Steeped in history, the route is teeming with both natural and man-made wonders as it weaves its way through two castles which, after resisting centuries of war, succumbed to Victorian advancement.
Depending on when you’re traveling, the Edinburgh to London line serves Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Doncaster and Peterborough, before finally arriving at Scotland’s gateway to the English capital, King’s Cross. It’s a 393 mile trip in four hours 20 minutes, or four hours 15 like the driver did on my last trip.
By that time, we had crossed 28 viaducts and passed through 18 tunnels at speeds of about 113 miles per hour.
It’s a LNER ride done every half hour from both capitals and as regulars will tell you, for the best views southbound, sit to the left of the car and then right on the way north . The section of line between Edinburgh and Durham has been voted one of the 10 most beautiful train journeys in the world. has its own charge point.
Just beyond Edinburgh, the first landmark appears. Look at the left. It may not have the historical lineage of some of the landmarks that lie ahead, but there is no denying the impact of the pale blue specter of the Torness Nuclear Power Plant. Commissioned in 1988, it remains an impressive, if somewhat disconcerting, sight.
As Torness reviews, breakfast arrives, a bacon bun ordered right after leaving Edinburgh with a choice of sauces – brown for me. Ordering food has never been easier. Simply scan the QR code next to your seat, click on the new menu at the all-day cafe bar with its range of snacks and drinks exclusively sourced from vendors along the route, take your pick, pay and wait have your order delivered to your table. If you decide to take a ride in the “buffet car”, remember that LNER has become cashless.
I enjoyed breakfast while admiring the panoramic view of the coast. Dramatic or serene, depending on the weather, but still breathtaking, the craggy coastline as it approaches the border drops dramatically towards the crashing waves. Today, the haar may be falling, but it remains a bewitching sight, all the more so when viewed from the comfort of the train.
On the right, green fields and farmland provide an ever-changing landscape dotted with towns, villages, soccer fields, tennis courts, cemeteries and even the eerie skeleton of a long-abandoned greyhound stadium. .
This service stops in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Newcastle, Darlington and York before arriving in London. The first of these, England’s northernmost station, has a lot of history to digest in the shortest of stops. Before that, however, the graceful arc of the sentry-shaped wind turbines provides an eerily calming distraction.
In Berwick-Upon-Tweed, look right to see all that remains of the west wall of the Great Hall at Berwick Castle, demolished in 1842 to make way for the station. Just south of the station, look left as the train crosses the Royal Border Bridge, an impressive railway viaduct, so you don’t miss out on striking views of the River Tweed.
Then take a look left for Alnmouth’s multi-colored ‘Balamory-style’ houses which give the village of Northumberland a splash of rainbow color.
Before Newcastle, where those pesky Victorians have once again worked hard to eradicate history, we pass through picturesque Morpeth Station; its original Scottish Baronial-style buildings still shine, although they are over 170 years old.
Newcastle Central’s high-level approach is intriguing, with the line crossing yet another castle – the one that gave the city its name. Today only the imposing Porte Noire remains on the right and the Castle Keep on the left.
On board, meanwhile, the now permanent improved cleaning regime is underway as a cleaner armed with a misting machine makes his way through the cart.
Freshly disinfected, we leave the Toon behind us. Look left as you do for a view of the 1928 Tyne Arch Bridge, designed by the company that would later design the Forth Road Bridge. There’s no fog over the Tyne right now, so it’s also easy to spot, the 1876 Swing Bridge in the foreground, while behind is the 2001 Millennium Bridge, known locally as the ‘ wink “. Oh, and keep an eye out for the Angel of the North as you go, again to the left, but be warned, blink and you’ll miss it.
“The next station stop is Darlington,” announces the warden, and for those with a theatrical bent, that means a chance to spot the New Hippodrome Theater, which is said to be haunted by three ghosts, including a cigar-smoking Scottish porter called Jimmy. With some 209 miles to go, the ghosts that greet us in York are not the ethereal kind but just as evocative of a bygone era. The York Railway Museum, on the right, greets travelers with a glimpse of an old workhorse tracks, a restored steam locomotive.
Ten minutes from York you’ll spot one of my favorite sights, the brutalist charm and six cooling towers of Drax Power Station which, although dating from the 1970s, still retain a futuristic feel, never more so than when. they project white vapor towards the sky.
As the journey ends at King’s Cross, look up and marvel at the architectural wonders of Lewis Cubbit’s vaulted roofs or, if the kids are with you, Muggles young and old can stop at Pier 9¾, starting point of Hogwarts Express, being photographed with a disappearing baggage cart.
If you are traveling with children, a family ticket (2 adults, 4 children up to 15) costs just £ 169.
Buy your tickets on the LNER app and get live updates on your phone as well as loyalty benefits. With LNER, the adventure really begins the minute you stop on board.
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