Travelling in fine surrounds

Special report

Kristie Kellahan nominates six picturesque rail journeys that combine history and grandeur.

West Highland Line

Consistently voted the best train journey in the world, the West Highland Line from Glasgow up the west coast of Scotland is an incredibly scenic railway trip of lush green hills and valleys. It has been immortalised in film - in Trainspotting and as the site of the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series - making it a big drawcard for movie buffs. During the warm summer months, a steam locomotive-hauled daily return service, the Jacobite, operates between Fort William and Mallaig. This is one very Scottish experience.

See raileurope.com.au.

A trip down Penny Lane

A musical odyssey awaits fans of the Fab Four on the 14-hour Beatles Liverpool Rail Day Trip from London. Arriving at Lime Street, you'll consult the provided city map and information booklet to make your way to the Beatles Story. Map in hand, you'll retrace the steps the Beatles took on their way to fame: from the Cavern Club, where the boys played 292 times, to the pubs where they drank and dreamt of success. In the afternoon, the two-hour Magical Mystery Tour takes in the homes, schools and birthplaces of the Fab Four, before it's time to head back to London.

See raileurope.com.au for rail tickets. See viator.com for Magical Mystery Tour tickets.

Class act

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Leave the jeans at home for this trip and - oh horror! - don't even think about wearing sneakers. When the British Pullman Golden Age of Travel steam train pulls out of London's Victoria station for a four-hour round trip, its hosts will be dressed to the nines in 1930s garb. Guests are asked to wear smart day wear. As the Orient-Express people say: "Dressing down is just not our style."

Every detail of the train's interior and exterior has been considered and appointed to reflect the golden era of travel, when manners and style were paramount. A five-course lunch is served by liveried waiters, along with fine champagne and wine, before returning to Victoria station.

See orient-express.com or email railjourneys @railplus.com.au for details and bookings.

Steaming ahead

The Welsh Ffestiniog Railway is just the ticket for anyone keen to take in North Wales's spectacular, mountainous landscape from the comfort of a passenger seat. One of the longest steam railways in the world, it weaves its way through Snowdonia's impressive scenery. Joining with the Welsh Highland Railway, it is heritage steam rail at its best: trainspotters welcome.

See festrail.co.uk.

Royal treatment

An adventure on the Royal Scotsman is regarded as one of the great iconic travel experiences.

With only 35 guests on board, each is guaranteed dedicated service and attention to life's luxuries, such as a glass of rare malt whisky at the end of the day. State cabins are decked out with wood panelling, tartan trim and private bathrooms. The Scotsman departs Edinburgh and explores the rich landscape of the Scottish Highlands on journeys that last two to seven nights.

Feast on authentic Scottish cuisine and be entertained after dinner by a Highlander with stories of the battles, myths and legends that have made the history of this part of the world so rich and fascinating.

See railplus.com.au.

Luck of the Irish

Enjoy views of the sweeping scenery and grand landscapes for which Ireland is famous on this three-day rail trip to Cork, Blarney Castle, Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher. Departing from Dublin, you'll travel to the Blarney Castle for a quick kiss, before heading to Cork. Two nights in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Killarney is included, as are castle and cliff tours in Limerick, Moher and Galway Bay. This is a great taster tour of the many attractions of Ireland.

See raileurope.com.au for rail tickets and viator.com for tour options.

For more information on rail travel throughout Britain and Ireland or to buy tickets, see raileurope.com.au.

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