The UK’s six best coastal rail journeys, with epic views and fresh seafood

The Cambrian Line

Passengers get the best of both worlds on this journey – the glorious green fields and market towns of Mid Wales, then sandy beaches and fishing villages along Cardigan Bay.

The line starts in Shrewsbury on the Welsh border, before heading cross-country to Dovey Junction, where it splits: choose from a 25-minute ride south to the university town of Aberystwyth or two hours north to Pwllheli, the unofficial capital of the Llŷn Peninsula.

The latter branch not only offers extended viewing of some of the country’s most stunning coastal scenery – look out for marine wildlife – it also gives travellers the opportunity to explore a few of Wales’s highlights. Tywyn is home to the world’s first designated heritage railway, Talyllyn Railway, and don’t miss Harlech Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

A culinary highlight Wilderness Café (Castle Square, daily 10am-4pm) is the place to go for coffee and cake in Harlech.

Where to stay In Shrewsbury, Lion + Pheasant offers doubles from £130 a night, including breakfast, A 25-minute walk from Pwllheli railway station, Gimblet Rock Holiday Park has two nights for two adults from £269,

Book it For the Cambrian Line, visit The Explore Cambrian ticket, which offers a day’s unlimited travel between Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Pwllheli costs £14.60 from Transport for Wales (

The St Ives Bay Line

It might be short, but the 10-minute journey between the Cornish towns of St Erth and St Ives is a joy.

Leave the car at the Park & Ride in St Erth, then take a seat on the right side of the train to delight in the turquoise-coloured waters lapping at the golden sandy beaches of Hayle Towans and Carbis Bay.

Once there, maybe just spend the day in St Ives, leisurely admiring world-class contemporary art at the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Feeling more adventurous? A 4.5-mile walk back along the South West Coast Path takes visitors past Porth Kidney Sands – a mile-long, often-deserted stretch of beach – to the village of Lelant. Be sure to check the train timetable in advance for the return journey.

A culinary highlight Take a seat on the harbour-front terrace of St Ives’ 14th-century Sloop Inn ( and tuck in to a bowl of mussels or sip a craft beer from St Ives Brewery.

Where to stay In St Erth, Corn Loft at Carbis Mill is available from £285 for a three-night, self-catering stay, Harbour Hotel St Ives has doubles from £155, including breakfast. There are rooms with walk-in showers that are accessible by lift,

Book it For more about the St Ives Bay Line, visit A St Ives Bay Line Ranger ticket costs £4 for a day’s unlimited travel from Great Western Railway (

the Kyle Line - Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh Image supplied by Chris Deplano
The Kyle Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh (Photo: Chris Deplano

The Kyle Line

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

While this is a coast-to-coast service across the Scottish Highlands, the 57-mile journey from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh passes some spectacular coastal and loch-side scenery.

Crossing the Moray Firth, the train runs west alongside several lochs including the sea loch, Loch Carron – look out for the Torridon Hills, comprised of some of Britian’s oldest rocks, to the north-west.

Heading down towards the western side of Loch Alsh, consider stopping off at Plockton, a quaint fishing village with a climate mild enough for palm trees.

Kyle of Lochalsh has some attractive, white-washed buildings, but its main claim to fame is being the gateway to the Isle of Skye. The Plock of Kyle, an elevated area of parkland on the west side of town, has wonderful views across to the island.

A culinary highlight For delicious fish and chips and seafood platters, head to Plockton Shores (

Where to stay In Inverness, Ness Walk hotel has doubles from £155 in the low season, including breakfast. Accessible rooms available, Kyle Hotel has a superior double from £169, including breakfast,

Book it A one-way ticket from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh starts at £15.90 (

Londonderry to Coleraine

The 40-minute journey between Londonderry and Coleraine along Northern Ireland’s north coast was described by Michael Palin in his series Great Railway Journeys as “one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.”

Leaving the walled city of Londonderry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, the track heads up along the River Foyle before turning east past the golden sand of Benone Beach, on the left side, and flat-topped Binevenagh Mountain and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the right.

At the seaside resort-town of Castlerock, the train passes through the longest operational tunnel in Ireland (668 yards), following the River Bann south to Coleraine – the earliest-known settlement in Ireland.

A culinary highlight Walled City Brewery ( in Derry offers beer masterclasses, as well as a pub grub menu and Sunday roasts served in giant Yorkshire puddings.

Where to stay In Londonderry, Bishop’s Gate Hotel Derry has doubles from £155, room only. Accessible rooms available, In Coleraine, Ibis Coleraine Riverside has doubles at a member rate for £76.50, room only. Accessible rooms available,

Book it A one-way ticket is £12; a return is £19 (

Train crossing the Royal Border Bridge over the river Tweed at Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland.
Train crossing the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed on the East Coast (Photo: Jim Monk/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

East coast main line

This key artery, which runs for almost 400 miles up the right hand side of the UK, connecting London and Edinburgh, carries around 20m passengers per year.

As well as being strategically critical, it is also embroidered with scenic landmarks and remarkable coastline on both sides of the border.

Northbound passengers sit up and take note from Durham, where the Norman Castle crowns the historic city. Soon after, trains cross the Tyne into gleaming Newcastle before the line heads for picturesque Alnmouth.

This coastal village marks the start of a magnificent journey through the Northumberland Coast National Landscape – miles of high, grass-topped dunes, empty beaches and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne offshore – that continues as far as the fishing town of Dunbar before turning west for Edinburgh.

A culinary highlight Enjoy North Shields dressed crab, Lindisfarne oysters or Craster landed lobster at The Jolly Fisherman in Craster, around half an hour north of Alnmouth.

Where to stay The Whittling House in Alnmouth has doubles from £180, Bailiffgate Hotel opens in nearby Alnwick in autumn with accessible rooms that start at £148,

Book it LNER and Lumo operate trains on the East Coast Main Line; LNER singles from Alnmouth to Dunbar from £15 (,

The Cumbrian Coast Line

It’s possible to travel direct from Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness in around two hours 20 minutes, but there are 26 stops on the Cumbrian Coast Line to tempt passengers to break their journey.

The Georgian port of Whitehaven has a pleasant harbour for a stroll and there’s an interesting exhibition on the town’s maritime and industrial history at The Beacon Museum.

A few miles further on, St Bees is best known as the starting point for Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk, but also has a lovely sandy beach and great birdwatching at St Bees Head.

Black Combe, a 2,000ft fell, is walkable from Silecroft, although rail buffs should alight at Ravenglass to ride the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, a narrow-gauge track that travels up the Eskdale Valley.

A culinary highlight In St Bees, The Manor Inn ( is a country pub serving real ale and traditional dishes including Cumberland sausage.

Where to stay The Halston in Carlisle has doubles from £150, room only. Accessible rooms available, Abbey House Hotel in Barrow-in-Furness has doubles from £120, including breakfast,

Book it For further information about the Cumbrian Coast Line, visit A Cumbrian Coast Ranger ticket offers a day’s unlimited travel for £24 (

Whitehaven The Cumbrian Coast Line Image supplied by Samantha Marsh
The Cumbrian Coast Line at Whithaven (Photo: Samantha Marsh )

The Riviera Line

Running from Exeter to Paignton, the most scenic part of the Riviera Line is the stretch between Starcross and Teignmouth.

From Exeter, the train heads south alongside the River Exe, with views across to 14th-century Powderham Castle and its deer park, before turning west at the estuary and sprinting on between red cliffs and the sea. This length of track and sea wall around Dawlish was seriously damaged during a storm in February 2014 and a £165m restoration project by Network Rail was completed in 2023.

Travellers can hop off at Dawlish and follow the South West Coast Path for three miles to Teignmouth, resting at one of the sandy beaches. While Torquay has plenty to offer, Paignton is home to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, which follows the River Dart.

A culinary highlight By the harbour in Teignmouth, Ye Olde Jolly Sailor has cask ales and decent pub food, including fish and chips.

Where to stay Hotel Du Vin Exeter has doubles from £129, room only. Accessible rooms available, The Palace Hotel Paignton has doubles from £80, room only. There are no specifically designed accessible rooms, but the hotel can discuss and accommodate needs of guests, where possible,

Book it For further information about The Riviera Line, visit great A Devon Ranger ticket, which offers a day’s unlimited travel throughout Devon, costs £16 (