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Great Britain: By rail via England, Wales and Scotland

Great Britain: By rail via England, Wales and Scotland

AThe Channel Tunnel opened in 1994 and the first Eurostar train connected Brussels to the British capital, making traveling through the tunnel under the English Channel an adventure. More routes have been added over the years, starting with Paris and Amsterdam, but the subway experience has become more of a casual high-speed ride.

At the start of a trip across Great Britain, an alternative route to the island was needed. After a little research, you’ll find a surprising new way to get to the UK with the Stena Line overnight ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich. The best way to get here is via Rotterdam, from where the ferry can be reached directly by local transport.

On the boat, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset while enjoying a snack before going to bed. Unlike the shuddering night trains, the ship feels like a hotel when the sea is calm. So you don’t notice that you leave the continent in your sleep and land in Harwich at 06.30am local time.

Source: Infographic World

From there you can take a direct train to Central London in less than an hour. The British capital has a short detour into the city center and a short lunchtime. Continue to Wales with the British railway company LNER, which offers a set lunch with every first class ticket. Grilled cheese and ham sandwiches or cold plates are available.

Travel through Wales on a historic railway

In Birmingham you have to switch to the somewhat difficult but beautiful regional transport. It winds through evergreen and hilly terrain towards the Welsh coast towards Aberystwyth. The small university town where King Charles studied is surprisingly remote yet with a variety of culinary venues, pubs and bars.

If the weather is good, it’s worth climbing the small hill at the end of the beach. Alternatively, the historic Bundel Railway can be used for great views across Aberystwith Bay. Whatever the weather, the lovingly restored Vale of Rydoll Railway is well worth a trip.

The Vale of Rydoll Railway steam train takes you through the rolling Welsh countryside

The Vale of Rydoll Railway steam train takes you through the rolling Welsh countryside

Source: Lucas Schmidt

The journey through the Welsh mountains takes around 90 minutes with short stops to stop the engine at the final stop. In addition to the excellent landscape and the dedication of all the staff, the highlight is the newly restored saloon car with comfortable armchairs and magnificent ceiling mosaics.

Overnight train from London to Scotland

A few days later we are drawn back to London, from where a night train is run to the Highlands in the evening. We drive to Inverness and from there direct to the Isle of Skye. Scottish Railway diesel trains run along narrow rocky tracks towards the sea towards Kyle of Lochalsh harbor station.

Kyle of Lochalsh, with its harbor railway station, is opposite the Hebridean Isle of Skye.

Kyle of Lochalsh, with its harbor railway station, is opposite the Hebridean Isle of Skye.

Source: Lucas Schmidt

From there the Space Bus network continues across the Isle of Skye. The small accommodation “Slikachan Hotel” is located directly at the bus stop, although far from any civilization. This is the perfect starting point for some hikes over the next few days. In the evening, the associated pub offers us whiskey, food and live music. In the morning, an English breakfast energizes us for the day. After three days we return to the mainland.

With a final glance towards Skye, the ferry departs Armadale and, after a short crossing, docks at Mallick Dock. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the Hogwarts Express before departing for Castle William, which travels between the two destinations as a tourist destination. The planned connections, albeit with diesel instead of steam, encourage a better view of the ocean and beautiful scenery.

Scottish specialties in the dining car

It’s worth booking a Caledonian Club room from Castle William. This entitles you to access the lounge before departure and use the dining car. So he took a quick bath in the box and left for the dining car. Depending on the time of year, the passing Scottish countryside can be enjoyed throughout the meal until sunset.

Scottish specialties served. Salmon with lemon salad as a starter, beef goulash with mashed potatoes and a main course with rice pudding and apple compote for dessert. The meal is rounded off with Scottish spirits. We haven’t had a good meal in a dining car in a long time.

More tips for holidays in Scotland:

Tipsy from the whiskey, you stroll back to the cabin. The train stops at a point, and there is time to stretch your legs on the platform – the conductor explains to me under the starry sky that we still have to wait for a single-track train. Once the signal finally turns green again, I’ll be in bed and we’ll head through the night towards London.

After a tour of London by boat

In the morning, you have another chance not to eat your breakfast in the box, which is usually hampered, but again in the dining car. The Highlander goes into the City of London at rush hour.

The brave continue their journey on the London Tube and passengers are drawn into the abyss of traffic. We still have the whole day to walk through London as we don’t have to get back on the ferry until the evening.

Going underground: London can also be explored underground

Going underground: London is best explored by underground

Credit: Getty Images/Tim Crist Photo

In Notting Hill you can have a nice breakfast and then stroll through the cozy streets with their little shops. From there it goes through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Green Park to Buckingham Palace in the tourist center of London.

If you have time, you can visit Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square or the London Eye before taking the train to Harwich Ferry Port at Liverpool Street Station.

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On the ferry, after all the registrations and steps in London, you fall into your bunk tired – well rested for the morning. One last time on this island overlooking the ocean.

Lucas Schmidt knows how to enjoy the outdoors. In his series “Auf ein Glas” he reports on visits to unusual bars on a night train: nighttrainsandbars.comInstagram: @nighttrainsandbars

This text comes from issue 6 of the rail travel magazine “Der Passenger”. A guide focusing on food during the journey costs €10 and is also available in station bookshops Available.