Coasting by Steam

Explore Britain's spectacular coastline by steam train

AA World Travel Library, Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway, Paignton, Devon A journey on a steam train is like a visit to Britain itself. The nostalgia of restored lines and stations takes us back to our industrial heritage.

There are now about 100 preserved railways offering passenger rides across Britain, many in beautiful locations. The six railways below not only show the variety of colourful engines and carriages to enjoy, but also scenic coastal routes all the way from Devon to the Isle of Mull. All aboard!

Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway
Paignton, Devon
Handsome green steam locomotives run for 7m along part of the former Great Western Railway from Paignton on Torbay to Kingswear on the Dart estuary. The half-hour single journey stops at Goodrington Sands and inland at Churston. A feature is the 497-yard Greenway Tunnel that opens out onto the viaduct along the Dart estuary. At Kingswear you can extend your journey by ferry to Dartmouth. Check for combined excursions on the River Dart and special events. More about the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway

AA World Travel Library, Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, Hythe, Kent Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
Hythe, Kent
Opened in 1927, this is one of the world's finest miniature railways. Six stations dot the 13.5m stretch of 15-inch gauge railway, running from Hythe to Dungeness. The fleet consists of 14 one-third scale steam and diesel locomotives based on full-size engines. The 1927 'Hercules' engine was even used for an armoured train during the second world war. The end stop at Dungeness is marked by the black Old Lighthouse, which on open days provides views across Romney Marsh and the English Channel. More about the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

AA World Travel Library, North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line), Sheringham, Norfolk North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line)
Sheringham, Norfolk
The full-size heritage railway runs between the Victorian stations at Sheringham and Holt, with an intermediate station at Weybourne. The 10.5m round trip takes in the coast and passes the beauty spots of Kelling Heath and Sheringham Park. Once part of the Midland & Great Northern Railway, the line has always catered for holiday visitors. The William Marriott Railway Museum at Holt displays memorabilia from the days of steam in East Anglia. More about the North Norfolk Railway

Welsh Highland Railway
Caernarfon, Gwynedd
When fully reinstated in 2009 the Welsh Highland Railway will provide a spectacular narrow-gauge steam journey from Caernarfon Bay to Tremadog Bay through Snowdonia National Park. At present the track runs for 12m from the former slate quays near Caernarfon Castle to the village of Rhyd-Ddu on the western slopes of Snowdon. This journey was the line of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways opened in 1877. More about the Welsh Highland Railway

AA World Travel Library, Mull & West Highland Narrow Gauge Railway, Craignure, Isle of Mull, Argyll Mull & West Highland Narrow Gauge Railway
Craignure, Isle of Mull, Argyll & Bute
This is the first passenger railway on a Scottish island, opened in 1984. It was built to provide a link for ferry visitors from Craignure pier to Torosay Castle and those who wish to walk on to Duart Castle. Both steam and diesel trains operate on the 10.25-inch gauge line, which runs for just 1.25m. What the line lacks in length it makes up for with dramatic views of Ben Nevis, Glencoe and Loch Linnhe. More about the Mull & West Highland Narrow Gauge Railway

AA World Travel Library, Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway, Bo'ness, Falkirk Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway
Bo'ness, Falkirk
Historic railway buildings, locomotives and carriages have been relocated from sites all over Scotland on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. A 7m return trip by steam train takes you to the tranquil country station at Birkhill. There also are Thomas the Tank Engine weekends and Santa Specials – booking is essential. The Scottish Railway Exhibition at Bo'ness station tells the story of the railways in Scotland. More about the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway


AA Best of Britain's Steam Railways
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