Our Great Britain tour this year is packed with steam highlights, transporting you in style through the magnificent landscapes of England, Scotland and Wales.
Friday 17th April
Steam hauled London to Edinburgh via York
Your nine-day steam-hauled holiday tour starts from London’s King’s Cross station, heading northwards on the busy East Coast Main Line (ECML) through the North London suburbs. Hauled by A1 Class Pacific steam locomotive No.60163 Tornado, speed picks up as you pass through Hertfordshire and into the open countryside. The towns of Welwyn and Stevenage flash by as you head towards the cathedral city of Peterborough. You continue along the ECML and pass through Little Bytham, where LNER A4 Pacific ‘Mallard’ achieved the world speed record for steam traction descending Stoke Bank in 1938. Grantham, Newark and Retford fly by as you near Doncaster, the ancestral home of such famous locomotives as ‘Flying Scotsman’ and ‘Mallard’. Travelling through scenic South Yorkshire your train then steams to York, famous for its historic Minster cathedral, one of the largest in Northern Europe. Here your locomotive will be changed to Royal Scot Class steam locomotive No.46115 Scots Guardsman for the journey northwards to Newcastle and Edinburgh. Leaving York, you continue on the ECML through Thirsk, Northallerton and Durham to Newcastle, crossing the Tyne on the lofty King Edward Bridge. You then follow the former North Eastern Railway route through Morpeth and past coastal Alnmouth, where you start to get glimpses of the North Sea. Speeding past Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle, your train crosses the famous Royal Border Bridge over the Tweed before reaching Berwick. Just after Berwick you cross the Scottish border and follow the spectacular coastline through Dunbar. Journey’s end today is at Edinburgh Waverley for overnight accommodation in a centrally-located hotel.
Saturday 18th April
Travel further north over the Forth Bridge to Inverness
The scene is set today for a spectacular railway journey over the Forth Bridge and Highland Main Line to Inverness. Steam hauled by Princess Coronation Class locomotive No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland we depart Edinburgh Waverley in the morning and head towards the Firth of Forth, crossing the famous Forth Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following the coastal route through Kirkcaldy you’ll have outstanding views across the Forth estuary. After Ladybank you follow the single-line through the Howe of Fife towards the ‘Fair City’ of Perth, located on the river Tay. You then travel northwards towards the site of Stanley Junction, and join the former Highland Railway’s route to Inverness. Working hard against the gradient, the line follows the river Tay and the A9 through to Dunkeld. You pass through Strathtay and reach the charming Victorian Highland town of Pitlochry. Still climbing, you negotiate the narrow, wooded Pass of Killecrankie en route to Blair Atholl and its splendid castle. A severe 20-mile climb then follows through barren terrain to Drumochter Summit, 1484 feet above sea level. Descending gradients then take you past Dalwhinnie distillery to Aviemore, a popular modern skiing centre and the gateway to Speyside. Leaving Aviemore, there’s more climbing ahead as your steam locomotive tackles the 10-mile climb to Slochd Summit, 1315 feet above sea level. A long descent to Inverness follows, with tight curves and viaducts all the way. You’ll spend the night in Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands.
Sunday 19th April
Return over the highland line to Stirling
After your brief stay in Inverness, you retrace the previous day’s route over the Highland line back through Aviemore as far as Perth, again hauled by 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, before heading for Stirling via the Strathearn Valley, including a long climb to Gleneagles, famous for its golf course. Now running through Strathallan to Dunblane, the train steams onwards to Stirling, with its historic castle overlooking the surrounding area. We will spend two nights in the historic city of Stirling, noted for its well-preserved castle and cultural connections to William Wallace.
Monday 20th April
Optional excursion to Oban and the magical west coast of Scotland
Today is free to explore the many sights of Stirling, or even venture a little further beyond to the Trossachs or perhaps visit the impressive Falkirk Wheel. There is also the option of an excursion steam-hauled behind two steam locomotives over the highly scenic West Highland Line (WHL) to the coastal resort town of Oban. Your optional excursion hauled by two Black 5 steam locomotives heads southwards through Bannockburn, scene of the famous 1314 battle between Robert the Bruce and the English. The train threads its way through Lenzie towards the northern side of Glasgow before you travel along the north bank of the river Clyde, famous for its extensive shipbuilding industry. With spectacular views across the Clyde to Port Glasgow and Greenock, you then head inland at Helensburgh and join the WHL, where the gradients become ferocious as you climb above the town and follow Gare Loch closely for several miles. More climbing ensues as you ascend high above Loch Long to Glen Douglas summit, with panoramic views of the loch and the mountains. After Arrochar, there’s a first glimpse of Loch Lomond, which the line follows for a few miles along a hillside ledge. You then pass the Falls of Falloch on the climb from Ardlui before arriving at the junction station of Crianlarich. Here, the Fort William line continues ahead as you take the Oban line. More severe gradients follow as you pass vast valleys, numerous lochs and mountains all the way to Oban. The line leads from Glen Lochy to Dalmally, where Loch Awe is shadowed for several miles, passing the Falls of Cruachan and through the Pass of Brander. More lochs appear after Taynault, with Loch Etive leading to Connel, where the old Ballachulish branch railway bridge crosses the Falls of Lora. A last climb to Glencruitten Crossing brings you to the outskirts of Oban, where you break to explore this gateway to the Isle of Mull. Attractions in Oban include the Distillery, and for the more energetic, a climb to McCaigs Tower rewards with panoramic views across the bay towards Mull. You then return to Stirling by way of Crianlarich and the north Clyde line.
Tuesday 21st April
South into England to Grange over Sands via the Cumbrian Coast
Your journey southwards continues today across the upper and lower Clyde Valley, with the scenery changing from Borders greenery and rolling hills to coastal views across the Irish Sea. Your steam locomotive, 46115 Scots Guardsman, begins the journey south from Stirling, running via Cumbernauld to Law Junction, where we meet up with the West Coast Main Line. After Carstairs, you then face a steady climb along the Clyde Valley as far as Beattock Summit. The long descent of Beattock Bank will give your fireman a rest as the train picks up speed through Annandale towards Lockerbie. Crossing the border at Gretna, you’ll enjoy a break at Carlisle while we change locomotives before continuing via the Cumbrian Coast line to Grange-over-Sands hauled by Jubillee Class locomotive No.45690 Leander. The Irish Sea is in view as you pass through Maryport, where on a clear day you can see across to Galloway and even the Isle of Man. Industrial Workington and Whitehaven still show the scars of the heavy industry once extensive along this section of line. There are also tantalising views of the Lake District as you head south through Ravenglass, frequently cutting inland and around sharp bends on the approach to Barrow-in-Furness. The line then crosses the Leven Estuary on a lengthy viaduct beyond Ulverston, with views of Morecambe Bay indicating journey’s end at Grange-over-Sands. It is now a coach transfer to your hotel and an overnight stay in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Wednesday 22nd April
West Coast Main Line and the Welsh Marches
After a night in the heart of the Lake District, you transfer by coach to Grange-over-Sands to re-join your train for the journey to Cardiff, steam hauled by Merchant Navy Class steam locomotive No.35018 British India Line. Skirting Morecambe Bay, the line passes through Carnforth and heads south through Lancaster to Preston. Following the West Coast Main Line, you reach Warrington, where your steam locomotive takes the Chester line through Frodsham, where it stops for water. After Chester, you follow the North Wales coastal line past the Chester ‘Roodee’ Racecourse and branch off at Saltney Junction to enter Wales. Reaching Rossett, there’s a long climb up a 1-in-82 gradient to Gresford Bank and the border town of Wrexham. Pleasant countryside follows through Chirk and Gobowen as the line follows the border, before moving into Shropshire and progressing southwards towards Shrewsbury on the river Severn. Now following the Welsh Marches route, your train climbs hard towards Church Stretton, overlooked by the Long Mynd. Pretty Stokesay Castle flashes by after Craven Arms as you continue southwards through Ludlow and Leominster, arriving at historic Hereford in mid-afternoon. Your steam locomotive will be watered here while you stretch your legs. Continuing your journey along the ‘North and West’ line, you cross the England/Wales border a number of times. The long climb from Pontrilas to Llanvihangel Summit will be the highlight of the day before passing through Abergavenny and on to more climbing up to the summits at Nantyderry and Pontypool Road. It’s then downhill all the way to Caerleon and over the river Usk to Newport. Your final destination for the evening is the vibrant Welsh capital, Cardiff, just a short distance away.
Thursday 23rd April
Steam to Cornwall via the Somerset Levels and Dawlish
Today, you leave Wales and make your way via the Severn Tunnel back to England and to the City of Bristol, from where you run across the Somerset Levels, passing through Bridgwater before a water stop is taken at Taunton. Your steam locomotive Princess Royal Class No.6201 Princess Elizabeth, is now faced with a steep climb through the Blackdown Hills to Whiteball tunnel, before entering Devon. You proceed to Exeter, with its impressive cathedral, and follow the Exe Estuary through to Dawlish Warren, to reach the tidal waters of the English Channel. Here your train runs along the famous Dawlish sea-wall right through to Teignmouth, where you head inland and follow the Teign Estuary to Newton Abbot. Climbing starts once again up the formidable Dainton Bank, graded at 1-in-36 in places. Speed will be built up through Totnes for the next major obstacle, the long climb to Rattery on the edge of Dartmoor. Passing through classic Devonshire countryside you have distant views over the sea before descending to the naval city of Plymouth and a water stop. Leaving Plymouth, the route now heads west and approaches the famous Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar, built by Brunel and opened in 1859. Crossing the river into Cornwall you follow the twists and turns of the main line to Penzance, through wooded valleys and over numerous viaducts. Truro Cathedral greets you as you pass through this ancient Cornish county town. On the way derelict chimneys still stand to remind one of the vital tin mining industry once prevalent in the area. Finally, with views across to St Michael’s Mount, you reach Penzance, the end of the line from London Paddington, 305 miles from London, where you’ll stay for two nights.
Friday 24th April
Free Day in Penzance
Today is a free day for you to explore the Penzance area and its many attractions and nearby towns.
Saturday 25th April
Dawlish and the South Devon Banks to London
The final day of your holiday sees you retracing steps steam hauled by 6201 Princess Elizabeth back to Plymouth and Exeter via the Dawlish sea wall and the South Devon Banks, before continuing via Taunton and Westbury to join the ‘Berks & Hants’ line to Reading. The line runs through pleasant countryside, including the Vale of Pewsey, with its many connections to Neolithic habitation. There’s a gradual climb to contend with at Savernake to test your locomotive, but otherwise it’s a fairly easy run through the rolling valleys and alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal with the pumping station at Crofton visible from the line. After Newbury, home of the famous racecourse, you pick up speed to Reading, where the train stops to set down passengers. Continuing via Ascot towards London, you arrive at London Waterloo in the evening, concluding your magnificent and unique nine-day steam hauled journey through England, Scotland and Wales.
All prices shown are per person based on two persons sharing. All routes and locomotive selections are subject to change, changes will be advised in advance.
Premier Class price includes
First Class price includes
Tables for two can be guaranteed in Premier Class and First Class for a supplement of £185 per person (subject to availability). The Oban excursion tour is optional and priced per person.
Meals included each day are shown as: B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner