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The UK’s best railway journeys for scenic views

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Britain’s busiest heritage railway runs through 24 miles of glorious countryside, much of it within the North York Moors National Park. Using a section of Network Rail, trains climb along the Esk Valley from the coast at Whitby to reach the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s own tracks at the junction of Grosmont.

Engineered by George Stephenson himself, the railway traverses wooded country to the moorland village of Goathland, still remembered as the setting for the TV series Heartbeat. Some passengers break the journey here to walk into the village or explore the famous mile-long stretch of road – Roman or even earlier – across Wheeldale Moor. Leaflets suggest walks from the other intermediate stations before journey’s end at the market town of Pickering and its 13th-century castle.

The details: Whitby to Pickering return from £38 for adults; from £19 for children (01751 472508; nymr.co.uk)

The Jacobite 

The West Highland Railway traverses some of the wildest country crossed by a British railway line, connecting Glasgow with Fort William, though it’s the onward extension to Mallaig that is best known. The famous curving viaduct at Glenfinnan featured in four of the Harry Potter films, and the Jacobite steam trains that run to the fishing port from April to late October draw thousands to the area for its spectacular landscapes.

After a glimpse of the Caledonian Canal at Neptune’s Staircase – a flight of eight locks – the railway skirts Loch Eil and is soon running beside the sea. Cattle can sometimes be seen on the white sands near Morar with views over sea lochs to the Small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rum. Inland there is a panorama of mountains dotted with the stones of sheep pounds and crofters’ cottages. The new carriages of the Caledonian Sleeper from London, some with en suite showers and even a double bed, are the most romantic and relaxing way to reach Fort William.

The details: Jacobite, from £49 return (0844 850 4685; westcoastrailways.co.uk). Caledonian Sleeper, London to Fort William, from £205 for solo occupancy, £250 for double (0330 060 0500; sleeper.scot)

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