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Guest Post: Train vs. Car – 5 Journeys where the train wins hands down

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Trains vs. cars: what's the best way to travel?

It’s not just cheaper to take the train than the car – it can be more fun too. Here,’s Jamie Gibbs talks us through 5 train journeys where the train definitely trumps the competition.

If you’re going to travel any significant distance in the UK, your options are limited to car, bus and train (unless you’re one of those fancy executive types who flies everywhere). Let’s face it, bus journeys aren’t exactly comfortable for long distances either, so realistically you’ve got a showdown between car and train journeys. There’s some debate about the freedom of driving vs. the luxury of rail travel, but when it comes down to it there are some journeys that are far better made by train than by car.

Leeds to Carlisle
Journey time: 2 hrs 30mins

By car you’re travelling along the M6 for two and half hours. The M6, voted as Britain’s most boring road in 2006. Is that how you want to spend your time? Of course not. Instead, hop on the train at Leeds for a two and a half hour ride through the windswept Yorkshire Dales and Cumbrian Falls. Built in 1860, this line was the last main railway line to be laid in the UK and it still retains much of its quaint Victorian charm with sweeping viaducts and long tunnels. You also get to ride past some of the most beautiful scenery in England. Try getting all that on the M6.

The Heart of Wales line
Journey time: 4 hrs

The journey from Shrewsbury to Swansea is quicker by car, sure, but you’re missing out on so much if you take the road. Heading south towards Leominster you get the breath-taking scenery of the Welsh Marches, followed by the unspoilt natural beauty of mid-Wales in towns like Cilmeri, the spot where the famous Welsh prince Llewellyn ap Gruffudd was slain in the 13th Century. The Heart of Wales Line also passes through Llanwrtyd, Cynghordy, Llangadog and other traditional, rural Welsh towns with equally unpronounceable names. If you’re driving you won’t have any spare hands to take photos of your surroundings; by train you’re able to fill your memory card with beautiful shots.

Liskeard to Looe
Journey time: 30 mins

The Looe Valley Line wins by default because there is no road that goes through the heavy woodland between Liskeard to Looe, meaning you get half an hour of unadulterated natural beauty. The Looe Valley Line also boasts a “Rail Ale Trail”, combining the rail journey with a sample of the Looe Valley’s finest traditional taverns. The same journey by car skirts around these areas so you miss out on a unique experience.

Inverness to Thurso
Journey time: 3hrs 45 mins

As one of the northernmost points in mainland Britain, you best wrap up warm regardless of your mode of transport. The Far North line is a near four hour excursion through rugged wilderness and historical landmarks. A trip to Thurso by car has you driving along the coast, meaning you’ll completely miss the wildlife reservation areas within the Highlands that are home to a host of deer, birds and other wildlife. What makes this line a blast from the past is that the rails themselves are not electric, and so rely on diesel trains to send passengers further north.

The road to the isles
Journey time: 1hr 30mins

Another journey through the Scottish mountains takes you from Fort William all the way to Mallaig. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter movies, you get to cross the Glenfinnan viaduct that served as the railway line for the Hogwarts Express. The only way you can get the same experience in a car is if you enchant it so it can fly, but if you’ve seen Harry Potter you know that this isn’t a good idea. Taking the journey by train also offers you a look at Neptune’s Staircase; the longest staircase canal lock in the UK that raises canal boats 64ft uphill.

You might think that cars are the superior mode of transport, but there are some places and some experiences that are just more fun and more memorable by rail. If the journey is meant to be half as fun as the destination, make the right choice and take the train.

This article was written by Jamie Gibbs, who writes for travel insurance comparison site

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