The Best English Rail Journeys
Celebrated each year on April 23rd, the date traditionally accepted as the day of Saint George's death in 303 AD, Saint George's Day is the ideal day to celebrate all that is quintessentially English; tea and scones, cricket, and of course, our rich cultural history - including our many delightful train journeys. From nostalgic trips through wild Yorkshire moorland to heritage routes through the pretty Worcestershire and Shropshire countryside, we truly believe that England offers some of the greatest train journeys of all time. So, as a commemorative nod to our patron saint, read on to discover more about three of the best train journeys England has to offer.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway delights its passengers with a journey reminiscent of a bygone era of rail travel. Trundling through 24 miles of vast Yorkshire countryside, the train traverses the wild moorlands between the market town of Pickering, North Yorkshire, and the coastal resort town of Whitby.
The rail journey begins at the quaint, 1930's style train station in Pickering, at the edge of the dramatic North Yorkshire Moors. From here, the train journeys towards England's scenic northeast coast on a wonderfully nostalgic journey, passing Levisham with its 1912 themed station, Newtondale Halt, and Goathland, famous as the setting of 'Aidensfield' in television's 'Heartbeat' and as the original filming location for Hogsmeade in Harry Potter. After passing the peaceful village of Grosmont, nestled in the lush Esk Valley, the train reaches its final terminus of Whitby, a vibrant coastal town with much to recommend it. Whitby is famed for its beaches, brooding clifftop abbey ruins, fish and chips, jet, and Dracula connection - illustrious Victorian author Bram Stoker was inspired to write his famous Dracula tale after he visited Whitby in the 1800's, taking inspiration from the town's gothic surroundings.
First opened in 1836 as the Whitby and Pickering Railway, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway line was originally used for the transportation of good to and from the coast. After its closure in 1965, the reopening of the line was funded by a dedicated preservation society, and it was rebranded as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Passengers travelling on the line today travel in carefully restored carriages hauled by heritage diesel and steam locomotives, as they are treated to sprawling views across the untamed landscapes of 'God's Own County.'
The Severn Valley Railway
Spanning 16 miles through the beautiful Severn Valley, the Severn Valley Railway traces a delightful route along the course of the winding River Severn, crossing the border between Worcestershire and Shropshire. The picturesque heritage railway, which connects the towns of Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, began operating in the 1860's and boasts more than 250,000 visitors each year, making it among the most famous and most treasured railway lines in the country today.
At the southern end of the line lies Kidderminster, a large town with a dedicated station operated by the Severn Valley Railway, which serves as the starting point for many of the railway's passengers. Opened in the 1980's, the station is designed in a late Victorian style and boasts a small railway museum which displays an array of railway related artefacts, many of which hark back to the golden days of steam rail travel.
Passing through a total of six charming English country stations, including Highley Station, where the line's Engine House and Visitor & Education Centre is based, the line runs to Bridgnorth. Bridgnorth station is an enchanting end to the scenic route; much of the station building is original, dating as far back as the 1800's - incredibly, the licensed refreshment room, 'The Railwayman's Arms', was originally opened in 1861 and has remained in operation ever since.
The Settle to Carlisle Line
A truly classic rail journey, the famous Settle to Carlisle Line travels on a breathtaking route through the rolling hills of northern England, on a 73-mile long journey between the eponymous towns of Settle and Carlisle.
From Settle, a peaceful market town in North Yorkshire, the line snakes through some of the finest vistas England has to offer on its way to the historical fortress city of Carlisle. Passengers are treated to ever-changing views as they are transported through the verdant Yorkshire Dales, across the Pennines and into the rural county of Cumbria. The line is a true testament to the dexterity of its Victorian engineers, travelling through a total of 11 stations, 14 tunnels and across an amazing 22 viaducts on an undulating route through the rocky terrain.
The Settle to Carlisle line was constructed in the late 1800's and is a part of the National Rail network. Although the line was threatened with closure in the 1980's, rail enthusiasts, local residents and railway authorities successfully fought for its survival, and today the line is more prosperous than ever, serving as a goods line and a commuter line as well as a noted tourist attraction. The line operates a regular diesel sprinter service, delighting its many daily passengers with a sensational journey along one of the most legendary and scenic railway routes in England.