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Ideas & Inspiration Lancaster to Glasgow or Edinburgh: Europe's Epic Express Train Journeys
Riding the beautiful train journey between Lancaster and Glasgow

Lancaster to Glasgow or Edinburgh: Europe's Epic Express Train Journeys

Discover why making the train journey from Lancaster over the border to Scotland is such a special travel experience

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Why you should take this trip:

The trains which connect Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and London to Glasgow all travel on the northern third of the West Coast mainline.
Though travellers who enjoy basking in sea views will be disappointed as the railway doesn't live up to its name, if you keep a look out just to the north of Lancaster you can snatch a glimpse of Morecambe Bay.
However, for travellers who appreciate dramatic rural landscapes, then this is the ultimate journey taken by British express services, the Azuma and Pendolino trains, which twist through the valleys at more than 150 kmph add to the wow factor!
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Heading north the dramatic scenery kicks in around 10 mins after departure from Lancaster station; and aside from the section of the route just to the Carlisle, the journey can be described as scenic for close to two hours.
On this route there are some lovely views to be appreciated from both sides of the train, though when making my most recent journeys on this route I was sat on the right, so most of the images below were taken from that side of the train; have indicated when they were taken on the right-hand side.

As the train approaches Oxenholme there is a prelude of what's to come...
South of Oxenholme
...when in the distance the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales can be seen

But it is the part of the journey between the two stations which serve The Lake District, those at Oxenholme and Penrith which is particularly special.
Just after departing Oxenholme, the town of Kendal can be seen on the right.
Passing Kendal
Beyond Kendal lies The Lake District National Park, though the railway is too distant from it for its beauty to be fully appreciated from the train, though there are some tantalizing vistas on the right hand side.

Looking towards The Lake District on a Lancaster to Glasgow journey

Looking towards The Lake District on the West Coast mainline

While during this part of the journey, just to the north of Oxenholme, the views over on the left towards The Yorkshire Dales, provide a preview of what's to come.

Looking towards the Yorkshire Dales on the train journey between Lancaster and Glasgow
And yes some of the journeys taken were in far from perfect weather, but on this journey a cloud-filled sky can add to the sense of drama.
Though the journey has also been taken on brighter days.

Passing a farm on a train journey between Oxenholme and Penrith

Looking towards The Lake District on a London to Glasgow train journey

One of the highlights of the journey is among the most enigmatic sights which can be seem on any train journey in Britain, namely the view of the Low Gill Viaduct.
Low Gill Viaduct as seen from a London to Glasgow train
The viaduct once conveyed a long-closed railway which used to connect the West Coast Line to the wonderful Settle to Carlisle railway; which will saved for another set of articles, as it isn't used by express trains.

After the viaduct has been passed by the railway winds through the lovely Lune Valley; and here the views are very much better on the right when heading north, because from that side of the train, the beautiful river can be seen below, but on the left is the ghastly M6 motorway.

The 10 mins which the train spends travelling through the valley is the prettiest part of the journey.

Through The Lune Valley on a London to Glasgow train journey
Through the Lune Valley on the West Coast mainline

If you're in a backwards facing seat on the right hand side when heading north, you can see particularly dramatic views down the length of the valley as the train nears Tebay.
Looking back down the Lune Valley on the West Coast main line
Though the charming landscape continues north of Tebay...
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...and after Tebay the railway ascends above the tree line to the highest point of the route at Shap summit, where the hills tower above the railway
Shap Summit
The coloured dots towards the top of the hillside are lorries travelling on the M6 motorway.

After the train has passed through the valley at Shap, the vistas towards the Lake District national park open up on the right-hand side.
On the train journey south of Penrith

There are some delightful views on both sides of the train around Penrith station.
South of Penrith
South of Penrith

For around 15 mins after departing Carlisle station, the landscape is flatter as the railway passes across the Rivers Eden and Esk, but as soon as the train enters Scotland near Gretna, the views once again become rather charming.
Near Gretna on the London to Glasgow train journey

South of Lockerbie the railway begins to near the more dramatic parts of the Scottish Uplands.
Into Scotland on the London to Glasgow train journey

The highlight of the Scottish section of the journey comes to the north of Lockerbie, when the railway passes through Beattock...
Crossing Beattock on the West Coast main line
...though as can be seen the railway shares the valley with the A74 road.

North of here the trains ascend Beattock summit in The Lowther Hills and I had the impression here that the more impressive views were on the left when heading north, though the views from the right were also rather lovely.
near Beattock on the West Coast main line
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How to take this journey:

The following train services take this route:

  • The hourly trains from London to Glasgow operated by Avanti West Coast
  • The trains from Birmingham to Edinburgh or Glasgow operated by Avanti West Coast, which depart in most hours
  • The hourly trains from Manchester to Edinburgh or Glasgow operated by Trans Pennnine Express
Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.