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Most Unique Scenic Train Rides In Scotland For An Amazing Adventure
On a global scale, Scotland has always been renowned for its staggering beauty, with incredible historical landmarks and breathtaking natural beauty spots making it a popular choice for those with the inclination.
Seeing Scotland by train has also become increasingly popular, thanks in part to the romanticism of films like the Harry Potter series, and their great shots of the Hogwarts Express passing over the equally striking Glenfinnan viaduct.
10. The Belmond Royal Scotsman
With a sense of timeless luxury and class, the Royal Scotsman offers all the amenities and comforts of a hotel, with all the excitement of rail travel.
Offering overnight trips of various lengths (ranging from 2- to 7-night journeys), the Royal Scotsman lets passengers traverse the Scottish highlands in comfort and luxury, taking in the local historical landmarks, the gorgeous countryside, and allowing for planned excursions along the way.
9. The West Highland Line
Traveling between Glasgow and Mallaig, the West Highland line is frequently declared as the best rail journey in the United Kingdom, offering a unique and awe-inspiring view of the highlands in all their wild and untamed majesty.
Stopping at famed destinations, such as Fort William, before reaching Mallaig, you will see the changing landscape of the Scottish countryside, seeing the rolling dales turn into rugged coastlines, as you reach the famed port - which in itself is the gateway to the Isles of Skye, Muck, Rum, and Eigg.
8. Perth To Inverness
Though not as traditionally dramatic as the other train rides on this list, the Perth to Inverness line passes through the famed Drumochter Pass, a large, expansive valley that is beautiful in the summertime, and hauntingly atmospheric in the dead of winter, when the sheer amount of snowfall consumes the walls of the pass.
With several interesting stops along the way, including the centuries-old Blair castle, this is definitely a hidden gem.
7. The Far North Line
Following the North Sea coastline from Inverness to Thurso, and then on to Wick, the Far North Line is one of the most stunning routes on this list.
Offering extensive excursions to lucky travelers, Thurso, in particular, is just a short distance from John O’Groats, a stunning coastal village, and the most northerly point of mainland Scotland.
Famed for its hiking, boat excursions, and most prominently its puffin population, this is a great area to immerse yourself in nature and experience the Scotland of the great north.
6. The Strathspey Steam Railway
The Strathspey Steam Railway offers a rare jaunt back in time to the golden age of rail travel, with its renovated vintage steam engine complete with dining cars and individual carriages.
Beginning in Aviemore, before proceeding to Boat of Garten and Broomhill, these historic trains were brought back to life in 1978, and since then it has become one of the most popular rail journeys in the country for both tourists and locals alike.
For bird lovers, the route also showcases the local osprey population, an incredibly rare species with only around 150 breeding pairs left in the wild.
5. The Royal Deeside Railway
Offering another quaint view of Scotland’s past, the Royal Deeside Railway is a restored steam engine that operates along a mile-long route alongside the river Dee, offering stunning views of the nearby hillsides and dales.
With a local cafe housed in a disused train carriage, as well as local hiking trails, boutique shops, and restaurants, this is a great day out for all the family and offers an intriguing snapshot of a bygone era.
4. The Kyle Line
Considered one of the most beautiful routes, the Kyle Line takes you from Inverness, along the east coast, and up towards Kyle of Lochalsh. Offering a series of changing landscapes, including mountains, lochs, and coastal scenes, this line really shows the diversity of Scotland.
Stop off at the beautiful market town of Dingwall, or the peaceful Plockton Bay - featured most famously in the film The Wicker Man. To top it all off, the entire area is situated in the looming presence of Ben Wyvis, a lonely, isolated mountain in the Torridon Peaks.
3. The Bo’Ness And Kinneil Railway
Running from Bo’Ness to Manuel, this is a heritage line and is home to Scotland’s largest railway museum. Traveling along the stunning coastline, the route takes you through beautiful towns and villages, vast sprawling woodland, and even fields of garlic that grow wild in the area.
The line is well catered for, and depending on whether you choose the steam or diesel train, you can have access to a three-course meal and refreshments.
2. The Forth Rail Bridge
A notable landmark and heritage site just west of Edinburgh, the famous bridge crosses the Firth of Forth, an estuary where several Scottish rivers meet.
Established in 1890, the bridge is notable for appearing in the Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps and is considered culturally significant by tourists and locals alike.
1. Stranraer Line
Stretching from Glasgow to Stranraer, local history states that this line was of particular significance to the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, who was deeply inspired by the sights of the west coast of Scotland, the nearby gannet-populated island of Alisa Craig, and in the distance, the Isle of Arran.
With frequent stops for excursions, including the Robert Burns Museum in Ayr, and the golf courses of Toor, this line also offers you further options to catch the ferry to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.
And there we are, our list of the most unique and scenic train rides through the vast Scottish countryside.
What is most striking about Scotland is the wealth of countryside and landscapes that the country has to offer, with a little bit of something to attract all kinds of people, and the power to draw tourists time and time again from all corners of the world.
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