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To see more of Scotland, travel by train
Some of the great expanses of the Scottish Highlands are difficult to reach by road, and are often best seen from the window of a train. In Scotland, train travel is rarely fast, but it can be the most relaxing way to see the country. With rail passes, it can also be economical.
Some travellers have voted the West Highland Line the best train journey in the world. It's certainly a spectacular stretch of track from the outskirts of Glasgow onwards, passing Loch Lomond and winding though mountains and glens, scattering herds of deer over heather-covered hillsides.
The Caledonian Sleeper (scotrail.co.uk) allows you to depart London Euston, enjoy a good night's sleep and wake up for breakfast in Scotland, as you travel through magnificent, desolate Highland scenery. Isolated stations like Rannoch and Corrour punctuate the journey north.
In summer, kids will love the opportunity to ride the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig. It runs from mid May to early October with vintage steam locomotives puffing along the track. The highlight for most children will be the crossing of the Glenfinnan viaduct, as featured in the Harry Potter films. Book tickets online at westcoastrailways.co.uk, with day returns priced at £31 for adults, £17.50 for children.
For a more modest glimpse of Scotland, travel on the Fife Circle line from Edinburgh Waverley. This takes you over the Victorian engineering marvel of the Forth Rail Bridge and along the Fife Coast, passing ruined castles and pretty beaches at Aberdour, Kinghorn and Burntisland. You also pass through the old Scottish capital of Dunfermline before heading back over the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh.
For the best deals on Scotland train travel, book tickets online, and use a railcard. For example a Family and Friends railcard allows a third off adult fares and 60% off kids' fares on every train trip you make in Scotland, and usually pays for itself by the third or fourth journey. When travelling between cities, take off-peak trains for lower fares.