind through beautiful scenery and rich sceneries with clifftop views. You may see Aberdeen’s beautiful castle and medieval district or go distillery-hopping, while Edinburgh needs no introduction.
8. The Borders Railway
The Scottish Borders, with its rolling hills, lochs, and cairns, as well as Edinburgh’s (think Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags), Midlothian’s (catch spectacular sunsets on the long stretch between Gorebridge and Stow), and the Borders of Scotland, will all be yours to see as you travel by rail from Tweedbank.
Visitors who want to visit Sir Walter Scott’s house at Abbotsford House and the stunning ancient ruin of Melrose Abbey frequently travel to Tweedbank.
Although it is the longest domestic railway to be built in well than a century, it only takes an hour to get from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, and on some days, you can choose to take a thrilling steam train ride.
9. Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway
For something a little bit unusual, jump aboard a car on this tiny gauge railway which operates between Scotland’s highest villages, Leadhills, and Wanlockhead.
It was constructed on the former Caledonian Railway line’s trackbed, which was abandoned in 1938. The station at Leadhills also houses a collection of locomotives from the industrial era that has been specifically preserved.
The route also takes you to isolated upland settlements, such as the aptly called Leadhills, where you may discover more about the area’s industrial past. The highest course in Scotland is located in this village; it is not for the timid!
You may learn about the development of industry and how to lead miners dug miles of tunnels to find lead ore and silver at the lead mining museum in Wanlockhead.