Our story on iconic rail journeys last week focused on price, but it is the scenery the trains pass through that makes them special. We asked readers to send us their most scenic train rides. Here are the most inspiring entries.
Letter of the week
We boarded our train near Lake Titicaca at an altitude of 12,500ft, for a journey lasting 10 hours through the Peruvian Andes. We could have sipped pisco sours in the bar or sat in the luxurious lounge, but instead we spent the journey in the observation carriage admiring the snow-capped mountains.
The train transported us at a leisurely pace through glorious scenery, across high plains and through the centre of villages where market stalls were re-erected on the track as soon as the train had passed. For a while the track ran parallel with a shallow river where people in tall, crowned bowler hats and colourful clothes waded across.
Horses pulled wooden ploughs through tiny fields. Sightseeing was interrupted briefly by a fashion show of Peruvian knitwear. The scenery gradually changed to bare rocky peaks as we descended to 11,000ft. We disembarked in Cuzco with vivid lasting memories of the people and spellbinding natural wonders seen on this astonishing journey.
By Christine Partington from Wiltshire, who wins a £250 Sunvil holiday voucher
The best of the rest
Full steam ahead
Recipe: take one steam train with windows that can be opened. Add mountains, lakes and flower-filled meadows. For best results, enjoy at a slow pace under clear blue skies.
From the Swiss town of Brienz, a narrow-gauge cog railway climbs to the top of the Rothorn peak at 7,400ft. Once above the tree line, a panoramic view unfolds, eventually revealing the chain of mountains containing the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
There is time to drink in the view and admire the flora of the Alpine meadows. It is five miles to the summit, but the gradient means it takes an hour. We once rode to the top in the cab of a steam locomotive. Perfection.
By Keith Strickland, Wiltshire
We took the Trinichellu (little train) along the narrow-gauge railway that crosses Corsica from north to south from Ajaccio to Bastia. It was a slow, four-hour journey and the train climbed steep gradients like a mule with heavy panniers through forests and spectacular towering mountains.
We counted 12 bridges and 34 viaducts, including the impressive Pont Du Vecchio, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Halfway through the journey the train suddenly braked hard. Craning our necks, we spotted two cows wandering nonchalantly along the track in front of us. It is apparently a regular occurrence for a cow or goat to hold up the train for a few minutes.
By Vanessa Steer, Surrey
The finale of our much postponed but wonderful holiday in the Outer Hebrides was a trip on the Jacobite. Excitement rose as we boarded, the engine belching steam as we found our seats.
Waving to the crowds on the hillside near the Glenfinnan Viaduct, we had a Groundhog Day moment as the engine ran out of steam and drifted back down the slope, to the delight of the crowds who had a second viewing.
Drinking in the views, we downed our chilled mini bottles of prosecco as the train slipped into Mallaig for a pit stop. In the pretty little harbour town, we lingered awhile in a local hostelry. The return views were equally spectacular, completing a splendid day out.
By Linda Pinkney, East Sussex
In 2003 my husband and I crossed Australia from Sydney to Perth, travelling for three days on the Indian Pacific – sister train to the Ghan that runs through the Red Centre between Darwin and Adelaide.
We traversed the Blue Mountains, visited a Royal Flying Doctor Service station, and saw kangaroos, camels and the gold mine in Kalgoorlie. The food, service and accommodation were wonderful, but best of all were the people we met on the journey, including three sheep farmers who were having their first holiday for several years.
We will never forget the sight of one of these huge men in floods of tears at Perth railway station as he embraced the two tiny sisters he had not seen for more than 20 years.
Mary Moore, London
Highs and lows
Beginning in the Canterbury Plains, the TranzAlpine route – built in 1923 – traverses New Zealand and delivers you four and a half hours later to the west coast. It follows the course of the shingle-lined Waimakariri river, passing through low-lying farmland and gently ascending towards Springfield, taking in the majestic Southern Alps.
Fifteen tunnels and four viaducts later, you arrive at the infamous Arthur’s Pass – a section of railway that is a feat of engineering, working its way through the mountains and mossy beech forests. The train dives through the Otira tunnel and descends towards the wetter and more verdant west coast, dominated by lush podocarp forests. It travels onward to Lake Brunner before speeding down the Grey Valley to Greymouth.
Try it in winter (June-August) for the full snow-covered experience.
Heather Marshall, Hampshire
The Yangon Circle Line in Myanmar was definitely scenic, due to the lack of glass in the windows. This gave us a clearer view of the scenery, but – this being the New Year Water Festival – also made it easier for excited locals to throw buckets of water into the train and soak us. Some used garden hoses, but no one worried as the 35C temperature dried us off quickly enough.
If we were ever tempted to think London’s Circle Line was slow, Yangon’s was something else. It took about three hours to complete the 20-mile round-trip through the townships and countryside, picking up and dropping off passengers, animals and vegetable crates along the way.
This certainly wasn’t a trip for the time-poor, but when we worked out that the fare was only 13p, we were a lot more understanding.
By Malcolm Jones, London