Is This The UK’s Most Beautiful Train Journey?

By Olivia Emily

10 months ago

Clue: it’s in Wales

Trains: they’re not always the most reliable mode of transport in the UK, but they’re certainly the most scenic. Nestle into your patterned moquette window seat and soak up the glory of British scenery framed by your wide train window. If you’re looking for some seriously spectacular views, this Welsh gem is the train journey for you.

This Welsh Train Journey Is The Most Beautiful In The UK

Train track at Barmouth Bridge

Barmouth Bridge

The UK is crisscrossed by train lines, from the East Coast Main Line (which offers pretty coastal views on the approach and into Scotland) to High Speed 1 connecting us with Paris. If you’re looking for a scenic train route, where the journey matters just as much as the destination, look no further than the Cambrian Railway line.

Stretching from Shrewsbury just over the English border to the Welsh west coast, the Cambrian Railway line was completed in 1869 and spans 120 miles of unspoilt natural beauty. It has two termini, splitting at Dovey Junction: Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. The Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth journey (the Cambrian Main Line) offers some of the best countryside scenery, passing through rugged mountain terrain and small market towns, passing by World Heritage Sites and ancient castles, and stopping in towns such as Welshpool, Newtown, Caersws and Machynlleth.

Powys Castle, Welshpool

Powys Castle, Welshpool

But opt for the seaside journey (the Cambrian Coastal Journey) to see these bucolic vistas fade into beautiful coastal views, clinging to the coast, burrowing through tunnels in cliffs and passing through the likes of Barmouth, Harlech, Minffordd, Porthmadog and Criccieth (with plenty of small town request stops in between) and ending in Pwllheli, where some of the UK’s best beaches are tucked away from the crowds – perfect for trying surfing – and coastal walks galore await your treading. You’ll also get to cross the 150-year-old Barmouth Bridge across the Mawddach river on the approach to the weird and wonderful Italianate Portmeirion (though the train won’t stop here – it’ll stop at nearby Porthmadog instead).

Stay aboard to soak up the views from your window, or hop off at one of the lovely towns to make an idyllic staycation out of it.

Portmeirion, a beautiful town in Wales

Disembark at Porthmadog for Portmeirion. (Mike McBey, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Note: Barmouth Bridge is closed in Autumn 2023 due to restoration works so rail replacement buses will be in action.