Most Underrated Lines for Scenery

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SprinterMan

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In the UK, we are blessed with many picturesque railway lines, from dramatic ones like the S&C line to the little Cornish branch lines, from the mainlines along the sea walls in Devon and North Wales to the Wherry lines that criss-cross the broads in Norfolk. All these lines are acknowledged as being very scenic, but I was wondering what hidden treasures people know about on here. Lines you won't find in guide books but are well worth doing nonetheless.

My Suggestions:

Gainsborough Line - Sudbury to Marks Tey
A lovely little branch line through the rolling green hills of Essex and Suffolk, including a trip over the magnificent Chappel viaduct and the line running through the middle of the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel & Wakes Colne station.

Welsh Marches Line - Chester to Newport
I have only done this line from Chester to Hereford but I assume the end bit through the Brecon Beacons is also very good. From the big Telford-built viaducts at Ruabon and Chirk to the run through the Shropshire Hills at Church Stretton that looks like something out of the alps, every mile of this line is superb.

Please add your own favourite little-known lines.
Adam :D
 
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Robinson

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The Highland Main Line from Perth to Inverness would be my candidate. Has some interesting engineering (Culloden viaduct) and a lot of spectacular scenery, including the well-known purple glens. If it weren't for the West Highland Line it would probably be talked about a lot more.
 

TheJRB

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I do like the Marshlink (Ashford to Hastings) line. Whilst the areas at each end of the line are built up, the line between the two goes through what must be some of the least populated parts of Kent and East Sussex. While you would imagine it would all be flat, there are some hills to the west of the line around Rye. On a sunny day it's beautiful but it's definitely one of those lines which feels very bleak if it's dark and rainy.

I was very impressed with the Arun Valley line when I travelled on it the other week. Arundel Castle is a major landmark on the west of the line and it's scenic pretty much all of the way from the South Coast to Horsham.

The Breckland line from Norwich to Ely/Cambridge is interesting and picturesque too. In some parts you are almost surrounded by forests and as you approach Ely you see the dark Fenland soil in the surrounding fields.
 

SprinterMan

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A couple more of mine:

Mole Valley Line - Leatherhead to Horsham
A lovely little line with wonderful views of the North Downs for the whole journey once you are out of London. I did Horsham to Leatherhead in summer in glorious sunshine and it was wonderful, like being abroad, super views of distant hills from an air-conditioned 377 (I am from East Anglia so am used to 321s :P).

Arun Valley Line - Horsham to Ford
Another wonderful line from Horsham, this time running through the South Downs to the coast. A very nice line with wonderful views of wooded hills and Arundel castle, through charming little Sussex towns like Pulborough and Arundel.

Berks & Hants Line - London Paddington to Taunton
Most people think of Exeter to Penzance of being the nicest part of the journey west, but I love all of it. From views of the Thames in Maidenhead to and rolling hills and white horses of the Vale of Pewsey, to the lonely spooky stretch of track devoid of stations between Castle Cary and the junction with the Cross Country route through wild lands, with views of distant hills, I love this line. Also, it is done on FGW's HSTs, IMO the best trains in the country.

Folkestone Central to Dover Priory
Only a short journey, but with the superb view of Folkestone town from the viaduct to the coastal stretch through Samphire Hoe and being able to see France on a clear day, this is certainly worth doing.

Ashford to Canterbury West
People think of the Marshlink line to Hastings via Rye as the only scenic line to go to Ashford but this is a very nice, very pleasant journey through the Kent Downs. Also "The Tickled Trout" pub in Wye is well worth a visit.

Chatham to Swanley
I was visiting Greenwich Uni's campus in Chatham for a look round and was disappointed with the whole journey down from Cambridge. CBG to KGX is dull tbh, and KGX was a building site at the time. HS1 is very dreary as far as ebbsfleet, with a brief view of the QE2 bridge the only highlight. I took a stopping train to Victoria back and the countryside bit of the journey was wonderful, with good views of the Medway viaduct and the lovely little oasthouses that litter the North Kent Downs.

West Anglia Line - London Liverpool Street to Cambridge
I did this on the same day as the previous line. I was looking for a better route to CBG than the ECML and I deffo found one. The Lea Valley was surprisingly nice, through lovely towns like Sawbridgeworth and Stansted Mountfitchet to the weirdly bleak and empty bit through Great Chesterford that is fascinating IMO.

The Brecklands & Fenland Line - Norwich to Peterborough
From the massive wilderness of Thetford forest to the eerie flatness of the fens this line truly has it all. The stretch through Shippea Hill with the black soil is reminiscent of a desert IMO.The view of Ely marina and Cathedral is brilliant And it serves so many ghost stations (Spooner Row, Eccles Road, Harling Road, Lakenheath, Shippea Hill, Manea) that it boggles the mind. The massive King's Dyke brickworks and wind turbines at Whittlesea(y) are fascinating on an industrial level also.


The Highland Main Line from Perth to Inverness would be my candidate. Has some interesting engineering (Culloden viaduct) and a lot of spectacular scenery, including the well-known purple glens. If it weren't for the West Highland Line it would probably be talked about a lot more.
Good example, I always thought the HML would be nice, but I have never heard anything about it.


Horsham-Ford and Parson St-Taunton.
A fellow Arun Valley fan eh :P

I do like the Marshlink (Ashford to Hastings) line. Whilst the areas at each end of the line are built up, the line between the two goes through what must be some of the least populated parts of Kent and East Sussex. While you would imagine it would all be flat, there are some hills to the west of the line around Rye. On a sunny day it's beautiful but it's definitely one of those lines which feels very bleak if it's dark and rainy.

I was very impressed with the Arun Valley line when I travelled on it the other week. Arundel Castle is a major landmark on the west of the line and it's scenic pretty much all of the way from the South Coast to Horsham.

The Breckland line from Norwich to Ely/Cambridge is interesting and picturesque too. In some parts you are almost surrounded by forests and as you approach Ely you see the dark Fenland soil in the surrounding fields.
You have excellent taste :P
I am a big fan of all of those lines, the only reason I didn't put the Marshlink line was that I have it down as quite a well known scenic line.


Another couple from me - Faversham-Canterbury East and Maidstone Barracks-Tonbridge.
I haven't done either of these, what are they like?
 
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TheJRB

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I haven't done either of these, what are they like?
The Medway Valley line is truly divided in half in terms of scenery. Tonbridge to Maidstone is a lovely scenic route that follows the Medway through small places including Wateringbury and East Farleigh allowing glimpses across to boats on the water. It's the top half that deserves a miss to be honest. Quite industrial (such as the large Aylesford Newsprint site) and built up all the way to Strood. When my grandfather and I had Ashford to Strood return tickets to travel the line, the guard on our train from Ashford to Paddock Wood said "Rather you than me." which gives you an idea about the northern stretch. But I very much agree that it is a beautiful line south of Maidstone.
 

SprinterMan

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The Medway Valley line is truly divided in half in terms of scenery. Tonbridge to Maidstone is a lovely scenic route that follows the Medway through small places including Wateringbury and East Farleigh allowing glimpses across to boats on the water. It's the top half that deserves a miss to be honest. Quite industrial (such as the large Aylesford Newsprint site) and built up all the way to Strood. When my grandfather and I had Ashford to Strood return tickets to travel the line, the guard on our train from Ashford to Paddock Wood said "Rather you than me." which gives you an idea about the northern stretch. But I very much agree that it is a beautiful line south of Maidstone.
I know what you mean about northern Kent, driving along the M2 or the line through Gravesend are both horrible tbh :P
This is why I love this forum, little annecdotes and experience and snippets of info like this are all fascinating IMO :)
Adam :D
 

merlodlliw

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I fully agree with the magnificent scenery in the Wrexham County especially the UNESCO World Heritage site at Telfords aqueduct plus the dual tunnels at Chirk.

But the HOWL is over four hours of delight,especially watching the Red Kites from the train ( dont forget to bring some refreshments), then return on the Marches line


Bob
 

Schnellzug

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Bradford on Avon to Bath, without a doupt.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
But the HOWL is over four hours of delight,especially watching the Red Kites from the train ( dont forget to bring some refreshments), then return on the Marches line
That's the trouble, like the West Highland, it's also four hours in a Sprinter of some kind. They're really the kind of lines where you'd want to take a break en rouite, but the trains are so infrequent that that might not really be convenient.
 

cuccir

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Calder Valley from Blackburn to Halifax? The line tends to sit nicely above the towns, and I love looking down onto the rows of terrace houses clinging onto the edges of the valleys.
 

hluraven

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I know what you mean about northern Kent, driving along the M2 or the line through Gravesend are both horrible tbh :P
This is why I love this forum, little annecdotes and experience and snippets of info like this are all fascinating IMO :)
Adam :D
That bit isn't true Kent, it's a bit of Essex that's floated across the estuary :lol:

I always feel down when driving through that part of the M2, just electical generation site after industrial estate and it used to be so nice. The rest of Kent is beautiful though once you're beyond the estuary towns.
 

asylumxl

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Corby to Oakham line - You leave the bleak town of Corby before entering a tunnel. As you emerge from the darkness you are greated with the countryside of the Rutlands and the magnificent Welland Viaduct, which stretches across the valley.

Not sure anyone else would agree but there we go.
 

caliwag

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Dalmeny to Bridge of Earn on the Edinburgh to Perth via Laybank.

OK we've got the Forth Bridge, grand ever-changing views of the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh, on the right, whilst winding round the South of Fife, swinging inland North of Kirkaldy, through very pleasant countryside to Ladybank junction...Northwards to Newburgh (currently subject of a reopening campaign) with a view on the right to the Firth of Tay towards the Tay bridge and Dundee...then rolling down towards Bridge of Earn.

Countryside ever changing and quite quickly, that part of Scotland being quite compact...with the right crisp Autumn evening sunshine, you'll see the lower Grampians and of course the Paps o' Fife.

In any doubt, just check some of WJV Anderson's fantastic colour photographs, especially of the much-lamented Glanfarg route. As an aside I guess it was the Kelty and Cowdenbreath collieries that killed that route...then the nasty M90! There was a 5mph speed permanent speed restriction in the early 60s in that area.

I used to hear the dubdees on coal empties lumbering up the Glenfarg incline, 1 in 75 without a banker...at least not in my time...those rods would echo for miles around across the valley on a frosty evening.

So that coupled with the previously mentioned Perth to Inverness, and in the right weather you have a cracking journey.

Luckily I did both in the days of griddle cars...fish and chips on demand, and all that countryside and all to yourself from a generous mark 1 window...

Should've posted this in nostalgia, sorry!!
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Welsh Marches Line - Chester to Newport
I have only done this line from Chester to Hereford but I assume the end bit through the Brecon Beacons is also very good. From the big Telford-built viaducts at Ruabon and Chirk to the run through the Shropshire Hills at Church Stretton that looks like something out of the alps, every mile of this line is superb.
Hereford to Pontypool is even better, then it goes downhill fast.

Oxenholme to Tebay through the Lune gorge, and the upper Clyde valley north of Beattock, both on the WCML, are my favourite main line stretches.
Both provide a giant geology lesson, especially at full tilt at over 100mph.

The Hope Valley line is another, and Hazel Grove-Buxton too.
The Chinley-Peak Forest-Miller's Dale-Bakewell line was, sadly, even better.
 

Welshman

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Calder Valley from Blackburn to Halifax? The line tends to sit nicely above the towns, and I love looking down onto the rows of terrace houses clinging onto the edges of the valleys.
I, too, thought about the Calder Valley line, so I'll add the stretch of the Colne Valley from Marsden down to Springwood Junction. Splendid Pennine scenery with the old woollen mills nestling in the valley.
 

Robinson

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Arun Valley Line - Horsham to Ford
Another wonderful line from Horsham, this time running through the South Downs to the coast. A very nice line with wonderful views of wooded hills and Arundel castle, through charming little Sussex towns like Pulborough and Arundel.

Ashford to Canterbury West
People think of the Marshlink line to Hastings via Rye as the only scenic line to go to Ashford but this is a very nice, very pleasant journey through the Kent Downs. Also "The Tickled Trout" pub in Wye is well worth a visit.

West Anglia Line - London Liverpool Street to Cambridge
I did this on the same day as the previous line. I was looking for a better route to CBG than the ECML and I deffo found one. The Lea Valley was surprisingly nice, through lovely towns like Sawbridgeworth and Stansted Mountfitchet to the weirdly bleak and empty bit through Great Chesterford that is fascinating IMO.
Agree with all of those as well. I did Canterbury West to Charing Cross recently and was pleasantly surprised :D
 

trentside

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Corby to Oakham line - You leave the bleak town of Corby before entering a tunnel. As you emerge from the darkness you are greated with the countryside of the Rutlands and the magnificent Welland Viaduct, which stretches across the valley.

Not sure anyone else would agree but there we go.
I have to agree with you asylumxl. It's a great line, and the views from the top of the viaduct are excellent on a clear day. The infrastructure is impressive for such a lightly used route too.

I've also got to agree with those who've mentioned the Arun Valley line - absolutely stunning. As I was travelling along it in March, on a glorious sunny spring day, I did think that it is the England that Americans often picture with thatched cottages, rolling countryside and the beautiful Arundel castle. I think I'm gushing a bit here, but it's definitely my favourite line I've done this year by quite a long way.

The Matlock branch is also a nice little gem. I've actually only done it in the winter and it was pleasant then, so I must get around to doing it during the summer when the leaves are on the trees and the sun is shining (the latter probably being optimistic this summer!).
 

L&Y Robert

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Calder Valley from Blackburn to Halifax? The line tends to sit nicely above the towns, and I love looking down onto the rows of terrace houses clinging onto the edges of the valleys.
Yes, you don't need the query (?) (or is that just the music in your voice?). Yes, yes, yes, it's MY LINE! The Copy Pit route. In the 40s our family lived just one field away from Kitson Wood signal box, and I can hear NOW the sound of the 8F coming up the hill, and the interleaved yet more distant sound of the 8F banker - "one TWO three four one TWO three four" becoming "One-a Two-a three-a four-a" as the banking engine emerged from the cutting above our house. The line is SPECTACULAR, passing through short tunnel (Harley Wood), then high on stone viaduct (Doliker), then on a shelf opposite the rocky cliffs in the cleft of Cliviger Gorge, and finally out onto the moors above Cornholm (the site, incidentally, of my little story "Popping" in another thread). Then through calmer country as it descends, now on the west side of the valley, to Towneley and on through urban Burnley to Rose Grove. At one time it was almost disused, but with the rail renaissance it carried the experimental Leeds-Preston service, now well established. And with Todmorden West Curve, and all that, in the offing it will be a busy route in the future.
 

LE Greys

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It's strange. The ECML would make it, but for a few bits. It goes from loads of dull suburbia punctuated by tunnels to an awesome viaduct at Welwyn, then back to dull suburbia with tunnels. Then you have wide, open fens, but they get very boring after a while, except the bridges at Peterborough and Newark. North of York, you can see the hills, but they are a long way off. The terraces are nice at first, but they get dull after a while, but you have another awesome viaduct at Durham and a lot of spectacular bridges over the Tyne. It gets a bit dull from there, until you happen on the coast, so make sure you sit on the eastern side! Another awesome viaduct at Berwick and some nice hills around Penmansheil in the middle of that.

There's also the Little North Western (Settle Junction to Carnforth). It's rather in the shadow of the Settle & Carlisle, but goes through some amazing scenery in its own right, and if you continue to Morecambe, it traverses the only bit of WCML along the west coast.
 

tbtc

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Dalmeny to Bridge of Earn on the Edinburgh to Perth via Laybank
I was coming onto this thread to recommend Dalmeny to Kinghorn, but you are right about the views around Newburgh too justifying people take the line all the way to Perth

Another awesome viaduct at Berwick
Surely someone as steeped in LNER history as yourself would only refer to the wonderful structure at Berwick as a "bridge"? :lol:
 

6Gman

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My Suggestions:


Welsh Marches Line - Chester to Newport
I have only done this line from Chester to Hereford but I assume the end bit through the Brecon Beacons is also very good. From the big Telford-built viaducts at Ruabon and Chirk to the run through the Shropshire Hills at Church Stretton that looks like something out of the alps, every mile of this line is superb.Please add your own favourite little-known lines.
Adam :D
Well, maybe not the retail parks south of Shrewsbury :D But yes, a lovely run esp around Church Stretton.
 

D6975

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My 2 choices have already been mentioned
Highland main line
Copy Pit

If you haven't been to Ireland, the Dublin-Rosslare line is a must, especially the northern end. Crossing Barrow bridge is another experience not to be missed, but sadly not at the moment and maybe never again.
 

Clip

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A couple more of mine:



Chatham to Swanley
I was visiting Greenwich Uni's campus in Chatham for a look round and was disappointed with the whole journey down from Cambridge. CBG to KGX is dull tbh, and KGX was a building site at the time. HS1 is very dreary as far as ebbsfleet, with a brief view of the QE2 bridge the only highlight. I took a stopping train to Victoria back and the countryside bit of the journey was wonderful, with good views of the Medway viaduct and the lovely little oasthouses that litter the North Kent Downs.
I like the line between Birchington and Faversham too - nothing overly spectaular but the views out accross the marshes and seeing Reculver castle standing proud then just after Whitstable where it gets very close to the shoreline.. Lovely if you catch it on a sunny day and theres a few ships about.
 
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LE Greys

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Surely someone as steeped in LNER history as yourself would only refer to the wonderful structure at Berwick as a "bridge"? :lol:
Touché! :D
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I like the line between Birchington and Faversham too - nothing overly spectaular but the views out accross the marshes and seeing Reculver castle standing proud then just after Whitstabel wheer it gets very close to the shoreline.. Lovely if you catch it on a sunny day and theres a few ships about.
Yes, it's remarkable just how many of these are in the 'Garden of England'. So much changeable scenery in such a small area.
 

Schnellzug

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It's strange. The ECML would make it, but for a few bits. It goes from loads of dull suburbia punctuated by tunnels to an awesome viaduct at Welwyn, then back to dull suburbia with tunnels. Then you have wide, open fens, but they get very boring after a while, except the bridges at Peterborough and Newark. North of York, you can see the hills, but they are a long way off. The terraces are nice at first, but they get dull after a while, but you have another awesome viaduct at Durham and a lot of spectacular bridges over the Tyne. It gets a bit dull from there, until you happen on the coast, so make sure you sit on the eastern side! Another awesome viaduct at Berwick and some nice hills around Penmansheil in the middle of that.
i'd say that south of Newcastle, it's about 10 miles (in total, 20 to be generous if you count the London suburbs) of interesting scenery, and the rest was fortunately considerately laid out so that you can go as fast as possible so you don't have much time to look at the scenery.
 
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